Illawong, Sydney CBD

Nature's Retreat

The clients brief was simple if there is such a thing with this land terrain ‘I want my daughter to be able to get married and have her reception within the garden’. The next wish was ‘The wedding is in a few months’ time’. Wow, talk about a challenge!

Hover over the image to see the before and after photos

Before After

The Back Story

A land parcel measuring 855m2 with distant city views on the horizon. However, some 228m2 of the rear garden / land was totally inaccessible safely. 

The  let alone usable due to the land falling away by some 7.5m in height supporting large sandstone outcrops exposing persons to risk of falls, habitat for venomous reptiles and diseased trees and weed germination.

The Challenge

The challenges were:
illawong overview


Immediately as you arrived at the front of the home you could see the land was not supporting any level detail falling from front to back. Going around the side of the home the lawn spilled away to a drop off edge. This drop off edge was literally that. An edge supported by rock outcrops and dead and dying tree stock. To be fair, there was a token gesture set of random sand stone steps going down abutting the back fence. This was once used to get down to what was now a rotten open shade structure.

Sometimes when entering a garden, you get an instant ‘crazy design idea’. Why crazy, well you know what your mind is telling you, but the mind’s eye is not that clear and, on this occasion, not clear was very clear. We had to provide a garden that gave a journey both visually and physically leading you to an end goal.

The rock outcrops were very dictating when it came to this design and what trees could be saved forming the potential design envelope. After many hours of solitary head scratching, wondering, exploring, waving of arms and drawing with your fingers paths of choice, a hallelujah moment was born. This moment was witnessed by my client ‘ Embarrassing’ but so exhilarating. When asked what, I simply said I know what we can do but I do not know how. It was from this and the absolute trust of the client we as a team started to create.

The garden started at the side gate as before but this time the lawn beyond was given a better level to walk through rather than feel you are running down hill and now to a well-trimmed hedge defining more beyond. Not until you got to the hedge did you look over and see the stage before you supporting boardwalks, resting spots, running water cascading over and down rock faces, bridges and a very quiet private spot at the end of the boardwalk allowing you to really feel you were a million miles away and able to read, play or sleep along with being able to observe the unique sights of the garden back up the hill.

The design at all times had to eliminate one of many aspects. The main one was the gradient. We had to at all moments allow anybody of any age to walk through the garden and not be out of breath or mentally thinking ‘Ok, I need to get down there, here goes’.

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From the client

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