The Timms family loved the HOME team's transformation of their backyard – from junkyard to a gorgeous, user-friendly outside living area. They hoped that the team would return to tackle their rather unglamorous, uninviting front yard, to give them an entrance they could be proud of.
- The entrance of their home left a lot to be desired. Kelly felt that their front yard was letting down the whole street. There had been a few years of neglect and mistreatment and it was bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood.
- The space needed to accommodate Wazza's 'hellos' and notoriously long 'goodbyes'.
- The family dog Tia had been escaping through the unfenced front yard.
- This garden called for something special: it needed to be open, warm and welcoming, unpretentious and not ostentatious. It needed to be distinctly Australian.
In keeping with what was done 'out the back', Brendan's design for the front garden kept to the same design principals to enable a continuum between the two. As the house is a 1927 Californian bungalow, it was thought a picket fence would best suit the space. The fence sets the tone for the whole garden, open and earthy and immediately inviting. Heritage Hardwoods & Softwoods installed the fence around the perimeter of the house for $8000. It was then painted in Leadman by DULUX to tie in with the house bricks.
The next job was to clear out anything from the garden that was not in the new plan. Unwanted plants were removed, the old paths pulled up, the liquid amber trimmed, the Chinese Elm removed, and lots of excess rubbish was thrown into the skip.
Next, the paths. Brendan decided on down to earth materials such as decomposed granite, stone, cement and timber. Sydney Horticultural & Turf Services were brought in for the day to excavate the new paths and construct the three new steps leading up from the street to the house. The steps were then finished with a rough render, keeping in tone with the use of down to earth materials.
To help hold in the granite paths and to keep separate the garden beds, bluestone sets were used as a border for the front garden bed, and timber edging used for the side path. Brendan then recycled the old cement path by cutting square sections and laying them like stepping stones in each step leading up to the house.
Note: a layer of road base is laid underneath the decomposed granite in order to help with drainage.
- Light poles were made from heavy second hand hardwood. Our lights were installed by Scott Air & Electrical in half a day.
- A seat was found for the bargain price of $300 in a second hand shop. Being an old wharf pier and weighing close to a tonne, this seat needed a serious cement footing which the boys at Sydney Horticulural & Turf Services also took care of.
- The entire new garden area was topped with a native soil mix. This mix is free draining and particularly good when you're existing soil is sandy.
- Prostranthea, a type of purple flowering native mint bush was chosen to use as a hedge.
- Native tussock grass was used as a border to give some vertical strength whilst still retaining a feeling of softness and movement.
- Grivillea 'coastal glow' with its lovely loose open habit was chosen, as it is great for filling large spaces and attracting the birds.
- Doryanthes or Gymea lillies were used for a dramatic element.
Choosing plants can seem quite scary but Brendan's motto was to keep it simple:
Wazza had some old oil drums that Brendan turned into planters, which were great for the 'show off' Flannel Flowers and Kangaroo Paws.
Brendan added some old iron gates for something funky and original. He felt they said a lot about the Timms Family. "They're wired and welcoming with nothing to hide, a little rough around the edges but full of soul."
Things to consider:
- When designing attempt to capture the essence of the place – what makes it tick, what makes it special and what makes it unique.
- If any of your show plants prove short lived they can be easily replaced so enjoy the challenge of trying something new.
- Look in second hand shops for a bargain. Your purchase may also have a lot more character than its brand new counterpart.
- Keep your paths as wide as possible to give a spacious feel.
- With very small gardens it is important to look at the details of the house, which is so close.
- A great way to view your garden space is to see it like a house – with different rooms. Different parts of the garden can serve different purposes!
- If you're time poor consider hiring a landscape architect.
Never lose sight of the big picture. It's easy to get bogged down in detail. Have a strong foundation or layout and then fill in the detail.
Equipment and Suppliers
Lot 4 Elizabeth Dr
Kemps Creek NSW 2171
Ph: (02) 9826 1911
Australian Native Landscapes
Ph: (02) 9712 5356
Benny Painting Co.
Bexley Caringbah Sand Supply
Heritage Hardwoods and Softwoods
93 Boundary Road
Peakhurst NSW 2210
Ph: (02) 9584 1937
Scott Air and Electrical
Sydney Horticultural and Turf Services
Sydney Wildflower Nursery South
Specialist Mini Digger Services
Ph: 0414 353 048
The Second Hand Building Centre