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Outdoor entertaining area with vertical garden and pond

Building a Reputation
Building a Reputation

This stunning outdoor entertaining area has a vertical garden that features 400 individual plants and a central waterfall, as well as a glass-sided fish pond. 





The project


I'm pretty stoked with how this turned out. It is super-relaxing and tranquil. I spent quite a few weekends slowly building it all but I think the end result was worth it. 


There is a 3m high vertical garden, with waterfall down the middle, as well as a pond with glass inlays and a fire pit area to make a nice contrast in energies.



This is what I started with. Basically, I had a bit of a nothing area next to my pool. You can't see it very well, but I had an existing 100mm square post for the shade sail.




Vertical garden build


To begin construction on the vertical garden I got another 100mm post and sunk it in a heap of concrete. I used 90mm x 45mm treated Pine for the backing (I had to use 2.4m because I couldn't get anything else). I used exterior cement sheeting to cover it. 




Two layers of builder's plastic over the cement sheet and then the synthetic felt pockets for the plants. I used these as they are much cheaper than other methods.




I wanted a waterfall down the middle so I used marine ply, sealed it with a waterproof tile paint and used stacked slate from Bunnings. 




And filled it with a heap of cuttings.




Pond construction


Next I dug out and prepared the small concrete slab for the pond. I used 100mm of crusher dust and a bunch of rebar.




I did a step down in the middle, which meant I had to do two pours. This did make the concreting a bit easier. I used 100 Series Besser blocks for the step 




Then came the Besser blocks for the walls. This was a very tedious process. Because I made the pond a weird shape all the corners are at strange angles. This meant all the blocks had to be cut. In hindsight I should have tried to design the pond so it was square




The waterproofing came next. I first used Crommelin pond sealer – but when they say that the concrete needs to be really dry they aren't kidding. I did two coats and the whole thing bubbled. The garden needed watering so I couldn't get the concrete completely dry. So I pulled it all up and used Gripset Betta pond sealer, which is much more forgiving.  




Bench seat and paving


I built the bench seating next. It was pretty easy – just a bunch of treated Pine and Merbau decking timber. 




I Ievelled the area and got some paver sand in.




The pavers came from Bunnings. They are the 600mm x 400mm porcelain pavers, with the light grey granite pavers as edging. I used a Ryobi tile saw but hindsight should have hired a heavier-duty unit. The tile saw did struggle a little bit but it got the job done.




Furniture build


I made the furniture next, just a simple storage box that I copied from a Bunnings D.I.Y. video and a matching table. I inlaid a piece of weathering steel into the middle as I had a piece laying around. 




I wanted the pond to have a natural filtration system, so the water is pumped from the main pond to the back section. For the back section, the bottom 400mm is empty space made using aluminium tube and plastic mesh, followed by large rock to 1mm drainage gravel topped with plants. The roots and bacteria should filter the water. The trouble is the water from the garden has too many tannins so it's a little discoloured. I'm hoping that it will clear itself up eventually. The fish don't seem to mind.




Outdoor lighting


Finally I used Holman Garden RGB lights so it all lights up at night. It's quite a sight to see.








The garden involved 400 or so individual plants. So I only used plants that spilt super-easy and are quite hardy. 




From the top is Carex oshimensis "Feather Falls", golden Sedum, a Peperomia, a variegated Sedum and then peace lilies. Peace lilies are super easy to spilt – they will basically regrow from a single stem and single root. Sedum will regrow from basically nothing.


I have also tried Calathea and tractor seat plants (Ligularia reniformis), and they work OK. Rhoeo does really well, but will need to be chopped back every few months. Be careful using any vine-like plants as they will take over your wall.


What plants you can use really depends on how much sun your wall will get. Ideally you want it to pick up a couple of hours of the morning sun; more in winter, less in summer.


How to give your garden a makeover


A garden makeover is a very rewarding project. Whether a simple refresh or a major rebuild, improving your garden means that you’ll be able to enjoy the results for years to come.


Experienced horticulturist and Bunnings Workshop contributor Adam Woodhams has put together these great guides: How to plan a garden makeover and How to give your garden a makeover.




Let us know if you need a hand with your project – we're here to help.


Amassing an Audience

That's such a stunning project @Wados , My parents have a turtle in their own man-made pond and I can be pretty sure he'd prefer this over theirs 😅, well done! 

Home Improvement Guru


Pretty impresive :smile: Love the height of the waterfall, I just realised you dont have a pic of water running on it? Did I miss something? Really looks like it came together nicely. Ive considered pond and filtration stuff before but end up in the too hard basket. One day I will get there tho. I just looked at the last pic to see the waterfall, I thought the vertical tiles were going to carry water! lol My mistake. I do have a question tho, how did you attach the glass to the bessa blocks and seal it?




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