Smart thinking meets green thinking – is your garden living its best life?

Increasingly innovation meets sustainability in our outdoor designs – here, Matt Leacy, of Landart, reflects on the way forward

From Matt Leacy, creative director and co-founder of Landart

In a changing world, greening your garden takes on new meaning

Now is a time where innovation meets sustainability, and greening your garden takes on a whole new meaning with an increased focus on environmentally friendly practices and ethically sourced materials.

Regenerative landscaping practices emphasising soil health, native plants, and water conservation are a key focus as climate change continues to impact landscapes.

Drought resistant plants will remain popular, and at the other end,  extreme flood-tolerant plants and design features will gain traction as unpredictable weather patterns continue to impact many regions of Australasia.

We aim to create designs that give not only a beautiful outdoor space for our homeowners, but also offer practical solutions to changing environments, as well as family needs.

I’m building a new house at the moment and it’s close to a tidal waterway – so being as flood proof as possible is something I’m personally invested in.  

And with the widespread floods across various regions, it’s a real consideration for a lot of people.  

We’ve long had requests for drought resistant garden designs and ways to capture water – and now more and more we’re getting briefs that include flood mitigation as a consideration, depending on where our owners reside.

More and more of our home owners are also becoming cognisant of ensuring their materials are ethically sourced – this includes timber, stone, and other natural elements. 

Collective benefit

While it’s often not possible to design and install an entirely sustainable outdoor space – if we all make some positive changes to this end there’s a collective benefit to the environment.

Increasingly, technology also finds its place in outdoor spaces today, helping to bring time saving and climate smart functions. 

Smart irrigation systems, innovative lighting, and clever water capture; solar and automated maintenance tools are all being integrated into designs to enhance efficiency and help make property maintenance easier. 

AI is coming

Plus, AI is coming quickly – soon we will be able to ask a bot in our home to identify any Tech issues in the home (i.e pool heater not working or air conditioner not working in the lounge room) and help us resolve them through conversation with the bot.

We also see an increase in the design of therapeutic and healing gardens. 

These spaces can be home gardens or also found in healthcare facilities, retirement living and urban areas to promote relaxation, help reduce stress and aid recovery. 

In our residential homes we are planning more saunas and ice baths to complement owners' outdoor (or indoor) set ups.

In a snapshot, here are my key trends for outdoor design today:

Increased use of technology

Innovations such as remote-controlled smart irrigation systems, hydroponics, temperature-controlled environments, solar, water capture and more are all aiding property maintenance and allowing more efficient and energy efficient/sustainable outdoor spaces.

Best plants

Sculptural plants such as Xanthoreaha, structural architectural feature plants like agaves and succulents are not a trend as such but are something that will also work as a feature in a garden design.

Cactus and natives are always popular choices and with the focus on sustainability and drought tolerant plants you can’t go wrong with either. 

Flowers are back in a big way

Hydrangeas were once considered a bit of an old fashioned plant but they’re enjoying a resurgence. 

They’re a versatile plant that can be hedged and shaped beautifully and with lush green foliage and spectacular oversized flowers they’re growing in popularity again today.

Pink as a design colour remains popular and this spills over to plant choice, with plants such as Pink Syngonium set to be popular to complement pink and earthy hues, as well as providing a striking contrast to white backgrounds.

Grey and silver leafed plants, such as olive trees, banksias and Helichrysnum, continue to remain popular choices.

I am surprised I am saying this, but I have been dabbling with some soft orange hues in the garden again, too.

Design notes

Mediterranean influences and natural earthy colours as well as curved edges in garden beds, structures and pools remain popular too.


Softly weathered timber, natural stone, and earthy colours are all currently materials of choice, along with accents of patterned tiles.

We have been working a lot with very smooth renders over the last few years and are now starting to bring in some more textures and movement into the render.

Must have items          

Outdoor kitchens and entertainment spaces along with pools remain the most popular requests for outdoor spaces from our homeowners – this makes sense as outdoor living suits the Australasian climate and lifestyle.

Compact plunge pools will continue to be popular – especially for small spaces – however, ice baths and saunas are also gaining in popularity.

Saunas in particular are enjoying something of a resurgence and we’re getting more requests for inclusion – on a small and larger scale.  

We’re also working with unexpected material such as glass to incorporate saunas seamlessly and stylishly into garden design.

About Matt Leacy 

Matt Leacy, creative director and co-founder of Landart
Matt Leacy, creative director and co-founder of Landart

Qualified in design and structural landscape, and horticulture, Matt Leacy is the co-founder and creative director of award-winning landscape architecture, construction, pool design, pool building and garden maintenance companyLandart

Working across residential and commercial projects, Landart has had 17 years of success and continues to grow with an ethos of passion, creativity and commitment to the finer details of every owner and project. 

Landart is dedicated to tailoring every space to suit each home owner and their needs.

To encourage others into the garden, Leacy has been a newspaper columnist, regular magazine and online contributor, a co-presenter on Australia Channel Nine’s Garden Gurus  and Backyard Blitz as well as appearing on ABC’s Dream Gardens and co-presenting on Network Ten’s The Living Room.  He is also a regular guest on breakfast and morning TV.

Designed by: Matt Leacy, Landart

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Various

18 Feb, 2024

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