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A Productive Acreage Turned Residential Swimming Hole!

Gardens

For an inland property situated 25 kilometres north of Sydney, this magical garden could easily be mistaken for somewhere in the tropics. Matt Leacy of Landart is the brains behind this transformation of a steep and rocky block into a luscious residential garden.

Through a mix of native and tropical plantings, a converted dam pool, and some massive excavation works to wrangle the sloping site, Matt has delivered the very definition of an oasis.

14th December, 2020

Before it was a tropical-style lagoon, this rolling acreage in Terrey Hills was a productive garden with an unfriendly layout. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Matt Leacey of Landart was brought in to reorganise the topology, conducting excavations to level out the surfaces and wrapping the swimming hole in timber decking. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The enormous pool is staggered, with a rockpool situated higher up the hill and overlooking the enormous swimming hole. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Natural boulders and native grasses line the pool, integrating the man-made scape with the bushy surrounds beyond. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The jetty protrudes 7-8 metres out in the centre of the pool. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The previous garden cut off connection to the rear boundary line. By wrapping the pool in decking, Matt was able to create sitting and dining spaces at all points in the landscape and restore the site to a holistic purpose. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

A mix of native and exotic plantings round out the hotel-at-home vibe! Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 14th December 2020

With its illuminated boardwalks, tremendous natural boulders, and enormous glittering swimming hole, you’d be forgiven for thinking this garden belonged to a hotel! In fact, this tropical oasis actually accompanies a family home in Terrey Hills, an inland suburb of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The owners engaged landscape designer Matt Leacy of Landart to reimagine this productive acreage (where horses previously roamed!) as a luscious family retreat.

‘It was one of those projects where, once I had heard the brief, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,’ says Matt. ‘I was very lucky that the client was adventurous and keen to explore the property’s potential.’

The first task was to open up the configuration of the tricky site. The existing layout blocked entry to the rear boundary, and separated the property from surrounding bushy native outlook. ‘We cleared an area behind the pool, and created a dining and seating area, and then built a series of bridges and boardwalk to enable direct access to it,’ explains Matt. The new, integrated seating sections allow for engagement with the enormous body of water even without swimming in it – making it a central focus point of the space.

In order to achieve this perfectly organic arrangement, significant excavation works were required to soften the terrain from a steep escarpment to a gentle, rolling meander. Hardwood timber decking wraps the pool to allow for easy navigation of the undulating landscape, while a cantilevered boardwalk extends over the water like a jetty, protruding 7-8 metres into the centre of the pool. The pool itself is staggered, with a raised sandstone rock pool overlooking the sprawling swimming hole below.

The existing plantings surrounding the house were overwhelmingly exotic, a stark contrast to the neighbouring bushland. Matt’s team set out to integrate the palette properly, introducing native grasses closer to the house in order to transition gently from delicate tropicals to a more robust Australian landscape.

‘I really believe that you can have an amazing space but if the flow is not there then it still doesn’t work as well as it could,’ concludes Matt. ‘We changed the flow, we improved the way the owner can engage and use the outdoor space (especially the pool), and we brought the area beyond the pool into play that had been previously a bit of a dead zone.’ This heavenly garden certainly encourages you to go with the flow!

Loving this project as much as we did? See more by Landart here.

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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.

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