Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Northbridge

Northbridge Garden

In a quiet leafy street in Northbridge on Sydney's lower North Shore, one front yard looks quite different to all the others. While the others follow the traditional 'open to the street' format this one is almost a 'secret garden', hidden from the view of neighbours and passing pedestrians and traffic.

On a difficult site with poor access to an isolated backyard, the owners of this residence wished to focus their outdoor leisure space in the sunny front yard of their property. The kitchen and family room opened out to the front and the presence of two young children who couldn't be left alone out of the sight of their parents necessitated some lateral thinking to achieve a functional but beautiful design.

The task was certainly challenging but in the end highly rewarding. On one side the carport and front path required screening. The brief also included open space for the children to play, outdoor seating and entertainment, privacy from the street and elevated houses across the road and a desire for the peaceful atmosphere created by the gentle sound of running water. There was also a need for shade in summer as the yard faces west.

The final design achieved a balance of paved surface surrounded by gardens to soften the hard materials. A quite old brick wall along the northern boundary was left untouched and its rustic charm contrasted beautifully with the sharper cleaner lines of the new structures.

The dominant feature in the garden is a gently curving low wall which defines two useable spaces as well as the gardens. The wall ends in a lovely circle that creates a private space away from the main entertainment area. The wall is capped with bullnosed Jolly Roger pavers which match the paving used throughout the courtyard. A beautifully clipped Japanese box (Buxus microphylla var. japonica) hedge follows the entire length of the wall adding further strength and definition to the shape.

The water feature is a simple, understated, two-tiered structure with water gently flowing over the spillway. Its curved upper pond picks up the theme created by the wall. Too many curves and too many twists and turns can look ungainly and very busy. However, the clever use of simple uncomplicated flowing curves can create a wonderfully pleasing experience, gently leading the eye through various parts of the garden. Both the wall and the pond offer relaxed areas to sit and enjoy the privacy and tranquility of the garden.

Screening from the street is provided by the ever reliable and scented Murraya paniculata (Orange Jessamine) which grows very successfully in Sydney. The shade trees are Acer buergeranum (Trident Maple) which have adapted beautifully to the site. Being deciduous they offer shade in summer and full exposure to the sun's warmth in winter. At the entrance to the courtyard near the front door of the house and protected from hot wind, stands a graceful Weeping Japanese Maple ( Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum Dissectum ').

Other plants used in this garden are the scented climbing Chinese Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and a combination of strappy leaved plants. They include: Clivea miniata (Nile Lily), Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass), Dietes irioides and Phormium 'Bronze Baby'.

Simplicity and the subtle use of graceful shapes, combined with attractive and reliable planting have created a wonderful, relaxing and private recreational space in a most unexpected place...a suburban front yard.