Johanna and Charlie give a garden and deck a spring makeover


Our design brief was simple: modern, user-friendly and practical.

We achieved all of this quite simply by addressing the privacy and hillside first and then adding a new lawn, new paved area, extra space to the existing deck and accessories. Easy!


The first and most obvious problem in this area was privacy or its lack.

While the fences were in good shape, they don’t do anything in terms of height or privacy for this back yard. Instead of increasing the height of the fences, which would only confuse the already mixed fences, the easiest thing to do was to plant our privacy.

Hedges can offer a lot more to a garden than just privacy, depending on what you want to plant.

Hedges like a Waterhousia hedge with loose, drooping foliage can provide interest and movement in your borders rather than a hedge trimmed so tightly that it looks like another fence.

Heavily trimmed hedges can make your space feel even smaller as they can highlight where your boundaries actually are. However, with something that piques interest like a waterhousia, include your borders as part of your garden.

Waterhousia can reach a reasonable height, but it can also be kept at a much smaller, more practical height to suit your space. The tip is to prune easier more often than hard pruning once a year.

Without a doubt, Waterhousias are certainly one of the most modern privacy trees and are very popular with landscapers. So if you choose the right hedge, you are already creating a designer-style space.

Waterhousias also attract all of the native birds and bees to your garden as they have a great flower show even in early summer. Plant them now to establish them.

The following fruit is another added bonus for the native tree on the east coast.

Deck screening

The end of the deck looked out onto the street that passes the property line so we checked.

  • The screens are rusted screens with a geometric design.
  • The screens sit in two vertical studs. Once cut, they were attached and held in place with an 18 x 18 mm bead nailed around the edge of the screens on either side.
  • The new woodwork was painted in Dulux Vivid White.

Mirrored wall art

To match the shielding on the edge of the deck, we made two smaller shields of the same design that are framed and hung on the back wall of the house.

  • We attached a piece of mirror glass to a piece of plywood as a support plate for the mirror. The mirror was secured with silicone and held in place with double-sided tape.
  • The frames were painted with Vivid White.
  • The frame was cut and mitered around the screens. The screens were built into the frames.
  • Next, the mirror was attached to the framed screen with the back of the layer and screwed through the layer from behind.

Planter for herbs

The planter box was attached to the balustrade at the back of the deck.

  • It was made from marine plywood – a simple bottomless box for two plastic tubs.
  • The plywood was cut to size at Bunnings.
  • The box was pre-drilled, then glued and screwed together.
  • The box was painted with Dulux Vivid White.
  • To mount the planter, a lath was screwed to the vertical balustrades at the correct height so that the planter sat directly under the handrail. This batten helps to support the weight of the planter: the bottom sits on the batten and was attached to the balustrades that were unscrewed from inside the planter.

Hold and level

The yard had a slight slope, about 300mm in elevation along the length, which is not that much, but it meant less ease of use in terms of seating and entertainment.

  • By leveling the surface, the size of the room becomes much larger.
  • The leveling also increases the usability, which subconsciously says that the room needs to be bigger even if it doesn’t!
  • We only had to build a small retaining wall so we used 2 x 200mm treated pine sleepers to increase our height.
  • The rule of thumb for the supports of the wall is a height of 400 mm and a depth of 400 mm.
  • Set your two end posts in place, pull a piece of string between the two, and dig out the center holes every four feet for optimal wall support and strength.
  • We used treated pine dormice with treated pine horn screws.


Two other flat surfaces, e.g. B. Pavement and lawn are another design trick to make the room look bigger.

  • A straight line or connection between the pavement and the lawn would work against the space and highlight the two separate areas. Instead, we used a “mixed” design where the pavers bleed into the lawn so the lawn can grow in and around the pavers.
  • This is a modern design element specifically aimed at removing barriers between materials, areas and surfaces. It also softens harsh landscapes and maximizes usability.
  • We used a textured paver in a 400mm x 400mm x 40mm profile which allowed us to have fun with the 3-5mm joints and lines. We opted for a stretcher frame arrangement that helped us achieve the bleeding of the paving stones that blended into the lawn.
  • A very modern medium gray paving stone provided a great platform to set yourself apart from our leaves and furniture.
  • After we installed the retaining wall, we dug up earth from the pavement end and filled the raised end against the new wall.
  • By removing the soil from the end of the pavement, we were able to get a good depth to install a solid base for our paving stones.
  • In the first place there is a layer of compacted road base with a thickness of at least 100 mm. River sand went up and was brought to the level of the screed so that our paving stones could be placed on it.
  • To finish off, a sand-cement-mortar mix was wrapped around all the edges of the pavement to hold everything together.
  • For the finishing touches, we blasted Pavelock sand into the gaps.
  • Such a small project like this will add a tremendous designer impact to your area.

Garden makeover

New lawn

The homeowners have two lively children and spend a lot of time taking in a family with even livelier children, so we had to get the lawn right too.

With a good work-life balance, there is little time left to look after gardens and lawns. Therefore, a lawn like Sir Grange is ideal as water and fertilizer needs, as well as maintenance, can take a back seat. It’s the new designer-look lawn for residential homes that gives you the neat look of a well-kept resort.

Once the turf is created, it can be almost self-sufficient – and it can also handle a junior soccer team and pets. You just have to let it happen in order to establish yourself.

  • Sir Grange was laid on a bed of washed sand to aid drainage, as only wet feet can throw this lawn back.
  • Sir Grange is a Zoysia Matrella with fine leaves, requires less mowing and fertilizer use and can handle shade. Once established, Sir Grange is drought tolerant.
  • Super soft under the foot, it makes for the perfect surface to get from the playing field to the picnic area.


We made the hedge a little more soft with a good mix of shape, texture and flowers.

  • We tidied up our hedge plants to make room for a couple of small pockets with bushes and perennials.
  • We used some potted plants to add to the garden and enhance the space (without taking up usable space).
  • Potted plants are also mobile and can be mixed up to make room for entertainment.

Garden makeover


In the end, we needed a mulch that wouldn’t blow in the wind or flush into drains or gutters – something organic and clunky.

  • We used Drought Master, which is a mix of composted materials that break down over time and enrich the soil, leaving the chunky hardwood on top.

You might like it too:

Before and after: From a tiny outdoor area to a spacious retreat

Before and after: Charlie Albone’s affordable front yard redesign

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