This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Tools I Use · Phillip Withers

The Tools I Use

‘Sorry for the late reply Sally (legend), I’ve been running around like an emu today!’

This is a classic Phillip Withers email – you can’t help but like the landscape designer from the first time you meet (or email) him. His infectious positive energy, and perpetual can-do attitude makes you feel like everything’s going to be okay in his presence. And that’s before he’s even got into your garden!

Known for his sustainable, creative approach to landscaped spaces using local flora, it’s clear that Phil pours his heart and soul into his work. Here, he shares his essential tool kit.

21st January, 2019

Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Styling – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Styling – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Styling – Ashley Simonetto.

Sally Tabart
Monday 21st January 2019

Known as a bit of a local legend in Melbourne’s landscape design scene, Phillip Withers started off on a completely different (yet somewhat related) path. He first studied a Diploma of Arts at RMIT, majoring in screen print design, and learning how to construct clothing. It was by way of working in garden maintenance that Phil discovered an interest in getting his hands dirty (literally), then going on to study a Diploma of Landscape Design and Sustainability at Swinburne University. Combining his passion for landscape with his early artistic training to create visually spectacular spaces, Phil established his own studio, Phillip Withers Landscape Design, in 2012.

So what are the hallmarks of a Phillip Withers garden? Sustainability and ‘a respect and celebration of nature’ is at the core of his Phil-osophy. Working all over Australia, he and his dedicated team of landscape architects, designers and horticulturalists are at first concerned with the environmental history of any project, creating ‘practical and functional areas that celebrate that use of food and local indigenous plant life’. His projects have won some of the most prestigious awards in the country.

And really, at the end of the day, Phil is also just a bloody good guy. We take a look inside his toolkit to get an overview of the must-have tools for any aspiring landscaper!

Draftex Yellowtrace

‘I use this to trace over existing drawings to get creative and really nail a concept design. It’s also a great tool to colour on for our planting plans!’

Find it here. 

Garden Soil Moisture Meter

‘The Moisture Meter and Aqua Sprayer go hand in hand. We check the plants at our office and plant-filled studio space, Shrub Hub, on a daily basis. This tool helps us gauge the moisture level in the soil the plants sit in’.

Find it here. 

Aqua Systems 2L Garden Pressure Sprayer

‘A studio favourite, this one! We all have our own – it’s the best thing you can use to keep plants moist and happy’.

Find it here. 

Horticultural Garden Tools (left to right)

‘Probably the four most important tools our horticultural team use. They’re not the most glamorous, but golly are they handy. If it wasn’t for these babies, our work wouldn’t get done!’

Cyclone Multi-Purpose Shovel
‘This is best used for shovelling bark and crushed rock’.

Find it here. 

Spear & Jackson Cultivator 3-Prong
‘This is all about cultivating soil and aerating garden beds. A must for installing new plant life on our projects’.

Find it here. 

Spear & Jackson 20 Tine Nail Rake
‘Used for raking and cultivating soil.’

Find it here. 

Manutec Soil PH Test Kit

‘This is where the fun begins in our design process, checking soil on site for our new projects is key in selecting the right plants. This clever kit provides us with the PH level of the soil, which determines the availability of almost all essential plant nutrients’.

Find it here. 

Cyclone Long Handle Spade

‘Our oldest garden tool of the crew! This chap’s name is Spencer the spade. He mixes concrete and helps spread the fine toppings on our build jobs’.

Find it here.

Cyclone Garden Trowel

‘Most keen gardeners will own one of these beauties. We use this at Shrub Hub to pot new plants. Most of the time we get stuck in and use our hands, but when the soil is tougher this tool saves the day’.

Find it here.

Cyclone Weeder

‘Another handy tool to use when getting stuck into the garden beds. This one is used for removing weeds.

Find it here. 

 

Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Styling – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Styling – Ashley Simonetto.

PHIL’S TOP Tips

What’s a piece of industry advice you wish you’d known before learning the hard way?

Stay true to what you know, work on the projects that are right for our business.

Don’t be scared to say ‘no’, it takes a while.

Build a team, not a workforce.

Top three creative resources?

1. Land Mapping
2. Victorian Building Authority
3. Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative

Most visited website related to your work?

landezine.com
planthunter.com

Favourite online/IRL stores for your ‘tools’?

metropolosbookshop.com.au
deansart.com.au
daisysgarden.com.au
gardenworld.net.au

what are you listening to when you work?

Usually something dreamy like Bon Iver or smooth like Leon Bridges!

Favourite books related to your practice?

Some of my favourites of late are Constructing Landscapes by Astrid Zimmermann for technical stuff, Australian Native Plants by John W Wrigley, and inspiration from Australian Dreamscapes by Claire Takacs.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Bern Chandley, Chairmaker

We take a look inside the toolkit of a proper, old-fashioned chairmaker, and learn what it takes to make chairs of 'heirloom quality'.

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Adnate, Artist

Matt Adnate is painting the tallest mural in the Southern Hemisphere, on a 20-storey housing estate in Collingwood. Here's how he does it.

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Derek Swalwell, Photographer

The legendary Melbourne architectural photographer gives us the low-down on his go-to gear.

This Week

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

On The Market

A Perfectly Preserved Mid-Century Marvel On The Banks Of The Yarra Is On The Market

This architecturally-designed house was built in the 60s and has barely changed since it was last sold in 1968. Did someone say dream home?
Sasha Gattermayr
  8 hours ago

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes

Architecture

A Mid-Century Reimagining Of A Bells Beach Home

Bones House by Lachlan Shepherd Architects is a mid-century inspired makeover of a brick veneer home facing Bells Beach.
2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Interiors

An Elevated Take On Old Meets New

A 1950s Brisbane house meets a new addition by designers Wrightson Stewart and architect Barbara Bailey, connected by a transparent breezewa...
Amelia Barnes
  24 hours ago

Shopping

A Childrenswear Label That Takes Us Back To The Golden Years - WIN With Goldie + Ace!

Get ready to send the kids back to school in style with the Golden Years collection from Goldie + Ace!

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

Similar Stories

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Bern Chandley, Chairmaker

We take a look inside the toolkit of a proper, old-fashioned chairmaker.

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Adnate, Artist

Artist Matt Adnate is painting the tallest mural in the Southern Hemisphere. Here's how he does it.

Creative People

The Tools I Use · Derek Swalwell, Photographer

The legendary Melbourne architectural photographer gives us the low-down on his go-to gear.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.