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The Evolution of the Modern Backyard – and Why You’ll Be Glad It’s Changed
Not so long ago, the centrepiece of the great Aussie backyard was the Hills Hoist and the garden shed. Balding and scraggly grass decorated the lawn. There may have been a garden bed or two or a small veggie patch. But really, the back garden was typically a barren void, used mostly to store the family’s tools and extra supplies (and perhaps even the outdoor dunny!).
Times are changing. The Modern Home is evolving and backyard spaces are becoming more efficient. That was the theme at this year’s Build and Renovating Expo at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, held over the weekend.
So in honour of the show – at which our Australian Outdoor Living representatives made us proud – we have decided to write an ode to the evolving Aussie backyard.
The 20th Century Backyard
Early last century, the backyard was designed to be admired from the lounge room and kitchen windows. It was a place to look at, not engage in. Social occasions took place in the dining room; it would have been cheeky to ask the guests to venture outdoors.
Sometimes, homes were surrounded with the classic Aussie bullnose verandah, made of curving corrugated iron and maybe a picket fence so there was a clear divide between the sheltered outdoors space and the great, sun-exposed beyond.
The Modern Backyard Brings the Indoors Out
Today with an increasing population and the need to downsize house blocks, our gardens may be smaller. But the way we landscape our space makes our backyard seem more welcoming than ever before.
Perhaps because our available open spaces are dwindling, Aussies have started to focus their attention on making their little bit of outdoors a liveable and loveable space.
The backyard has become an extended living area; a place of family gatherings, friendly barbecues, recreation and relaxation. We aim to draw the inside out. When people look for a new home, they search for a place they can enjoy ‘Outdoor Living’, the catchphrase of landscaping and renovating in the 21st century.
At the Build and Renovating Expo, we had a “Speed Date with an Expert”. We asked Outdoor Creations Director David Kirkpatrick some of the most important Aussie backyard renovating questions.
He explained that the modern backyard is about divisions so you can work each garden space better. Watch our full interview with him here:
The aim of modern backyard landscaping, Mr Kirkpatrick said, is to draw the attention away from those ugly rotating clotheslines and rusting tool sheds by hiding them behind usable and beautiful parcels of land given over to a particular use.
Landscapers today try to make the most of every bit of outdoor space. A stylish deck or verandah draws you out of your home, so that you have a cosy outdoor room in which you can enjoy the view in fresh air.
These rooms are often kitted out with barbecues, elaborate dining sets, comfy couches and even fans and heaters so they can be enjoyed all year round.
There is now a smooth transition between these outdoor living and entertainment areas and the great garden beyond, so you feel tempted to journey beyond the deck.
The garden today is decorated with paved and concrete paths that take you to the Veggie Patch Garden, the Children’s Play Area, the stunning Pergola, and the Family Pool.
The garden has specific areas for the kids to stay active in their sun-filled playground, and for the adults to sit back and relax in a quiet concealed grove.
From what we saw from exhibitors at the Build and Renovating Expo, backyard landscaping today is about carefully-designed beauty and comfort.
Garden features such as stylish ornaments or potted plants have replaced the clothesline as the focal point of the garden. The Hills Hoist and tool shed are now hidden behind flowering creepers, brushwood fences, and the children’s cubby house.
Granny flats or teenage hangouts are increasingly popular too. Kid’s playgrounds are like mini fortresses they’ll lose themselves in. Garden furniture is streamlined for comfortability and durability in harsh Aussie weather.
Of course, Australian Outdoor Living was there to join in the celebration of the modern garden. We recognise that people today want a garden that’s both consistently beautiful and low-maintenance.
We even had our own mini pergola up, displaying our selection of café and shade blinds. There are times, after all, when the weather is simply too hot or cold to enjoy everything the backyard has to offer – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your garden from your insulated deck.