Set in the beautiful coastal community of Coledale just south of Sydney‭, ‬this site posed a number of challenges to award winning‭ ‬landscape designer Grant Boyle of Fig Landscapes‭. ‬



What were the clients hoping to achieve through the design‭?‬

The site was a bit of a wasteland‭, ‬it was very steep‭, ‬unusable and overgrown‭. ‬So the brief was basically just to create some usable space‭. ‬My clients have two young sons‭. ‬They‮!&‬re an active family‭, ‬but they‮!&‬re also very busy‭ ‬‮!‬X they run two businesses‭. ‬So they wanted something that was super low maintenance‭. ‬They didn‮!&‬t want to be out there pruning hedges‭. ‬They wanted a garden that just looked after itself‭. ‬They didn‮!&‬t want to have to paint walls‭, ‬so it was important that whatever we used was going to be able to cope with the coastal environment‭.‬

One of the main challenges being that it is an exposed coastal site‭. ‬It‮!&‬s about 300‭ ‬metres back from the beach and it‮!&‬s very steep‭, ‬and really exposed‭! ‬So‭, ‬I had to select materials and plants that were able to survive in those conditions‭. ‬Different textures and colours were incorporated‭, ‬but largely it was a coastal themed garden‭. ‬Plants were selected from Australia‭, ‬New‭ ‬Zealand‭, ‬and the Mediterranean that are proven in coastal environments‭. ‬

It was a very relaxed structure in terms of planting‭. ‬There wasn‮!&‬t anything formal about it‭; ‬they just wanted to have that sort of relaxed coastal feel‭.‬

A lot of the hard materials you used on the project are recycled‭.‬

Part of my company ethos is re-using materials‭, ‬using recycled materials‭, ‬and upcycling‭. ‬We try to be as environmentally conscious as we can‭. ‬So I‮!&‬m always drawn to using recycled materials‭. ‬I love the rustic charm and the interest they can create in a garden‭. ‬

With the recycled railway sleepers you basically build the walls and there‮!&‬s nothing more to do to them‭, ‬and in fact they look better with age‭. ‬As the timber greys off and they age a little‭, ‬they start to sit really nicely in the environment‭. ‬A stone or rendered wall needs maintenance to look good‭. ‬So the sleepers were a natural‭ ‬choice‭, ‬when I first saw the site‭, ‬I knew that I was going to use the sleepers‭. ‬

The crushed granite was chosen for the pathways and the fire pit area because it‮!&‬s a free draining material‭. ‬The fire pit is a recreational area with a more low maintenance feel‭, ‬where if we‮!&‬d done paving‭, ‬there would always be a level of maintenance that would be required‭ ‬‮!‬X cleaning‭, ‬sealing‭... ‬it was about making the garden really feel natural and part of the environment‭. ‬

To edge that area we used what‮!&‬s called corten steel‭. ‬It‮!&‬s a mild steel that forms rust on the surface‭. ‬Again‭, ‬it was about creating a little bit of interest in the garden‭, ‬and also tying in with those natural‭, ‬Australian looking materials‭. ‬

How much water does the garden require‭?‬

There‮!&‬s no irrigation on site‭. ‬All the plants were chosen for their ability to survive even in dry periods‭ ‬‮!‬X not only are they surviving‭, ‬they‮!&‬re thriving‭. ‬Everything is looking amazing‭, ‬and like I said‭, ‬with absolutely no irrigation‭.‬

We did bring in quite a bit of new soil and mulched the site heavily with forest fines mulch‭, ‬which is recycled timber pallets that have been chipped up and mixed with leaf litter‭. ‬

Did you style the outdoor furniture as well‭?‬

Yes‭, ‬I styled everything‭. ‬As a landscape designer‭, ‬part of what I do‭, ‬when I design a space‭, ‬I recommend to the client the furniture I think would work best in that space‭. ‬I have quite a good relationship with Eco Outdoor who supplied the furniture for that particular project‭. ‬

I like the outdoor shower as a functional feature‭. ‬

They‮!&‬re three hundred metres from the beach‭, ‬and the Dad‭, ‬Phillip and the two boys who are‭, ‬I think six and seven now‭, ‬they‮!&‬re all really keen surfers‭, ‬so the outdoor shower was part of the brief‭. ‬When they come back from the beach they can wash their‭ ‬boards off‭, ‬they can rinse off and wash out their wetsuits before they go inside‭. ‬

Can you list off some of the plants you included in the job‭?‬

The larger specimens included banksia‭ (‬Banksia Serrata‭), ‬tuckeroo‭ (‬Cupaniopsis anacardioides‭), ‬and there was also a tree fern‭ (‬Cyathea Cooperi‭). ‬Bamboo slender weaver‮!&‬s‭ (‬Bambusa textilus var‭. ‬Gracilis‭), ‬was used for privacy along the boundary and some of the ground covers included pig face‭ (‬Carpobrotus glaucescens‭) ‬and creeping boobialla‭ (‬Myoporum parvifolium‭) ‬which are both native‭.‬

We used quite a few different types of grasses including purple fountain grass‭ (‬Pennisetum advena‭  ‬‮!&‬Rubrum‮!&‬‭), ‬blue flax-lilly‭ (‬Dianella caerulea‭), ‬and lomandra‭ (‬Lomandra longifolia‭ ‬‮!&‬Tanika‮!&‬‭) ‬‮!‬X all really tough grasses‭. ‬

In the shrubs we used white correa‭ (‬Correa alba‭), ‬coastal rosemary‭ (‬Westringia fruticosa‭), ‬we also used French lavender‭ (‬Lavandula Stoechas‭), ‬and Echium candicans which we pruned into a large ball and is a nice feature especially when viewed from above on‭ ‬the back deck‭.‬

We also used some succulent species like Agave‭. ‬So there are a lot of plants from Australia and then there are your lavenders and others from the Mediterranean‭. ‬It was a real mix of those two areas‭. ‬

What were some of the main design considerations on this project‭?‬

It‮!&‬s just really about creating those levels and the layout for the stairs‭; ‬I didn‮!&‬t want to have a set of stairs that just went straight down the site‭. ‬I intentionally designed them to meander through the site‭,‬‭ ‬to lead you through the garden and create a bit of interest as you walk down into the different zones‭.‬

I was largely governed by the contours of the site and that really led me to form the shapes that I did‭. ‬I really tried to work‭ ‬with the site‭. ‬We didn‮!&‬t have a huge budget to work with‭, ‬so I was mindful that we couldn‮!&‬t excavate a lot of material out of the site and we couldn‮!&‬t afford to bring a lot in‭. ‬We really had to work with what was there‭. ‬

Grant Boyle  Multi-Award winning Landscape Designer and Founder of Fig Landscapes.

Grant Boyle

Multi-Award winning Landscape Designer and Founder of Fig Landscapes.

Where do you draw your inspiration from‭? ‬

My inspiration comes from all different places‭; ‬nature is just constantly inspiring in different ways‭. ‬Different landscapes inspire me‭, ‬I‮!&‬ve travelled to the outback quite a few times‭, ‬to Uluru‭, ‬and that‮!&‬s an amazing place‭. ‬There‮!&‬s so much inspiration out there‭, ‬and Australia in general‭, ‬there’s so many different types of landscapes that no matter where you go you are constantly inspired‭. ‬I‮!&‬m pretty lucky to live on the coastline in Sydney‭. ‬Everywhere you walk there is inspiration‭.‬

I get inspiration from architecture as well‭. ‬I look at a site‭, ‬at the architecture and try and draw inspiration from that‭ - how‭ ‬can we connect the building and the garden together and make them work more harmoniously‭? ‬

You‮'‬ve only got to open your eyes to find inspiration‭.‬