Small garden makeover

This Jo’burg garden’s most unattractive features were turned into an asset. This created a lush backdrop for an intimate entertaining area.

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white arum lily pool

This Jo’burg couple seldom entertained outdoors, so they decided to upgrade their garden. The paving flanking the pool is inter-planted with mondo grass. This makes it difficult to arrange outdoor furniture.


When they gave their cluster home a contemporary face-lift, it made sense for them to redesign their garden in line with the new look. “In addition to the comfortable outdoor living area we wanted, it was essential that the garden be low maintenance as we travel frequently,” they say. The couple asked Felicity Teixeira of Blue Petal Garden Design to oversee the revamp.

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The varying heights of the planter boxes draw attention from the walls and help to make the garden appear larger. They’ve also cleverly been used to form a backrest for the built-in seating. The square Cube light from Ora Outdoor brings the space to life at night. The firepit is from Keith Hamilton Pottery.

As one of the main problems was the looming boundary walls, Felicity made these a priority. After consulting two arborists, she kept the existing Chinese poplars. To create a lush backdrop, built planter boxes on two levels against the walls. “The first we filled with Nandina domestica, chosen for its neat shape and its ability to handle the shade this area receives,” explains Felicity. She adds that the delicate foliage, colour variations and berries provide year-round interest.

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“In the lower tier we kept to evergreen plants using arum lilies against a backdrop of Viburnum sinensis which disguises the walls of the top planter box. For a balanced look we did the same on the other side of the pool.”

small garden pool
Decorative touches like the heart-shaped wreaths give the garden a playful, personal feel.The pool now has a slate-clad backdrop with tiles from Mazista and a stainless steel letterbox water spout.

To establish an intimate seating area, they built an L-shaped bench with the planter boxes as a backrest. They replaced the  pavers and mondo grass with gravel and set new pavers. These extend right to the dining room doors. Now with the firepit forming the focal point, this has become one of the couple’s favourite spots.

Pavers from The Colonial Stone Company are set into gravel from Pebble City.

“What we love,” say the owners, “is that this isn’t a seasonal space. In summer after an afternoon around the pool, we enjoy sundowners with friends or family and in winter it can be just the two of us in front of the fire with a good bottle of red.”

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