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Combining water elements with plants, generous expanses of paving, outdoor seating and a bar create a resort-like feel for this pool and entertaining area

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The size and scale of a swimming pool is dictated, at least in part, by the size of the property it is to be built on. While a small pool may look perfect in a compact suburban garden, the proportions would be completely wrong on a large lifestyle property.

Landscape designer Dean Herald of Rollingstone Landscapes was approached by the owners of this property, a large lifestyle block on the outskirts of the city, to remodel their outdoor living areas.

"The existing home had a pool and spa, and the whole area had a very 1980s look. The owners wanted to extend the house and recreate the outdoor area with a much larger, contemporary-looking, entertaining area. They enjoy entertaining large groups of people on a frequent basis, so they wanted the outdoor area to accommodate this," says Herald.

"The old swimming pool and spa were demolished living spaces at the rear of the house were extended. Large bifolding doors ensure the indoor and outdoor living areas now flow smoothly together."

With plenty of land available around the house, the landscaping includes a large pool and paving on several different levels. These levels drop gently away from the house, before terminating across the water at an infinity edge, which wraps in a soft curve round two sides of the pool.

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"In this way, the paving, planting and water appear to flow towards and blend seamlessly with established bush on the opposite edge of the property," says the landscape architect.

With the combination of pool, spa, paved areas, water features, bar, lawns, planting and garden house, the whole property has the relaxing atmosphere of a tropical resort.

"The different areas create a variety of entertaining opportunities, and using the same paving material throughout gives us an integrated look. However, changing the levels avoids a single, large and uninviting expanse of paving," says Herald.

So it doesn't look too perfect, a softly mottled stone paver with a crinkle cut edge was chosen.

This finish helps create variations across the outdoor surfaces, and the mottled, neutral tones blend with the rendered plaster walls of the house.

To soften the hard paving, planter boxes, areas of garden and a large circular lawn with a Chinese elm tree in the centre were introduced into the landscape design. Timber benches and seating around planter boxes provide another textural element, and help link these areas with the bush beyond.

Water elements, as well as the pool, also help to soften the hard landscaping and provide changing points of interest within the various areas around the pool.

"Water features are a strong part of any garden. They provide a good backdrop, and here they help to develop and intensify the resort theme," says Herald.

In this garden, the pool, with its infinity edge, is clearly the dominating feature. Close by, however, a water sculpture incorporates a glass bowl perched on a stainless steel plinth. Sitting in a pond that feeds a waterfall and lower pool, the whole structure creates a second, strong architectural element.

Another aspect of the outdoor area that contributes to the ambience is the covered bar that projects out into the pool. Without even leaving the water, a swimmer can come up to the bar, rest on an underwater stainless steel stool and call for a drink. Inside the bar itself are a sink and refrigerator, as well as storage for glasses and other bar paraphernalia.

Planting in the garden and around the pool all contributes to the impression that this private sanctuary will be enjoyable to use year-round.

Most of the plants selected have green and lush foliage that looks good throughout the year. Subtropical species such as agaves are planted in pots and around the edges of the gardens.

To create a contrast, variegated irises, thickly planted round the darker green cordyline, provide a spikier look in the planter boxes. Tall sago palms, under-planted with liriope, are positioned to provide some height in the garden.

First published date: 23 January 2006

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Credit List

House architect Russell Scott
Landscape designer and contractor Dean Herald, LCA, Rollingstone Landscapes (Sydney)
House contractor David Denton
Paving, pool surround and coping Boral Aspenstone
Walls and hard landscaping Rendered and painted
Stone cladding Eco Concepts
Pool and spa Reliance Pools
Planting Alpine Nurseries
Glass and stainless water feature Rudy Jass