Monthly Archives: February 2015

Outdoor Styling: Expert Opinion

Today on the blog we talk to Georgia from Gardenique.  Gardenique is a Melbourne based provider of garden design and outdoor styling services, servicing the Melbourne metro in person and all of Australia via the internet.  We caught up with her and had a chat about how to make your garden great.

georgia from gardenique

You offer outdoor styling and garden design: tell us a bit more about that.

Gardenique specialises in garden design & outdoor styling for small urban gardens, courtyards, balconies.  I’m passionate about creating inspiring, personal and affordable outdoor spaces to fit a client’s lifestyle.  When people ask me what garden styling is – and they ask a lot – I tell them it’s like interior design for outside.  The garden design is creating & forming a space using built elements and plants, and the styling is adding your personal touch and warmth, just as an interior designer would for your house.  I don’t have a particular design style as every garden is a reflection of the client’s personal style, dreams & wishes.  It’s my job to help them get all those ideas & expectations into an achievable master plan for their own personal outdoor space.

How did you get into this field?

My father was a property developer who practiced what he preached! We were always building new houses and moving and I guess that early exposure to building and design made a big impression. There were always architectural plans lying around that I loved to trace and before long I was drawing up floor plans for my bedroom and designing my own houses. I dreamed of becoming an architect.

What is your background in this field?

I studied architecture at university but ended up switching over to Landscape Architecture after a year.  The mix of plants and built environment was the perfect fit for me.  After graduating, I worked for Landscape Architecture firms in Brisbane and Sydney before moving to Singapore.  There I worked on luxury resorts & hotels throughout Asia.  I loved my time in Singapore and learnt so much about how the built environment and in particular landscapes can make us feel and give us a certain energy.  Up until then I had worked only on large government projects and highway median strips, so its was amazing to be able to work in Bali & Malaysia, learning about local cultures and incorporating them into the landscape design.  We left Singapore and moved to England where I started working for myself and have been ever since.  After a few more moves to Cape Town and Sydney my family have now put down roots in Melbourne and Gardenique finally has a home.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve found while working in this field?

I think what is surprising is how underestimated landscape design is.  Naturally a lot of emphasis is on architecture but the landscape is just as important – The Palace of Versailles would just be another castle without its gardens! In urban centres landscape design is so important; it’s becoming more and more so as cities grow and people have less and less space. The importance of, and the subsequent effect that the outdoors can have on our wellbeing shouldn’t be overlooked – it just becomes a little more challenging in urban life.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on so far?

During my time at Belt Collins in Singapore I worked on some amazing projects for very ‘interesting’ clients. One memorable client was a very wealthy widow in Jakarta who wanted an English rose garden on her penthouse garden at the top of a very tall skyscraper. Roses aren’t very fond of tropical heat and 100% humidity, and no amount of money can change that!

What is the *worst* thing you’ve ever seen in an outdoor area?

The inappropriate use of fake grass is my biggest nightmare. There are many benefits to astroturf: no watering and a beautiful, thick green carpet all year round.  However it will never ever look, feel or smell as good as natural grass.  I think it’s great in some settings – when it is laid well and suits the style of garden – but mostly it just gives me an 80’s cruise ship vibe; this is not good.

Designers and Architects often talk about matching a space to its intended uses. What, in practice, does this usually mean when dealing with an outdoor area?

It just comes down to understanding the client and what they want from a space, aesthetically and practically.  What part do they want their outdoor area to play in their lives? a social setting for people to get together and connect? a child safe space to occupy the kids? a beautiful reminder of their trip across Asia? The key is to take an interest and then look for ways through layout, hardscape, art, planting, furniture and accessories to create that ‘feeling and function’.

What mistakes do you commonly see householders make when redesigning their outdoor areas?

A common mistake is that they can do it themselves.  Hiring a professional and getting a master plan right up front is the best thing you can do.  That way you will have a cohesive and unified plan with recommended finishes, furnishings and plants to suit your budget and space and that will last.  Even if you have to build the garden in stages, with a master plan you will save money, time and lots of frustrating conversations with your spouse in Bunnings!

What’s the most common misconception that people have about your work?

I find the biggest misconception is that people think garden design is super expensive and only for wealthy home owners. This just isn’t so. Yes its easy to throw a small fortune into redesigning a garden but if you have an outdoor space, no matter how small, it can be enhanced and made over, even on the smallest budget.  Changing floor materials, paint colour, adding new pots and furniture can make all the difference if done in a clever way.  Sometimes it’s about enhancing and breathing new life into what you already have instead of redesigning the entire garden.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to leave with readers?

I would say don’t be hesitant to get a quote for your outdoor space to be re-designed or styled, even if you are on a shoestring budget and want to do the work yourself. Getting a masterplan will really pay off over time and give you an end vision for what you want to achieve, even if it takes a few years and a ‘part time’ approach.  For homeowners, enhancing your garden will improve your curb appeal and increase the price of your house: this has been proved by numerous studies but is still often overlooked by sellers. And for renters, if you are restricted by landlord and/or budget but crave a space that reflects your personality, there are so many innovative and affordable options where your garden can ‘move with you’ when the time comes to relocate.