Tropical Garden Design

Brendan tackles a little thing called 'sense of place'. Whether you live by the sea, nowhere near the sea or in the hubbub of the city, gardens should be an expression of how we interact with nature, a reflection of both our tastes and our times, they should ooze soul and most importantly, feel like they've been there forever.

Style Design Principles
In this case, the owners have asked for a tropical garden - but what exactly do they mean? Do they mean tropical Rainforest, with
deep lush vegetation, which is moist, damp, cool and dark? Or do they mean tropical island, with frangipani trees, hibiscus, gardenias, all bright and light? Brendan suggests that instead of asking "what theme do I want?", ask yourself, "who lives here?" and "where am I?"

Megan and Antony are a funky young couple who live in a recently-renovated 1930's style workman's cottage in an inner city industrial area. Brendan's aim is to transform the current space into a garden that considers the spirit of the neighbourhood, which is charged with energy, bold and exudes that inner city vibe. The garden must be a welcoming space as well as a sanctuary for Megan and Antony to escape to all year round, day and night.

The design

  • Because the garden is quite small you are very aware of the mismatched boundaries. One of the fences is in good condition, and although the other is new, it is uneven and just one too many textures for this small space. Brendan will clad this fence with HardiTex base sheets from James Hardie, which is then rendered, with an acrylic render from Dulux Acratex. The result is a boundary wall which now looks like a solid brick rendered wall, tying the yard to the house.
  • To conceal the garage/carport and utility areas and act as backdrop to the garden, Brendan will construct two 2.2m high walls from besser block which is then rendered. As a feature, the walls include decorative besser blocks and coloured perspex, to give a stained glass effect.
  • A 2m-long built-in seat will provide Antony and Megan with a reason to go out to the garden and a reason to stay in the garden. This is built of brick and also rendered.
  • A ramp is built from a hardwood timber which serves as a gangway to take you from the house down to the back corner of the garden. As it extends into the garden it narrows giving the impression that the path is longer than it is.
  • Planting bamboo at a staggered angle to the fence provides dappled shade and screening from the neighbours. Bamboo also provides a tropical feel. The bamboo is contained by galvanised troughs reflecting the suburbs industrial origins. The canna lilies also provide a tropical feel and are planted in resized storm water pipes.
  • To satisfy Antony's request for lawn, Brendan introduces a tongue-in-cheek option in the form of turf circles. Made from rainwater tanks and set on castors for mobility, they introduce fun into the space as well as a sculptural element.
  • By constructing the seat, planting beds, ramp and concrete on a diagonal angle to the boundaries, Brendan creates an optical illusion, one that appears to make the space seem larger. In fact, the only 90 degree angles are the garden boundaries.
  • By using a clever palette of tropical plants, industrial materials and bold colours, Brendan has created a garden with a tropical feel without losing the sense of its inner city suburbs.
  • Suppliers

    Collex Waste

    Kennards Hire

    Dulux Acratex

    James Hardie

    Bexley Caringbah Sand Supply

    Australian Native Landscapes

    Sydney Horticultural Irrigation & Turf Services
    David Wait
    0414 359 162

    Bongrow Builders
    Glen Pickard
    0414 292 041

    Specialist Mini-digger services
    Simon Dyer
    0414 353 048

    Metro Asset Services
    Adam Rakowski: 0402 320 797
    Corey Budd: 0412 765 765

    Dania's Timber
    177 Victoria Rd Marrickville 2204
    Tel: 02 9564 3434

    Australian Institute of Horticulture
    Unit 1c 260 Manns Rd Gosford West 2250
    Tel: 02 4325 4088

    Porters Paint

    Hy-way Sheetmetal and troughs
    30-32 Adderley St East Lidcombe NSW 2141
    Tel: 02 9748 0660

    Besser Block Centre
    179 Southcreek Rd Dee Why NSW 2099
    Tel: 02 9982 2536

    James Hardie FRC Pipes
    Customers Service
    Freecall 1800 659 850

    City Rainwater Tanks
    11 Severn St St Marys NSW 2760
    Tel: 02 9623 2414

    Windsor Turf Supplies
    22 Greenway Cres Windsor 2756
    Tel: 02 4577 2550

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