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H&G It Yourself: How to combine modern and country style gardens with ease

If you love variety, learn how to mix and combine different garden aesthetics into one to find what works best for you

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By House & Garden South Africa | May 16, 2024 | Gardens

Retro Fit

While most of the property received a complete overhaul, one element remained. The existing pool was ‘retrofitted’ into a koi pond and surrounding deck. ‘The free-form shape of the original pool suited our landscape, so we enhanced it by including a wider deck to offset the curved design,’ explains landscaper Deidre Causton of Inspirations. She and co-founder Vanessa Causton added a raised terrace with views of the water. This clever design feature has become a favourite spot for the homeowners to soak up the surroundings. Deidre secured the embankment by creating planting pockets filled with indigenous plants to avoid further hardscaping, proving you can reconfigure existing elements into fresh new design features.

Family First

Deidre and Vanessa breathed life into this previously tired, fractal space by incorporating layers of textured planting and custom design features. ‘We designed the outdoor areas for the whole family to enjoy. The brief was to create an integrated garden that provided outdoor living space for entertaining on special occasions. They also requested some lawn space for their teenagers,’ explains Deidre. The pavilion and surrounding deck create ample room to kick back and relax. It’s ideal for alfresco living, and Inspirations positioned it to maximise sunset views from the lower end of the garden.

In this modern garden, outdoor living areas fuse sleek aesthetics and celebrate a sense of connectedness, Photograph: Connall Oosterbroek

Retaining Structure

The garden required numerous solutions to accommodate a relatively tricky, sloping site. ‘We came up with the idea of stone retaining walls to cut into the slope several times. The walls twist and fall with the gradients we created, allowing for a useable lawn terrace that threads through the deep beds,’ explains Diedre. Each embankment varies in length, with a free-flowing design. ‘The retaining walls help buttress the lawn terraces. They also provide a bold, hard landscaping feature within this landscape.’ An added layer of intrigue hugs the retaining walls. Mini grasslands frame the view and create a visual and textural link to the surrounding natural landscape.

The grey, charcoal and silver tones of the retaining walls are a perfect foil for wheat-coloured grasses in the background, Photograph: Connall Oosterbroek

One Step Ahead

Hardscaping elements ensure a seamless transition from one space to the next throughout the garden. One such feature is the staircase that links the garden and home. ‘To soften the harsh lines, we added a generous Buxus planting channel to each step. From both aspects – interior-outwards or back – you read the foliage and not the stairs,’ says Deidre. Also, lawn stairs lead from the fish pond at the heart of the garden to the main lawn terrace. Then, four lawn pathways extend deep into the beds that frame the garden pavilion. ‘These beds contain a variety of flowering perennials, such as Agapanthus africanus ‘Lapis Lazuli’ and Gaura,’ she says.

Leading from the house, a set of stairs was transformed into a design feature, Photograph: Connall Oosterbroek

Natural Selection

The garden features prairie-style planting mixed with statement plants such as Agapanthus and more formal, clipped, hedged plants. ‘As the beautiful views take precedence, we selected a mixture of lower-growing plants to frame the vistas. At the owners’ request, we planted a selection of mostly indigenous trees in key areas,’ says Diedre. The landscapers expertly fused these elements to create a seamless transition from abundant planting to a more formal, clean-lined design. Deidre and Vanessa love Dutch landscaper Piet Oudolf’s naturalistic design approach and Australian landscape designers such as Carolyn Robinson.

Ribbons of indigenous grasses are interplanted with perennials such as Agapanthus, Photograph: Connall Oosterbroek

Points of Interest

The garden has strong bones, copious vignettes and points of interest rather than a singular volume or gesture. The landscapers juxtaposed vistas with individual spaces that draw the eye. Despite its suburban setting, the garden’s planting style resonates with the veld and rural surroundings.

The sweeping lawn pathways that dissect into the planting invite further exploration, Photograph: Connall Oosterbroek