Category Archives: FAQ’s

Landscaping design questions and answers

Choosing Outdoor Surfaces

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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Happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature Plants

 

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Daybeds in Garden Design

A Daybed is a fabulous addition to any Outdoor Living Space….who doesn’t want to laze around, maybe have a little snooze or read a book and really take the time to enjoy what nature has to offer. Daybeds can really make a backyard look and feel like a resort and provide a stylish and relaxing space to enjoy.

Daybeds are not only an enjoyable and an aesthetically pleasing addition to your garden design but they can also have a practical use for around your home.  A good example of  this is our deck area……it is often cluttered with kids toys, gardening tools and exercise equipment to name a few! A very practical solution to this dilemma is to have a simple closed in seat with a lift up lid which allows easy access to place any unused items out of sight. These particular seats can be made out of timber which can incorporate a gas strut lid but an easier option is to purchase a readymade one which you can pick up at your local hardware store.

Following on with some more practical uses for the Daybed– One which we often use in our designs  is incorporating a Daybed into the pool area to cover an unsightly pool pump and of course hiding the pool toys away is another bonus!

One of my favourite types of Daybeds would have to be the Asian or balinese styles. They are  generally made out of teak timber and have a very classic look. Introducing some soft furnishings to these Daybeds  by ways of cushions and throw rugs is a great way to jazz up the design and make it more inviting.

Custom made Daybeds

Another great option is to custom make a Daybed to suit a particular area in your Landscape design. I have already mentioned Daybeds around a pool area which would have to be the most common types that we construct for our clients. If you are short on space using a floating style Daybed is a unique way to add an extra seat to your Outdoor Living area without needing too much space to do so. They can also be built into an Outdoor Kitchen or BBQ area creating more seating for when you are entertaining. Or by situating a Daybed in your garden in such a way that it captures the views can be a really great way to  allure you to your Outside Living space.

Photos of some of our Projects or click here for more ideas

 

With the right design approach a Daybed can add a relaxing oasis for you and your friends to enjoy in your very own backyard.

 

 

 

Water Features

Are you thinking about adding a feature to your garden? Why not think about creating a Water Feature in your outdoor design, it can add a captivating statement.

I personally love the sound of a running waterfall it is such a peaceful thing to listen to and it kind of takes you away to another place! It’s also a great way to filter unwanted noise such as a busy highway near your home or neighbours.

I was lucky enough to recently have a Water Feature installed on our deck outside our kitchen area. It’s still a work in progress but we now have the water flowing and I love it more than I thought I would.  It really does bring a sense of calm and tranquillity to this area and it’s a bonus that I can listen to it while I’m preparing dinner.

 

It’s also proved to be very popular with the wildlife. We have attracted some beautiful little frogs and the native bees are really enjoying the flowers from the water lily’s.

 Water Feature ideas

Obviously there are many different directions in which you can go with Water Features. If you are lucky enough to have acreage there are endless options available to you. Starting with large water courses running down a hillside, Dams with water running into them or for smaller properties scaling down to a simple bowl or statue. By adding rocks, boulders  and plants to your Water Feature will help bring it to life and create an environment just like that found in nature.

To give you some ideas on what you can create in your backyard, check out some of these Water Features that we have created.

You may also like to a look at this website for some easy to install Water features situated on the Sunshine Coast.

Greenwalls on the Sunshine Coast

A Greenwall  or vertical garden consists  of vegetation grown on a vertical support system either freestanding or attached to an existing building/wall.

Greenwalls are the ‘IN THING’ with Garden designs at the moment but not necessarily restricted to just the outside! They are becoming very popular additions to office’s or even lounge rooms. You may have seen the recent episode of ‘The Block’ where Josh and Jenna used a vertical garden in their kitchen/dinning area. It made a HUGE impact to their design. This is proving a popular choice for people to create a living, evolving work of art within their homes.

Probably the most fantastic thing about a Greenwall is that it uses minimal floor space. Therefore Greenwalls make an excellent addition to apartment Balconies or small house blocks where space is limited.

Its safe to say that Greenwalls look fantastic and really add a visual WOW factor to any garden design.  They are a great way to add interest to a dull or tired looking wall maybe on a patio or deck area. Even great for breaking up a long boring fence creating interest points.

Another very handy usage for  a Greenwall is to use it for growing Herbs or veges. Check out these images for some cool ideas. In my home I have a small vertical garden situated outside my kitchen window on our deck. It’s so fabulously handy making it much easier to pop out and pick some fresh herbs to chuck in my cooking or breakfast shakes in the morning, rather then walking down to the vege patch!

Take a look at some of our projects

There are many different vertical wall systems that you can choose from many of them having a DIY option. One system that we have used comes in a flat pack form which is very easy to assemble (even the kids helped!) and attach to a wall. Check out the Gro-Wall system  you will see some great photos of Greenwalls and directions on how to assemble. Or get creative and make your own! I love the idea of creating a vertical herb garden with a simple pallet.

Greenwalls on the Sunshine Coast

We have played around with a few different varieties of plants for our vertical wall systems and have found a few that seem to work really well with our climate here on the Sunshine Coast. These include, Xanadu philodendron, varieties of bromeliads, ferns (shade only) spathiphyllums, agaves, liriope, rhoeo,  birds nest fern, anthurium

The key to creating a successful Greenwall is to Choose the right plants for the environment and also an irrigation system is most beneficial.

Feel free to contact Living Style Landscapes for a quote if you prefer not to DIY

 

 

Outdoor Screens Sunshine Coast

One question we do get asked regularly as Landscapers is “how and what can we use as a screen in our garden”?  It may be  the need to screen off neighbors or an unpleasant  part of your garden, or simple to form a private area in your yard.  Screens are an essential need in almost every garden design.

Probably the main reasons for clients requesting screens is  the practical function of creating a space for privacy and seclusion within their  property.  However there is now a large trend towards using screens to create features within your garden or to accent your home.

Types of Outdoor Screens

There are so many forms of screens from laser cut metal, powder coated aluminum, slatted timber, rendered blue board and also living green walls. There is a screen to suit every situation, budget and lifestyle.

Check out some of the different options available in the following photos.

A great sunshine coast company we have been working closely with is Sanctum Screens. We have been able to design and install custom screens to numerous projects over the last 6 months. We invite you to take a look at Sanctum Screens website.  They have multiple designs and sizes to choose from which are made with 100% durable Australian plantation hardwood. They also have a selection of DIY  options available or they can custom make unique screens to suit any type of garden design.

For more ideas on Outdoor Screens  please click here  and feel free to contact Living Style Landscapes for further information.

Queensland Homes Outdoor Living Magazine

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Well it’s getting close to that time of year again when we gather our thoughts and decide on which project we would like to showcase in this years Queensland Homes Outdoor Living magazine. It’s always a tough choice narrowing it down to just one job that we have completed over the past year but we think this year is a cracker!

The project that we decided to go with is situated in the very beautiful Montville/ Maleny region in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  Living Style Landscapes has produced many lovely projects in the area with this one taking the cake for pristine surrounds and amazing pavilion style residence.

The very talented Anastasia greeted us last week on a very lovely Autumn afternoon to take the pics.

Anastasia in Action

 

The magazine is still in the collaboration phase so has not yet gone to print but we will keep you posted as to when we can anticipate its release.

 click here to see before and after photos of project