In Focus

From seed to sunshine: Planting dream outdoor spaces

Teleisha Thomas

Teleisha Thomas

November 2023

Landscape architects, Nathan Burkett Landscape Architecture understand the importance of working with the seasons to enhance your garden. Here, Nathan and his team share their advice on what to plant and how to maintain your garden during the warm summer months, so that it looks its very best all year round.


What you should be planting right now

With the cooler months behind us, the risk of frost has abated providing favourable conditions for a variety of plants in readiness for summer. Several drought-tolerant ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus or Calamagrostis Karl Foerster are ideal to plant at this time and will flower through summer. Hardy perennials like Euphorbia wulfenii, Lavenders and Salvias will also perform well and provide striking colour in your garden garden especially combined with Lambs ear for texture. If you appreciate cut flowers, now is the time to plant Dahlia tubers with many varieties blooming from mid-summer to autumn.

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Pools and plants

When selecting poolside plants there are several factors to consider such as the microclimate of the area, sun exposure, water splashes and soil conditions. Plants surrounding a pool should be aesthetically pleasing but not prone to shedding leaves and debris into the pool. We have had a lot of success with evergreen species such as Ligularia reniformis, Arthropodiums, Aloes and Euphorbia. For shade and privacy, I would suggest strelitzia or hedging with Bamboo or Ficus hillii.

How to maintain your garden over the height of summer to keep it looking lush and healthy.

Plant selection and positioning are fundamental to a garden looking lush and healthy, especially in the height of summer. Adequate and consistent irrigation is obvious; however, some plant species will burn and die off regardless of watering simply because they are not equipped for exposed conditions. It’s always a good idea to monitor soil moisture, check for faults in your irrigation system, and apply a thick layer of mulch around your plants to conserve soil moisture and protect the roots from the sun. Lawns should be mowed at a higher setting to provide some shade and protect the grass from heat stress. It is best to water lawns deeply and less frequently over summer and ideally in the morning or early evening.

Ensure your garden looks its best for festive entertaining.

Start regular maintenance early and it will pay dividends. Walk around your garden and take notice of what is working and whether there are areas that may need replacing or reworking while you still have time to make the adjustments. Begin now with the bigger tasks such as replanting, weeding, eliminating pests and disease and coring lawn areas to deepen the root system. Continually monitor the irrigation to ensure it is set appropriately for the weather conditions and is in good working order. Save mulching and the finishing touches until closer to Christmas so that it still looks fresh and manicured on Christmas Day.

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With the cooler months behind us, the risk of frost has abated providing favourable conditions for a variety of plants in readiness for summer.

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Curating a garden that will thrive in the Melbourne climate.

Anyone who has lived in Melbourne is familiar with its unique weather extremes, so this should be considered when designing a garden in Melbourne. I recommend including some native species that are well adapted to the local climate and can contend with Melbourne’s hot dry summers. Use a variety of species to create a more resilient garden with a mix of trees, shrubs and ground cover of varying tones and textures. It’s also important to design a garden with seasonal interest by choosing plants that will provide colour and blooms throughout the year to keep the garden vibrant and ever-changing. We are fortunate to be able to grow deciduous varieties that wouldn’t survive in some of the warmer parts of the country so why not take advantage of this? By working with a landscape architect who is familiar with Melbourne's climate, you can create a garden that not only thrives but also enhances the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space while being sustainable and environmentally responsible.

Types of greenery that provide the best shade for the height of summer.

In my opinion, the most pleasant places to retreat from the sun in a garden are living pergolas, particularly around dining areas. These structures are usually composed of wooden or steel framing to support climbing plants such as a Virginia Creeper or an ornamental vine. They can also be created from clusters of pleached or espaliered trees such as Plane Trees or Maples, with a clear central trunk and branches trained to grow a horizontal canopy overhead. Apart from being visually stunning, living pergolas provide the added benefit of cooling an outdoor space as well as providing shade.

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Incorporating sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

Consider using drought-tolerant species to reduce the need for irrigation and group plants with similar irrigation needs. You can install rainwater harvesting systems to collect rainwater from rooftops or hardscapes. You may also wish to incorporate green walls to improve insulation and reduce heat gain on buildings. I recommend encouraging healthy soil by adding compost or organic matter to the soil. This aids plant growth and segregates carbon. Adopt an organic-first approach to weeds and pest management, minimising the need for chemicals and pesticides.

Trending outdoor living spaces.

We have seen increased demand for negative edge glass tiled pools in preference over fully fenced inground pools. The use of burnished concrete in hardscaping such as floating steps, bench seating and built-in barbeques has also gained popularity. Custom-designed hardscape features that reflect the unique tastes and preferences of homeowners are currently trending. This includes personalised patterns and colours in pavers and creative use of materials. Natural stones, like sandstone and bluestone, are becoming popular due to their timeless appeal and durability.

Nathan Burkett Landscape Architecture create exceptional gardens and outdoor spaces enjoyed by clients across some of Melbourne and Australia’s most exclusive postcodes. With each project, they seek to enhance the useability of space.
It’s not only about creating an aesthetically stunning design, but an experience their clients will savour for years to come.

Learn more about Nathan Burkett Landscape Architecture at

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