You could be the most enthusiastic gardener in the world and still need help when it comes to devising the perfect layout for a backyard. The owners of this house and garden in Hunters Hill, who have avid green thumbs themselves, decided it was time for an overhaul of their beloved family garden after more than a decade and a half, so they called in the professionals: landscape architect Hugh Burnett and builders Ballast Landscape.

‘My involvement as designer was to address the challenging parts of an otherwise successful garden,’ says Hugh. ‘Credit for the planting and ‘bones’ of the garden is with the home owner and her mother, who have planted and nurtured the garden prior to my involvement.’

With the personality of the garden already established, Hugh set about creating a framework to support it. He devised a clean layout for the backyard, that would connect the various utility zones (barbeque area, cricket lawn, pool) with the areas reserved for ornamental botanicals.

‘We added an informal path of hand-shaped, open sandstone flagging that extended the gardens and allowed it to “bleed” into the lawn, avoiding a harsh and contrived edge that would awkwardly divide the garden,’ Hugh explains, noting the exquisite craftsmanship by Ballast Landscape in hand-making the sandstone pavers.

The existing planting style of the front garden was soft and organic, neatly in tune with the climate and locale. Working closely with the homeowners, Hugh made a point of retaining this character, adding native shrubs and grasses, robust perennials, succulents, and native ground covers to the mix. This created a dry garden which would survive the heat from the west-facing vantage without irrigation.

The rear garden, however, could afford to be a little juicier. An established crepe myrtle tree set the tone for the planting palette, to which Hugh added a variety of perennials like arums and hellebores to create a generous, bountiful scene. Boston ivy completes this symphony of textures as it coats the fence-line and softens the timber boundary.

Despite the many functions the garden had to facilitate (not to mention the existing plants which had been tended to for decades!) the resulting space is a harmonious haven. Hugh says it best himself, ‘The garden is a true reflection of the warm and inviting nature of the homeowners and their family.’

Click here for more projects by Hugh Burnett and here for Ballast Landscape.

The brief for this suburban garden in Hunters Hill was for the front and rear garden. The owners had been tending to it lovingly since 2004, but required help in structuring the layout! Photo – Brigid Arnott.

The sumptuous front garden! ‘Ruby Lace’ gleditsia (red foliage tree). Fine leaf tree is a coastal tea tree. The large leaves belong to a banksia robur (‘Old Man Banksia’) – a favourite of Hugh’s. Pink flower is justica carnea (Brazilian Plume). Left of frame: euphorbia wulfenii and kerria japonica (Bronze Fennel). Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Sandstone steppers connect the driveway to front path framed by planting of correa alba, cotyledon orbiculate and rounds of rhapiolepsis (Oriental Pink). Coastal tea tree and banksia robur in background. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Sandstone blade walls made by Ballast Landscape. ‘Ruby Lace’ gleditsia (red foliage tree). In the foreground is euphorbia wulfenii, silver foliage of a kalanchoe beharensis and natural rounds of rhapiolepsis ‘Oriental Pink’ and correa alba. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

The rear garden Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Natural hardwood ‘matchstick’ pool fence on steel frame crafted by Ballast Landscape. Lily pilly screen hedge to rear of pool. Palms and trees in rear neighbour’s garden. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Borrowed view of trees and large shrubs in neighbouring property. Silver foliage on left (Plectranthus argentatus) Beside a Magnolia stellate and Kerria japonica (pleniflora). Right of frame: a night-flowering cactus in a pot and native violets. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Left of frame: Cardamom ginger (alpinia nutans) with sweet violet groundcover below. Hand shaped sandstone flagstones. Right: Variegated plectranthus + festuca below cercis (Forest Pansy). Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Canvas chairs from ici et la. Natural hardwood ‘matchstick’ pool fence on steel frame crafted by Ballast Landscape. Palms in rear neighbour’s property. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

The path creates a meandering way through the front garden up to the house. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

Dappled light making its way through the canopy leaves. Photo – Brigid Arnott.

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