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Australian Open: A Romantic Landscape in the Southern Highlands

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Australian Open: A Romantic Landscape in the Southern Highlands

June 20, 2018

In the Southern Highlands an hour’s drive south of Sydney, a region known for its vineyards and mild climate, landscape designer Nicholas Bray encountered sweeping views and a low-slung house with Colorbond metal sheeting on his client’s 100-acre property. “It’s modern and very Australian,” he said.

The challenge? To design a swimming pool easily accessible from the house—but with its own separate identity.

The solution? A pool with a simple silhouette, an open-air pavilion and a strikingly simple Corten steel fence. Grand sweeps of golden grasses connect the pool and pavilion to the larger landscape. And a series of garden improvements—including metal landscape edging—define the curves of a gently sloped lawn to visually connect the main house to the swimming pool pavilion.

Photography courtesy of Nicholas Bray Landscapes.

Corten steel fence panels seem to float but actually are fixed to a concrete footing, hidden by plantings of native perennial tussock grass (Poa labillardierei).
Above: Corten steel fence panels seem to float but actually are fixed to a concrete footing, hidden by plantings of native perennial tussock grass (Poa labillardierei).

Known as Poa lab, low-maintenance tussock grass clumps grow along roadsides in Australia and look their best if cut back every two to three years during the off season.

The custom fence panels vary in size on the eastern side of the pool; widths range from 300 to 600 millimeters (approximately \1\2 and \23.5 inches, respectively).
Above: The custom fence panels vary in size on the eastern side of the pool; widths range from 300 to 600 millimeters (approximately 12 and 23.5 inches, respectively).
Surrounding the pool is a tiled concrete deck.
Above: Surrounding the pool is a tiled concrete deck.

Inside the pool pavilion is a fireplace. “The pool is oriented north, so the pavilion gets some sun but is shaded by the roof,” Bray said.

A Sunbather Automatic Security Pool Cover keeps a low profile and disappears beneath the edge of the pool when it is fully retracted.
Above: A Sunbather Automatic Security Pool Cover keeps a low profile and disappears beneath the edge of the pool when it is fully retracted.
Opposite the wide-paneled fence is a fence designed with narrow, 65-millimeter plates to create visual contrast.
Above: Opposite the wide-paneled fence is a fence designed with narrow, 65-millimeter plates to create visual contrast.
The pool pavilion is an open-air structure with a solid wall on the southern side to protect the space from southwesterly winds, Bray said.
Above: The pool pavilion is an open-air structure with a solid wall on the southern side to protect the space from southwesterly winds, Bray said.
Steel landscape edging surrounds planting beds and echoes the style and material of the Cor-ten poolside fence.
Above: Steel landscape edging surrounds planting beds and echoes the style and material of the Cor-ten poolside fence.
Steel edging follows the curves of the land to create informal steps on the front lawn, Bray said.
Above: Steel edging follows the curves of the land to create informal steps on the front lawn, Bray said.

Are you designing a new swimming pool (or upgrading an existing one)? Start with our design guide to Swimming Pools 101 in our Hardscape 101 section. Read more:

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