Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and de­signer, Adam Robin­son De­sign

Australian House & Garden - - GARDENING - ADAM ROBIN­SON

The project

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.

The so­lu­tion

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.

De­signer state­ment

“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.

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