Small garden design ideas needed please

last year
last modified: 10 months ago

Hi there Houzz, we've ripped out our existing garden near the pool as was getting overgrown & messy - cycad palms (got way too big!), buxus, grasses, codylines.

We're now looking for inspiration & ideas of what to put in there. The size is basically 4m x 3m so not huge & faces west so gets beaten by the sun. We're not gardeners but happy to keep tidy so easy maintenance & obviously aesthetics is the key. The smaller photo is what was there is the early stages (when it was looking good).Any suggestions would be appreciated

Comments (33)

  • PRO
    Dr Retro House Calls

    I would look at a single, smallish feature tree, with low ground cover underneath. Something like a crepe myrtle, or manchurian pear are quite hardy once established and look good through the change of seasons. This will soften the hard edges of your yard and be a focal point. Once matured you can trim low branches to assist with sightlines to the pool, with the canopy providing some shade and relief to the pool area from the western sun.

    Best of luck,

    Dr Retro

    of Dr Retro House Calls

  • coxy71

    Thanks Alistair for suggestions, will look into it

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  • julie herbert
    Hi coxy71,
    Have a look at Peter Fudge or Dean Herald for inspiration, Chanticleer ornamental pears would look great underplanted with soft grasses or Xanadu for a lush tropical look, make a feature of your pots using structural soft leaf plants not spiky near pool) and lomandra for interest.. gorgeous area.
  • robynzdesinz

    If planting any sort of trees, consider if they will shed leaves that will end up in the pool. Don't make work for yourselves.

  • KK1000
    Mass plant Westringia , you can shape it any way you like very hardy and flowers few times a year.
  • PRO
    Timandra Design & Landscaping
    You will need to be very careful with tree selection in this space. There is little room for the roots and some of the trees mentioned will get big. You also need to consider the canopy of trees like the Manchurian pear, because of the roof line. Width will be a problem. And lastly it looks like fresh soil in the box. Fill it up to the top and wait for it to settle before planting. Depending on the quality of fill, it could drop quite a bit which looks awful. You may need to refill again after settling. Water will l help it drop.
    Is there sufficient drainage at the bottom?
  • Margaret Higgins

    Palms such as Golden Cane Palm are ideal for planting near pools. If you had kept the Cycads and Buxus and used them as underplanting, you would have saved many hundreds of dollars n landscaping. Similarly, the Buxus planted in pots and clipped into topiary balls could have been a feature along the sides of the swimming pool, as they are very easy to maintain and only need clipping two or three time per year. For a less formal style, the red Cordylines could have served a similar purpose. You will need shrubs to hide the ugly Colourbond fence. I would suggest a hedge of pink and white Sasanqua Camellias planted at least 1.5 metres out from the fence. Once established, they will survive on rainfall and they can be left to grow naturally, or trimmed twice per year as a formal hedge. An evergreen, non-deciduous tree could be planted in the large grassed area. There are plenty of lovely small trees to choose from, and you can ask for advice from the horticulturalist at your local garden centre. In a hot, dry climate, use plants which thrive in a Mediterranean climate: Lavender, Santolina, Catmint, Creeping Thyme as groundcover, Dichondra Silver falls as a trailing plant (but only in frost-free areas) and Olive trees. If you don't like the appearance of Olive trees, use conifers of varying heights and colours for a Tuscan or French country style garden. Buy perennial tubestock rather than advanced plants or annuals, keep watered until established, and you will have a low-maintenance garden to enjoy. Autumn is the ideal time for planting as there will be less watering required, and the roots of plants will become well-established over winter. Google the landscaping work of Paul Bangay for inspiration.

  • squair
    I’m beginning to hate palms. They are everywhere. Is a Port Wine Magnolia a ridiculous suggestion? The smell is stunning but NEVER overpowering because they seem to choose when they’d like to release their perfume. Don’t put in a Bird of Paradise, just saying, because they just take over & you’ll be trying to dig all those white bulb things (botanical terminology ) out... like I had to at a previous home; no bamboo either, of any sort. No buzz’s because EVERYONE has it - gross generalisation.... I’ll post more a bit later.
  • Swa Neee

    I think you are after low profile plants? We have a communal front garden in unit block. After trialling many "sun and drought tolerant" plants, we have found there are many of these "tolerant" plants are not so tolerant.

    By trial and error, which I hope can help your garden area, we have ground cover daisies with very silver grey foliage, planted in between we have what are called "rain daisies" but look like crocuses. Not sure of the botanical name but they just look like green grass and grow to a height of around 60cm. when it rains, they flower abundantly, then go back to looking like grass (it is a bulb plant).

    Around the edges of the raised bed, we have the grey plant that hangs (already in many of the pictures already supplied above by Julie Herbert.

    We have found these 3 plants have survived no watering over a very dry few months in Brisbane, all springing back to full glory after very recent rainfall.

    This is a picture of the "rain daisies" on the edge of the footpath with one flower pushing through. Our pineapple plants also thrived on neglect and looked great with yummy fruit after 1 year.

  • squair
    FYI: Crêpe Myrtles are a nightmare! They drop their flowers & make a huge mess if you don’t clear them every day. When they get damp they go sludgy & black & if they are on concrete you’ll have a real problem moving them. It has a lovely trunk but you pay for it with the mess. Experience speaking here.
  • me me
    Pineapples are beautiful, but also spiky. Not sure if I would want them near s pool.
  • Lynda
    Hi, what about some small natives. Small cultivars of grevillea, correa or banksia, acacia cognita or limelight, and new varieties of kangaroo paw?
  • Lynda
    Here are some photos
    Banksia, acacia, kangaroo paw, grevillea
  • Lynda
    Grevillea , callistamon, and correas
  • Lynda
    If you like herbs; baby bay tree, rosemary and ground cover thyme are all neat to grow too
  • millthumpian

    Take it out altogether and square up that corner then decorate with a lovely table chairs and umbrella. Sounds like you don’t like gardening to me.

  • squair
    Hi again. I’m that person who tells you all the horrible stuff about plant suggestions, but only the ones I have had in gardens myself. Grevilleas come in some fabulous colours & do attract our birds, but we found the ones we had were a bit “scrappy” & messy. Kangaroo paws are lovely when they’re in flower, otherwise they are gone completely or just leave tall sticks in the garden until they’re ready to start growing again. I guess it depends what you want ie do you want to hide the pool, let the pool be easily seen, or if you need height in the little garden or colour...I could go on. Look at it from a distance , & in context with the whole place.
    THE END.
  • Tricky Nosi
    Groundcover wattle might go well in that space depending on your climate. They are not spiky to passing traffic either....
  • rwalton5

    Your previous experience went bad when it came to care and maintenance. This time around, can you find a horticultural service person or garden clubber who will make occasional calls? I do not mean a lawn-mowing service or landscaping service that represents itself as knowing about gardens but sends labourers; I mean someone qualified to advise when you think the plants look too 'messy' or 'overgrown' or whatever.

  • squair
    Also think about effect of Chlorine on plants & access to glass for cleaning!
  • juliamac19

    In a small bed like that I think you'd be crazy to consider a tree of any kind. I second the 'no' to crepe myrtles, they drop the most enormous amount of rubbish - even though they look gorgeous they are a misery .Can I suggest you look up on line - and you can mail order - Lambley Nursery or the Diggers Club, (judging by the metal fencing you are not in Melbourne!) both have great selections of Mediterranean style plants which look good all through summer, even in late March/April they are still going strong. I'd advise not grevilleas as some of them can give nasty skin rashes. You really want something that's going to bush up without repeating the previous problem of overgrowing. But with almost any plants at times you will have to carry out a bit of maintenance

  • Irene Morresey
    What about a grouping of pots placed on stones in that area. Easy to maintain and change if you want a new look. A thought
  • PRO

    I would put in some string lights, I think they would look really great. I would recommend something hanging, like the edison-style bulbs, that are hanging, you could even get solar lights so you never have to plug them in.

  • lyndagoulden

    Because of the nearby pool, I would avoid plants that shed a lot of leaves and being a fan of unusual plants, I would suggest you might like to consider a gardenia thunbergia as the central subject in the triangle and surround it with grassy plants such as muscari and other small flowering subjects.

    Although it can grow up to 2 or 3 metres when fully mature, Gardenia Thunbergia is a very slow grower and will take many years to reach even a modest height.

    Unusual tiny leaves on woody branches, huge white flowers with a heady evening perfume and the strangest hard grey seed pods that stay on the shrub for years, make this a focal shrub that will be talked about by friends and family. It's beauty is not for everyone but it needs very little, if any pruning or shaping and is quite hardy.

  • tessaway
    Take the bricks away and plant sloping lawn. The bricks and shape of garden are hard on the eyes.
  • Janet Turnbull

    Agapanthus are always green and very hardy ...

  • Glenys Schuite

    Some really great ideas. I am in the middle of a fairly major landscaping job, and need all the help I can get.

  • caroleferguson
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Agree that the colorbond fence is vile. There do not seem to be many trees at all! And where is this? Plant selection critical depending on location. What works for Brisbane does not for Hobart. At the least an area specific grevillea on the fence between some lovely specimen trees- maybe some maples, golden robinia etc. And the dreadful triangular garden? Too small and the bricks will overheat the soil so the previous plant selection had the robustness to deal with it! Maybe put a great big pot as a water feature and surround with good creepers eg prostrate grevillea or jasminoides . Not much need for watering
  • fbeckwith

    what you had there looked fine, also had the advantage of not being high enough to climb on as you have to have low planting next to a pool fence, nothing you can climb. i would concentrate on planting shrubs to hide the pool sticking out of the ground look at other end of pool. also planting around fence will help, paint fence black. pops of green in triange space gravel with large water bowl with water lilies?

  • belindaweir

    Strong geometry, cool blue and glass and a plain lawn background. to fill the diamond with bush is going to cancel out its strength. But something different to the slightly sterile design compilation … if the finance is there, get two or three massive raw rock slabs and one spectacular architectural tree. resist going vertical .. layer them horizontally to slightly overlap or break the hard lines of the diamond, but not to obscure it. Then choose you vertical with a sculptural tree. There are vertical cherry trees with spectacular autumn colour which would contrast with the rocks (texturally), and be floaty like the water in the pool…. whatever the tree, lift the foliage up from the soil level, and underplant with jut one kind of tight low ground cover, even moss (if your climate can support) or ground hugging juniper that you can train inside the diamond. This combination of elements is rich for the eye, softens the geometry, and adds interest which is lacking right now.

    The place for shrubs and grasses and palms is to border the lawn.

  • julie herbert

    Hi coxy ,if you still haven’t planted your space, light structures could look fabulous, very architectural during the day and stunning at night, under plant with star jasmine.. gorgeous.

  • Lyn Huppatz

    I would start by filling in the triangular garden bed and tiling it to give extra deck / verandah space.

  • Odette

    What did you end up with? I’ve just filled an awkward garden bed with river pebbles. It extends the nearby area where I have a huge stone like bird bath on a pedestal. For yours, I would do a single low bowl water or plant feature placed on the pebbles or rocks.