Melbourne landscaping, decking, paving and water features


Our Melbourne landscaping has been featured twice in the Outdoor Design & Living magazine.

Outdoor Design & Living article - Courting Success

Hilltop hideaway

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Boasting commanding views, this stunning new landscape is a natural wonder

The sheer size of this hilltop property demanded a design that made a definitive statement. Yet it needed to merge with the surrounding landscape, enhancing the setting rather than dominating it.

The main living area of the house commands a stunning view of rolling hills, with the lights of Melbourne visible in the distance, so it was imperative the landscape design not detract from the breathtaking vista.

To achieve a true sense of place, the design and construction team from Stanbrook Outdoor Creations drew upon a palette of earthy colours and natural materials and a design in which every element is expertly integrated. Note how the mounded shapes of the low-growing plants and the curved outline of the merbau timber deck mirror the gentle undulations of the hills without ever detracting from the view.

The triumph of the design is the unique, custommade water feature. Explains Stanbrook’s Warrick Brooks: “The water feature was built in a triangular shape as we felt this would create interest while not being ‘in your face’ as a column or square might be.”

The water feature is clad in Belgian black limestone. Cutting the cladding to suit was a painstaking process, but it was time well spent.

“We essentially created three water features in one by incorporating two pumps into the design,” Warrick continues. “The first operates two blades of water that recirculate into a pond hidden by pebbles on a suspended mesh cage. The other pump feeds a reserve pond on top of the water feature that fills up and gently cascades down all three sides. This gives the owners the option of either pump running or both at the same time.”

For ease of operation, the pumps can be controlled from the main deck, as can the exterior lights.

The paving that hugs the perimeter of the house and pool is of Gosford sandstone laid in a random pattern. For contrast, black limestone steps lead past the water feature and through the pebblemulched planting beds. To supply the paving and stone cladding, Stanbrook looked to Select Brick and Paving.

To contend with the open hilltop aspect and the extremes of weather, the planting needed to be drought-tolerant yet not phased by periods of cold. And achieving just the right contrast between colour, leaf variation and texture was integral to the success of the design.

After careful consideration, Stanbrook Outdoor Creations came up with a hardy and handsome selection of plants, all of which were supplied by Urban Environments Wholesale Nursery. The final mix included Acacia cognata ‘Limelight’ (a miniature wattle with weeping foliage), Scleranthus biflorus (a bright-green cushion-like plant), Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’ (a dwarf flax), Leucophyta brownii (commonly known as cushion bush), Dianella ‘Little Rev’ (a miniature native lily), Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass), Agave attenuata, Echeveria and Xanthorrhoea (grass trees) for interest.

The overall result is a landscape that sits comfortably in its natural surroundings and provides the owners with a picture-perfect setting in which to entertain or relax.

Outdoor Design & Living article - Hilltop hideaway

Courting success

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A warm and welcoming outdoor room featuring a Canary Island beauty

You would be hard pressed to find a more magnificent specimen than the amazing Canary Island date palm that claims centre stage in the rear garden of this Melbourne property. So it’s not surprising that when the owners decided it was time for a complete courtyard transformation, this statuesque palm was to be the main feature.

In addition to featuring the palm, the owners’ wish list included the need to make the 12m x 17m space more functional and easier to maintain. Hardy plants were a must-have as was the inclusion of natural materials with earthy colours.

Constructed by Stanbrook Outdoor Creations to a design by Ben Bentley of BJB Designs, this modern new outdoor living area now ticks every box.

In effecting such a dramatic transformation, Stanbrook was able to re-use some existing elements. An exposed aggregate concrete slab, for example, was revamped to provide a sound base for the new 600mm x 600mm Desert Sand sandstone-calibrated pavers. Sealed to prevent staining, these pavers have proven the perfect choice for the barbecue/entertaining area.

The perimeter fences were able to stay, too, and have been camouflaged with merbau timber slat screening. This durable hardwood, which is resistant to termites and decay, has also been used to construct the decking and planter boxes.

The plants, which include grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.), yuccas (Yucca elephantipes) and bird of paradise (Strelitzia sp.) require minimal attention and look amazing set against the backdrop of the timber screens.

To keep them healthy during dry spells, there is a basic inline drip system.

The final flourish is a sculptural water feature standing proudly in one corner. It gives the courtyard a fresh feel and introduces the soothing sight and sound of moving water.

This small outdoor space has been beautifully transformed by Stanbrook Outdoor Creations into a totally functional alfresco room that belies its actual size.