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FIRE PIT // PART 2

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The designing of this fire pit was most enjoyable. Ideas had been floating around my mind for quite a while and it was great to explore where each idea was to lead. The circular shape of the area was already decided. The main early focus was on how to use the recycled hardwood posts that were available. Below is a photo of an arrangement of timber that took my fancy. It was simple and effective, and I think helped accentuate the circular shape.

Once the timber was decided I knew I wanted to break up the circle in some way. Most likely by adding a garden or two to add interest to the area. It would mean sacrificing a spot for a guest around the fire but looking at the desired size, more than 10 people will fit anyway. The location of the garden wasn’t to be central, but off centre, as I didn’t want the area to be symmetrical. Below is an early drawing of where the fire pit was heading.

With the timber setout confirmed as well as the location of the small garden to break up the circle, a decision had to made regarding what surface I wanted underfoot. I planned on using a dark grey granite paver for the entrance to the house as well as stepping stones leading to the fire pit. So granite was an obvious choice. I still wanted to accentuate the circular motion so cobblestones came to mind. Cobblestones being small can achieve a circle quite easily. Even tight circles can be achieved by simply cutting the cobblestones into wedge like shapes. They also have a great rough texture to them adding not only textural interest visually, but also as you walk on them. The cobblestone option meant they are available in colours that will match and/or compliment the proposed granite paving so it seemed like the perfect solution. Lock it in, cobblestones it is!

Below are some photos of the early construction phase.

Concrete footings for the wing walls installed and the set out of fire pit area using electrical conduit starts
Wing walls constructed, rendered and primed for painting
Block wall constructed and concrete pad poured in preparation for cobblestones. Granite stepping stones commenced
 
Laying cobblestones one…..by…….one!
As the construction continues, further design solutions are always required. The main design solution for this job is how to construct the seat to achieve the desired look. Using recycled hardwood posts, the challenge was to ensure the finished product looks modern and sophisticated while also not being too perfect in its appearance. Challenge accepted!
Look out for the next installment.. The seat will take shape and the finished product will be revealed!!

Written by Nick Mason
FAIRY FIRE PIT

DESIGNING THE PERFECT FIRE PIT!

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Designing the perfect fire pit….

 

When it came to this front garden, the entire area was hard surface! Sandstone flagging paving and pebblecrete and concrete pathways dominated the space. The decision was quickly made as a minimum, to turn the space into something a lot more usable, functional and alive with plants!! A main feature of this garden was to be a fire pit! A place to come together, a place to mingle and enjoy the company of others and a focal point of the garden.

When it came to designing the area, there were a few decisions and considerations in the design brief:

  • The area must be circular so that any one seated in the area can clearly see and talk too anyone else seated in the area no matter where they sit. This will also mean everyone is an even distance away from the fire
  • The area must be sunken to help create intamacy and privacy. We humans like to feel safe and being sunken helps this
  • The area can not be too big or too small. Guests need to be a safe distance from the fire yet not too far away they can’t feel it’s radiant heat or too far from each other to be able to communicate
  • Recycled hardwood timber posts must be incorporated somehow!?!
  • The area must be centred to the existing windows which will soon become sliding doors
  • The fire must be smoke free as it will be located near the house and the neighbours
  • A mixture of materials in the construction of the fire pit without it looking too busy
With all these considerations a design was penned and the set out and construction commenced. Below are some photos of the early progress as we strived to complete the perfect fire pit!

BEFORE

before - fire pit

DURING

AFTER

AFTER - FIRE PIT
In the next instalment, we will cover the design solutions to help create the perfect fire pit and tick off all the requirements from the design brief.

Written by Nick Mason.

WTF! WHAT’S THAT FLOWER?!

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Welcome to the Kyora flower blog!

WTF? (What’s That Flower)

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

You know spring has sprung when the stunning colours of Cercis erupt from the stems of this small to medium tree.  A great specimen tree for small, medium and large gardens. The Cercis provides not only an amazing spring floral display but is ever changing throughout the seasons. The foliage of different cultivars range from the greens of Cercis canadensis ‘Roethgold’ Chain of hearts, through to a reddish purple of the Cercis canadensis ‘forest pansy’. Cercis display autumn colour before losing their leaves come winter. They grow to anywhere between 2-6 metres tall and prefer part shade to full sun.
flora
Look out for these now as they a looking their best. Look to incorporate one in your garden for a year round show of this great small tree.

Written by Nick Mason.

GLEBE – COMPLETED PROJECT!

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GLEBE

After approximately 4 weeks of work the project was complete. The tessellated tiles, new step risers and treads look fantastic. The rendered walls still need a coat of paint but they really make the space feel neat and complete. The artificial turf, with the addition of a few fallen leaves, look as close to real as you can get!

GLEBE1

One of the final jobs was a hardwood timber,  custom made bench seat. Designed to be neatly positioned in the centre of the walls garden bed. This was not only to create symmetry and a focal point when you enter the garden, but to also not take up any more space than it needed to. The end result looks great. The timber used was spotted gum and had been left to leach its tannins prior to applying oil.
GLEBE2
The plants selected are all low maintenance. Escallonia and Rhaphiolepsis ‘Snow maiden’ used as the hedging plants with underplanting of Liriope ‘El Marco’ and Gardenia radicans.  No mowing and limited pruning, the garden created is to be enjoyed more than maintained.
GLEBE3

Overall the project is a great success. The client has a functional and low maintenance garden that maximises the space available in a style that suits the building and area of Glebe.

GLEBE4

Written by Nick Mason.

building green

GREEN BUILDINGS OF THE WORLD

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GREEN BUILDINGS OF THE WORLD

 

We all feel the same way when another high-ride gets approved. It’s heartbreaking to see our landscape swallowed up by concrete. BUT it’s not all bad news; some amazing architects have decided to do something about it & the Kyora team are SO on board!!

Check out these 3 amazing designs by Architects around the world.

 

Central Park – Sydney

Designed by Patrick BlancOne Central Park features 23 green walls – Comprised of 120,000 native Australian plants and spread over 1,200 square metres, the Central Park building vertical garden in Sydney, Australia was designed to be a beautiful addition to the city and park below. Via – TENSILE


Clearpoint Residences – Sri Lanka

Clearpoint Residencies designed with a clear goal in mind: To provide its occupants the very best of sustainable living, whilst setting a benchmark for future high-rise developments. This includes ensuring a structure that survives the test of time and has minimum impact on the adjacent environs, while simultaneously providing a pleasant and secure environment for owners.Upon completion, it will be the country’s first truly sustainable high-rise and the world’s tallest vertical garden. Located just a few minutes from the heart of Colombia


Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) – Milan, Italy

Named Bosco Verticale because each tower houses trees between three and six meters which help mitigate smog and produce oxygen. Also used to moderate temperatures in the building in the winter and summer. Officially opened in October 2014, Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) is a pair of award-winning residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, Italy designed by Boeri Studio (Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra).


Don’t want to travel all the way to Milan or Columbia? Fair enough… While you’re checking out Central Park in Sydney follow this link to see all of the Sydney green walls & green buildings we know of, that should keep you busy until next time!

LINK: A GREEN SYDNEY

ENJOY!

PROGRESS 2

GLEBE – JOB PROGRESS 2

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GLEBE PROGRESS – PART 2


Having met with the client and provided our thoughts, vision & recommendations we proceeded to quote the proposed works and we were swiftly awarded the project.
The initial part of the project is the demolition and removal of waste materials. This always has high impact as a large amount of change can occur in a very short time. With no room for a skip bin our next best option; Removal by bulka bag. The bulka bags hold 1 cubic meter of materials. This way we divided materials into mixed waste bags (sand, soil, roots and stumps and any general rubbish that is dug up) recyclable materials (bricks,tiles and concrete) and vegetation. They also supply a pick up service when the bags ready for disposal.  Rather than throwing away the bricks, knowing we needed to construct a new brick wall we decided to keep all to re-use them.

DURING

 
Once all demolition material was removed we were able to set out the locations of the new walls, new entrance path and bench seat. From this setout we could also confirm the plan to provide the garden with adequate drainage. An existing storm water pipe was located and we could connect a new drainage pit for the artificial turf area to this.
Footings poured, walls constructed, walls rendered, tessellated tiles installed. The job was taking shape and with limited room to move, the project had been coordinated so there weren’t too many people on site. With the bench seat install also came the artificial turf. The garden was coming together with countless passers by all astonished by what we were achieving in such a small area.
Soil and plants soon followed and the garden sprung to life. It’s amazing what a few plants can do to transform a work site into a garden. Enjoy the photos below as the construction site evolves into a nearly completed garden. The completed of this job will be revealed in the next installment…..

 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
GUMNUT

WHAT’S THAT FLOWER?!?

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Welcome to the Kyora flower blog!

WTF? (What’s That Flower)

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

The Eucalyptus macrocarpa from Western Australia, very much valued for its huge dark pinky red flowers and grey-green foliage.
This beautiful tree reaches 2-4 metres in height with a width of 2-3 metres, making these giant gum nuts all the more spectacular when they burst open displaying their vibrant colour.
Do not be fooled by the photographs, these gum nuts measure about 3 inches (75mm) across with the largest of all the Eucalypt flowers. They can grow up to 10cms in diameter.
The Eucalyptus macrocarpa is an extremely low maintenance plant. Blooming in spring to summer, mostly red or pink-red. Best grown in Mediterranean climates with dry summer weather, and have proved shorter lived in more subtropical climates.
It is extremely important all households note the kind of wildlife your flora will attract:
Eucalyptus macrocarpa- Bees, nectar eating birds, butterflies & insects!

TIP – The Eucalyptus macrocarpa will split to release the seeds, their casing can hold a small candle! (Handy for all you DIY fans out there!)
This plant also being completely child friendly
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.