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

A Space-Saving Courtyard That Makes Something From Nothing

Gardens

If there was ever a test-case to convince doubters on the value of a landscape designer, then this revamped courtyard in Woodend by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design (KLMD) is it.

Previously an uninspiring stretch of bare and bedraggled residential turf running beside the length of the house, the space is now a lush and functional outdoor room comprising timber decking, an outdoor seating area, pizza oven and integrated veggie patch. Transformations are one thing when you have good bones to work with, but here, KMLD has really made something from nothing.

30th April, 2021

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Sasha Gattermayr
Friday 30th April 2021

Kathleen Murphy of KMLD took out the Landscape Design accolade at last year’s TDF + Laminex Design Awards for her own luscious country garden at her home in the Macedon Ranges. The site for this project was located in Woodend, approximately 9 kilometres from this award-winning location.

Though close in geography, Kathleen’s garden and the new Morris Street courtyard couldn’t be more different.

The sparse site consisted of one patch of dusty grass that stretched alongside the side of the house and a patchwork fence made from sections of timber with varying heights. Kathleen’s new design is a complete transformation of this space.

Timber decking spread across the few metres from the back door of the house to the rear boundary line, ending at a set of cantilevered bench seating. The metal garden beds that wrap this back corner provide the perpendicular backing from which the inbuilt furnishing extends, neatly nestling the seated outdoor space into an abundant green nook.

From there, healthy lawn with an adjacent pavement stretches the length of the house towards a second benched area at the bottom of the garden, this time paved and anchored in a tall outdoor fireplace. The towering chute is flanked by raised steel beds, tall greenery concealing the fence-line and more cantilevered seating.

‘Everything is this garden was edited down so that what remained had to work in several ways,’ Kathleen explains. ‘For example, the custom-designed pizza oven also acts as an outdoor fireplace.’

The iron column is made from the same Corten as the surrounding veggie beds, which are raised to ensure a layered planting palette at various heights could be achieved. Concentrating this distinct, robust material in one section of the garden clearly distinguishes the spot as a functional spot primed for utilitarian activities such as vegetable harvesting, firelighting and cooking.

But as is the case with everything in this garden, all elements serve both practical and beautifying purposes. The rough metal is attractively rusted to a dark caramel hue, which presents a deep and dramatic contrast to the verdant plantings overflowing from the veggie beds. Tall plants like slender weaver bamboo offer a softening effect against the narrow metalwork and double as a screen to shield the garden from the neighbours. The pavers, lawn and timber decking all sit at the same level to ensure no bulky lips or awkward transitions interrupt the flow of the compact space. As they are, each material glides into another in the same way their functions blend and multiply.

Considering what was here before, this project is an utter revelation.

See more of Kathleen’s inspiring projects here.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

An Amazingly Abundant Lawn-Free Garden

A meadow-style planting palette by Peachy Green brings beauty and wilderness to this functional family backyard in Northcote.

Gardens

A Fresh Courtyard Garden In Paddington With Californian Vibes

Garden Life update a tired inner-Sydney courtyard with a textured, elegant design that begs for a sunny afternoon Spritz!

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Ever-Changing Garden

Capturing views of the Macedon Ranges, Kathleen Murphy's garden studio is a layered, rambling wonderland that serves as a testing ground for...

This Week

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Media Powerhouse And Ultimate Creative Slashie, Sophia Athas

The founder of digital marketing agency Hatrik House talks us through the ins-and-outs of running a successful business in your twenties!

On The Market

A Huge Family Warehouse Apartment In The Heart Of Richmond

At approximately 520 square metres, this out-of-this world industrial home has got to be one of the biggest warehouse conversions in Melbour...

Gardens

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Landscape Designer

We asked expert garden designers Phillip Withers, Fran Hale, Kathleen Murphy, Katy Svalbe and Richard Unsworth to demystify the process of w...

Interiors

A Designer’s Fun, Mid-Century Makeover Of Her ‘90s Townhouse!

Studio Tate associate Liz Ryde shares her self-designed, Clifton Hill family home filled with mid-century elements and colour!

Architecture

A Contemporary Reinterpretation Of The Classic Australian Farmhouse

FMD Architects introduce their version of the classic Australian farmhouse in 'Coopworth', located on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

Architecture

A Multigenerational Family Retreat In A Blue Mountains Valley

It looks like a Swiss Chalet, but 'Stonelea' is a uniquely Australian home in the Blue Mountains, by Matthew Woodward Architecture.
Amelia Barnes
  13 hours ago

Creative People

Carving Softness From Stone With Carol Crawford

The Sydney-based sculptor guides us through her unfurling, flowering forms made from alabaster, stone, bronze and marble.
Sasha Gattermayr
  5 hours ago

News

The Annual Mud Seconds Sale Is On In Sydney This Weekend!

Shop almost-perfect porcelain Mud pieces with discounts starting from 40% off.

News

A Massive Sale Of A-List Designer Furniture Is Happening Soon!

Nab furniture, lighting and homewares from big time European designers like Ligne Roset, Duvivier + more at DOMO’s mid-year sale.
Sponsored

Architecture

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

The Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins embraces its steep and bushy surrounds courtesy of a minimalist and raw material palette.

Homes

A Dreamy, Nostalgic Family Home in Melbourne's Suburbs

Sympathetic renovations featuring recycled materials have made the 1930s Malvern East family home of Josh and Anastasia Elias even better th...

Interiors

A Dark + Dingy Heritage Home Revamped In Contemporary Country Style

Interior designer Georgie Shepherd of GSiD transforms breathes new life into the interiors of this newly renovated pre-Federation villa in A...

News

'Wear It Yellow' And Support Children's Ground This National Reconciliation Week!

Children’s Ground is an incredible organisation that supports the next generation of Aboriginal children, and their communities – an...
Sally Tabart
  2 hours ago

Stays

A Mountain-Top Holiday Spot That Floats Above The Clouds

Cloud Parade is a design-led accommodation in the Blue Mountains, with truly sublime views over the national park.

News

A New Series Of Paintings From An Old Favourite

Steven John Clark (aka denHolm) exhibits his first body of paintings, ‘Flowers For Gary’, exploring the imperfect, and its chall...

Similar Stories

Gardens

An Amazingly Abundant Lawn-Free Garden

A meadow-style planting palette brings beauty and wilderness to this functional family backyard!

Gardens

A Fresh Courtyard Garden In Paddington With Californian Vibes

A tired inner-Sydney courtyard gets a textured, elegant makeover.

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Ever-Changing Garden

Capturing views of the Macedon Ranges, Kathleen Murphy's garden studio is a layered, rambling wonderland that serves as a testing ground for...

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.