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Tropical flavour

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Contemporary materials are mixed with traditional Bali statuary and lush planting in this tranquil city courtyard

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City courtyards provide plenty of opportunities to create interesting and useable outdoor living areas despite their small size.

Providing a simple, uncluttered look and planning one or two special features is one key to success. So, too, is retaining a visual link with the interior of the home, which ensures good indoor-outdoor flow.

For this terraced home's courtyard garden designed by Daniel Baffsky of 360° Landscape Architects, a subtropical look was essential.

"The owners have enjoyed many holidays in Bali and wanted to bring that lush, resort feel to the landscape," he says. "At the same time, however, we felt it was important to retain a local flavour and not simply replicate a Balinese garden."

To provide a natural, rustic look, fences are covered with reed panels and the ground paved with white granite cobblestones, randomly inset with sandstone pavers.

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"It's a very organic look, with the raised stones creating a natural, bumpy surface underfoot," says Baffsky.

Sandstone is also used for two large planter boxes and as the base for a built-in barbecue. The planters are positioned half-way down the courtyard, helping to break up the length of the space and maintain a sense of intimacy.

A hardwood day bed is placed against one of the planters, opposite a large water feature. The water feature incorporates a rustic Buddha statue set against a contemporary backdrop of glass and stainless steel.

"Water spills down the glass creating a shimmering effect, which is particularly attractive at night," says Baffsky.

"The modern materials are used in the kitchen and introducing them to the landscape was a way to retain a visual link with the home's interior."

Long ponds on either side of the Buddha are slightly raised so that water flows over into a central pool.

"A large body of water is always more effective visually than a single small pond," says the designer.

Within the ponds, bromeliads are planted in copper pots that appear to float. The other aquatic plants are similar to those in the planters, creating a continuity with the foliage.

Stepped slabs of Australian hardwood form the sides of the ponds and soften the angles, says Baffsky. The outdoor seating is also made from hardwood and includes a curved backrest for lumbar support. Bamboo palms provide a leafy green overhang.

Other planting includes a row of Alexander palms that helps to screen a carport at the far end of the courtyard. These palms, which are uplit at night, have been grown in pairs to create a double-trunk effect.

First published date: 24 July 2003

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Credit List

Landscape architect Daniel Baffsky, 360° Landscape Architects (Sydney)
Main contractor Rare Earth
Paving White granite cobblestones from Sam the Paving Man
Deck and seating Australian mixed hardwood
Walls Naturereed from House of Bamboo
Water feature Stainless steel and copper bowls from Afco Metal
Lighting Hunza
Plant supplier Wirreanda Nursery
Sandstone Brian Doyle Stonemasons