The brief was for a design that accentuated the family’s love of swimming and spending time together in their garden – scale and balance were key

Designed by Growing Rooms Landscapes

From the landscape designer:

Owners' brief and design intent

The Sydney home reflects a contemporary design style throughout while the owner’s brief highlighted the family’s love of swimming and spending time together in their garden.

The structural layout is dominated by the swimming pool – this was to be long enough to do laps and wide & deep enough for the children to jump into. 

The integrated spa adds interest to the rectilinear shape and meets the owner’s requirements. 

The trick was to make the large scale of the floating pool integrate into the landscape. 

We wrapped the pool in glass fencing so as not to reduce the size of the surrounding gardens and to give the illusion of more space. 

Entry to the pool is via floating polished concrete landings, LED strip lights intensify the floating effect. 

A special feature is the upturn wall at the side of the pool which being clad in natural stone introduces a natural element. 

The stone of choice, Eracoolum, a split face granite, features warm tones that tie in nicely with the hardwood bench seat and cladding.

A pause space at the deep end of the pool, featuring a platform of timber-look porcelain tiles, gives the illusion of a deck without the upkeep of timber. 

This is partially covered with an aluminium pergola and down-lights for those midnight swims. 

The pool blanket is hidden in the platform – this allows for all family members to operate it and keep the pool clean at all times.

The owner requested to retain the existing shed for storage purposes. 

This gave us a perfect location for the new pool equipment and we decided to relocate the doors of the shed to the side path. 

The newly created backwall is clad with Australian Blackbutt – matching the new bench seating on the other side of the garden. 

This created a splendid backdrop for a newly created garden bed, including a feature tree.

The owner’s passion for entertaining was considered in the dedicated dining space and needed to comfortably fit the existing table when fully extended. 

Porcelain tile floors and custom-built bench seating beneath the mature Mango tree are surrounded by a sophisticated plant palette of native and exotics – all epitomising modern outdoor living. 

The porcelain tiles were laid in a herringbone pattern to define and frame the entertainment space. 

The tiling extends in front of the house, laid on an existing concrete slab.

The owners had asked us to retain the existing Lilli Pilli hedge on three sites of the garden, which allows for privacy on all boundaries.

To meet the owner’s wishes, the planting palette incorporated a mix of natives and exotics which are well suited to the sandy loam soils throughout the site, with shades of green and blue/grey and the soft hues creating a tranquil outlook. 

We used naturally mounding plants and succulents with low water requirements to capture a garden that looks amazing all year round.

Site constraints & opportunities

The biggest challenge for the construction phase was access for heavy machinery. 

This had to be done via the front entry of the home as the side path was not wide enough. 

A ramp up the stairs and through to an existing louvred window in the wall of the front garden was a fast and cost-effective solution to provide access for the excavation machinery into the rear garden. 

It was removed after the excavation phase without any damage to the home.

All other materials were then brought in via the side path. 

The topography at the rear of the home was level which made it easy for our team to move the materials around the site as required.

The existing Syzygium ‘Lilly Pilli’ hedge on three sides of the rear garden was retained, as well as the mature Mango tree. 

As per the owner’s request, some of the existing succulents were also retained and reused.

The soil profile of this beachside suburb was identified as a sandy loam. 

We reused some of the existing soil and added new premium garden mix and organic matter to improve its quality.

Scope of works – including existing features

While we designed the front and the rear garden at the same time, the installation of the project was staged and phase one included the rear garden only. 

The existing trampoline was moved into the front garden, which will be implemented once the family has outgrown the trampoline.

The scope of works for the rear garden project included: demolition, rock & soil excavation, pool installation, concreting, paving, tiling, stepping stones, wall cladding, carpentry, pergola installation, planting, garden lighting, irrigation and wirework.

The existing shed was partially demolished to accommodate the pool equipment. 

As stated, we relocated the doors to create access via the side passage and dressed the wall with vertical timber screen using Australian Blackbutt.

The existing fencing was painted in charcoal, to make it disappear into the shadows.

During the pool excavation the existing Syzygium plants were tied back to the boundary walls and the roots wrapped in hessian bags and set up with temporary irrigation. 

The trunk of the mango tree was wrapped in timber to minimise potential damage.


  • An existing, established hedge of Syzygium ‘Select Form’ Lilli Pilli gave us the perfect surround and allowed for privacy on all boundaries – we pleached the hedge which allowed for another layer of planting beneath, extends the vista and adds interest and depth to the garden beds
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’ – feature tree in front of the timber clad shed – we used a custom made tree ring to elevate the tree and add interest to this area – the Lagerstroemia’s foliage reflects the seasons and their spectacular white spring blossoms attract insects and birds – the tree ring is further planted up with Viola hederacea to soften the edges – the garden bed further features Sansevieria, Buxus and more viola which is spreading through the steppers on the side as well
  • We were mixing sculptural with ball-shape plants like Kalanchoe ‘Silver spoons’, different Sansevieria, Cycas revoluta and Buxus microphylla ‘Japonica Balls' – native plants such as Cycas revoluta were chosen for their structural qualities, while exotic plants such as Buxus Balls brought in contrast with their lime green foliage – Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ for its resilience to many climatic conditions and Kalanchoe ‘Silver Spoons’ for its silver grey, spoon like foliage
  • The Casuarina ‘Cousin it’ forms a dense mat of foliage and softens the edges of the garden beds – it is drought hardy and a low maintenance plant – the thick foliage layer produced retains moisture, retards soil erosion and suppresses weeds
  • The repetition of the plant selections on both sides of the floating steps introduces continuity throughout the garden – the plantings are suited to the climatic conditions which exist at the site

Credit list

Landscape architect
Swimming pool design
Growing Rooms Landscapes
Porelain floor tiles
Arrowmill by Eco Outdoor
Special features
Spray up wall at the side of the pool, that is clad in natural stone; concrete floating steps
The Landscape Association – Gold
Landscape contractor
Growing Rooms Landscapes 
Swimming pool construction
 Malibu Pools
Arrowmill Technifirma, by Eco Outdoor
Outdoor furniture
Custom-built blackbutt bench seating; other furniture supplied by owner
Alpine Nurseries

Designed by: Growing Rooms Landscapes

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Chris Warnes

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