The kids’ sandbox has long been a feature of the Aussie backyard. But why stop there? Why do the kids get to enjoy the beach in your backyard and the grown-ups only stand by and watch?
Times are changing.
Adults are taking the charge and reshaping their whole backyards to incorporate a beach element that EVERYONE can enjoy. Yep, that includes the adults too. And why not?
Backyard beaches are a great idea for those situated too far from the coast, but also for those with little time or patience to hobble down to the beach laden with beach balls, umbrellas, boogie boards, buckets and spades, and foldaway chairs.
Having it all in your backyard – oh yes, the sand and water too – makes it way easier to let the kids out and go wild without having to think about all your necessary beach accessories too. And when the little devils get too tired or hungry, it’s a cinch to send them indoors (without you having to relinquish your own little spot on the sand in the sun).
So here’s what you need to add a bit of the coast to your backyard?
Actually, before we even delve into beach-appropriate surfaces, a word on location:
You probably won’t want to canvas your entire property in sand. That would be quite a feat. And anyway, it’s always nice to have a bit of variety in your backyard.
Instead, find a portion of your backyard that would perfectly suit a beach. It could be near a pre-installed or planned swimming pool. Or it could be in the sunniest spot where your fern garden really doesn’t belong. Clear the area of junk and unwanted plants, cull it of any grass, and you’re good to go.
With the hard slog out the way, you’ll want to think about the surface of your backyard beach – and that includes considering your beach design.
No backyard beach is complete without sand. It’s a given you’ll have a sandy element. But a bit of extra thought before you dump your sand load on your chosen spot could mean the difference between a flat (literally and figuratively!) look and a voluptuous, authentic appearance.
Every beach has dunes. But the advantage of a backyard beach is that you can choose where your dunes go and how big you want them to be. They could slope gently to provide a separate seating area or they could encircle a fire pit for a cosier feel. Make them huge and your kids could use them for sand tobogganing!
Gravel is a great base for your dunes. First line plastic over your pre-dug beach pit (it’ll stop the grass from invading!). Then fill the area with gravel, shaping it into the dunes you want. When you’re happy, firm up the gravel by hosing it down and leaving it to harden overnight.
Your first layer of sand is going to slip between the cracks, but keep going until the gravel is fully covered, and only stop when you’re happy with your sand thickness. You might want to put in a bit extra in certain spots so the kids can go crazy with sand castles and moats without digging down to the gravel.
One of the most memorable components of going to the beach is the excitement of heading down the boardwalk and watching the expanse of blue ocean open up before you.
Recreate this thrill with a timber boardwalk of your own. It could lead from your backdoor or verandah, bridge a trickling stream, or even be used sparingly as a transition from the rest of your backyard to your little oasis.
If you want to keep the sand out of your pool (and save your filtration system a lot of hard work!), it’s best to keep some distance between your sand and the pool itself. Keep a wide timber deck or patio around the pool.
It might even be a good idea to install an outdoor shower and encourage the kids to wash off their feet before they dive into the water. Complement your timber boardwalk and pool surrounds with a slip-resistant timber deck beneath the shower.
A beach without plants is like the sun without warmth. Make your beach look more authentic by planting hardy coastal natives. Great Aussie coastal plants include:
If you want to get away from the typical Aussie beach look, go for palm trees and frangipani to evoke a tropical paradise.
Since most plants struggle with really sandy soil, make sure there’s a solid break between your sand and your other flowerbeds.
If you’re going to keep your beach garden distinct from other areas of your garden, you’ll want some beach-themed borders.
Firstly, make your beach backyard feel less like, well, a backyard by disguising any nearby fences. Paint them a creamy, rustic white, or else a light blue shade.
Border your beach garden with driftwood collected from the beach, or even paving stones. Even better, create a ‘beach island’ by surrounding your beach with turf. Artificial grass works well for this, since the weeds won’t encroach on your sandy paradise.
Oh the choices! Tiki torches, beach umbrellas, 1950s deck chairs, and more. Plug a surfboard into the sand or hang fishing net or a small anchor over a nearby fence.
If you have larger trees, string up a hammock – or even better, a DIY day bed! – between them.
And as we’ve said, a DIY fire pit is a fabulous idea, coaxing you outdoors on the cooler nights to gather around a beachside bonfire.
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Check out some of our other resources below for more original ideas and inspiration: