Lysterfield garden with a running creek

The brief

Before – the gazebo looks a little lonely in this backyard.

On the first visit to this garden in Lysterfield, a beautiful new gazebo had just been built in the back garden. It was far away from the house, surrounded by lawn, and looking a little lonely. The client was keen on a natural pond with a native garden near the new gazebo. After some conversation, I realised that the client was more interested in the sound and the look of running water, rather than keeping fish. The client also wanted to have a completely finished garden.

There was a gentle slope leading towards the house. The surrounding garden was mostly exotic, with maple trees, magnolias and South African daisies. Whatever I created needed to look natural, make the gazebo part of the garden, invite the clients out into the garden, use native plants, and at the same time, blend in with the existing garden.

The response

Lysterfield garden - stream leading up to a gazebo

After – native style garden with a meandering creek.

I designed and constructed a naturalistic garden with a 20m long pondless creek as the central feature. Winding granitic sand paths track alongside the stream, before leading to an arched timber bridge over the creek. The gazebo has now become the destination, while the garden and creek are the journey. I used mostly native plants, like Hardenbergia violacea, Lomandra ‘Tanika’ and Myoporum parvifolium, but mixed with some exotic plants to tie in with the existing garden.

The creek begins near the gazebo, where the clients can relax in their hammock listening to the gentle sound of the water. Just like Goldilocks, the flow of the water has been manipulated so that the sound is just right. The water travels alongside the gravel path, before turning to go under the bridge. Beyond the bridge is a larger pool with a pebble beach on either side. Here the client (and the client’s dog) can wade across the shallow water on a hot day. Tadpoles also congregate periodically inside this pooling area, and the sound of frogs can be heard coming from here.

The creek continues beyond the pool, moving through several small waterfalls between large rocks. This section of the creek is lined with native reeds and flowering Hardenbergia. The client can sit on their deck, looking up the creek towards the gazebo.

It was fantastic to have the faith of our client to create such a beautiful garden for them. There is only so much that can be described with a sketch, but thankfully I was given the opportunity to make it a reality.

Lysterfield garden with stream.

Garden stream flowing under an arched timber bridge.


We are very happy with the end result and Molly (the cat, in particular) has given it a big tick (she loves the bridge by the way, she’s always on it. Monty the dog is not so sure about the bridge though; he walked through the stream rather than cross it today).

Once again, thanks to Ali and you for the care you took in all aspects of the work and for providing such a great finish to the project. The brief was for you to walk away and leave me nothing to do, which is pretty much how it ended up. Feel free to reference the project and happy to show people through if it helps.