2015 Landscape Queensland Construction Awards

Category Winner 2015

Well It was another fantastic evening at the annual Landscape Queensland Construction and Excellence Awards which this year was held at the Lovely Hilton in Brisbane.

It is always a fantastic way to catch up with fellow landscapers, chat about current trends and see what amazing projects have been constructed throughout the year.

This Year was the biggest Awards night to date with a record amount of entry’s showing a sign of the times. Living Style Landscapes was the proud recipient of two of these awards taking out the ‘Architect Design and Construct’ category and also ‘Irrigation’ .

Montville Landscape DSC_0054

This year saw the Sunshine Coast dominate the evening with seven Awards being presented to  Coasts Landscapers. Adding to this was two commercial projects which included the revamp of Alexandra Headlands and also Bells Park, Caloundra West. This is a very encouraging sign for the Coast which is starting to see some very high calibre projects being created.

FullSizeRender

 

 

Jazzing up an ugly fence or wall

IMG_2326

The last thing you want to be focussing on when you are enjoying time-out in the garden is a boring blank wall or fence in your backyard.  Sunshine Coast backyards are an integral part of coastal living and entertaining, so the outlook needs to be lush and inviting.

However, as fences are a necessity we have come up with a few ideas on how to turn a fence or blank wall from an eye-sore into an interesting feature or focal point in your landscape design. Thankfully there are plenty of options available from the budget conscious right through to the upmarket architecturally designed.

Plants           

IMG_3483

Probably the easiest option for the DIY project is to add some plants.  There are a couple of different possibilities here.

The best way to disguise an ugly wall with plants is to use them as a hedge. An added advantage of this solution is that the hedge makes a great backdrop for future planting.

 In our coastal environment we have found that Lilly Pillies and Murrayas work excellently as hedging plants.There are a lot of Lilly Pillies to choose from but we have found that the varieties Cascades and Australe work the best.

Pots                     

IMG_2864               

  Another great option would be the use of pots with or without plants in them. They can be strategically placed along the fence or wall and do a great job of providing interest.

Greenwalls      

 

10411122_846887405330319_142388005794324570_n

If you are limited with space in your backyard how about the ‘on trend’ option of including a green wall to your fence or wall.

 A simple and cheap option to jazz up a fence is to add a few small pots to your wall and grow something hardy like succulents in them. 

If you want to go the whole hog and do an entire green wall, there are many DIY kits on the market that you can assemble yourself.

 

Espalier       

photo 2

                 

IF you are looking for something that will add a bit of an architectural flair, why not try an espalier vine or other plant. This is a great option if you are limited on garden space. It is cost effective and vines are fast growing and give great coverage rapidly.

There are many different espalier designs and types of plant, including citrus and camellias that will suit your particular style of home. A criss-cross style can be really effective; or for a more contemporary style try a simple strand of wire placed vertically that allows the vine to travel upwards. At Living Style Landscapes we have been experimenting with a type of climbing maidenhair fern and have achieved spectacular results. 

Screens             

 

SAM_1743

Decorative screens are another really simple way to funk up a fence. The choice when it comes to screens is huge, ranging from the simple DIY timber screens that you can hang yourself right through to the more complex custom –made steel screens.

For added impact try up-lighting the screens or placing coloured panels behind them to really make them pop.

Art 

 

There is some great metal art available now and we have some talented artists, such as Broadcroft Designs, right here on the coast. Metal art is a fantastic way of jazzing up a fence and its as easy as hanging it!

Mirrors are probably something that you wouldn’t normally consider for your garden but when space is limited, mirrors can have an amazing effect by reflecting the landscape thus making the area appear much larger than it is.

 

Daybed    

IMG_2316

Why not incorporate a day bed into your design. This will not only break up your ugly wall but also have the added bonus ofproviding a lovely little spot to chill out in your yard.                                                                      

 

Before

      

 

As shown there are many options available but don’t think you are limited to just using one of these, a combination of a few works a treat too. The photo above is of a boring pool wall that needed a serious overhaul. At Living Style Landscapes we decided to combine a few different elements of the suggestions above, incorporating a green wall, daybed, stone, trees and screens to soften the wall. The resulting outcome  (see below) not only provided an excellent solution for our client but it also went on to become an award winning project.

After

Recycled Timber

Recycled Timber is becoming quite a popular and unique addition to home architecture and also garden design at present. With the trend towards ‘Green living’  re-purposing materials is often a great way that we can incorporate this into our design whilst also keeping conservation in mind.  This could be in the form of building facades, retaining walls, furniture or as particular features the options are endless.

Retaining Walls

 

Living Style Landscapes_013

 

The photo which I have inserted above is the most pinned and saved photo on both our Houzz site and also Pinterest.  I also get a lot of questions regarding this  retaining wall.  The timber that we used for this  wall was actually recycled from an old wharf  and was the decking for the pier . This look could also be achieved though by using recycled railway sleepers which are far more available than the old decking. Using this type of timber as opposed to your treated hardwood or pine gives more of a rustic result, with more texture and colour achieved.

Framing

 

DPP_0001

We have used these recycled timber piers at the entrance to our home which was a great backdrop for our pots. It’s a bold  statement when you drive down our driveway and creates a lot of interest with our visitors!

 

 Totem Poles

 

10 culbara_055   DPP_0019    Copy of photos april10 024

Probably the most common way that we have used recycled timber in our designs is to use them as a totem pole, they look fantastic! They visually draw the eye in and can make an otherwise dull area exciting. They can be used to frame a driveway or simple doted through a garden to add height and appeal to that area.

Letter Box

 

10 culbara_011

I think this was a great idea for a letter box it’s certainly different and steers away from your traditional style. I love the grey aged look of the timber; and the beauty with this is you don’t have to paint it!

 

Seating

 

IMG_3444 IMG_3483

Another great DIY idea with sleepers is to use them as seats  in your garden. This is a very simple project,  in fact our clients created this firepit area themselves over the weekend after we constructed the walkway for them.  It was a matter of just stacking one on top of the other and it created a lovely area for entertaining guests and family gatherings.

If you are considering adding recycled timber in your garden design try contacting your local timber specialist to see what they have available. The recycled wharf timber  is a little harder to find so you can contact us on  Ph. 54 788 786 and we will be able to source them for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips on adding value to your home

Maybe your garden needs some jazzing up and is in need of a change, or possibly you have a party or family staying at your home or even getting your home valued.  Here are a few simple yet effective tips that you can implement in your garden to add value to your property,  that are easy enough that you can do over the weekend with minimal effort and expense.

Tidy up

  • Firstly and the one thing that I like to do regularly is to get rid of any clutter that you have lying around your home. We often leave things lying around our home that really have no place.  Also pressure clean off driveways , pathways, concrete areas and decks outside of the home. Remember less is always best! and a simple thing like this makes a huge difference.

tropical 2 Tropical 8 Tropical 9

 

Outdoor Seating 

  • As  Aussies we love the outdoor lifestyle so a practical area in your landscape where you can relax, enjoy and entertain can be very appealing.  It doesn’t have to be an outdoor kitchen! This can be as simple and cheap as creating a space with some pavers or decking and adding an outdoor setting. You can also spruce this area with some bold cushions a throw and some outdoor candles.

 

DPP_0005  aIMGP8939IMG_3584

Maintenance 

  • A simple tidy up of the gardens by pruning off any dead foliage and trimming any hedges makes an instant impact. Even more so is mulching. Mulching gives a tired garden an instance lift and its a simple thing that we can do over the weekend that will make the gardens look much more presentable and appealing. If you have any bare spots in your garden pop in a bit of colour.

SAM_4108 IMG_2417 Pruning

 

Pots

  • Pots really are a simple but hugely effective way to add some WOW to your property.  We recently visited a resort in Byron Bay and they had some beautiful feature pots which really brought the whole landscape design together. We thought this would be very simple to replicate. Check out the photo on the left.

 

photo 2 sunshine-coast-landscapers Sunshine Coast pots (5)

 

Screens

  • Screens are another really effective way to add some spunk to your garden and they are definitely the ‘in thing’ to do at the moment.  The variety is HUGE now with more options available of design and materials.  Check out Sanctum screens Face book page and website to get some ideas on the different designs that are available. There are DIY options available or you can also get custom made screens to fit into any position.

SAM_1743 IMG_2508 Decorative Iron Screen

By simple doing some or all of these projects you can really lift a tired and boring garden into one which is much more appealing and enjoyable.

Remember  landscaping  is the first impression people will have of your property!

 

 

 

Landscape Supervisor

Position Filled

 

Living Style Landscapes is currently searching for an experienced Landscape Supervisor.

As part of this role you must have the following experience.

  • Minimum 5 years experience in a similar role
  • Be able to supervise a team of 3-5 people
  • Excellent communication skills and good presentation essential
  • Great attention to detail
  • Extensive knowledge of structural landscaping-
  • Water Features
  • Lighting
  • Stone Tiling
  • Glass fencing
  • Experience in upmarket residential essential
  • Able to Liaise with clients and contractors
  • Qualifications an advantage

This is a full time position for someone with a solid background in upmarket residential landscaping- a must for the success of the applicant.

Please email resumes and references to

mel@livingstylelandscapes.com.au

NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Customer Satisfaction!

“Dear Leigh,       Thankyou for going above and beyond and doing such a great job!”

     Zoe and Andrew Mcinally Brightwater

Dear Leigh,     We can’t thank you and your amazing team of spirited guys for the most artistic, beautiful landscape work. We are totally in awe! A big thanks to Nicki and Melissa in the admin background too.

                                                 Jen and Ian, Montville

Sunshine coast Landscaping (3)

 

“Thanks Leigh and all your crew great, good …. perfect result couldn’t be happier, BBQ at my place next time I’m back in Aus !! ” Mathew

DPP_0016

We can’t express enough our immense gratitude and praise for Leigh and his team. We are so terribly grateful that Leigh prioritised our job so that we would have a garden before Christmas, Thank you ‘Living Style Landscapes’. To all we know and some we don’t, we sing your praises for your professionalism, style and design, an amazing job well done and two very happy customers.

Kind regards

Traci and Graham Ring

 

Choosing Outdoor Surfaces

 

Stone Tiling 4

When it comes to landscaping the outside of your home something you will need to decide on is what type of surface you will have for your outside entertainment area and paths around your home.  Outdoor spaces have truly become an extension of our living areas, where we relax and entertain, therefore outdoor  surfaces need to be selected with the same care and attention as we do for the inside of our home.

Concrete

Concrete has recently been reborn with architects pushing it in new directions with great new colour choices and finishes available. While grey was standard years ago, you can now practically get any shade to suit the colour palate of your building. The old rough exposed stone has now been replaced with better smother pebble and also lightly exposed instead of the old school heavy exposing of the stone beneath. Sandblasting, polished, sponge finish and also special designs with saw cuts through the slabs now let you make your slab unique. Polished concrete is definitely something that is extremely popular with the latest designs at the moment especially  around pools which creates  very clean lines and a sophisticated feel as opposed to tiling.

 

SAM_1840 DPP_0016 DPP_0023

Paving

Paving has come a long way since the use of the old brick style pavers, now there is an abundance of pavers available on the market and cost is dropping with different sizes and finishes available. These  include polished or sand blasted finishes in different materials such as stone, clay or concrete.  .

Paving does require quite a bit of preparation and due to this things are leaning more to either concrete or tiling these days. Although pavers definitely do have an advantage in that they are a flexible surface. By this I mean they can be lifted, added onto or replaced easily without a noticeable change, unlike other surfaces used. They are a popular choice for stepping stones throughout the garden.

 

sunshine-coast-landscapers Rock retaining walls sunshine coast 1 (9) After 3

 

Tiling

With imports flooding the market and choice and variety increasing, prices are dropping giving you a much better selection to choose from.  Stone is becoming a very popular and economical choice here with the range ever increasing including Granite, Marble, Travertine, Bluestone, Sandstone and more.

Tiling has the advantage that you can match the tiling that is  inside your home to the outside area giving a seamless flow from one to the other.

IMG_3622 SAM_1041 Stone Tiling 3

Decking

Whether it’s used for a patio, veranda or around a pool, timber is a great choice for versatility. It’s also a fantastic choice for steep sites as a way to create a useable flat space.

Basically there are two different ways to go with timber decking and that would be to use either a pine or a hardwood decking timber.  Hardwood is definitely our choice as it is- one more durable and two looks far superior to pine decking. A popular choice with decking at the moment is to use a wider board which has a much nicer finish than the narrower boards.

It is also now becoming common for people to let the boards weather naturally to a grey colour rather than painting with a stain or vanish. Staining definitely creates a more polished look but the boards will need regular maintenance to keep the desired effect .

This is very much a personal choice and  its best to evaluate what would look better with the finish of your home.

DPP_0003 DPP_0003 (4) _BUX0032

Whatever the choice,  laying a solid foundation for the outside of your home is an important one and a few considerations will need to be looked at before you make your decision. Expert advice is definitely worth it because it can be a timely and expensive exercise if you get it wrong!

 

 

 

 

Hamilton Island style Garden in your own backyard

We were recently lucky enough to visit the beautiful Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, what a  treat! Apart from the lovely views, fabulous warm weather and abundance of   swimming locations we really enjoyed the Landscaping on Hamilton island.

It got us thinking how do we create a Hamilton style garden in our own   backyards? Well lucky for us it is not as hard to achieve as you would think.
It was interesting to note that a lot of the plants used on the island were  of the same variety that we use here on the Sunshine Coast. This included  spider Lily’s, crotons, cordylines, Ixoras and Cycads. We also found it interesting that they included a lot of hedging in their designs with the use of Lily pillys. It’s not something you would generally think of using when you are creating a tropical design but it certainly worked.

SAM_4097 SAM_4100 SAM_4103 SAM_4108

On a whole the best way to describe their way of planting would be to say that they use a lot of one species and mass plant it. Their gardens are full of plants with generally no mulch showing. Of course the tropical environment at Hamilton Island certainly helps the growth of the plants, all the plants  were large and lush!

SAM_4118 SAM_4121 SAM_4122 SAM_4123

Apart from the gardens on the island we also loved the use of stone and  timber. Nearly every building either incorporated the blue stone in the buildings or on the front fence as pillars with the use of timber as the  slats.  Add to that a beautiful garden in front and what an entrance!

SAM_4110 SAM_4111 SAM_4115 SAM_4116
We also visited the Yacht club villas whose landscaping was designed by Jamie Durie. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed access through to the units but we managed to get a pretty good look at some of the gardens. Check out the following photo. He used a lot of big plants including bamboos and palm trees. Overall it looked very lush and inviting.

SAM_4141

We had to give credit to the maintenance staff also on the island there  wasn’t a blade of grass out of place, it seemed that every apartment you drove past took pride in the gardens and really looked after them.

So how do we create a Hamilton Island worthy Garden?
I think there are a few key points you would need to consider

  1.  Mass planting- no need to include lots of different variety of plants just   stick to a few and mass plant these. I would suggest spider Lilly’s, ixoras,   cycads, rhoeos or for a splash of colour crotons or cordylines.
  2.  Include a few round lily pilly hedges
  3.  Incorporate some blue stone and timber into your design.
  4.  Maintenance! I think this was one of the main reasons the gardens looked   so amazing that they took the time to look after them.

Really this type of garden  is very achievable in your own home, there was nothing done on Hamilton Island that we can’t replicate here on the Sunshine Coast. The biggest thing to remember is KEEP IT SIMPLE, there was nothing fancy or hard about the designs just a lot of plants  which are readily available here on the Sunshine Coast in all good nursery’s.

Preparing for the Cooler months ahead

Ok so it doesn’t really get that cold here on the Sunshine Coast but the weather does change from our usually wet, warm summer to our cooler, dry winter. A little bit of preparation now for the period ahead can really help you keep your garden in tip top shape and make your gardening life over the Winter period a whole lot easier!

Mulching

Mulching Gardens
Mulching Gardens

 

Probably the number one most important things to do now would be to mulch your gardens. This will help to maintain the moisture that is in the ground now and help keep the soil in good shape by not allowing it to dry out. Dry soil = poor water penetration. It also helps protect the plants roots from temperature fluctuations. Another bonus of mulching is less weeds!

Soil

Soil
Soil

Also on the topic of Soil- Autumn/Winter is the perfect time to attend to your soil  by adding organic materials. This can be mushroom compost, great for all plants  (I especially like it on my vege patch), blood and bone and  cow manure these will all help with the  mineral content in the soil. There are also some really good prepared organic fertilisers on the market we like Organic Plus with meat bone, fish meals, rock phosphate, trace elements and an added wetting agent.

Tidy up

Pruning
Pruning

It’s at this time of year that we give our garden a really good clean out getting rid of all the dead fronds by pruning etc. This is helpful to prevent the spread of disease and also encourages new growth and generally makes our garden a whole lot tidier. In colder climates its not recommended to prune as this stimulates new growth which may not be able to tolerate the frosts. We don’t need to worry about this on the Sunshine Coast. If you don’t already have a compost consider getting one to put all your dead matter into which will be ready in time for your Spring planting.

It’s not a  big growth period around this time so I would probably hold off on planting any new plants or turf at this stage.  Generally our Winter can be really dry and is set to be this year so I suggest saving any new additions for your gardens until  spring time.

Spraying

weed spraying
weed spraying

It’s also a great time now to scout around with the weed kill, killing of all the unwanted weeds that have sprouted where you don’t want them. Doing this along with the mulching is going to ensure you keep your weeds at bay.

sunshine-coast-landscapers

Happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature Plants

 

IMG_0698

Achieving that WOW factor in a garden doesn’t necessarily need to be a costly or a difficult thing to achieve. Sometimes jazzing up a space in your garden can be as simple as adding a Feature Plant to accentuate an area drawing the eye in and increasing the visual appeal.

Of course there are many varieties of plants that you can choose from for your special feature in your garden. I will talk about two of my favourite plants that we commonly use here on the Sunshine Coast. They  seem to do really well in this sub tropical environment and clients are always happy with the results. If you live in a different area and are not too sure which way do go in regards to the variety of plants that would suit your environment, pop into your local nursery for some advise.

Furcraea

Probably one of my favourite Feature Plants would be the Furcraea or Mauitus Hemp. This particular plant adds an instance punch to an area, creating a very bold statement. It has a very tropical feel but can  also suit many other garden  styles. It has striking green and white foliage with sharp lines. This is definitely not a plant for a small garden though; given the room it can reach 3-4 metres in width. It is quite a fast growing plant and will grow at its best with a well drained area and in full sun. It is a very good drought tolerant plant.

IMG_1990 IMG_2745 photos april10 305

Alcantarea

Another plant we commonly use on the Sunshine Coast is the Giant bromeliad or Alcantarea. There are a few different varieties of these,  we like to use  the  Alcantarea Imperialis or Rubra  which has great colour. These particular plants being part of the bromeliad family MUST have extremely good drainage, they really don’t like to get their feet wet! They do like full to part shade with the best colour achieved with full sun. Again these are extremely drought  tolerant plants which at the moment is a really good thing!

outdoor-landscaping-sunshinphotos april10 311 photos april10 270

SO if you have an area in your garden which may be a little plain and in need of a focal point think about adding a Feature Plant; it’s a simple way to bring an otherwise boring landscape to life!