Upper Beaconsfield PROJECT

This project is a new build by a couple who have fallen in love with the rolling green hills and beautiful bush found in this little hamlet in the Dandenongs. The 1750sqm site is a long, rectangular, northeast-facing block in a new subdivision. Soils comprise slightly acidic clay loams over basaltic and granitic clays, with excellent water holding capacity; the lower reaches of this block sit in a low-lying area subject to seasonal inundation.

The single storey weatherboard and tile house will sit in the upper half of the site. The clients run their own business and require a large colourbond shed to the rear of the block and driveway access to it. A wide easement running the full width of the block at the rear will impact on the placement of the shed. They would like screening from the neighbouring properties, and favour a rich, woodland garden style with rustic decorative elements, productive garden and a small orchard.

To provide the necessary screening I have proposed an evergreen boundary hedge to approx. 1.8m high. This will also create a windbreak – useful when the hot summer northerlies blow – and bird nesting habitat. I have found Syzygium sp. to be quick growing and very adaptable to the heavy soils and seasonal wet/dry conditions in this area. On the southern boundary the hedge will be replaced with a narrow trellis to the same height, clothed in an evergreen climber, to maintain sufficient space for the shed driveway.

The front garden will be gently formal, guiding the eye and visitor alike to the front entry. A copse of white trunked Betula sp. in the western corner, protected by the boundary hedge, underplanted with loosely structured woodland species will screen the bedroom window from the street and provide in summer. A curved path, bordered with a deep hedge of perfumed Lavandula sp. will lead from the driveway to the front door. A low retaining wall edges a small paved area adjacent to the front verandah. A path leading around the corner of the house will follow an avenue of small deciduous shade trees that will protect the north facing walls and windows.

An expansive timber deck on the northern side of the house will be covered with a substantial, rustic timber or steel pergola clothed in a deciduous climber for summer shade. Raised planter beds for kitchen herbs or seasonal vegetables will edge this. A small fire pit at the lower end, coupled with the alfresco area at the rear of the house completes the outdoor living areas. Provision has been made for an in ground pool in the future.

Terracing and retaining walls along the rear use will create a layered garden that will help to screen the shed from the house. Small deciduous trees will be used where possible for summer shade, with evergreens placed strategically to block the view of the shed without closing the spaces in, something I am loathe to do on generously sized blocks such as this.

Along the rear of the block, inside the boundary hedge, I propose to create habitat gardens to encourage the local fauna. It will be centred on a rustic water feature, include a meandering path and mass plantings of local indigenous species, and in time will become a place of exploration for the clients’ grandchildren.

Compost bins, water tanks and potentially a shook run will all be located behind the shed, once the location for that has been finalised (STCA).

This project holds so many possibilities but for now the earth has only just been broken for the site works for the house. I look forward to liaising with and guiding the clients as they create their forever home and garden.