SUBURBAN OASIS

Backyard & Garden Design Ideas|Issue #17.5

SUBURBAN OASIS
Witha billabong, waterfall and frog habitat, this waterwise garden is full of surprises
DANIELLE TOWNSEND
Building a new home that meets all of today’s environmental standards is enough of a challenge, but creating a sustainable garden next to the home in these tough water-strapped times can be just as difficult. Clients of Phillip Johnson Sustainable Landscape Systems were building a contemporary home in Canterbury, Melbourne, with a significant footprint. The space remaining was minimal, so their design needed to be innovative in maximising the area available for landscaping.

The homeowners asked for a low-maintenance, waterwise garden with a blend of exotic and Indigenous planting. Fruit trees and a vegetable patch were also required, along with plants to screen the neighbours and street.

It was important to the homeowners that the gardens provide interesting views from inside the house, a habitat for frogs and birds, rainwater tanks, reduced lawn areas and a billabong and waterfall to generate the tranquil sound of running water.

For designer Phil Johnson, complementing the contemporary home while acknowledging the site’s limited access and small outdoor spaces was of paramount importance. His subsequent solutions included espaliered lemon trees along a hot north-facing wall, a small billabong on the narrow, shady north boundary and a small raised garden bed at the rear of the property for an exotic deciduous tree and shrubs.

A small courtyard garden (alongside the street) was developed with significant screen planting to enhance privacy. On the south boundary, a dry creek bed was established to manage the stormwater flow down the gravel access path. The front garden was developed into a native rocky garden with a swale to capture any excess stormwater, which in turn provides unique conditions for interesting planting that tolerates periods of dryness and inundation by water.

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Issue #17.5