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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.

TOP 5 PLANTS TO CREATE A TROPICAL GARDEN

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We love designing and planting Tropical gardens.
They always have an abundance of colour and lushness that brings feelings of summer and warmth. Below are Kyora’s Top 5 plants to achieve a tropical garden paradise.

  1. Frangipani
A favourite amongst most people, the Frangipani can create a tropical feel in your garden instantly. Frangipanis are loved by all, not only for their unmistakable appearance their incredible perfume.  The large green leaves appear in abundance and as the plant ages, its trunk will create a gnarled feature in your garden.

  1. Palms
Fan palms, Rhapis palms, Kentia palms, Bungalow palms are just a few to mention that all grow well in Sydney and can bring you one step closer to a tropical garden paradise. Palms can be used for their large leaves like the fan palm, or can be used to create a canopy like the Kentia and Bagalow palms or even screening using the Rhapis palms.

  1. Cordyline
To add bold colour to a garden you can’t go past Cordylines. Cordyline Rubra, Nigra and Kiwi pride are favourites and are used best in groups of plantings to really make the colours stand out. There are countless varieties of Cordyline all growing to different sizes and coming in a massive range of colours

  1. Bromeliad
As a feature specimen, the Giant bromeliad is a personal favourite. Its unique size and shape can create a stunning tropical accent to any garden. Best planted in groups, there are literally hundreds of types of Bromeliads to choose from!

  1. Ginger
Ginger is a popular choice for its bold colours of foliage and flowers. Alpinia zerumbet, nutans, purpurata are just a few of the many varieties available and will add a touch of the tropics to any garden.

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’S THAT FLOWER?!

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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 small tree to approximately 5 metres high, the Fried Egg Tree, Gordonia axillaris, has a similar look to the more common Camellia. Also flowering at the same time as the Camellia, the Fried Egg Tree can be easily missed. It gets its name from the carpet of flowers it drops. Once they fall to the ground they appear as countless fried eggs all over the ground, sunny side up!

Possibly the perfect shade tree or large shrub for small gardens, the Gordonia bears unsurpassed white flowers that resemble Fried Eggs and glossy, dark green leaves that develop red tips in winter. Pretty cool if you ask us!

The Gordonia best suits formal and/or cottage gardens, usually as a single specimen. Look out for fried eggs under foot and you’ll be sure to find a Gordonia.
Written by Nick Mason

WHATS THAT FLOWER?! APRIL

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It’s time that the Camellia flower put on their floral show and it won’t be brief! Camellia’s can flower from late Autumn all the way through to spring! Flowers range from whites through a range of pinks and reds. The leaves are a glossy green. New leaves are a bright glossy green which then turn a darker shade of green. The two main types include Camellia japonica and Camelia sasanqua. Generally, the japonica has a larger leaf and will take more shade than the sasanqua. The sasanqua has a smaller leaf and can take up to full sun.
Camellia’s best suit formal and even cottage gardens. They can be clipped to a hedge or other neatly clipped shapes. If a Camellia is left unmaintained it will turn into a tree so regular pruning is recommended.
Keep an eye out for the current floral display, once you notice one Camellia you notice them all.
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

CURL CURL JOB PROGRESS

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For most people it is hard to visualise what can be achieved in a garden space. A common comment made time and time again is that our clients can’t picture what a proposed design is going to look like. This is a situation for clients with existing gardens as well as clients that have had their entire garden wiped out in the construction of a new home or renovation. We hope to help with this situation by posting a blog every three weeks of different jobs and how they progress from start to finish. At the end of the job, we can compare the before and after photos and hopefully you will see similarities with garden spaces of you’re own and realise the possibilities of what can be achieved.
Featured job no.1 – North Curl Curl 
See how we transformed the garden from this…
 
To THIS!!!
Client brief
The first project we will feature is a property located in North Curl Curl. The brief was to design and construct a lush and tropical rear garden. The garden will be used to enjoy, entertain and relax. The front garden is to be more contemporary. We needed to design and create a wow factor when you arrive at the property.
When designing the rear garden it was pretty clear what had to go where. The client wanted some decking which would be best located at the same level as the pool. They also wanted some turf off the alfresco area despite the small amount of space available. Vegetation around the garden was to be lush and tropical. We needed to break up the hard surface of the rendered side boundary wall and the new fence at the rear of the garden. There were some minor level changes from the house to the pool level so steps had to be incorporated. An existing rock shelf was hard not to notice as you entered the garden. Sawn back so the garden could actually be level and useable, a large section of the sandstone near the side boundary was remaining. What to do with this???
Before (Rear garden)
 
The front garden had its challenges being very close to front line salt exposure. It will be exposed to the salt spray, strong winds and full sun. Again, there were minor levels changes, but changes nonetheless. The front needed to be welcoming. It needed a wow factor to make the street appeal pop. The garden spaces available were of a good size but we needed to create an entrance to the house that wasn’t the driveway. The only spot for an entrance path would be through the middle of one of the gardens.
Before (Front garden)
  
The design process for the rear garden went smoothly with the client happy to be guided by our recommendations. We proposed a large deck for the rear garden with a shape to maximise the entertaining area but also not lose out on too much garden space. Gardens were allocated to provide screening along the rear boundary with Bamboo ‘Slender Weaver’. We proposed Greenwall panels on the rendered walls to soften the hard surfaces and turf on the lower area off the alfresco area to also provide further greenery. A brick wing wall will help retain the deck level and this will be clad with sandstone to match the existing rock shelf. Steeping stones through the lawn and garden will link the side access with sliding rear doors as well as the alfresco area and steps up to the deck.
The front garden design incorporated raised gardens on either side of the driveway. We proposed Corten steel to retain the raised levels as this will rust and provide a great colour, texture and contemporary feel. An entrance to the property will be a proposed deck boardwalk. This will provide a clear path to take rather than entering via the driveway, it will also solve the issue of getting from turf council strip level up to the existing tiled level which is approximately 550mm higher. Planting will dominate the front garden to help scale down the size of the house and again soften the driveway, boundary wall and house surfaces. Plant selection will include lush yet hardy plants.
 
The next instalment of the North Curl Curl job will include our during photos and a run down of how the job processed over the few weeks after commencing works. Stay tuned to see how the transformation evolves and what the project looks like on completion. Trust me, the change is astonishing!!
Written by Nick Mason

WHATS THAT FLOWER?! MARCH

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Tibouchina

Welcome to the Kyora flower blog! For all you’ll need to know about the flowers of the week!
What we plan to do here is educate the public & our clients on the flowers currently in bloom. Sharing with you the flowers that have even us questioning – What is that flower?!?
Tibouchina’s are in flower right now and will continue from Autumn through to Winter. A great small tree growing to approximately 5 metres high when mature.
Tibouchina ‘Alstonville’ is a common variety where there are now numerous other varieties available in different shades of purple.
A dwarf version is available named, Tibouchina ‘Jules’. These can grow to approximately 1m metre high.
Tibouchina’s prefer an acidic soil and a warm sunny position. They love to be pruned after flowering and are virtually pest free! 
These beautiful plants are not suited to cooler inland areas where frosts occur.
Tibouchina’s are a reliable and hardy plant that year after year will provide your garden with a stunning display of colour.
See more of this beautiful flower –
& while you’re there give us a follow! –

Written by Nick Mason – Residential Construction