Gardening / Hard talk about landscaping

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An entertainment area ready for the first party… the low wall provides room for an extra 20 people.

AUTUMN is planting time but while it’s still early days of the new season, it’s also a good time to consider some hard landscaping, which is so much easier in the cooler weather, especially if you are doing the work yourself.

Cedric Bryant.

It’s also easier to find landscape contractors in winter before their spring rush of work.

Tables and chairs on lawns are not really practical, quickly developing wear areas in the grass, plus the prospect of chairs sinking into an uneven surface.

So the answer is paving and I have two comments when you are considering the space required.

Firstly, pave a minimum of three metres wide all around a table to allow for when the chairs are pushed back. Then consider extra seating for parties or family gatherings.

In the two examples illustrated, one shows the outdoor setting in place plus, with a low wall around the area, there is room for an extra 20 people. The seating can be softened with outdoor cushions, a large umbrella or the installation of sails. It’s vitally important to have sails professionally installed; it is definitely not a DIY job.

An entertainment area that replaced a swimming pool with a sunken garden.

In the second example, I designed for my client a sunken garden to replace a swimming pool. Once again, I adopted the extra seating idea with the wall at a height of 400mm, the same as a chair height.

LED, low-voltage lights were set into the wall at two-metre intervals, creating soft lighting at night. The inset at the end was for the barbecue and later the whole area was roofed with Colorbond, keeping the sides open for cool breezes. This allowed the area to be used whatever the weather.

We finished the hard landscaping in autumn enabling us to start the planting as can be seen, with an emphasis on winter colour such as a Camellia sasanqua “Hiryu” hedge and, for summer, a Callistemon “Endeavour” hedge.

When spring and summer arrived all the hard work was complete and, over the last few years, many gatherings with family and friends have taken place in this area.

IN more than 30 years of landscape design I have always dealt with local companies. Many firms sell imported Chinese, Indian and other paving, but in this instance I have always used Canberra’s long-established Binks Pavers in Mitchell.

I first started buying Binks pavers in 1968 with the advantage that in the event of any problems a simple phone call was all that was required. With several hundred garden designs under my belt, I have only had to call once with a problem and that was not the fault of the pavers but the landscaper!


  • Trim evergreen hedges and shrubs by April 1. After then unexpected frosts can arrive burning new growth after the trimming.
  • Prune Star Jasmine and Clematis now they have finished flowering.
  • It’s easier to remove dead wood from deciduous shrubs while they still have leaves.
  • Remove summer annuals, such as petunias, and start planting polyanthus, pansies and violas for winter colour.
  • The Canberra Bonsai Society’s “Australian Plants as Bonsai Exhibition” is showing at the Crosbie Morrison Building, Australian National Botanic Gardens, 9.30am-4.30pm, on the weekend of March 17-18.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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