Back in 2011 we were commissioned by our clients to design and construct the front and back areas of their inner city property in North Fitzroy. The owners, a young professional couple, were undertaking a renovation and recognised a great opportunity to build the garden areas in unison. Not only was it advantageous from a logistical work flow perspective, it also made sense from a design perspective – allowing a seamless integration between the inside and outside areas.
With a low maintenance and a welcoming vibe in mind, our design for the front garden featured a serene minimalistic style water bowl, surrounded by Buxus spheres – adding contrasting greenery all year round against the light coloured bowl, outdoor setting and front facade. Bluestone paving played an integral part in this design, projecting an inner city feel.
Our brief for the back area was to create two very distinct spaces with a contemporary, naturalistic slant – an area where our clients could entertain and submerge themselves in a green oasis, and an area for their car to be off the street and avoid the headache of inner city parking restrictions.
Given the land size of this area (4.5m x 11m) it was vital that we maximised the limited space available to make it feel as spacious as possible.
Our starting point was ensuring all boundary areas were used effectively. We designed a counter levered steel pergola with an architectural difference and planted deciduous Pleached Hornbeams (Carpinus Betulus) in between. It was important not to enclose the area with a hard roof structure (making it feel smaller) and to choose planting that allowed for natural dappled light to filter through. Horbeams were the perfect choice for this space. Easily pleached, they grow to form an incredible green canopy overhead – softening the hardscape elements.
Seasonal planting, such as helleborus orientalis ‘Alba’ and tulips were added to bring pops of colour and texture to the garden.
Entry to the rear of the property was always going to be quite tight for a car, so the roller door was built on a slight angle to make turning into this space as easy and as effective as possible.
Our clients were keen to add a shed for bikes and garden tools, however were not fans of prefabricated products on the market. In keeping with the overall design aesthetic – instead of the garden shed being something that we didn’t want to draw attention to, we chose to make it a focus piece by constructing a feature stone clad wall – adding a sense of beauty as well as functionality.
Coordinating the renovation of the home at the same time as the garden make-over enabled our clients the luxury of removing all services (such as the hot water system and air conditioning unit) from being on display in their minimal outdoor space, opting instead to house on the roof. Decisions such as these helped us to truly maximise the space in which we had to play. As designed focused as our clients were, their need for practical elements still had to be met – a retractable clothes line was added beside the shed.
We’re thrilled with how our North Fitzroy project has turned out and wish our fabulous clients year and years of happy times outdoors.
Design, Construction and Maintenance by – Ian Barker Gardens
Photography by – Erik Holt Photography