garden designs

Market Insight

Cool Pool Surrounds

Before the sun goes down and the barbecue is fired up, it’s your pool that is usually the centre of attention on a hot summer’s afternoon. It’s perfectly understandable that you want the pool to capture that attention in a very eye-catching way, and cool surrounds can help you make that desired impression.


One of the keys to creating beautiful pool surrounds is integration with the rest of the backyard. There’s nothing wrong with bold, contrasting touches here and there, such as a brightly coloured feature wall, or clever lighting effects, but the overall impression should be one of a pool area that fits in beautifully and naturally with its surroundings.


An intelligent selection of plants can help achieve this sense of integration. Plants similar to the ones already in the garden might strongly emphasise the flow from back yard to pool area. Similarly, furniture that reflects the architecture and age of the home can also help to form a seamless impression. Indoor outdoor flow is seen as a major selling point these days, and creating a similar feeling from back yard to pool area might be seen as just as desirable.


A pool’s immediate surrounds should have the biggest visual impact, so pay extra attention to the surface you choose. Timber decking might once have been the “go to” surface, a staple of many Australian pools. Today, however, decorative concrete seems to be leading the charge as people look for more innovative ways to combine looks with practicality. Decorative concrete can achieve this in many ways:

  • Exposed and honed concrete have slip-resistant properties that many other surfaces lack.
  • Coloured concrete can be used as a border or pattern amongst exposed or honed concrete. It can be customised to complement other features of the back yard and tie everything together.
  • Mosquitoes are less likely to breed under concrete surfaces.
  • Weeds cannot grow through concrete pool surrounds.
  • The raw texture of Australian stone in exposed concrete can create a striking visual effect around water.
  • Concrete is comfortable on bare feet, while honed concrete is smooth and very easy to walk on.
  • Decorative concrete is versatile with a wide range of design options.


For these, and other reasons, decorative concrete is a smart choice as the centrepiece of your cool pool surrounds. In conjunction with the right plants, furniture and accessories, it has the potential to give you a stunning yet easy-care surface.

One final note, the most important thing surrounding your pool should always be the fence. Safety must be a high priority, even as you’re trying to create great looking pool surrounds. By all means, go all out when designing your pool area, but keep in mind the safety of everyone who will use it. A good idea is to go to the Royal Lifesaving Society’s website for their Home Pool Safety Checklist. When you’re creating your cool pool surrounds, refer to this checklist as often as you refer to your wish list.

The Benefits Of a Concrete Patio

If you’ve never considered concrete as a surface for your patio, you’re overlooking the myriad of benefits it can provide. A concrete patio can be a highly attractive and distinctive feature of your home, with the added benefits of durability, ease of maintenance and even safety.


A Concrete Patio Looks Good – outdoor entertainment areas are different spaces than they used to be. Years ago, a few pavers and a barbecue near the fence were probably a close approximation of an outdoor entertainment area. Not anymore. As al fresco dining and entertaining have become more popular, the need to create spaces that are more like outdoor rooms has increased – and like any room inside the house, first impressions count. Decorative concrete is manufactured to provide that “wow” factor, with surfaces like coloured concrete, exposed aggregate and honed concrete being used in creative and colourful ways that go far beyond that “concrete slab” aesthetic.


A Concrete Patio IsConcrete surface can be skid-resistant A Safer Patio – safety should always be a primary consideration, particularly in family homes, or in areas where large numbers of people congregate. This is where a concrete patio can provide yet another benefit. Concrete is a mould resistant material if treated correctly, and hypoallergenic. As you’d imagine, a concrete patio can also be a more stable area. Honed concrete basically eliminates uneven surfaces, so outdoor furniture, such as chairs and tables, are at less risk of toppling over. Finally, a concrete surface can be skid-resistant, a very important thing to remember when creating an entertainment area that is exposed to the elements. This skid-resistance is part of the reason why concrete is a popular choice for patios, pool surrounds, and even internal wet areas like bathrooms and laundries.


More Durable, Less Maintenance – outdoor entertainment areas should be lots of fun, not lots of hard work. A concrete patio, when installed by an expert, can become a long lasting feature of your home and likely to require less attention than other materials. The renowned durability and strength of concrete means it can better withstand the weight of large groups, as well as outdoor furniture and cooking equipment. As a low maintenance material, concrete is also virtually unmatched. Again, installation is key. Get it done by a professional, and your concrete patio will probably need less TLC than a patio made of any other surface.


A Solid Value Adder – when the benefits listed above are put together, they add up to a very solid way of adding potential value to your home. Every home renovation should add value, and an aesthetically pleasing concrete patio, that is safe, durable and low maintenance would almost certainly make a positive difference to a property’s bottom line. The way we regard outdoor entertaining these days makes it imperative that an important feature of that area, such as the patio, is eye-catching and easy to care for. It’s not only beneficial to us, but a potentially big selling point somewhere down the track. A concrete patio, with all the benefits it entails, can certainly fit the bill in that area.


Modern Garden Trends

Small packaged gardens that exude luxury and simplicity are a common feature of big houses on small lots. Homeowners are looking for garden design practices that offer maximum enjoyment for small spaces – which means a leaning towards miniature urban landscapes and more plants-in-pots. Minimalism and simplicity were prominent themes in the realm of 2016 urban garden design.

A growing awareness of the benefits of eco-friendly gardening and the possible effects of climate change and ways we can weatherproof our plants may also be factors influencing modern garden design. If you want to keep up with the Jones’s, here’s some of the very latest garden trends set to continue for 2017.


Monochrome colours such as white, grey and black are the dominant shades. They work best with a single centrepiece showcased to make a setting really pop. Soft foliage strategically placed in front of a bold backdrop, like a polished concrete feature wall with embedded natural stones, never fails to draw the eye. This minimalist idea is worth trying with all of your planting themes and the overall visual impact of using massive single-colour displays may astound you.


This is something that works in many ways. For instance, replacing the front yard flower bed’s rusted and dangerous metal edging with a stamped concrete border to give added curb appeal. Or perhaps an outdoor entertainment area comprising of a slip resistant, attractive concrete floor of exposed aggregate and timber border finish. Or a bold patch of vibrant green synthetic turf partitioned by a mottled grey exposed concrete pathway. It all makes for a stylish and urban-cool integration of natural materials. Combining natural stone and decorative concrete with clean cut boundaries of other natural materials is effective in achieving the clean and minimalist-inspired look.


Combining sustainability aIt's possible to use a decorative concrete wall to add a splash of green foliage to a limited space.nd design, energy-efficient vertical gardens are a boom amongst homeowners longing to add a splash of green wall foliage to a limited space. Hundreds upon hundreds of plant species have been tested and were found to thrive on these vertical green walls. There are almost endless possibilities in design. Vege greens,flowering perennials, beautiful foliage plants, ground covers – the vertical garden even allows for bushes, shrubs, and small trees.


decorative night lights are becoming increasingly popular as more homeowners are discovering that lighting is getting better and cheaper.Solar and battery-powered lighting is becoming increasingly popular as more and more homeowners, who are looking to add some fun and brightness to their garden getaways, are discovering that lighting is getting better and cheaper. Why not try the many brands of lamps that change colour, or fairy lights that are shaped like stars, candles, and of course… fairies. Also trending are Chinese and Moroccan lanterns, as well as décor lights placed in ornaments and lampshades that are made out of everyday objects.


Calling in professional garden designers to create great furniture that make the best use of limited spaces is a growing trend as homeowners strive to introduce quality décor seating and benches into their outdoor settings.


A rustic metal sculpture is a standout showpiece and can charm in the way it captures a sense of Australia’s colonial past. Natalia Broadhead, co-founder of metal art business Broadcroft Design says metal art has been around for quite some time but it’s a trend that keeps on growing. “We find that our clients are after a focal point or feature to make an area have more impact. Creating a trendy garden space is all about finding a point of difference, a feature that is well designed and will never be out of date. The beauty of steel is that it goes so well with all the other elements you tend to have in a garden – be it timber, stone or decorative types of concrete.”