Brendan Moar Landscaping Advice

We hosted a live online chat with Brendan Moar after the premiere of Dry Spell Gardening Australia. For those who missed it, here is the transcript. Enjoy!

Cassablanco: Hi Brendan, the black bamboo, are we safe to put this in the ground or will it spread like mad?

Brendan Moar: Hi Cassablanco, never ever put black bamboo in the ground as it's a spreading bamboo and will take over the entire suburb! Only plant black bamboo in pots or planters. If you want to put a bamboo in the ground you must use a clumping bamboo. Check the tag or ask your nurseryman if doubt.

Corinne2: Can you give advice on plants for a vertical garden on a west facing aspect?

Brendan Moar: G'day Corinne, vertical gardens in my experience (as you may have just seen) are a constant work in progress. I'd suggest trying succulents - providing you're in a frost free area. You can try just about anything - grasses, trailing plants, groundcovers. You'll find some will thrive and some won't play ball - don't be discouraged, just keep planting more of the ones you have success with or experiment with something else. Have fun!

Caroline182937: Enjoyed tonight's show very much. Do you know what birds sunbathed on the astroturf pebble?

Brendan Moar: I'm chortling at your question Caroline, I had to think for a second what you were referring to! Lynne tells me they were Indian Miners. Most people would probably wish they had actually died!

Tricia2: We are a building company in North Queensland and what I’m finding up here is that no one wants to do anything different with their gardens. What do you suggest to say to people to make them change their mind?

Brendan Moar: G'day Tricia, yes this can be a difficult thing to push people beyond their comfort zone. The best thing I can suggest is be armed with images, books and mags and even copies of great TV shows (one in particular comes to mind!) - whatever you can get your hands on to show people a different skew on the subject. Best of luck.

Barbara: Hi Brendan! Does this mean we will be able to watch you re-creating your own garden soon?

Brendan Moar: Well you just never know. Like I said, watch this space...

justjanie: Hi Brendan, did you REALLY use the springs of an old mattress on your wall at home?

Brendan Moar: G'day Janine, what an eagle eye you have. Yes I did use the springs from an old mattress - crazy I know.

Tanya4: I live in an area that gets to 45 in summer and -5 in winter with occasional black frosts in south western Queensland. I have natives but want to know if they are a good dry spell alternative. If not, how can I incorporate that type of look with dry spell plants? I like the plants in the garden with the metal clothesline. What is the climber on the metal rings in the garden with Belinda's tree?

Brendan Moar: G'day Tanya, that's a hell of a temp range you have to deal with there! I'd be looking very hard at the plants that are already thriving in your local area. Yes natives are a BRILLIANT dry spell plant. You can get a great scheme with a limited number of plants. The plants in Kristie and Simon's garden you're referring to is primarily native grasses and clipped cloud shapes of Helichrysum petiolare. It’s the balance of the fluff of the grasses and the clipped shapes - dead easy to achieve and always look punchy. The plant on the metal hoops is Australian Ivy (muehlenbeckia)! Good luck Tanya.

Dominique2: I have a place in Pittwater and cannot find any plants wallabies and possums will not destroy. Help!

Brendan Moar: That's a tricky one Dominique - I don't have a great deal of experience coping with pesky possums and wallabies - whenever I am in the dark about something like this I will find a local who had success in overcoming the problem. Good luck.

Sammi3: Hi Brendan, love your garden with the 'rusty' arches, where do I begin to source something like that and approximately how much will they cost?

Brendan Moar: Hey Sammi, any metal fabricator should be able to construct something similar for you. Those arches were made from Corten - steel that rusts to protect itself - and were made by Hy Way Steel in Lidcombe Sydney. An arch like that would be in the order of $1000 - $2000. Check with your fabricator of course - they may vary significantly in price. Just make sure you take a couple of images or drawings of what you want to do. Good luck!

Esther2: Hello Brendan, my husband and I have been fans of your beautiful gardens for many years! We were so excited to be able to see the gardens revisited this evening, and were really blown away with how the recipients spoke of the power of their gardens to transform their lives - their very own family sanctuary. We have a very modern and architect designed home in Annandale that is currently let down by the 'blank canvas' when we step out the back door.... we have many times wished you were available for real life commissions - is there any way we can arrange to meet with you and commission a masterpiece?

Brendan Moar: G'day Esther, thanks for watching - and all this time I thought my mum was the only one who watched the show!! Feel free to contact the Lifestyle Channel and pass on your details. I'm quite busy at the moment, as I'm madly writing the Dry Spell book (a shameless plug) but as September swings around I will have time to take on commissions.

Dimitri: I am in Turramurra and I need an amazing fountain in front of my house. Where can I get one from?

Brendan Moar: G'day Dimitri, try some of the big nurseries like Eden Gardens or Pots on Line in Dural. Failing that, Garden Life in Surry Hills deals in speccy water features. Check out Alludean (designers and makers of pots and water features) Best of luck.

Mark4: Hi Brendan. Do you have any tips for dealing with a sloping block? In particular, sloping across the property?

Brendan Moar: G'day Mark, sloping blocks can be really exciting but also really expensive to deal with. To create useable space, you really need to create level pads - this means retaining walls. You can have a number of pads of platforms, but make sure at least one of them is big enough to use. At least 4x4metres, so you can get some outdoor furniture or a table for outdoor dining. Good luck, man.

Barbara: When will Dry spell 3 be happening?

Brendan Moar: Stay tuned and check regularly

LEAH: Where can I get instruction to make the hanging succulent garden? Would they survive on a shady wall?

Brendan Moar: G'day Leah, the internet is abuzz with info on vertical gardens these days. They really aren't that hard to make - cages of reo mesh (100x100mm grid) can easily be made up by a steel fabricator and then you need to make up a sock from geotextile fabric to hold the soil. If you have a shady wall, I'd be using rhipsalis or even ferns. Try any shade- loving groundcover or trailing plant and just replace what fails with the ones that thrive. It's a case of trial and error. Good luck Leah.

Karen: Hi Brendan, great results on your show tonight, congrats. Where can I purchase some of those white egg pot plant containers I see in all of your designs?

Brendan Moar: In all of my designs? Sheesh! I'm not that predictable am I? You've got me pegged! Those white pots are terrazzo and are widely available throughout Australia. I do know Pots on Line in Dural sell them and they deliver (I think) to other states. Check it out and see if I'm imagining that! Good luck...

Will-too: Brendan, if you don't get to our questions tonight. Any chance we can mail you @lifestyle?

Brendan Moar: Yes for sure. Get the email details here

Shirley J: Hi Brendan I love your show. I’m trying to get some ideas for a new front garden (newly built house). I would like to know what natives are easy to look after and don’t take a lot of water or pruning?

Brendan Moar: G'day Shirley J, there are an ever increasing array of native grasses being released and they are hard to beat for durability, drought tolerance and low pruning needs. You should try westringias, grevilleas and correas too - but you should know that most natives will actually respond well and do better with pruning. Not savage pruning, just tip pruning after things have flowered - it stops them getting leggy and encourages better flowering and denser foliage. Good luck

Dominique2: Hi, I am designing a vertical garden using wire mesh as you did but could not find the bag you used to plant the plants in. Can you point me in the right direction?

Brendan Moar: Hey Dominique, we make the bags ourselves from geotextile fabirc which you can buy at a plumbing supplies or an agricultural supplies. They are simply sewn together with a tough synthetic thread. Good luck.

Kylie & John: Brendan, are you on twitter?
Brendan Moar: You can follow the LifeStyle Channel on Twitter at

Brascha: Hi Brendan, absolutely love your garden designs. I'd love to know where I can get the nice smooth rounds rocks from or do you make them?

Brendan Moar: The rocks you're referring to are carved by hand (by me and my crew) from Hebel. They start out as Hebel Artist blocks that are 1200mmx400mmx400mm.

sal68: Hi Brendan, love your show! I am very interested in the coloured striped fabric used on the Balmain house. It looked like it was still in great condition. Is it the same fabric as your cushion covers? Where can I get it?

Brendan Moar: Hi Sal, the fabric you're referring to is from Ici Et La in Surry Hills Sydney. It's pricey but the best quality awning fabric you can get and the colour range is awesome.

Jaym1: Brendan, your designs have inspired me! Could you tell me, for each of the Dry Spell Gardens that were on tonight, how long did you spend on each design?

Brendan Moar: That's a tricky question Jay, I'd say on average there's a good two weeks that goes into designing and refining a garden design. There's a lot of thinking time in there - lots of cups of tea and lots of dog walking allowing the subconscious to bubble away. You can have initial ideas quickly but you really need time to work things over and over - at least that's how it works for me.

KeithJ: Hi Brendan! Thanks for revisiting my favourite show! My question is about pet friendly gardens. I have two active dogs, and am really missing my back grass as they are always wearing it out! Am I better to get rid of all the lawn and put paths down? Or is there a more pet friendly option that would let me enjoy my back lawn as well?

Brendan Moar: Dogs and lawn can be a tricky mix. It so often depends on the dog. If your dogs continually wear out your grass I think, yes you're better off looking to a mix of hard surfaces and beds of tough native grasses. If you really want grass is it possible to create a dog run or fence them off from part of the garden? Good luck

Lorraine66747: Brendan, have you any DVD's available to purchase on Dry Spell Gardening?

Brendan Moar: Keep checking the LifeStyle Channel website - DVD's are planned to come out in the not too distant future.

Will-too: Hey Brendan I've noticed that you use mostly drought tolerant plants rather then go all out native in your gardens. I've got a lot of bush around (north side of Sydney) and want to keep the natives (as most neighbours have levelled their blocks and planted camelias and agapanthus), got any tips on how to keep the semi-feral native feel, but retain some design in the garden?

Brendan Moar: Good question Will. The best way to keep a sense of design in a 'semi feral' scheme - love your description - is to get a balance of plant shapes - low groundcovers, plants with vertical lines like sedges, grasses for volume and softness and then some clipped shapes to give some focus.

Matt2: Hey Brendan, I'm a fan of your show and your ability to design and implement amazing gardens. I wanted to know, I'm interested in becoming a Landscape Architect/Landscaper. I just missed out on the mark to go to university for it in Sydney. Any ideas where I should begin?

Brendan Moar: Hey Matt, the design courses at Ryde Tafe in Sydney or Burnleigh in Melb are excellent - give them a go and don't forget to try again as a mature age student (if you're still interested) for landscape architecture.

Deryck_L: Hi Brendan, love your show and the designs are magnificent. We are currently building in West Sydney and would love to have our house or one like it on your show. Have you ever done a brand new home or do you generally do renovations?

Brendan Moar: G'day Deryck, I do all types of houses. Brand new homes are challenging because you have nothing to work with but on the flipside you've got nothing holding you back.

MONICA2: Brendon, I loved what you have done with the gardens and how they all look two years on. I have recently put up a Pergola on the back and side of my house but would like to put some sort of screen in a corner to give some privacy from the reserve behind the back fence. However I don’t want to block out all the morning sun that comes in that north facing corner. Any ideas of screens apart from the usual bamboo or wooden slats?

Brendan Moar: G'day Monica, think about steel reinforcement mesh (200x200mm grid) you can get it galvanised or let it go rusty. You could even get two or three layers tack welded one on top of the other to create a 3D tartan effect. That's hot off the presses by the way - I'm about to use that in a garden in Melbourne. Good luck.

Poop-ski: Hey Brendan, I recently bought two flowering gumtrees - 'summer red' and 'summer beauty', how close together can they be planted and do they need much in the way of water or fertilisers to help them flower?

Brendan Moar: They're great trees and could be planted as close as 1.5 m if you wanted. Their crowns would interlock though - the best distance would be about two to four metres apart. They'll need regular watering in their first few weeks of establishment but should be pretty self sufficient after that. Use a slow release native plant fertiliser twice a year.

Jaym1: Do you have a favourite style of house to design a garden to Brendan?

Brendan Moar: I am a sucker for a mid-century modern home.

Kylie & John: Hi Brendan, we've planted a row of Japanese box hedge and they don't seem to be growing?

Brendan Moar: They can sometimes take a while to get going. Throw some dynamic lifter around, mulch them and ensure the soil isn't repelling water - if it is, break up the top surface, dig in some organic compost or rotted cow manure and some wetta soil wouldn't go astray.

Nicole6: Hi Brendan, do you have any suggestions on how to soften a garden which has heaps of pavers and a pool and patio? It is very barren. All pot plants usually die due to no sun.
Brendan Moar: Sounds like you need some big planters custom made. That means you can get some decent planting into the space. Make sure you use tough plants and keep them well mulched.

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Posted by CoreyJReport
Ive noticed in your new, dry spell garden shows that you use alot of outdoor walls that u paint and put thin strips of timber on.
Just wondering what you use, what the wall is made out of and what the thin strips of timber are.
thanx Corey
Posted by CarolReport
brendan where can you buy the material used for vertical wall used to line frame ? Live in Brisbane. Cheers
Posted by PokadeenieReport
Hi there
Can i register my house/garden as a candidate for a once over...We have an interesting life, and would love to share...I would probably describe us as Industrial Zen...would love to hear from you
Mrs Martin..
Posted by CynthiaReport
Brenden, is it posible to hire your sevice or your company to do a quote to fix the back yard. Please advise!!!