As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I recently met with a Landscape Designer to get a cohesive plan for our back garden. I felt a little out of my depth - I have limited plant knowledge, and I was also suffering from Design Overload. I have made a lot of decisions about exterior and interior Design of the new extension to the house, but our back garden is rather a blank canvas. In addition, I didn't want to make mistakes - plants are expensive, and putting something in that turned out to be a mistake would waste valuable growing time. Sometimes these things can only become apparent 5 or 10 years down the track.

view of back garden when we moved in - plumbers had dug up the tennis court for the new sewer, and a waist height fence that was falling down to the right

view to the back - White Cedar on the right, unpruned for 40 years

back garden up until recently

So, with lots of justification in that vein, I met with the Landscape Designer a month or so ago, and ran through our requirements and showed her images of gardens that I liked.

What we started with was a large area of the back garden given over to an East/West facing lawn tennis court. This was dug up by the plumbers before we moved in to install a new sewer, so was definitely not match ready. It was also fenced by rusty chain wire, which we had removed before the move. There was a very large, overgrown White Cedar which had some issues with rot and needed significant pruning to make it safe. We had an old well that was filled in, and a very ugly and large shed/ carport in the back corner of the property.

We have a few things to consider - we have a very large tree that we want to keep, we need to incorporate a swimming pool somewhere, and we wanted a variety of areas for the children to play in, but also to leave an area large enough that they can kick a football around, or play a bit of backyard cricket.


Firstly, we are getting rid of the tennis court. I know, controversial. But our tennis court faces East/ West, which is not ideal. Basically if you want to play tennis, you'd want it floodlit and to play at night, otherwise someone always gets the sun in their eyes. I also got a couple of quotes to do the court properly, and it was in the vicinity of $80,000.



Secondly, in thinking about what sort of garden we wanted to have, we were ending up with a great big synthetic tennis court surface taking up most of our back garden. I felt that this would be sterile, and quite hot too during our 40C plus weather in an average Adelaide Summer.

We also wanted to keep the incredibly large White Cedar tree that the children call The Faraway Tree. And we also decided that if we weren't going to keep the tennis court, we'd instead move the proposed swimming pool from the side garden to the back, which is easier to supervise from inside the house, and not so restrictive in terms of size of pool we end up with.

So, a week ago we met and went over the plans that the Designer has come up with. And I think she's pretty much got it right first go. The old tennis court area is being divided into thirds, with the steps down from the outdoor living area and verandas being extended and enlarged from my original Architectural plans to make the access into the garden easier.


The back third of the old tennis court is going to have a hard surface of granitic sand. I had given the Designer lots of inspiration photos, and one of them was of a Boules court, pictured below. While we are not big Boules players in our house at this stage, I thought it would be useful to have a surface that could be for a basketball hoop, or a cricket pitch for bowling practice for the children etc. It also provides a nice breaking up of all the green, I've always been quite drawn to gravelled surfaces in garden design. It will have a little seating area, and be a little bit hidden from the house with lush planting. I think this will become a favourite area for the children to play.








The new plan also incorporates a vegetable garden, tucked behind the high wall that the pool backs onto, this will keep it slightly out of sight, as it's unlikely that it will look as neat as the image below. We also have behind the wall a utility area, which will house the trampoline, the sandpit and the compost bins etc.


Lots of trees are going to be planted. When we first moved into the house, we had to replace all the fences around the perimeter of the property. All except the front fence were waist height galvanised iron and were falling down in places. While it was nice to meet the neighbours while I was in the back garden hanging out washing, it did make us feel rather on display. So after completing our new fences we were left with rather a new suburban home type feel to the back garden, with a high aluminium fence on two sides, and lawn running right up to it with no garden bed. We planted a row of Manchurian pear trees on the perimeter with our neighbours, both to screen their garden from our view (we get a borrowed view of their water tank, dying trees and slightly random plantings) and to soften the rather bland view in ours. At that stage, we had thought we would keep the tennis court.


So our new plans incorporate lots of the planting styles at low level that I gave the designer pictures of, all in this post, plus a lot more. We had only four trees on the property when we bought it - the very large White Cedar in the back garden, a small and overshadowed fig tree next to the Cedar, a liquidamber to the side of the house, and the magnolia in the front garden, all of which we kept. We removed a lot of bushes during the renovation process (most of which were poisonous, which worried me with the children playing). We've already planted 3 new maples, a crabapple, the 7 Manchurian pears, and will plant another 10 trees in the new back garden plans.



So, exciting to see the plans, to love them immediately, and to see a little glimpse of how we might enjoy this space in the future. The designer is now working on some plans for the side garden (where we had earmarked the pool to go, currently a lawn with some weed filled vegetable beds in it), and we've also discussed my disappointment with the front garden (which I designed)... some minor adjustments may be done there as well.

all images via my Pinterest Gardens board, except for the ugly ones at the top which are all my own. 

33 comments:

  1. that herbaceous border arrangement with the clipped hedges ad soft messy under planting is 11/10. So are all the terracotta pots. Good luck with it all!

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    1. Love that image too - very Bronte House, which I am now OBSESSED with thanks to you putting me onto the book! xx

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  2. You have soo much land and space.

    Such a foreign concept for me in every sense.

    I don't know much about planting and gardens either but it looks like so much fun when pools and playareas are involved.

    But 80K for a tennis court?!? I mean - I knew Australia was getting expensive but...I dare not ask the bill for a pool.

    How cute to name the tree? The kids will get an enchanted forest soon.

    Looking forward to more pics xx

    ( Too funny about the picture credits!)

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    1. This was one of the big reasons for the move back to Adelaide - the space, and the beautiful houses.

      Yes, tennis courts that are floodlit are very expensive. I can buy a lot of plants for $80k. Pools are also stratospheric, even if you cut out fancy water features/ self cleaning systems/ retracting covers etc. Construction pricing in Australia is ridiculous... if my house were in the USA it could easily be around 4 x's as big for the amount were spending on it.

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  3. I am completely smitten by your inspiration photos. Just love the Boules court and the idea of a beautiful vegetable garden...heavenly.

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    1. I'd love for my garden to look even fractionally like these images. The before is fairly uninspiring! xx

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  4. How exciting! It is going to look amazing. Love the granite part. Nice break from all the amazing greenery. Very pretty. Can't wait to see it finished.

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    1. Agree - the granitic sand will make a difference I think... I like a garden with little secret parts to it. xx

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  5. It looks fabulous. Love the photo with the hedges and the soft more informal plants along them (I love all the photos actually).

    Tennis courts are ridiculously expensive to do. We had one at our last homestead which we left in the end.

    I love that you have such a large area to work with - so many houses now in Perth seem to have huge footprints and there is a pocket sized piece of garden left. Even in areas with biggish blocks.

    Laughed at your ideas about a vegie patch needing to be hidden. Mine is growing fine but I haven't set up the watering properly so sprinklers are perched on old washing powder buckets. The Farmer and I laughed yesterday that it needs some "styling." Like everything I guess we will get there one day.

    Take care Heidi - so lovely to see all your plans and progress.

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    1. I couldn't believe how expensive the court was. I grew up with a Tennis Court and we didn't use it much - more for roller skating and riding bikes on then actually playing tennis, so I didn't think it would get a lot of use after the initial excitement of having one wore off.
      Vegie gardens can often look a little ratty due to things finishing their season and other things growing. You should definitely get out there and do some styling - Country Style magazine won't be knocking at the farm gates anytime soon if you've got old washing powder buckets out there! xx

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  6. Love all of it. I think my hubby would have a heart attack if I said I wanted to get rid of the court (which I do), but he is keeping it lawn so that's something. We're putting in a boules court too, mostly as an excuse to drink pastis during the middle of the day. We also just picked up the house next door with over 1200 s/m block so we are now well over 3000 sm (some of which we won't acquire for sometime). Consequently all design has flown out the window...and I need a drink, a Valium and a lie down. Kx (The Blog a House Built).

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    1. We debated about the court for the past 3 years! Everyone we know has an opinion about it, but we think it's really the best option for us. You have an absolutely Massive block now K, jeepers - definitely get a designer in to make it a cohesive whole if you're feeling overwhelmed. Drinking in the middle of the day should always be encouraged! Thanks for popping in... have missed hearing from you, and as I can't comment on your blog due to the security restrictions it's been a long time between conversations! xx

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  7. It will look fabulous when it is all done!

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    1. It will be a big, big change indeed! xx

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  8. As an avid "watcher of the weather"...I think it makes more sense to have a swimming poolrather than a tennis court in South Australia. When we had our suburban above ground pool, the children would all jump in and have the best time even on a coolish day - water and children = fun!

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    1. You're quite right Linda - there is absolutely no way we would be using the court during a lot of our Summer, whereas a pool will get a lot of use.... and you can't have everything, so the court will go. Plus a garden is much more cooling on a hot Summer's night. xx

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  9. Love the idea of a boules court....wondering where we can put one in! Have massive topiary addiction so some of those photos definitely upped my pulse rate and made my palms sweaty...gorgeous! Rx

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    1. I'm quite fond of a few box balls here and there.... am still so sad about my recent topiary deaths. You'll definitely need a boules court when you return from France! xx

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  10. It must be so exciting to be planning it all! I can't imagine having a garden that big, but we're in inner city Sydney, so that's the price we pay.
    I love your boules garden idea, and think you've made the right choice to get rid of the court. It will be way too hot to play for most of the year, and a pool will get far more use.
    Shame you can't have both......!

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    1. It's quite a step up from our old inner city place in Melbourne... as you could see from the posts we had a courtyard, so this is so much bigger by comparison. I'm going to keep looking at these images when it's the middle of Winter and we have a muddy building site out the back... they'll keep me going! xx

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  11. Sounds like a very large garden - lucky children! Adore the notion of a boules pitch - we had one in a garden a few houses back and while it was supposed to be for the children, in truth it was us and our friends who used it very regularly! We had tournaments with bubbles in hand (so it wasn't terribly serious in the competitive stakes but loads of fun). xx

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    1. Much more inclusive than tennis too... after all if you stand opposite someone that can't serve a ball in, or return it for that matter it's not at all fun, for either party. Plus any sport you can do with a glass of bubbles in one hand is my kind of sport! xx

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  12. Heidi, I am currently on the couch catching up on your posts!

    Your garden plans look fabulous. I personally would feel more at ease having a landscape designer in charge, as I have no idea about plants or flowers. Having someone else to analyse all of the variables, especially the natural environment would no doubt make the decision making process a bit easier.

    I particularly like the last image, with the sculptured plants and white umbrella; really beautiful and relaxing. Love the idea of the Boules court too xxx

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    1. I'm v. glad that I did get a designer involved. I'm always telling other people to hire a professional Architect or whatever to help with their house, so I needed to take some of my own advice. It's taken a lot of pressure off me, plus I think we're definitely going to get a much better result. xx

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  13. Loving your garden plans Heidi. Think the boules pitch is a great idea - hoping to sneak one in our backyard when all the building materials finally go!! Agree that sports that can be played with bubbles in one hand are good ones!! Thank goodness the weather here in Adelaide is finally cooling down - hopefully our next water bill won't rival the national debt!! Jo xx

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    1. I am very scared about the next water bill... and I only have 1/4 of the garden. I'm thinking we might want to open up the old well to alleviate the pain when we have a complete garden to water! xx

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  14. I think the white cedar is the only Austrlian deciduous plant . or am I thinking of something else?


    Genreally speaking not mad about topiary but those box balls in the last photo look really good dont they?

    I think the sandy gravel surface for the children to play on is a great idea and I cant get over the absoultely large space you have to work with

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    1. I think you're right smr - it's deciduous, and I can't think of another native that is. Lovely tree - the neighbours think it has its roots in the old well, as it thrived during the drought and has an 8 m circumference trunk!! xx

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  15. I'm loving this post and can't wait to see the garden come alive! Please can you post about the going underground when it happens will be v interested to see that happen as we are thinking of doing the same! X

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    1. I'll certainly post about the underground room - it's going to be Mr AV's study, so it will be nice! And it is cheaper than going above ground in a second story, so worked for us (plus he is very keen on having his own cave....) xx

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  16. How exciting to start a garden from scratch and I love these plans. The boule area is a wonderful idea and I especially like the photos of the neatly trimmed trees and all that gorgeous lavender.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Lots of beautiful inspiration on Pinterest... I have a hard time narrowing it down to one particular look... I'm greedy and want it all. xx

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  17. Wow, I envy you for having such a spacious garden. You can do a lot in this space! Your garden plans were great too. What are the things you've done so far? I hope that it will turn out beautifully just like with the inspirations above. It will definitely serve as an amazing place in the future.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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