Four gardens for this family’s architectural Sydney home

Landscape architecture by Nelson Thomas Landscape Architects.

The team at Nelson Thomas Landscape Architects are behind the thoughtful curation of this outdoor space in Sydney’s North Shore, where an active family of five and their border collie enjoy entertaining loved ones and spending quality time together.

Nelson Thomas

The Brief

Within this garden there are four main outdoor spaces – an entrance, pathway area, a rear pool garden and a bedroom garden.

The design of the areas was to compliment the modern architectural features and design of the beautiful new house on the property.

The desire of the homeowners was to have no hedges and for the garden to be a liveable space designed for hosting friends and family, and enjoying family time together.

There were some already established trees on the site, plus views of neighbouring trees that were to remain on the property and be incorporated into the design process.

Nelson Thomas
Nelson Thomas

The outdoor dining and pool area used for entertaining

The Transformation

The home is located in a heritage conservation area so thorough planning for what materials could be used in the space and what they could do was neccessary. Level areas were required for planting, with the original site being slightly sloped, and the clay soil on site provided its own challenges to work with.

Having a balance between form and foliage were the focus points when it came to plant selection for this project.

Architectural plants such as cacti (both large and small), the leopard, bottle and olive trees and the palms have been chosen as they provide form for the spaces in their variety and range in trunk shapes, textures and scales.

Interest and range through foliage is evident with plantings such as the albizia, eleaganus, strobilanthes, oleander. The Korean clumping and ornamental grasses that have been incorporated throughout the property contrast with their looser form.

Nelson Thomas
Nelson Thomas
The garden path leading you from the entrance to the rear of the property
Nelson Thomas
The bedroom garden

The Result

This home now has a multitude of outdoor areas to enjoy. Each serve a range of purposes, whether it be a spot for entertaining, getting busy in the garden or relaxing in solitude. The garden offers year-round interest and pockets that will provide both sun and shade dependent on the weather. Each of the four areas of note have been perfectly tailored to harmonise with the sleek architectural design of the property.

Additional features of note include the golf putting area in the entrance area of the home, curated light installations to enhance the plantings in the garden and the features of the house, a dining area for entertaining and of course the pool.

The home now has a gorgeous outdoor living space that complements its stunning architecture. With garden views visible from every room, both inside and out, it is sure to attract the admiration and attention it deserves.

Nelson Thomas
Nelson Thomas
A large feature cactus

Key Plant List

Plants chosen to provide interest through form
  • Leopard tree (trunk) 
  • Bottle tree (shape) 
  • Cactus (scale) 
  • Olive (gnarly trunk)
  • Palms (curved trunk) 
Plants chosen to provide interest through foliage
  • Albizia (deciduous, foliage closes at night)
  • Eleaganus, Strobilanthes, Oleander (bun shaped plants)
  • Koren clumping grass (free form mounding)
  • Ornamental grasses (movement)
Nelson Thomas
Nelson Thomas
Nelson Thomas
A putting green was incorporated in the garden
Landscape architecture by Nelson Thomas Landscape Architects
Photography by Brigid Arnott
Building by One Up
Landscaping by The Mahony Group

Nelson Thomas

About Nelson Thomas
At Nelson Thomas, we’re passionate about the work we do and how it enriches our clients’ lives. Every project is unique, so we start by listening – understanding how our clients see the space being used and how it fits into people’s lives. Our thinking and design process are informed by our expertise in horticulture and garden design. 

We design with a sensitivity to the architecture and natural features of the landscape, considering how the spaces flow into each other and are viewed from around the site.

Project plans draw on our team’s wealth of hands-on experience in all stages of delivery – from initial concept design through to material selection, construction and planting, and advice on ongoing maintenance. Our end goal is to create awe-inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces that grow with you – a natural blend of our passion and your vision.