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Combining water elements with lush plantings, generous expanses of paving, outdoor seating and a bar creates a resort-like feel for this outdoor area


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 estate property.

Landscape designer Dean Herald was approached by the owners of this property, a large lifestyle block on the outskirts of the city, to completely 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 an outdoor area to accommodate this," says Herald.

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.

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.

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

In addition to the pool, water elements 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 goodbackdrop, and here they help develop and intensify the resort theme," says Herald.

In this garden, the pool, with its infinity edge, is clearly the dominating feature. Close by, 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.

Plantings in the garden and around the pool contribute 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 in the plantings, variegated irises, thickly planted round the darker green cordyline, provide a spikier look. Tall sago palms are under-planted with liriope, and are positioned to provide height in the garden.

First published date: 03 March 2006

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Credit List

House architect Russell Scott
Landscape designer and contractor Dean Herald, Rollingstone Landscapes
House contractor David Denton
Walls and hard landscaping Plastered and painted
Glass and stainless water feature Rudy Jass