Home Gardens An Amazingly Abundant Lawn-Free Garden In Northcote

An Amazingly Abundant Lawn-Free Garden In Northcote

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It’s uncommon to think of a family garden without a lawn, but when you’ve got limited space and many other functions for your garden to perform – something’s gotta go!

The Sharp Street garden by Peachy Green contains an outdoor dining area where there would usually be a patch of grass. The shaded enclave houses built-in seating, a barbeque and pizza oven under a pergola, adjacent to a new bike shed which opens out onto the back lane.

This functional structure at the rear of the site is made of solid brick, anchoring the layout against the abundance of foliage, and drawing visitors to the back of the garden. Despite serving this weighty purpose, greenery drapes the structure, deliberately softening its architectural lines – a key technique used throughout the design. A wild, pastel palette sees mauves, dusty pinks, lemon yellows, and silvery blues sprinkled through the evergreen base. 

The biggest challenge? When to stop planting!

‘Together with the client, we wanted to create a Piet Oudolf-style planting scheme incorporating our flowering Aussie natives,’ says landscape architect Frances Hale of her textural design. The famed Dutch garden designer is a leading figure in the New Perennial movement, pioneering a new type of residential landscaping that emulates the wild way plants grow naturally. He emphasises the use of ‘drifts’: planting grasses or flowers in groups of three or more rather than continuous, contained beds. These pockets create bursts of colour, shape and texture throughout a garden, something Frances was keen to employ here, to achieve a loose and wild character. 

In this garden, lush and feathery plantings are layered with dense ground covers such as kidney weed, sprouting from in between large steppers from the Port Fairy Bamstone Bluestone Quarry. Trees anchor the space, with maturing eucalypts, acacia and maples creating a dappled shade canopy that will change with the seasons.

Frances describes the end result as a wild and personality-filled space. ‘It’s a gardener’s garden, full of mixed ornamental grasses, flowering perennials and woody, meadow-style natives and shady trees,’ she says. ‘The lawn-free space is natural, loose, fun, playful with relaxed places to sit.’ Peachy perfect!

See more projects from Peachy Green here.

A shaded outdoor area at the base of the garden contains built-in outdoor seating. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The alfresco dining area is made from Ivory brick from Adbri Masonry to match the house, and the pergola from silver top ash from Radial Timbers. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The planting palette is wild and abundant, incorporating flowering natives with perennials. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Greenery climbs around structures at every opportunity to create an evergreen palette. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Eucalypts, acacia and maple trees creating a dappled shade canopy that will change with the seasons. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The steppers are from the Port Fairy Bamstone Bluestone Quarry and  separated by kidney weed ground covers in between. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Pink mudstone boulders sit alongside the bluestone pavers, both of which add anchoring, sculptural elements to the plan. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The outdoor dining area is completely shaded by the pergola and covered in greenery from floor to wall. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The bike shed sits on the rear boundary and opens to a back lane. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Fuschia and marigola-hued dahlias frame the entry to the bike shed. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The path leads to the outdoor dinind area which contains a barbeque, pizza oven and banqutte seating. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Trees frame every moment in the garden. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Anemone, echinacea, dahlias and sedum are just a few of the flowers dominating the soft pastel colour scheme of dusty pinks, silvery blues, mauves and yellows. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The base palette is designed to be an evergreen framework for the rest of the garden. Pictured here is asparagus densiflorus (aka Foxtail Fern). Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Glass windows creates connection to the amazing garden from indoors. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Solid, weighty materials form the base layer to the foliage and flowers above. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Boston Ivy creeps up the walls of the outdoor dining area toward the latticed pergola top, which it will eventually cover in a canopy. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The sapling trees have already matured since the garden was completed in 2019, and will continue to stretch over the years. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Bright and vibrant natives are a key elements of the abundant planting scheme. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

The front garden is a verdant welcome mat for the house. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

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