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View to a win


An unkempt multi-level backyard wth harbour views finally gets the treatment it deserves - and award to boot, writes Catherine Nikas-Boulos.

When a young family found their dream home in North Sydney, they were undaunted by the ramshackle backyard. The uneven outdoor space was accessible by a ladder, leading to a forlorn-looking water feature overgrown with weeds.

Joanne Green Landscape and Interior director, Joanne Neylon, was charged with transforming the relatively small area into a family-friendly backyard befitting its expansive harbourside view, incorporating a swimming pool, entertaining terrace and lawn.

Good Neighbours

The property was located on a sloping site, with neighbours all around. Before any work could commence, a geotechnical engineer came on to site to ensure the excavation for the pool would not impact the neighbours' homes. "The fact that the homes around were sitting on sandstone did us a favour, especially the houses below," Joanne says. "The pool excavation was also quite close to the clients' home, so we had to make sure the footings would not be disturbed." Joanne says the entire project "was a series of engineering issues that were worked out as we went along."

Getting large machinery to the site was also an issue, as the tight street would not allow for cars and machinery to pass simultaneously. Traffic control was required to make sure everything ran safely and smoothly. "The project was a strategic nightmare because the street was so narrow," says Joanne. "We letter dropped up and down the street to notify neighbours, and there were several apartments with 240 people or more," says Joanne. "Its quite a busy neck of the woods, but everyone was respectful of each other and we communicated often with the community."

Sweet Success

The new concrete pool is positioned to capture the afternoon sun and finished in a Black Russian glass mosaic. The backyard was completed with custom-made spotted gum gates, screens and balustrades, which bring a clean, contemporary finish.

A plant palette, including Gymea lilies, buxus, Persian shield, topiarised Japanese box, dwarf mondo grass and sweet alyssum with a Sir Walter soft leaf buffalo lawn soften the hard structures in the garden.

Joanne and her team took this once-neglected space and turned it into an intimate outdoor entertaining area with a diamond-sawn sandstone paved terrace. The finished product won the Residential Construction $300,000 to $600,000 category at the recent Landscape Excellence Awards.

"It was a combination of design, with an exceptionally high level of construction and attention to detail that has brought this project to that next level and made it a perfect inner-city jewel," says Joanne.

Pictures: Nick Watt

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