Sydney Water Restriction Gardening Tips

When water restrictions are introduced into urban areas, many people feel concern about how they will grow and maintain a beautiful garden. However, the good news is, water restrictions don’t mean you have to give up on keep plants alive but it DOES mean we have to rethink how we garden, how we “spend” available water, how we save it and finally, recycle it.

Read this article to find out our water restriction gardening tips so you can prepare your garden for limited water and ongoing drought conditions.

What’s allowed under Level 1 water restrictions?

You can

Water lawns and gardens:

  • with a watering can or bucket
  • by hand-held hose, before 10 am or after 4 pm, as long as your hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle
  • with drip irrigation systems
  • with watering systems with one or more of these features:
    • automated weather adjustment
    • rain sensor
    • soil moisture sensor
  • water new turf for one week after it’s delivered as long as you follow the instructions provided by the turf supplier

You can’t

  • use standard sprinklers and watering systems at any time
  • leave hoses and taps running unattended

Source: Sydney Water

Our Top 4 Water-Wise Gardening Tips

1. Compost

Thorough soil preparation will increase your soil’s water and nutrient-holding capacity. This can be done by digging organic compost into the soil. Mulch will help to keep the temperature of the soil lower, which means it stays moist for longer as the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

TIP: Instead of sweeping or blowing leaves into the street or filling your green bin, compost them!

2. Fertilise

At this stage, you could fertilise, which will help, but it is best to do both in the spring.

Some soils are on the hydrophobic side, particularly during drought conditions. When the soil is in this state, it will be quite dry and naturally repel water. If this is the case, you may also need to add a wetting agent to help water penetrate and hold in your soil.

3. Mulch

During drought conditions, it’s very important to mulch around the garden and pot plants. Keep in mind that the finer mulch will hold more moisture better, i.e. fine pine bark is better than big chunky bark.

  • Vegetable gardens use sugar cane mulch or Lucerne
  • Pot plants you can use pebbles, which can be decorative but also help hold in the moisture

Before applying mulch, it is generally a good idea to ‘till’ or dig the soil over to create aeration, so as there is not a hard barrier between the mulch and the plant roots.

You should always be careful not to build the mulch up around the trunk of the plant as this creates ‘collar rot’. Always mulch 20-50mm from the trunk and minimum of 25–25mm deep. This also depends on the type of mulch.

Tip: In my opinion, weed control mats don’t allow the water to penetrate the soil directly and create ‘run off’.

4. Irrigation System

If you have an irrigation system, check that it is a drip system and not a spray system. Make sure that all the drippers are working and the mulch is not covering them. It is best that you set them to come on early in the morning.


Need advice about designing a drought-resistant garden?

Are you about to design your garden, courtyard or balcony? Talk to us about water restriction gardening and how you can make it drought-resistant.

We can answer your questions or even provide garden consultancy services. Give us a call to arrange a free consultation.

Grand Waterfront Property in Longueville: Front Garden Case Study

Project details

  • Waterfront property exposed to high wind
  • Create a sense of grandeur
  • Improve appeal of the house from the street frontage

Key goals

  • Select plants that can withstand winds
  • Create two tone colour theme (white and green]
  • Create balance between the large two-story home and the landscape environment
  • Design a grand front door entrance area

Our approach

1. Trees: We had to consider a Magnolia that was in the front garden because the wind was burning the leaves, which reduced the appeal of the garden at the front of the house. For this reason, we transplanted it to a more protected area in the back garden and replaced it with Snow Pears, creating a sense of grandeur to the front entrance of the house from the street.

Front Garden Case Study - Trees section


2. Wind Resistance: To protect the smaller plants along the driveway and create a windbreak, we planted a mature hedge of Japanese Buxus that was approximately 1 metre high. Snow Pears are also wind resistant, so were a perfect choice for this garden.

Front Garden Case Study - Wind resistance section


3. Balance and layers: Snow Pears were also selected to create height in the garden and create balance between the two-story house and the garden. To create balance between the plants, we used a smaller Buxus hedge, approximately 25cm high, down the path to the bottom of the steps.

Front Garden Case Study -  Balance and layers section


4. Colour and Contrast: Snow Pears have a beautiful white flower in the spring and they also create grandeur to the front entrance of the house. We used Iceberg Roses throughout the garden, as they can withstand the wind and love the afternoon sun that this garden receives and they will flower 8-9 months of the year. As a lower plant around the Iceberg Roses and Snow Pears, we used tricoloured Jasmine, to create the contrast in colour between the plants, from the lime green of the Buxus and the dark green of the Roses.

Front Garden Case Study - Colour and Contrast section


5. Grand Entrance: To perfectly frame the front entrance of this Hampton style home, we selected two Magnolia trees, planted in large Alfresco Low Round pots. Garden beds on either side of the door contained clay soil with no topsoil. Flowering plums were planted here, with English Large Leaf Ivy as a ground cover around the base of the flowering Plums. This created a sense of contrast between the burgundy colour of the Plums and the dark green of the Ivy.

Front Garden Case Study - Grand entrance section


For more information, please give us a call or visit us to schedule a free consultation.


10 Tips for Designing a Courtyard Garden

Are you thinking about designing your courtyard garden? Do you already know what elements you want included?

There are several points you need to consider before designing a courtyard garden.

It’s important to understand that enclosed garden spaces include visions of architectural balance, shady corners, stately containers and personalised nature retreats that settle on interior spaces (such as glass walls and atrium ceilings).

Defining a balanced setting for your courtyard can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve selected a few tips to help you create a truly special outdoor space – your custom-made courtyard.

What are you trying to achieve?

It’s almost impossible to create an effective plan when you don’t know what you want to achieve.

So start by making a list of your space details and condition (such as existing walls, dimensions and shape). Ask yourself, “What do I want to change in the current layout? Why?”

Additionally, the following questions are intended to help you during the planning stage:

  • Are you trying to screen out the neighbours or a large ugly wall?
  • Or are you trying to enhance an area that you already enjoy?
  • Where are you viewing the courtyard from, one window or several windows?
  • Is it an area to become your peaceful sanctuary to retreat to?
  • Is it a large or small space? Is there any vertical space on solid walls?
  • What decoration and homewares do you want to add?
  • Would you like to have an outdoor kitchen or fire pit?

10 things to consider when designing a courtyard garden

Let’s explore the most important points you need to go over while designing a courtyard garden…

1. Aspect

The aspect of your outdoor space is a crucial point when designing your courtyard (when choosing the trees and plants for it).

Remember: Is your outdoor space sunny or shady? Is it facing north or south? Only a handful of plants will adapt and successfully grow in the specific conditions of your courtyard area.

2. Ground work

If you are planting directly in the ground, you need to evaluate its properties. Is it too dry? What are the pH levels? Do you need to add compost to improve the humus in the soil?

The same strategy applies if you are using pots. You will need a good quality potting mix to ensure your ground has enough nutrients for your new plants.

Regardless of where you are planting, you may want to consider mulch for the plants. It will keep the moisture in the soil, preventing it from evaporating (Tea Tree Mulch, Sugar Cane Mulch or Pine Bark are great options).

Pot Planting Ground Soil

3. Water and electric systems

Do you have water in the area? If not you may need to install a tap. As such, if you are planning on using an irrigation system you may need to consider the pipe placement.

Tip: Any irrigation system must be installed before planting or paving.
Dreaming of a fountain? You may need to consider a power point for the pump. If you want the switch inside the house, consult an electrician.

Don’t forget your electric system in the courtyard. You will need to consider where the lights are going to be positioned to determine where to install the conduit.

4. Consider access to the courtyard

If you have to bring large plants, furniture and hard landscaping materials through the house, measure the doorways to ensure they fit.

Bonus tip: check the width of your side path and gates. Make sure your air conditioning unit or downpipes are not in your way. In units, check the lift measurements.

You may want to drop sheets for some floors and walls if you need to go through the house.

Courtyard Access Path

5. Be bold

In general, it is better to have one large feature in your courtyard than a group of small ones. Designing your own courtyard also gives you the freedom to get creative and come up with unique, eye-catching focal points.

You might want to consider some of our premium pots, such as an Atlantis Urn or a tree, or a Little Gem Magnolia or Japanese Maple.

6. Balance

Before planting and decorating, consider the height and width of your walls or fences. You don’t want to have pot plants in front of your bifold doors that open up. This is a very important matter while designing a courtyard garden.

Take into consideration the mature height of the plants and trees you have chosen. You want the plants to be in proportion to the space.

7. Contrast

Don’t be afraid to use contrasting colours in foliage and flowers. It can produce a stunning effect.

Tip: You can use a ground cover like Ajuga Catlins Giant that has a large burgundy bronze coloured cabbage leaf with a beautiful spike of blue flowers around a Cycad that has been planted on a mound. This would give the impression that the Cycad is ‘floating’ on the Ajuga’s. Cycad has dark green spiky leaves and a woody trunk.

8. Layering

One of the most pleasing strategies to organise and display your plants is through layering. Start placing your tallest plants at the highest point of your courtyard. Then, decrease the layers gradually with smaller plants. Draw an imaginary line to guide yourself here.

When you are layering the plants, you want them to be within that structure. This way, the plants that are higher will keep growing and be the highest. That way, plants in the front won’t be hiding the ones in the back either.

You can use layering around a feature plant or pot plant, such as Dichondra Silver Falls around the edge of the pot that has a larger plant on it. The Dichondra Silver Falls will spill over the edge of the pot to soften the edges.

Courtyard Pot Layering

9. Colour and Texture

Are you trying to bring the inside out? You may want to consider the colour of your flooring inside the house, so it flows through to the outside.

Do you want to introduce natural finishes or a bold colour to have a contrast? You can use a Sandstone block as a bench seat on a timber deck to create a subtle contrast. Alternatively, you may want to have a Gloss White Pot to give a modern contrast to grey pavers.

10. Draw the eye

Draw the eye down the garden by repeating a certain key element, such as plants, pavers or pots. Use the same colour but different sizes and shapes for an increased dynamic.

Bonus tip: You can use a mirror on a wall to create a sense of depth in a small courtyard.

Keep in mind that a dark colour will also highlight the plants in the garden better. Blues and greys in flowers or foliage also contribute to a sense of depth.

Additionally, it’s important to decide where you want to place your “features” from the central point of view. Normally, it’s the entrance where you can view most of the courtyard.
Did you know…? Painting the fences with a dark grey colour will increase the sense of depth. Painting it with a light colour will draw your eye forward.

Do you need expert advice to design your courtyard?

Designing a courtyard garden by yourself can be a very satisfying DIY project. However, expert advice can prevent serious problems from arising.

If you need professional assistance, feel free to get in touch with us to get your questions answered. You can also schedule a free consultation or access our garden design services right away.

Concrete and cement – on trend and bringing the outdoors in

The fine line between the indoors and alfresco is quickly disappearing, as more interior designers and landscapers employ techniques and choose products which make the transition between the two areas virtually seamless. The popularity of our concrete outdoor furniture and cement outdoor furniture cannot be underestimated. We sell these pieces for indoor and outdoor use. And sometimes in between!

Why are concrete and cement currently on-trend mediums of choice?

They are two of the few materials that can be used successfully both indoors and out. The grey tones lend themselves to a variety of accent hues and palettes without distracting from the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape or architecture.

Concrete and cement are durable and strong. They withstand a multitude of sins. Heavy traffic. Spillage. Weather. Age. In terms of return on investment, concrete will last for decades when properly taken care of and requires very low maintenance.

So… I hear you ask – what is the difference between concrete and cement? Although the terms cement and concrete often are used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and cement. Put simply, concrete has “bits” in it. These “bits often provide points of interest and features when polished.

In the end – the choice between concrete and cement is up to you – bearing in mind that not two concrete pieces of furniture will be exactly the same in terms of look and texture. Slight irregularities are what makes them unique…and stunning 🙂

To see our range of concrete outdoor furniture, click here.
Our cement furniture is here.