Dolans Bay, NSW

Merging gardens

The clients brief was to absorb the flavours of the new home and design a garden that gave cohesiveness to the home supporting various elements of pathways, the swimming pool, shade structures and green lush garden settings. Finally, the garden had to give the ability for the family to relax and enjoy with comparative privacy due to their busy working professions.


Hover over the image to see the before and after photos

Before After

The Back Story

A land parcel measuring just shy of 800m2 with rear garden backing onto natural reserve, which winds its way to the water’s edge of Dolans Bay. The home had undergone a total re-build and the garden was found to be left out of the home designers brief. 

We were brought into a garden that held the existing garden vegetation and swimming pool but with new house floor levels considerably higher than the existing gardens levels. I to this day remember the visual walk from the car to the home and how the home immediately embraced you with its visual presence. A home that said you are entering a special place and one of warmth. The new wrought iron ceiling high gates told you where entering a special place. Pressing the bell and waiting to be greeted, I immediately could see the potential for some amazing interwoven pathways and plant stock taking you to the main door past the said gate. As the main gate opened, you found yourself walking through a covered walkway to the very visually strong in character front door and yet not having a clue what lay behind.

It was clear to see that whatever the landscape design was to be it had to have the feel and flavour of the home from the minute you left the road behind me. As I entered the home its strength and style was breathtaking just by the way the main stairway swept up to above, the strong pillars, or sentries, that where dotted through the home and the large form openings to the rooms just told me that this family is one of recognising the enjoyment of quality and lifestyle. Well we drifted through the home with my creative thoughts getting a tad out of control but controlling them enough to not show. This was simply because the amount of opportunities that could be designed BUT I had to tame those thoughts as I still did not know what the brief was and how the owners saw themselves using the home and garden. 

We reached the double back patio doors instantly noticing the ground level beyond was totally out of whack to the homes floor levels. Beyond that drop we were given a very sad swimming pool looking like it was being swallowed up by the land but trying to hold water all be it of a radiant green colour and a range of semi to mature tree stock. What did grab my attention was the land behind. Land of partially managed growing conditions but not supporting any homes that one could see. Oh, now we were talking of a design that in the first instance gave problems but by the very nature of the word ‘Problems’ just brings excitement to my mind as always where there are challenges there lies a hidden jewel. One just needs to know how to find it and use it to enhance the final landscape design piece of the puzzle.

The Challenge

The challenges were:


This design whilst we had the pieces of the puzzle ‘Pool, paths, privacy, lush gardens etc.’ had to embrace the borrowed gardens beyond. Instantly the challenge was to overcome the noticeable land level changes from front to back and make those level changes one that fool you into not noticing them either when you follow along various pathways or visually as your eye travels around the garden.

The pool was the link pin to this level challenge and so much so, that we designed a pool with an infinity edge that lets your eye not be hindered by the typical cope edge. It instead has the reserve seamlessly connected as your eye travels across the pools water over to the infinity edge and then the lush vegetation of the reserve.

To keep the pool water levels in balance and maintain the wet edge effect we had to design a body of water to act as a balance tank. Normally such a tank is lost underground or covered but we decided to have it open and accessible. Why accessible? With the introduction of water jet agitators, we created a water balancing tank that acts as a spa with total privacy. When you get into this body of water, the pools back wall was your back rest and you sat on an in water seat so far down that your head was below the infinity edge so nobody knew you were there. So now we had a totally private spa with the reserve as your day dream. Levels sorted and the design when fully absorbed let us overcome such hurdles. I suspect this design concept will not be repeated quickly as the land levels gave us that chance.

From the client

landscape designer testimonials

I take pleasure in writing this letter of recommendation for Chris Slaughter and his company Scenic Blue Design.

I first met Chris more than 10 years ago, when he created a landscaping design for our then brand new property. Chris was responsible for creating a design for both front and rear gardens, pool, large deck area and driveway.

His attention to detail is impeccable, and we regularly have people stop and compliment us on how our landscaping is the best they have seen, and comment on how well it enhances our home. More importantly, Chris has
created an oasis for our family, one which we can enjoy all year around, and which brings us great pleasure.

Beyond that, Chris is a true professional who has continued to help with regular maintenance, and our garden is looking better than ever after 10 years.

I would not hesitate to recommend Chris and Scenic Blue Designs to anyone looking for landscape design and maintenance, and I look forward to continuing our relationship with Chris for many years to come.


Libby Pashley

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