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

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Gardens

It has the makings of a great rom-com: tricky conditions (a sloping site and large established trees), an existing lover (a pre-ordered pool), conflicting desires (the clients being a family of five) and a dashing newcomer (Mcnuttndorf Landscapes). But these landscape designers + this Fairfield backyard = the best meet-cute ever!

From these many plot lines, director and designer Lori McNutt has created an undulating backyard wonderland. Replete with veggie beds, a gin deck, a pond-like pool and a rockery filled with everything from local indigenous species to large semi-tropical plants, it has everything each member of the family asked for. And all in the delicious embrace of surrounding majestic trees. It’s a love story with a happy ending!

17th June, 2021

The ‘rockery’ lies behind the pool, with bluestone steppers creating a path and slabs of cut boulder forming a staircase up to the floating gin deck. Photo – Michael Kai.

A mix of native species and semi-tropical plants constitute the scheme. Photo – Michael Kai.

McNuttndorff Landscapes made use of the tricky steep site by planting up the slope and installing a ‘gin deck’ at the peak. Photo – Michael Kai.

Timber battens at varied heights make an attractive pool fence! Photo – Michael Kai.

The materials create just as much a textural feast as the plants! Here crazy paving intersects with timber battens and a rock wall ledge. Photo – Michael Kai.

The root networks of the existing trees and the sloping site meant the levels of the garden were varied and challenging. Hence the crazy paved courtyard sinks below the pool level and decks either side, but provides a route to the garage. Photo – Michael Kai.

Bursts of green foliage pop out everywhere, even at the base of this old eucalypt! Photo – Virginia Cummins.

Succulents, grasses, tree ferns and ground covers create a layered green base level. Photo – Virginia Cummins.

An almost birds-eye-view gives a great layout of the final design. Photo – Michael Kai.

Sasha Gattermayr
Thursday 17th June 2021

‘It was important to create a sense of fluid and circular movement throughout the design – it’s a bush garden surrounding a pool, and like its natural inspiration, nothing is linear.’ – Lori McNutt

The site of this bushy, Fairfield garden presented many challenges to Mcnuttndorff Landscapes: a steep slope, a new pool and three existing eucalypts whose large root networks tunnelled throughout the property. But the owners called in the right green thumbs!

‘We primarily had to work around the existing levels and the root systems of the trees, to both protect and highlight them in the garden,’ explains Lori McNutt. Once the designers established the eucalypts as the anchor for the garden, everything else fell into place.

A deck was built out from the house to connect the residence to the garden. From here there are two sets of stairs: one leading down to a crazy-paved courtyard, and another providing entry to the pool.

At the other end of the courtyard is another set of stairs, this time leading up to a raised gravel level that gives way to a wild ‘rockery’ of plants and grasses that stretches all the way up to the slope to the rear perimeter. Bluestone pavers create a winding path past this greenery while cut-boulder steps lead up to a raised platform at the crest of this slope that Lori calls the ‘gin deck’.

‘It was important to create a sense of fluid and circular movement throughout the design – it’s a bush garden surrounding a pool, and like its natural inspiration, nothing is linear,’ says Lori. This fluidity also caters to the many functions the clients desired of their home garden, in no particular order ; ‘swimming, drinking gin and tonics, growing, veggies, building a firepit, sunbathing, eating, exploring.’

The design was inspired by the local landscape designers of the 1970s, such as Ellis Stone and Gordon Ford, but Lori decided to incorporate a few exotics into the predominantly native space for a modern twist.

‘There are native shrubs and grasses, like Banksias, and Correas, Kangaroo grass and Poas, giving a soft grey green and fluffy texture to the garden, with creeping groundcovers like Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ and Pigface dripping over rocks,’ Lori describes. A variety of tree ferns, foliage plants, lush carpets of viola, architectural bromeliads and grass trees create the base level, while ‘structural plants’ like agave and succulents punctuate the scheme.

This planting palette is designed to reflect the rugged banks of the neighbouring Yarra, and to fit in well with the borrowed landscape visible from beyond the boundary line. Where possible, the plantings are supported by local materials – Australian hardwood, local bluestone and basalt – besides a luxe Italian granite called porphyry, which the clients decided to splash out on.

All in all, the garden is varied and exploratory. This natural oasis with curves, rocks and lush plantings is hardy, versatile, and just a touch romantic!

This Week

Tiny Homes

The Most Inspiring Tiny Homes Of 2021

From converted shipping containers to prefabricated dwellings available for purchase, these were our favourite tiny houses of 2021.

Creative People

Seven Standout Emerging Creatives of 2021

Discovering talented new creatives is our favourite thing we do – here are the artists, designers and makers who got us talking in 2021.

Architecture

9 Outrageously Beautiful Australian Coastal Homes

From humble shacks, to architectural masterpieces, these are our favourite beachside homes of 2021!

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Homes

Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

The celebrated interior designer shares her relaxed yet luxurious Minjerribah/North Stradbroke holiday house.

Food

Julia's Herby Prawn Mayo Sandwiches

Julia Busuttil Nishimura serves up the ultimate summer sanga. YUM!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Gardens

Heide Museum’s Enchanting New Healing Garden

Heide Museum of Modern Art opens a new healing garden – a therapeutic space to benefit the mind, soul, and body.

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis
  9 hours ago

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Food

The Tastiest Recipes Of 2021

From savoury galettes to triple tiered vanilla sponges with craem and lemon curd, these are our five most popular recipes of last year.

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 Space-Saving Courtyard That Makes Something From Nothing

If you've ever doubted the power of good landscape design, look no further than the inspiring transformation of this residential courtyard b...

Gardens

A Luscious Inner Suburban Garden With An Enormous Ethereal Lagoon (In Northcote!)

Sam Cox Landscape transcends time and place with his designs for a harmonious green extension (and a jaw-dropping poo!l) to this rolling inn...
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Gardens

Heide Museum’s Enchanting New Healing Garden

Heide Museum of Modern Art opens a new healing garden – a therapeutic space to benefit the mind, soul, and body.

Tiny Homes

The Most Inspiring Tiny Homes Of 2021

From converted shipping containers to prefabricated dwellings available for purchase, these were our favourite tiny houses of 2021.

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Creative People

Seven Standout Emerging Creatives of 2021

Discovering talented new creatives is our favourite thing we do – here are the artists, designers and makers who got us talking in 2021.

Homes

Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

The celebrated interior designer shares her relaxed yet luxurious Minjerribah/North Stradbroke holiday house.

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Food

The Tastiest Recipes Of 2021

From savoury galettes to triple tiered vanilla sponges with craem and lemon curd, these are our five most popular recipes of last year.

Architecture

9 Outrageously Beautiful Australian Coastal Homes

From humble shacks, to architectural masterpieces, these are our favourite beachside homes of 2021!

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Food

Julia's Herby Prawn Mayo Sandwiches

Julia Busuttil Nishimura serves up the ultimate summer sanga. YUM!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis
  9 hours ago

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

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 Space-Saving Courtyard That Makes Something From Nothing

An inspiring residential courtyard transformation by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design takes this space from drab to fab.

Gardens

A Luscious Inner Suburban Garden With An Enormous Ethereal Lagoon (In Northcote!)

Sam Cox Landscape transcends time and place with his designs for a harmonious green extension (and a jaw-dropping poo!l) to this rolling inn...
Sasha Gattermayr

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.