Horticulturist and designer, Adam Robinson Design
In its former life, this Sydney backyard was a very pragmatic space. Backing onto a laneway, the triangular site near the beach was dominated by a concrete driveway, with a strip of lawn and a Hills Hoist clothesline. The owners knew it had much more potential, and asked garden designer Adam Robinson to transform it into an enticing, habitable extension of their home. Their brief was for a relaxed, family-friendly garden featuring a pool, areas of lawn and an entertaining zone for dining and lounging. In terms of plants, they wanted a contemporary coastal feel.
Adam’s overhaul started with the removal of the seldom-used driveway. This made way for the 7x3.5m pool, now the sparkling hero feature. He selected a mix of tropical and native plants to form thick garden beds, and maximised the greenery by designing a lawn border rather than paving around the pool. A white-painted pergola with bluestone flooring has added a spacious outdoor room, while new paint colours for the home’s exterior have strengthened the indoor/outdoor connection and made the scheme a harmonious whole.
“I love that we managed to fit so many elements into this tight space, yet still created the sense of a relaxed haven.”
The tall, sword-like leaves of Mauritius hemp ( Furcraea foetida) form a focal point in this corner patch near the pool (left). “All the other planting is quite soft, so this architectural plant provides a contrasting plant form and helps anchor the corner plantings,” says Adam. The lower plantings include Carex and clipped balls of Westringia and Buxus. “Having a few clipped plants alongside the looser, softer plants helps to create structure in the garden.”
Beachy keen “I’ve used a mix of plants to replicate the types you would expect to see by the beach, to play up the relaxed coastal feel,” says Adam. “All these plants are lush-looking yet hardy and resilient.” Hue harmony The makeover extended to a fresh colour scheme for the exterior. The main colour is Grey Pebble, with dark accents in Western Myall and trim in Vivid White, all Dulux. Copper outdoor shower, Robert Plumb. Cool colour Adam selected glass mosaics in pale blue for the interior pool tiles, to give the water a dreamy tropical hue. Bluestone pavers surrounding the pool are from Eco Outdoor, as are the pergola pavers. In step Adam planted strips of Buxus along the length of the steps, forming two long green ‘risers’. “It brings greenery into the entertaining area and helps to blur the line between the soft and hard surfaces,” he says. Disappearing act A glass safety fence runs through the lawn, effectively disappearing. The lawn is Sapphire soft-leaf buffalo, chosen for its fine-textured, dark-green blades and ability to withstand traffic.