Pool & spa
Apartment living in Sydney’s beachside suburbs doesn’t usually come complete with a private and lush backyard oasis, not to mention a garden that incorporates everything from an infinity pool and heated spa to a stylish outdoor kitchen, alfresco area and even a cubbyhouse with its own picket fence and letterbox – but this one does! Under the expertise of Oliver Sizeland, director of Sydney landscape design and maintenance company Growing Rooms, the whole space has been transformed. The focal point of the space is the pool and spa, with its graceful pergola at one end providing a lounging spot on Manutti ‘Liner’ sun lounges from Cosh Living. The hardwood pergola will soon be covered in fragrant-flowering jasmine. “It has a really beautiful citrus perfume,” says Oliver. “We’ve run wire across the pergola to encourage the Madagascar jasmine to create a roof-like effect, for added shade and privacy.” Beside the pool runs a stretch of Sir Walter buffalo lawn. “It’s one of the softer buffalo turfs but is still fast-repairing,” explains Oliver. “A worn patch will come back to life very quickly.”
Clever plantings of low-maintenance lemon trees and shrubs frame the perimeter of the swim zone, with swaying palm trees dotted throughout to enhance the tropical-resort ambience. Oliver selected creamy-hued limestone pavers – a nod to the home’s close proximity to the sea – to surround the pool and ground the steps and sun lounge zone. “Limestone is a beautiful natural stone that ages naturally, whereas some man-made products can sometimes look tired rather quickly,” he says.
The gas-heated pool has real wow factor. “The infinity edge at the lower end of the garden doubles as a beautiful, shimmering water feature that can be enjoyed from the lower deck as well as the pool,” says Oliver, who selected lemon trees for the border, underplanted with buxus hedging and liriope. “The lemon trees are evergreen and won’t drop many leaves into the pool,” he explains. The deck is spotted gum coated in clear decking oil. “It’s a sustainable timber grown in Australia,” says Oliver. “Also, I love that it has a beautiful variation of shades. You can get everything, from red through to blonde tones and even a few greys.” A ‘Tidal’ powder-coated steel outdoor table and chairs from Tait creates a stylish and functional focal point.
Low-maintenance tropical plants are a sure-fire winner for a resort feel. “You want them to grow and merge so there aren’t any set lines,” explains Oliver. “You almost allow them to do their own thing, which keeps the maintenance down, and that’s a good thing with our busy lives!" Alongside the selection of grown-up relaxation spots is a cute cubby house built from a kit found at Cubby Central.
A built-in bench seat by the shower provides extra seating. “They’re also a great space-saving feature in any garden, as you can pull another table close and they fit into a corner," comments Oliver. "This seat has an LED light strip underneath." Indulgent yet oh-so-practical, outdoor showers are becoming increasingly popular features, especially for homes near the beach. “This copper shower with a spotted gum screen is one step above the usual, as it provides both hot and cold water."
Oliver also managed to find space for a storage shed, discreetly hidden by cascading sword ferns, purple hearts, philodendrons and grassy liriope in recycled hardwood planters. “We wanted some kind of green screen but this was almost an afterthought,” reveals Oliver. “Storage sheds can be ugly, so we try and hide them.”
The spotted gum and black granite enclosed Weber barbecue is at the heart of the neat alfresco kitchen. Wine and beer fridges beneath the barbecue ensure a cold drink is always on hand, and an under-counter laundry is also included.