Wembley Downs Landscape Project

In this article, Andrew Newton of Wembley Downs talks about his project to improve the front and back gardens at his home. Andrew managed the project over several months with help from friends and paid trade support. The project involved a complete front and backyard renovation with new paving, lawn, decking and retaining wall.

The Plan

I have a neighbour who gives me a lot of advice about landscaping because it is something she’s interested in. We talked about the problems with the layout of the front yard. She advised, “You may as well just retain it, have a lawn in front of the house, and then a verge lawn up on street level”. So that’s where the big ideas came from.

The specific issues I wanted to overcome were:

  • There were steep slopes at the front of the house.
  • All the leaves piled up at the front door.
  • The front access didn’t work well – there was no flow to it.
  • The garden wasn’t resolved or attractive from the street.
  • The driveway was too narrow to park a vehicle and a boat.
  • At the back of the house, there was nowhere for undercover entertaining.

The Dig 

After I was clear about the plan, the first step was to dig out the soil to resolve the levels. I hired a Bobcat to come in and dig out that area. I ordered some Fill Sand from Nick at Simply Soils to reshape the levels to get them smooth ready for the lawn.

The Retaining Wall

The retaining wall went in next. I needed some Brickies Sand for the mortar between the bricks in the retaining wall.

The Paving

Wembley Downs Paving 2

I got my cousin to do the paving. They were big pavers, and he also did the retaining wall for me.
 I ordered some Roadbase to go under the new paving in the driveway. We worked every Saturday here for months.

The Lawn

Wembley Downs Retaining Wall

My cousin helped with the laying of the lawn. I was keen to get the lawn off to a good start, so I ordered Landscapers Mix for the new lawn underlay. I replaced the verge, front and back lawns. It was a lot of effort. I had to do things after work. When the lawn was new, you’d find me out here at nighttime, having a beer and watering it. That is why the whole project took months because I could only really give it my attention in my spare time.
We had a hot, dry spell when I was away for a week, and the lawn didn’t cope with that. I’m looking forward to the Spring when I feel it will all look its best. I’ll topsoil it too. I’ll get Nick to drop off some topsoil, and I’ll top dress all this, and that will give it an extra boost.

The Garden Beds

I put in garden beds at the front of the house inside the retaining wall. Also, a new garden bed was installed in front of the house.

Deciduous Tree Removal

I took out two deciduous trees at the back. I kept one because it suited the design of the new yard.

Pergola & Back Deck

I had the pergola built to look like a natural extension of the house. The decking went in as part of that build. I was painting the walls every night before they were put up. The carpenters pushed the job through for me. I was up until midnight, three or four nights in a row. I was up there on week-ends painting it. Then I had another painter come back and give it all another coat.

Advice

I wanted a really proper shed, and the local council had problems with that. My advice is to do your homework well in advance to work out what the council are likely to approve. That might save you some frustration. In terms of the work, ask for help from family and friends when you need it. There is a lot of satisfaction in landscaping your own place.