Project Description

Put simply, our brief was to create a low maintenance garden, which was sustainable and attractive to suit a townhouse in the leafy seaside suburb of Elwood – complementing its surroundings and implemented with minimal disturbance to the existing landscape.

According to our client, John, the existing garden was a bit of a lost cause. The lawn was struggling, and weeds had overtaken the mostly uninteresting and water-hungry plants. Groundswell were entrusted with creating a “dry garden”. In gardening terms, this meant going completely cold turkey – no watering systems, no tanks – just faith in appropriate plant selection and the natural elements.

Whilst the existing garden was not thriving, we were very careful and extremely sensitive to avoid wasting materials and any plants that had managed to survive. We’d managed to keep some established Manchurian Pear trees that were successfully acting as a screen to the adjoining two-storey development along the rear south-facing fence line. There were also some existing bamboo screens which were retained and incorporated into the overall design.

While it is a reasonably small garden, there is still plenty of space to run around in. The reclaimed timbers are a beautiful paving alternative and work well with the cacti and other succulents featured throughout to create a contemporary desert-like landscape. Assorted native grasses and groundcovers blend in well alongside the cacti and eucalypts – giving the rear courtyard a great palette of texture and colour. The plants survive and thrive on natural rainfall alone, without so much as a drop of water from a hose or irrigation system.

Recycled bluestone piece and stepping stones added a strong aesthetic and are an effective sustainable mulch. The permeable granitic sand is a dramatic and highly sustainable alternative to the water hungry lawn that it replaced.

A new deck built along the western wall from sustainably harvested yellow stringy bark created a pleasant spot for a glass of wine on a summer’s day.

The garden shed is an impressive and quite substantial structure built totally from reclaimed and recycled materials. It creates a focal point for the garden, as does the goat sculpture made from old corrugated iron. This piece was designed by artist, Scott Andrews, and a reference to our client’s other home – a 38 acre hobby goat farm in Trentham.

The overall design for this garden is inventive and eclectic, with a series of untamed qualities due to the plantings. Our client has since sold the home and the new owners are apparently purchasing the house because they love the garden – a huge compliment and a definite nod to the benefits of a low fuss sustainable garden.


This garden has been featured in the following publications:
Green Magazine (Issue 17)
Backyard Magazine (Sustainable and Water-wise Gardens edition)