Concrete Garden Makeover

Edwina and John have worked hard renovating their Newtown terrace in Sydney, but their backyard has been neglected.

Brendan's makeover shows how to soften a harsh, hot concrete urban space; how to make the most of a small, sloping, concrete space; and to top it off, how to have a dual purpose garden, so that you can still advertise off-street parking when reselling.

Together, Brendan and John construct a simple, low 1.6 x 1.6 folding yellow cedar deck. The deck is attached to two aluminium frames that will flip up enabling the yard to be used as a car-space when required. They also construct a second deck beside the existing shed to address the problem of the sloping yard. By adjusting the height of the support, the garden can be given an even floor, which will make it far more inviting and accessible.

This solution is also a lot easier than digging up and relaying concrete. To soften the backyard with some greenery, Brendan and the team construct a planter box using bricks already on site, and a fence along one side of the garden. The fence is treated pine timber decking laid ribbed side outwards, and for something different, the timber is laid horizontally rather than vertically. This gives a sense of space, and according to Brendan, a sense of calm and well-being.

The house is near a railway station and John is keen to keep an urban feel to this very urban garden, as well as draw inspiration from the local environment. So, the plants in the planter box are surrounded by ballast stones from a nearby railway track.

Brendan uses bamboo in the planter boxes to soften the edges and unify the whole space. He also chooses succulents and herbs as easy-maintenance feature plants.

John had some silver bins rescued from an old theatre that are perfect as pots. Once holes are drilled in the bottom for drainage, John attaches wheels to the bins for easier manoeuvrability.

They also use an old sail to provide much-needed shade to the area. According to Brendan, the most successful garden renovations have two features: they address the specific functional problems of the individual space, and they draw inspiration from the immediate local environment. Brendan and the team have done both in this case, and the result is a multi-functional space with a beautiful, robust urban edge.

Equipment and Suppliers

Aussie Skips
PO Box 376,
Five Dock NSW 2046
Tel: 02 9712 5356
Fax: 02 9712 3028

Kennards Hire (Australia Wide)
- tools and van

Cultivate Exterior Design
202 Oxford Street
Paddington NSW 2021
Ph: (02) 9356 3900
- cane chairs

Covered in Paint
445 King Street
Newtown NSW Sydney
Ph: (02) 9519 0204
Fax: (02) 9519 0260

Crescent Timber & Hardware
Corner Chapman Road and The Crescent
Annandale NSW 2038
Ph: (02) 9660 7133
Fax: (02) 9692 0951
- timber for deck

Harper Timber
342 Annangrove Road
Rouse Hill NSW 2155
Ph: (02) 9679 1800
Fax: (02) 9679 1822
- timber for fence (Yellow Cedar)

Australian Native Landscapes
317 Mona Vale Road
Terrey Hills NSW
Ph: (02) 9450 1444
- cement, potting mix and sand

Mr Bamboo
18 Myoora Road
Terrey Hills NSW
Ph: (02) 9486 3604
Fax: (02) 9967 5366
- black bamboo

Room Interior Products
17 Palmer Parade
Victoria 3121
Ph: (03) 9428 3344
Fax: (03) 9428 3030
- cushions, dog basket

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