How to create a Hamptons-style garden

Landscaper Matt Leacy tells us how to recreate an elegant East Coast garden in Australia.
Hamptons style gardenPhotography: Armelle Habib

The quintessential Hamptons-style home originated on the East Coast of Long Island, America, in the beach house haven of affluent New Yorkers. But with a climate that’s equally suited to open-plan, breezy houses, and a long-time love of beachfront accomodation, it’s no surprise that Australians have adopted the Hamptons home aesthetic as their own. But why stop there? A Hamptons-style garden is also within reach.

Landscaper Matt Leacy says that there’s no reason why we can’t achieve an Hamptons garden haven in our backyards down under. The key, in his opinion, is minding your p’s and q’s, and taking notes from the classic gardens of Europe.

“Despite Hamptons gardens being a US coastal adaptation,” said Matt, “the style of garden draws inspiration from the formal gardens of England and France – and although many Hamptons gardens are done on a grand scale, it’s a style that can be used in any sized space.”

If you love a Hamptons-home as much as your neighbour, Matt has told us exactly how we can emulate the Hamptons look and splash a bit of East Coast style in our gardens down under.

No matter the size of your property, the elements for a Hamptons style garden can be incorporated to stunning effect.

(Credit: Photographer: Sue Stubbs | Story: Home Beautiful)

1. What is a Hamptons-style garden?

The main elements of an East Coast garden can be found in most Australian backyards. “A classic Hampton’s home garden typically has a mix of lush green lawns and well-manicured hedges and topiaries, as well as some classic flowering plants primarily in blues/purples such as hydrangeas and whites like gardenias – and neat mass plantings,” said Matt. It’s our layout that needs to change. Hamptons landscaping calls for an ordered approach, so rather than crazing paving and haphazard flowerbed, Matt says “structured symmetrical paving and ordered outdoor entertaining spaces are also key in achieving this popular look. Uniformity is important.”

This lawn of this lush botanical garden in Sydney is edged with a cypress hedge (Cupressus leylandii ‘Leighton Green’) and a low row of Japanese box. On the other side, pretty native violets (Viola hederacea) grow between sandstone steppers. The carpet-like lawn is Sir Grange Zoysia, a delicate fine-leafed grass that is soft underfoot.

(Credit: Photographer: Nicholas Watt | Story: House & Garden)

2. Hamptons gardens in Australia

“Hamptons-style gardens have been popular in Australia for many years, particularly in our coastal regions – and are easy to grow and maintain despite our unforgiving, hot summers,” explained Matt. The best plants for a Hamptons garden can depend on your climate. “Buxus and other hedges are actually quite drought tolerant and hardy, it’s just a matter of adjusting and being aware of when you should trim your hedging etc to give them the best chance of thriving in our harsh environment. And we also have hardy turf options such as zoysia and soft leaf buffallo’s to create a lush green lawn – which looks great dotted with some crisp white Adirondack chairs.” Surely, the perfect Hamptons style garden furniture.

The owners of this modern Hamptons home in Sydney’s south relax on the open air platform under two perfectly positioned willow myrtles on white Adirondack chairs – quintessentially Hamptons-style garden chairs.

(Credit: Photographer: Chris Warnes | Styling: Sarah Maloney | Story: House & Garden)

3. A pool in your Hamptons-style garden

“We have all seen these amazing large Hamptons gardens with beautiful rectangular pools that are surrounded by open lawns and complementary plantings. The frustrating visual difference between what we see there and what we see in Australia is the pool barrier. Because of the strict regulations we have in Australia around pool safety (which is necessary and great in terms of safety) it often ruins the aesthetic because it hugs the pool and creates a dividing barrier between the spaces.”

The owners of this family oasis on the Sunshine Coast had a unique opportunity to design their swimming pool from scratch to wrap around the home layout. The result is a breathtaking garden within the swimming pool that can be seen from this breezeway.

(Credit: Photographer: Louise Roche | Story: Home Beautiful)

4. Trees and Hamptons-style garden plants

“To develop a Hamptons-style look for your garden what you choose will depend on where you are located in Australia. While hedging and mass plantings of flowering bushes such as hydrangea and gardenia’s are very popular in Hamptons-style gardens you should also add interest and height with trees such as deciduous trees like Birch, myrtle and pear tree trees. Evergreen trees like pine trees, magnolia ‘little gem’ and olive trees – which are very hardy in coastal regions and blend well with the traditional Hampton’s colours of grey, cream, blue, purple and white.”

Hitting the Hamptons landscaping brief, privacy screening has been achieved in this lush Sydney garden with a hedge of Podocarpus falcatus. A new, level lawn has been installed and three mature cabbage palms (Livistona australis) that were craned in achieve scale and verticality.

(Credit: Photographer: Nicholas Watt | Story: Belle)

5. Key characteristics of Hamptons landscaping

According to Matt, the key characteristics of a Hamptons-inspired garden include, “lovely big wide decks with white rails, trimmed by lush green border hedging to really add functionality to a timeless Hamptons garden design. The use of pavers and formal spaces also allow for functional entertaining spaces. Ball shaped shrubs or hydrangeas in large pots work really well. Long runs of open pergolas or arbours covered with climbing roses is a nice addition also.”

The alfresco area out the back is flanked by timber pillars, which were left to grey naturally for over a year during the build of this timeless coastal-meets-farmhouse oasis on the Gold Coast., Lush lawn allows for children to play and seamlessly extends the entertaining space into the garden.

(Credit: Photographer: Louise Roche | Story: Home Beautiful)

6. Hamptons garden furniture

“The Adirondack chairs are really synonymous with Hampton’s-style but they can be mixed and matched with a wide range of soft finishing and lovely weathered timber or natural stone tables. The key is to stick to a relatively neutral colour pallet of white, greys, creams and blues – and go for more classic pieces over anything too contemporary.”

Two minutes’ walk from the beach, a modern Hamptons-inspired garden design revived this WA holiday home with history. Adirondack chairs of the paved area provide the perfect spot to relax, while Versaille planters are a nice interpretation of Hamptons-style garden pots.

(Credit: Photographer: Angelita Bonetti | Story: House & Garden)

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