Saving some money for landscaping

So often I see pictures of lovely new houses where everything is just right…except the garden, which is either unfinished or very plain. It’s always such a shame, because the garden has such a big impact on the overall look of the house. However of course I know all too well why this happens, because the owner runs out of money and limps to the finish line just to get the damn house done!

So with that in mind, we are already thinking about and saving for our garden design. Remember Dea and Daz’s amazing terrace they revealed at the end of The Block Triple Threat? I think they said it cost something like $20K, which they had put aside knowing it was going to be a big cost and an important feature. That’s pretty rare to have that much money left on the last week of The Block and only happens if you win enough for it to be possible, but they were smart to do it and it paid off (in a massive way.)

However, as I’m learning, by doing some things now we will be saving money down the track, as it all costs more to do when there’s a house to work around. I was really surprised when our order of works with Scott Salisbury Homes had the pool going in first, as I just presumed that would happen at the end. But of course it makes sense to put it in at the start when you have easy access to the site, and the cost of labour is going to be a lot more when you have to get cranes and bobcats around a house.

There are other things we are doing now, like putting in the footings for the pool fence and getting the levels right for the future retaining wall. Our earth shifter (I think that’s his title!) even suggested we get the loam for the grass in now, as it would cost less while the yard was still easy to access. Firstly I had to check what loam was and whether we really needed it, but once I was across it I agreed it made sense. It is one of those costs you never think about when you’re budgeting, but boy do those costs add up fast. Especially when you have a block as big as ours. Fencing, loam, turf, plants, paving, lighting…yikes.

Which gets us back to why finished houses often have bare gardens!


The pool is already in and boarded over. See how much room we have to landscape? It’s huge. This isn’t even all the way back.

I am no landscape designer but the way I see it designing gardens is not that different to designing interiors. It’s about creating layers, having texture and interest and then enhancing it with good lighting and some wow factor. You also need to think about how you use the garden and what your family needs from it. Don’t forget to consider practical things like where the clothesline will go and how you get the bins out at night. These things will end up being much more important than which flowers you put in (that is really a note to myself more than anyone.)

We knew we wanted lots of flat grass for the kids to play in, but also want it to feel lush and private. I love gardens that feel like an oasis, with thick walls of greenery and hedges bordering pools.

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Basically, I want this. Except you have to fence the pool in Australia. And having grass up to a pool is a mowing nightmare. And we don’t have a gardener to tend to our garden. So basically, our garden is not going to look anything like this. But it’s nice to dream.

I also want it to be relatively low maintenance and kid friendly. Unlike the Chinese star jasmine I tried to grow along our current back wall, which got kicked with a soccer ball so many times it just couldn’t take it anymore and gave up (I understand completely how it feels at times.)

I am meeting with the landscape designer next week and will take lots of pictures of what I like. I also have a pretty good idea of which plants I want, with ornamental pear trees creating a screen down one side and Murraya hedges to create borders. I love gardenia too, they probably aren’t that soccer ball friendly though, so might need to go in the front!

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I love these ornamental pear trees. They also look stunning in Spring with their blossom.

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This is Todd McKenney’s house, featured in Home Beautiful magazine. I want this hedge. Immediately. I do realise it takes many years of growth to achieve, but would rather not focus on that part.

Another thing I am so excited about is the little wooden shed from the original house, which is now the last thing standing. It’s built on a concrete slab so I had the idea to add windows, paint it and turn it into a cubby house. Which was a great idea, but it’s looking a little shabby now and is going to look even more so when it’s next to a brand new house. So we’re going to replace the timber cladding with the same weatherboard cladding as the house, to make a mini version of the house. There may be little chandeliers involved. Can you hear me squealing at the thought of how cute it will be?!!

Current cubby house…..


Future cubby house. Could it be any cuter!

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I know we will be spending so much time in the garden so want it to feel like a cohesive extension of the house design, with the same wow factor and family friendly feel. I’d also love to get it done before we move in, while we still have the motivation (and money) to achieve what we want. I’m just hoping it’s not a case of famous last words and I have to write again in 6 months to tell you we’re completely tapped out and our kids are playing in a big pile of loam.


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You can check out more of my garden inspiration on my Pinterest boards. The frames go up this week, so more pics soon!

Amity xx










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