Outstanding outdoor spaces from all over the country.

Australian backyards have come a long way  from clotheslines, blistered sausages, and squealing kids running through sprinklers. Be inspired by this selection of feted outdoor spaces from around the country.  


This home, perched atop Five Dock Bay in Sydney’s inner West, celebrates its environment with a series of gardens, breezeways, and terraces. Renato D’Ettorre Architects strove to blur the boundary between inside and out, while maintaining the privacy of this family home. In a fitting tribute to the harbour beyond, dramatic folds of concrete conceal this rooftop enclave. Exposed to the elements and free from greenery, it demands connection between user and the sublime surrounding environment. Renato D’Ettorre Architects, www.dettorrearchitects.com.au.


Melbourne’s cooler climate means it’s essential that a swimming pool looks beautiful even when not in use for several months. This pool, tiled in ceramic mosaic, has a wraparound shape that ripples through the dining area and a garden that, with its layers of screening plants and advanced trees, feels long-established. To avoid the look of a traditional lap pool, Eugene Gilligan Garden Design planted Trachelospermum asiaticum overhanging the raised wall. A pergola covered in Wisteria sinensis enhances the dining area, providing shade in summer and sunlight in winter. The woodfired oven, atop a porcelain-tiled benchtop that enfolds the pergola posts at one end, is a fun alternative to the traditional barbecue. Eugene Gilligan Garden Design, www.eugenegilligan.com.


A request for a resort-style garden that welcomed adults and celebrated children was a dream brief for COS Design. The expanse of land was vigorously re-envisaged, with a full kitchen and pizza oven, pool and spa, a half-court basketball area, and sunken trampoline. Large open lawns and aloe trees masterfully framed these inclusions. Mosaic tiles and clean lines lend the garden all the poolside luxury of a resort, while contemporary sculptures and mixed materiality add a playfulness to the landscape. COS Design, www.creativeoutdoorsolutions.com.au.


BATHE by Phillip Johnson Landscapes is a unique demonstration of a natural pool design and the use of reclaimed materials in a compact urban landscape. Concrete pavers that once lined suburban footpaths now act as a stunning waterfall over the pool, which is bordered by reclaimed concrete rubble. The stairs leading into the plunge pool are embedded into an expansive sheet of bronze granite deck, providing the perfect sunbathing platform. Lush plantings of Australian natives, including  ferns, kangaroo paws and grass trees, are adapted to survive both drought and a degree of flooding, and represent the nation’s varied environments, from rainforest to desert. Phillip Johnson Landscapes, www.phillipjohnson.com.au. 


In a startling reworking of space and a celebration of history, this disused horse arena was transformed into an elegant residential garden. The brief to Rolling Stone Landscapes was to craft a complement to the existing gardens on this sprawling property, formal in aesthetic and nostalgic in reference. Symmetrical hedging and garden beds, brightly coloured by marigolds and red salvia, provide a fitting stage for the centrepiece – a life-size stallion cast in bronze as a tribute to the family’s children who once rode on this land. Rolling Stone Landscapes, www.rollingstonelandscapes.com.


The aptly named Secret Gardens crafted this oasis hidden within Sydney’s CBD skyline. With the project 25 storeys off the ground, stringent building codes and elemental exposure were carefully considered, as was the client’s request for a garden with a formal aesthetic. Low-level buxus hedging and topiary cones provide structured grace, while iris and lavender add a little whimsy. High-quality artificial turf not only fools the eye, but also takes the pressure off when it comes to watering. Secret Gardens, www.secretgardens.com.au.


A warm palette of blues, greens and neutrals lends an earthy luxury to this Melbourne garden. Out From The Blue worked to create an oasis of calm that incorporated a pool and a freshwater pond that flowed seamlessly together. Feature tiles climb up the wall of the linear pool, softening the elevation and graphically mimicking the natural environment opposite, while the adjoining pond lends a soothing soundscape to the neighbouring residence. Steel screens encourage vines to creep around the garden’s perimeter with the sprawl of greenery gradually acting both as privacy screen and fanciful backdrop. Out From The Blue, www.oftb.com.au.


Renovations to this family home called for a fresh approach from the new owner. Two things were clear – first, that the space needed a greater connection with the surrounding bush land; and second, that the living spaces should better promote conviviality, shared meals and entertaining. The result is a stand-alone addition, a contrasting concrete box that sits among the trees, open to the elements and almost independent of the original home. Here, landscape reigns supreme. An outdoor shower and bath now bring the family outside daily. A log fire brings warmth to outdoor cinema nights. The new addition embraces the natural environment and, as a consequence, sweetens family life. Polly Harbison Design, pollyharbisondesign.com.au.


This cleverly considered concrete pool, spa and adjoining decking area, designed by Giorgi Exclusive Homes, features no pool fencing due to an extraordinary moat at the end of the main side facing the home. The pool’s infinity edge falls into it, making it fully functional as well as eye-catching. The alfresco design successfully houses a pizza oven, barbecue, range hood, ice maker and dishwasher in a fully integrated and discreet manner, embracing the outdoor living and dining lifestyle. Giorgi Exclusive Homes, www.giorgiexclusivehomes.com.au. 


A steeply sloping site was used to great advantage in this Perth property, with Neil Cownie Architect maximising the view of the Swan River below. The L-shaped property wraps around a central living area and vast exterior terrace. Seamlessly connected through shared materiality, these two internal spaces offer a vantage point to overlook the lower gardens and tiled pool. Extensive use of locally sourced timber and stone aid in grounding this grand home, and the child-friendly inclusion of a hidden cave among the greenery begs for exploration and adventure. Neil Cownie Architect, www.neilcowniearchitect.com.au. 


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