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WTF?! WHAT’S THAT FLOWER?

By | Garden, Greenwall, Landscaping, Plants, Turf | No Comments

Welcome to the Kyora flower blog!

WTF? (What’s That Flower)

For all you’ll need to know about the flowers of the week!

If you want the most amazing fragrance throughout your garden through July/August, Michelia alba is for you. A medium sized tree growing to a maximum 10 metres in height!

The White champaca has glossy lime green leaves and reasonably discreet, creamy white flowers. Michelia alba thrives in a subtropical climate meaning keeping the soil moist and well drained will ensure the success of this plant. Keep an eye out for these fragrant beauties, once you have seen one and noticed the fragrance, we bet you smell the next one you find before you see it!!


Written By Nick Mason

Aloe Vera (FLOWER)

WTF?! WHAT’S THAT FLOWER

By | Garden, Greenwall, Landscaping, Plants | No Comments

Welcome to the Kyora flower blog!

WTF? (What’s That Flower)

For all you’ll need to know about the flowers of the week!

Aloe plants provide a surprisingly bright display come winter and you’ll see them out now! Shooting up spires of most commonly reds, oranges and yellows, the Aloe plant is a hardy plant that can be easily mistaken as a boring succulent. They are indeed far from this!
Aloes come in many shapes and sizes. Most commonly found in many gardens and pots across Sydney is the Aloe vera plant. More popular for its healing properties than its flower, it too will send up an interesting display of deep orange. A couple of varieties that produce a great floral display include the Aloe ferox and the Aloe arborescens. A versatile plant, Aloes can be used in cottage gardens, rockeries, coastal gardens as well as succulent/xeriscape gardens. The  Aloe tree (Aloe barberae) can be used as a stunning specimen plant. Growing into a tree like habit to a maximum height of as much as 18m!!!

Aloes prefer full sun and good drainage. They can grow right on the coast and require limited watering, as little as once a month.
flower
Look out for the stunning spires of the Aloe plants as you drive around this winter and look to include some in your garden where you can!

Written by Nick Mason
Stuart Mercer - QUOTE

GRECH’S TURF SUPPLIES / KYORA || INTERVIEW

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Grech’s Turf / Kyora Landscapes – Interview

Beyond the lawn: garden design 101

So you want to design the landscape around your home? Perhaps it’s sat there neglected for some time, perhaps it’s a property you’ve just acquired and moved in to. Perhaps you have the landscaping choices of the past to contend with, perhaps you are starting with a blank slate. A great lawn is a great starting point for an amazing space, but there is so much you can do to make a space more inviting and functional. Either way, let’s look at some of the important questions you should ask yourself before starting a landscaping project.

We spoke to Stuart Mercer and Nick Mason from Kyora Landscapes about some of the questions you need to ask yourself before starting a landscaping project.

 

 

1. What do you want to from the space?

It might seem obvious but understanding the function of the space will help inform the direction and materials for your landscape project.
Will you use this space for:

  • BBQs and entertaining
  • Sports
  • Children’s play
  • Pets
  • Food production

Are you trying to screen out the neighbours to create a private hideaway, or do you want to open up your space to the wider world? Do you want some soft lawn under your feet to encourage children’s play, sports and create a place for pets to enjoy?

How much time, energy and money are you prepared to dedicate to your space? Do you something that is low maintenance or are you happy to make adjustments to the garden on a regular basis?

How long do you intend to live in the space? Are you getting the garden ready for a quick makeover ahead of an auction next month, or do you intend to retire and grow old in your garden oasis?

 

Stuart Mercer - QUOTE

 

Understanding the function you want the space to have is an important first step. Stuart explains, “Functionality of a garden space is of the highest priority. From the function required of a space, we can then design, create and construct anything from very simple solutions to the more innovative of design solutions.”

2. What weather conditions does the site experience?

A lot of what you can do with a landscaping site will depend on the kind of weather conditions it experiences. Think about what the kind of zone you live in. Is it:

  • Subtropical
  • Temperate
  • Tropical

Additionally think about the site itself. Do parts of your landscape get more sun than others? Are parts of the landscape shaded by trees or buildings? Does your area have long hot summers, or bitter cold frosts? Obviously these factors will play a large role in plant selection, but they will also inform other aspects of your design. If you enjoy the early morning sun, for example, you will need to make sure you don’t plant or install anything that will block that sunlight.

Stuart recommends doing some research in your local area to get a sense of what plants will work well in your space. Talk to your neighbours and friends with gardens, talk to a number of different landscapers, and go to your local nursery for information. Take photographs of plants in your local area. Remember if it grows in your neighbourhood, it will probably grow well in your space too!

Nick notes, “Plants will do their best to grow in the positions we plant them, but to get the best out of your garden for years to come, it is highly recommended to have a clear understanding of not only your local climate, but the micro-climate you have in your garden and the plants that suit your specific garden conditions, or hire someone that does.”

3. What do you want to keep from your existing landscape?

Assuming you’re not starting from a blank slate, consider the elements that already exist in your space and think about which ones you would like to keep. Is there a particular tree that offers the perfect amount of shade on a summer day, or a piece of furniture that you cherish? Do these things need to stay in their current position or is there some flexibility to rearrange these? Will they act as focal points for the landscape or would you prefer them to blend into their surroundings?

“Most commonly clients have particular plants that have meaning to them that they would love to keep or transplant,” Stuart says. “We have transplanted plants from bulbs right up to mature trees. Don’t assume because you have a tree you love in a position you hate that it can’t be relocated to a more suitable position.”

4. What is your budget?

There’s no avoiding it – you need to think about the money involved in this project. Do you intend to work with a designer or plan the work yourself? Need labourers, gardeners, specialists? Do you need to buy plants, turf, furniture, other landscaping materials? Will you need to buy or hire special equipment to get the tasks done? Remember that price point isn’t the only consideration, especially if you plan on working with a professional landscaper. Even the most humble landscaping project will take time, and it is important that you work with someone you have a good working relationship with. Has your landscaper considered the challenges and opportunities of your space? Do they have the experience to be able to make recommendations on what will work well in your space, is cost effective and stand the test of time?

Nick says, “As landscapers we are constantly working to budgets. Cheap doesn’t mean it won’t last. Re-using existing sandstone flagging for example will save the cost of buying new paving material. It can be cleaned, cut, shaped and re-laid to create a modern, functional and cost effective paving solution. We also have a good understanding of what the more expensive options are and if they are worth the higher expense. Permeable pebble paving for example is a great new product that isn’t necessarily cheap but its function and longevity can be worth the cost.”

5. What is your time frame?

When it comes to timeframes do you have a definite deadline —perhaps an open house that the landscaping needs to be finished for— or are you more flexible? How large is your project —will you need to break it up into multiple phases? Do you need an instant makeover or are you happy to let your garden develop more organically over time?

“A clear time frame for us helps us allocate the resources required to make it happen,” explains Stuart. “Time frames need to be realistic, and years of experience help us assist with what a realistic timeframe for a project is.”

6. What inspires you?

If you are designing a space for yourself it has to be incorporate things you like! Take some time to think about what inspires you and how you can incorporate that into your landscape project. Do you have an interest in native plants? Do you have a fondness for cottage gardens? Is there a style of garden that really appeals to you? Consider looking online —perhaps on Pinterest— or in magazines for ideas and inspiration, and talk to a qualified landscape gardener to find out how they can help. Not every idea you encounter will work for your or your space, but exploring a number of ideas will give you a broader palette to work with.

Nick Mason - QUOTE

 

“The more detail the better,” says Nick. “And this detail comes from both sides, from our clients and from our design and costing/estimating teams. With a clear understanding from our clients of what inspires them and what look and feel they want to create in their garden, we can then design and accurately cost the project to suit.”

7. What challenges and opportunities does the site pose?

We have already talked about the climate, sun and rainfall conditions of your site, but what other challenges and opportunities does the site pose? Does access to the site pose any challenges? Can you get heavy machinery onto the site if you require it? How is the drainage of your soil?

What is going on beneath your landscape? Remember to always dial before you dig to avoid any issues with underground pipes and cables.

“We have a client who has a natural watercourse through their garden when it rains,” explains Stuart. “Rather than fighting with nature, we suggested they embraced it and we created a stunning dry creek bed using large Nepean River pebbles and natural sandstone boulders. It looks great and functions extremely well when they have a heavy downpour.”

8. Who do you intend to work with?

Even if you intend to do all the work yourself, you will still need to deal with suppliers for landscaping supplies and plants. Find out what companies service your local area and the kind of things they can help you with. For larger jobs you may need to hire specialist equipment and experienced professionals to operate it.

If you are working with a professional landscaper, it is important to find one that suits both you and your project. It is really important to talk to many landscapers and find one that you really feel comfortable with and who can offer their expertise to help you make the right decisions.

“Finding a landscaper that is a passionate, knowledgeable and that can provide a high quality service from the initial site meeting through to the completion of a job should be a top priority,” Nick explains.  “It will make the experience one that is memorable for all the right reasons.”

Thanks to Stuart Mercer and Nick Mason from Kyora Landscapes for talking the time to talk to us. You can learn more about the services Kyora Landscapes offers by visiting their website.

GLEBE – JOB PROGRESS 1

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GLEBE – JOB PROGRESS – PART 1 !

On arrival to a potential job in Glebe we were greeted by quite a small space and a not very inviting entrance.
Located in a street of almost entirely terrace houses, front gardens, if you have one, are small and usually never used. The brief for this job was to design and construct a usable area while also creating a striking entrance to the property.

From this……..
To this…….

The existing layout did not maximise the area available. With curved walls a paved entirely with common bricks with no drainage meaning all the bricks were mossy and slippery. The terracotta tiles covered uneven steps as well as a sunken saggy patio. The garden looked in need of an urgent upgrade and we were excited by the possibilities.
Through the design phase, artificial turf was proposed as the client had young children in need of a play area. The idea of mowing such a small lawn area is never very appealing.
With a new area for play, we proposed a small bench seat as part of raised gardens around the perimeter of the garden. The raised gardens were to be shallow enough to not take up too much of the precious space but deep enough for some privacy planting especially along the front boundary.
To create an impact on arrival, tessellated tiles were a preference. This would not only suit the building and area but create a stunning entrance to the property.
Check out the before photos and we look forward to presenting how the job evolved over the coming weeks.

Before photos….

before glebe
Example of proposed tessellated tiles for entrance path and patio.

Example of a bench seat we’ve constructed recently…
Written by Nick Mason
INDOOR PLANTS

THE BENEFITS OF INDOOR PLANTS

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Indoor plants are IN right now.

WHY? Well, why not?

I have filled my house so full of plants you could mistake it for a rainforest & I’m still trying to find room for more!

But, let’s not get carried away with the “trend”. There is a real reason why indoor plants are back & back to stay this time.

5 reasons why you should fill your house with plants:

BREATHE
  • When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Making plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels. At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants – orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads – do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.
FOCUS
  • We could all do with a little more focus in our lives from time to time Studies at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants! In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.
SCENT
  • Use fragrant plants such as dwarf kaffir lime trees to fill your home with a wonderful fresh smell instead of using artificial air fresheners. It’s a natural and chemical-free way to freshen your home, not to mention being handy for cooking!
HEALING
  • Bringing flowers or a plant while visiting a hospital patient may be verging on cliché, but so effective are plants in helping surgery patients recover that one study recommends them as a “non-invasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.” Plants as medicine!
CONTROL NOISE POLLUTION
  • Plants have long been used to reduce noise from busy roads. More recently, research has shown another benefit: interior plants can help to reduce background noise levels inside buildings, too. Our own studies indicate that plants and their leaves absorb, diffract or reflect background  noise, thereby making the environment more comfortable for the occupants.

WHAT’S THAT FLOWER?!?

By | Garden, Greenwall, Landscaping, Plants | No Comments
Welcome to the Kyora flower blog! For all you’ll need to know about the flowers of the week!
What we do here is educate the public & our clients on the local flowers currently in bloom. Sharing with you the flowers that have even us questioning – What is that flower?!?
A plant that will brighten up the darkest of winters day is the Orange Trumpet Creeper, Pyrostegia venusta.  You will notice this plant flowering from the start of Winter (June) until Spring (October).
For most of the year this plant goes un-noticed as a relatively discreet climber, but when it flowers, WOW, it’s a standout!
The Orange Trumpet Creeper grows well in Sydney and North of Sydney. Orange Trumpet Creeper prefers a sunny spot with excellent drainage and regular moisture particularly when it’s hot and dry, in the cooler months it requires shelter from cold winds and frosts. This plant is an evergreen climber with a growth habit a bit less vigorous than a Star jasmine for example, it is relatively low maintenance. With the ability to grow over fences and across pergolas, this plant can create a thick covering over its host structure. Prune away spent flowers to encourage new growth in spring!
Keep an eye out for this stunning floral display coming to a fence or pergola near you soon!

Written by Nick Mason.

CURL CURL JOB COMPLETION!

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The final instalment of the Curl Curl job has arrived!!

On completion of works the end result is one both the client we are very happy with. Tin the rear garden the Greenwall’s add that extra bit of lushness and interest to the garden. The plants selected in both the Greenwall’s and the garden provide a range of foliage colours and shapes while not requiring a huge amount of maintenance. The wall colour really makes the foliage pop around the garden and really helps frame the Greenwall panels. The sandstone stepping stones tie in well with the newly clad wall and the existing rock shelf. Overall the design and construction of the garden is one we are proud of.

Finished (Rear garden)
 
 
The front garden has also proven a success. The Corten steel planter boxes quickly transformed from a dark grey to the shade of orange you can see now with the help of a little watering to speed up the process. The plants chosen are all tough and ready to bare the brunt of the frontline coastal conditions while still looking healthy and lush. The property now has a clear entrance for visitors and a welcoming one at that. The street appeal of the property has totally transformed and is now a standout of the street.
We have really enjoyed the design and construction of this project and look forward sharing another one with you soon.

Finished (Front Garden)
Find our progress blogs here :

Written by Nick Mason

WHAT GARDEN EDGING SHOULD I USE?

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Garden Edging can be discreet or be made a feature of a garden. Incorporating a garden edge helps define areas of your garden, dividing ares such as lawn, garden, pebbles and/or decomposed granite in the most neat and easy to maintain way. Most garden designs will have a line style, meaning a style of which the designer has used throughout the design. This line style could be the use of straight lines only. It could be of curved lines only. The design may only have 90 degree angles or a combination of angle changes.
Garden edging is used to create and maintain these line styles, so that the integrity of the design is not lost.
Below are some recommended garden edging solutions that we like to use.
 
  • Brick edge
  • Link edge
  • Corten edge
  • Galvanised steel edge
  • Sandstone edge
  • Timber edge

 


Brick edge
An old favourite. The use of new or second hand bricks can be either laid on edge or flat, depending on the look you desire. The bricks are laid on a sand and cement mortar bed with approximately 10mm joints. A brick edge can be laid in straight lines or curved. Generally the brick will finish flush with the lawn or garden, but to add a slight level change, 30-50mm of the brick can be left above the lawn.  Brick edge is a good, solid solution to create a garden edge, however care should be taken laying a brick edge on soft ground or over roots and both of these will ensure the mortar joints will crack.

Link edge
A great product that is simple to install and can create a simple, discreet change between finishes. Link edge is aluminium and pre-fabricated to sit flush or slightly above lawn level. It is secured using galvanised pegs of varying lengths depending on how hard the underlying ground is and has aluminium joiners and 90 degree bends to allow for quick and neat joining. The edge comes in a range of sizes depending on the application.
When using for a turf edge, I’d recommend the 75mm or 100mm option so that the turf won’t grown under the edge into the garden. The edge can be installed in straight lines or curves.

Corten edge
Corten is a steel product that rusts naturally to create an orange/brown appearance on the surface of the product. This rust actually helps protect the steel while providing a great appearance. Corten can be cut from sheets to a desired size or a pre-fabricated product by Form Boss can be used. Form Boss has joiners and pegs to secure the edge and also comes in a range of sizes.
I’d recommend a minimum finished level of 50mm above lawn. Corten can be used from garden edging right up to retaining raised garden beds.

Sandstone edge
For a more solid and robust solution to garden edging, sandstone can be used in many applications. For informal, native gardens, simply placing medium to large boulders can create a great divide. Keep in mind the maintenance of lawn around these boulders through as getting a whipper snipper in and around the boulders can prove a little tricky. Sandstone flagging is a popular solution. Like Corten, this product is best seen and exposed above lawn level. Flagging can be shaped and rock faced to create a very formal look while not appearing too ‘Chunky’. I’d recommend a minimum of 100mm of sandstone is left exposed above finished level. This also helps create a level change adding interest to the garden.
The next step up from flagging is the use of dimension stone. This is sandstone that is either cut or split to a desired dimension. Different finishes include Rock faced, Hydra split, gang sawn and Diamond sawn. All sandstone apart from the random boulders should be laid on a sand and cement mortar bed to ensure no movement once installed.

Timber edge
The cheapest solution for garden edging, H4 treated pine timber can be used to create a simple and effective garden edge. Most commonly, a timber edge will finish flush with a lawn leaving only the top 20-25mm surface of the timber exposed. The treated pine is fastened to either treated pine or hardwood pegs with galvanised screws or nails.
Treated pine can be installed to create straight lines as well as curved. There is a limit to how curved the timber can be so tight curves are best avoided.
 This will hopefully help you get an understanding of some of the garden edge solutions available to create a divide and/or level change in your garden.

Written by Nick Mason

CURL CURL JOB PROGRESS PART 2

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During (Rear garden)
For the second instalment of our Curl Curl job, we will look at the progress of the project over the few weeks it ran for.
Having fine tuned the design, the first thing we needed to do was measure and draw up the raised planter beds to be fabricated from Corten steel. These had a lead time of around 1 week to be cut and folded to our dimensions. The measurements had to be accurate, but most importantly, the angles we needed folded had to be perfect. What we also did was draw up a cutting list to ensure we got the maximum material out of each sheet with minimum wastage.
The Corten arrived and the angles and cuts were spot on. Time to start the install.
Out the back the deck was constructed, the boundary walls painted, and the block wall is clad with sandstone to match the existing rock shelf. 
Large sandstone stepping stones are installed to link the side access with a bedroom, the main alfresco area and the steps to the deck and pool. Soil is delivered and installed and we start to cultivate the gardens in preparation for planting.
Plants arrive and the fun really begins. We install the Greenwalls and start planting!
The palnts are planted and we look forward to the finishing touches to complete the works. Irrigation is installed in the gardens and the Greenwall so watering can be automated.
As the project nears its end it is hard to not get excited about the finished product. With a happy client, it really is a rewarding job we have!
Stay tuned for the photos of the completed project! The transformation will be complete.
Written by Nick Mason – Residential Construction

TIPS FOR LAYING NEW TURF

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Thinking of laying new turf? It’s not hard but below are 3 steps you must do to ensure the success of a new lawn.
1. PREPARATION
The preparation of the area is VITAL to the success and longevity of a turf area. Too many times I have seen old turf die due to compaction, lack of water or too much traffic and new turf rolls just laid straight on top of the existing soil. Surprise, surprise, the turf dies and you’ve just thrown away hundreds of dollars. Preparation is key.
The first step after the removal of the old turf (if there’s any left!!) is cultivation and aeration of the sub-grade. For the soil to breathe and drain and for the roots of the turf to grow nice and deep, cultivation to a depth of approximately 150mm is ideal. Cultivation can be achieved by hand or for large areas with a petrol run rotary hoe. Depending on the existing soil, it is likely the addition of organic matter would be beneficial and this too cultivated into the soil. The use of a product called turf underlay is the next step to prepare you’re area for the new turf rolls. Ideally a layer of 50-100mm is required. Turf underlay is a free draining soil blend consisting of sand, soil and composted organics. A good turf underlay is also blended with a natural fertiliser additive to ensure the success of root growth all year round.
The weapon of choice to level a turf area is called a Lawn level. (Makes sense doesn’t it!?) It’s a tool that will evenly spread and level the soil to the perfect grade. At this stage of preparation, spend the time to get it perfect!! A lawn is something you want to do once. Do it properly and you’ll never have to do it again! Prepare the sub-grade to a perfectly smooth surface with a lawn level and you won’t have to spend the next few years top dressing to get rid of the uneven shallows and mounds in your lawn. You are now ready to lay.
2. LAYING
Anyone can roll out a roll of turf, trust me, it’s not very hard. But when rolling out hundreds of rolls to achieve the perfect lawn, you are going to want it done with precision, care and the know-how of what to do to have your lawn looking like an established lawn in no time at all. The general rules are as follows:
  • Lay a border around the area you are turfing. This ensures there are no little off cuts around the edges that will dry out and die. It also provides an easier edge to cut the remaining rolls into. Meaning, instead of trying to cut rolls into the base of a retaining wall for example, risking damaging the wall, you are now cutting the rolls about 400mm off the retaining wall into the border roll. Make sense?
  • Stagger the rolls and butt them right up against each other. By staggering the rolls a bit like brickwork, the lines of each roll will be broken up. This helps in a few ways. It helps so when it rains the water does not flow in a straight lines through the lawn, eroding channels and creating uneven furrows in your lawn. It also helps break up the join lines visually. By butting each roll up against each other, you are reducing the gap between the rolls. This helps the rolls grow and bind into each other as well as creating no room for the soil to be exposed and susceptible to weed growth. With the rolling out of each turf roll, lightly walk on it to ensure soil to turf contact, this ensures the roots are in contact with the soil of which they will soon grow into. Cutting each roll can be done with hedging shears, secateurs or the straight edge of a shovel. Avoid small cuts as these will dry up quickly and get dislodged easily.
WATER
No water, no turf. Especially in the warmer months, new turf can dry out extremely fast. What ever the season, water the new turf as soon as it has been laid. The trick from then on is to keep the soil moist underneath the turf rolls to provide the roots with the optimum environment to grow and enter the well prepared sub-grade below. I usually recommend watering every day for the first week, ever second day the second week, every third day the third week and so on. Watering can be done by hand, with a sprinkler or an irrigation system. By the time this regime has been completed, your lawn will have well and truly establish a root system and you will no longer be able to lift the rolls of the soil. Adjust the above regime to suit the weather at the time. Obviously if its raining there is no need to water. Through this establishment period, it is best to limit the traffic to the area.
Following up from the 3 steps above, once a lawn is established it can the have its first mow. Only mow 1/3 of the blade length and gradually bring the length down each cut for the best results. A top dress can also be recommended to help fill in any lumps or bumps in the lawn, this will also give the lawn a feed and just watch how green it will go!!
Enjoy your new lawn!!
Written by Nick Mason