February 6, 2020

In the garden: The Landscaper’s Garden

There’s added pressure to have a stunning, practical garden at home when you create them for other people every day of the week.

When landscape designer Jackson Shaw found himself with a new patch of land and a blank canvas for a garden, you would assume the transformation would come easily.

On the contrary, Jackson says designing a garden for his own home came with added challenges.

“With clients, I find it quite easy to give suggestions and be confident in my decision-making, but when it was for my own home and I got to sit on it every night, it was different,” Jackson says.

It was the first time Jackson, from Ground Design Landscaping, had created his own garden from scratch and he says the time he had to ponder all the aspects made the task even bigger.

Jackson and his wife Tash bought the Blackwood property nearly four years ago and he says the garden had remained largely unchanged since the ’60s.

“You could tell it would have been a nice garden in its day, but the owners must have let it go in its later years,” Jackson says. The slate was blank, apart from a few trees they wanted to keep, which ended up providing inspiration for a theme.

“There was a curved lawn and to keep the existing trees, we had to maintain part of that shape.”

A circular lawn sits in the centre of the back yard, surrounded by sweeping paths and interesting stops along the way.

Aside from the existing trees, the plans were built around a fire pit and curved seating in the garden’s corner. “A fire pit was a must-have because we enjoy having fires and camping, so it gives us that at home,” he says.

“We love to entertain and have people over, so we wanted a space we’d be happy to go outside and spend the afternoon, the weekend or the night in.”

Before its makeover, the footprint with plantings was much larger, but Jackson opted to decrease the size, making room for the other elements and negating the need for heavy maintenance.

“I didn’t really want to be coming home to look after a cottage garden.”

The plants used don’t require a lot of water and are quite hardy. Sphered teucrium adds structure, mirroring the curvature of the garden’s other elements.

The only angular aspect to the yard is the deck — although Jackson did play with the idea of adding a curve to that too. In the end, the rectangular shape worked better with the home and proved more practical. They chose to wrap the steps around most of the deck to create a feeling of floating in the garden.

Paths in front of the home and from the deck to the fire pit were paved in recycled red brick, adding character and texture.

Timber touches were added; wide board treated pine was used for the deck and treated pine batons make up the fire pit’s seat, which is 1.1 metres at its deepest.

“You can really put your legs up and it doubles as a day bed for the warm weather. You can sit under the shade of the tree.”

Subtle lighting is used to uplight trees and highlight the fire pit area to draw people in.

“It’s set in the back of the yard and we needed to draw attention to it to make people feel like they can walk over.”

Even though there were added challenges in coming up with ideas for his own garden, Jackson says there was one perk to designing his own space.

“It was nice to actually be able to enjoy it afterwards!” 

This garden will be open as part of the SA Landscape Festival, from April 4 to 5, 2020, run by Open Gardens of SA and the Master Landscapers of SA. For more details, visit salandscapefestival.com.au.

This story first appeared in the Dec 2019 / Jan 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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