Have you ever seen the yard of a newly built home? It's been a construction zone for a long time, it's been trampled and driven on, had bricks and tiles and concrete dropped on it. You'll find pieces of rubber and wiring and screws and maybe the odd broken pencil.
Building a new home, or renovating an existing one, can be all-consuming. With all the choices, the project management and dealing with the paperwork, materials and unforeseen circumstances, on top of your usual life, it's easy to see how the less necessary elements can be forgotten. Like the garden.
Just when you think the process is all over and you can move in and relax, it's time to think about the outdoors. Because you don't want your beautiful new home to look like a bomb site. That's when a landscaper can be a godsend.
For a family with a new home in Medowie's Pacific Dunes golf estate, that godsend was Chris and Alana Rapaport at Utopia Landscaping, also based in Medowie.
Approached to design pool surrounds, Utopia's brief eventually extended to include landscaping, the installation of a water feature and a natural pond, a layered vegetable garden and outdoor kitchen.
"The client originally contacted us to do their pool surrounds and design a small veggie garden, but this brief grew as we worked together and discussed their goals for their outdoor area," Chris said.
The stunning Compass pool with mosaic waterfall and stone and marble surrounds from NewTech Stone and Marble was installed to begin with and its position flows seamlessly from a large covered alfresco area with outdoor kitchen. With area still unused behind the pool, the owners decided to keep going and create a backyard to enjoy spending time in, that was visually stunning, and provided an all-year-round indoor-outdoor flow.
"After completing what they had initially briefed us on [the pool surrounds], the client was over the moon with what we created for them and asked us to come back to help them do their entire front and back yards. We worked as a team with the client to discover their goals and priorities for the area and bring these to life."
What eventuated was a peaceful, yet practical, space.
They had to overcome a few challenges to get to the final destination. Initial ideas had to comply with the regulations of the local government area.
"The guidelines of the Pacific Dunes area were highly restrictive and we had to have a one-metre garden across the back fence; as well there was a list detailing the plants that could and could not be used. They also specified the size of gardens in front and back yards," Chris said.
With this in mind, they set to turning the blank (albeit sandy) canvas into a sanctuary, but were then faced with the task of actually getting entry into the backyard with machinery and materials.
"Access was the biggest challenge as there was not a lot of space to get equipment into the client's yard. We had to use neighbours' backyards to get access, and the space was relatively small considering everything we wanted to fit in," he said.
A focus on sustainability was key in the design and this was to be represented through the choice of materials, plants and permaculture principles.
A mix of natives, drought-resistant and edible plants were used throughout the gardens, aiming to minimise water usage, as well as providing fresh vegetables to reduce the need for buying produce.
"We used recycled crushed glass in the pathways around the veggie gardens which is a great way to reuse materials to create something beautiful in your yard with an interesting finish," Chris said.
One of the focal points is the timber pergola, made using giant pieces of ironbark. Weighing 250-kilograms each, the posts had to be craned in through a neighbour's backyard. The feature aligns with the use of natives, and adds another dimension.
The natural pond from Visionary Waterscapes brings a sense of cool and calm, and provides water for the surrounding plants. A cute bridge over it and babbling water feature adds to its Zen-like qualities - a sanctuary in the suburbs.
Over time the plants will provide shade, privacy and plenty of enjoyment for the owners. This contemporary family home now has the front and back yards to match it.