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Flowing down from the pool level above, water encircles this outdoor entertaining area, reflecting the view of the ocean beyond

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Context is an important consideration in ensuring the success of any landscaping project. Good designers are able to incorporate surrounding elements to give a scheme continuity and a sense of belonging to the greater environment.

The garden featured on these pages illustrates this premise well. The owners of this home overlooking the ocean gave Jamie Durie of Patio Landscape Design creative carte blanche, and the resulting design reflects the property's seaside location.

The long, narrow site falls away about 15ft to the lower ocean end, says Durie. With the house and pool located on the upper level, and a flat grassed area 6.5ft below this, Durie's challenge was to link the two spaces and create a relaxing outdoor entertaining area. This he achieved through the use of water.

"The aim was to create a flow of water that began at the pool on the top level and flowed out toward the ocean, linking the two bodies of water," says Durie. "The design of the house moves with the typography of the land, so we wanted the water to follow the same path."

A sheet of glass, inlaid with copper strips, acts as a conduit, unobtrusively directing water from the pool to the lower level. Once there, it splits in two directions, either flowing in figures of eight around palm trees planted in copper troughs, or spilling down a series of weirs and over beds of river stones.

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In this way, the flow of water surrounds the lawn and seating area on three sides, with the ocean on the fourth.

A barbecue and table and chairs on a paved area close to the cliff edge is the perfect spot for the owners to dine alfresco. But they also wanted to be able to seat at least 30 people for a meal, says Durie.

The solution was to run a long wooden bench in front of the glazed waterfall and along the property's palm-fringed wall. Tables can be brought out to this bench, creating extensive banquet-style seating.

For smaller gatherings, the stone ballasts that punctuate the bench create a more intimate feel and help to visually break up the long expanse of wood.

Lighting is a special feature of this landscape design, and it is at night that the garden really comes into its own. Strategically placed halogens and spots pick out key elements of the design and trace the water's journey as it flows around the garden.

For example, the weirs are backlit to pick up the spill of water over the edge of the copper steps, while uplighting behind the glazed waterfall creates added impact after sunset.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Landscape design Jamie Durie of Patio Landscape Design
Builder Scott Cam
Landscape contractors Green With Envy
Water feature Wright Pools
Glass waterfall Glass sheet with copper inlays assembled by Patio Landscape Design
Bench seating Kwila, constructed by Scott Cam
Stonework Sandstone ballasts carved by Michael Purdy
Copper bowls AMS Metal Spinning
Copper troughs St George Metal