Bring the Nature Play Experience Into Your Own Backyard

Remember how much time we spent outside as kids? When we were kids, there was no internet, fewer TV channels and a whole world outside to explore! Even the backyard was a place for endless fun, imagination and hanging out with friends.

Some of what we did back then is now called ‘nature play’ and it’s enjoying huge popularity with specially designed playgrounds springing up across Australia. So we thought it was time to look at how to bring some of that experience home.

This gallery of our favourite projects shows that even small spaces can be made interesting for kids.

Pull together a range of materials – and make it easy for them to be packed away when you want to reclaim the space. Images: via Pinterest; via Community Playthings

Every kid loves building cubbies – keep it low-cost with pallets, branches and a bamboo blind. Image: via Pinterest

Put that tree to use with a mini treehouse, marble run or fort. Images: via Apartment Therapy; via Pinterest; Wife Mother Gardener

Even a courtyard garden offers space for nature play. Image: via Pinterest

Prep some hidden spaces with gravel and rocks – and keep the play going on hot or sunny days. Image: via Pinterest

Add a swing – autumn leaves make great camouflage. Image: via Pinterest

Design your garden with space between elements to encourage exploration and play. Image: via Playbased Learning

Add some semi-permanent or permanent elements – they’re great for encouraging first time visitors to join in, while also allowing favourite games to be played out again and again. Images: via All For The Boys; via Parents Magazine; Create With Your Hands

If you want to provide a boundary between kids and any precious plants, Link Edge is the ideal garden edging – easy to install, safe on feet and hands with a rolled top edge, seriously tough and long lasting, stays in place, and it’s great for forming curves or straight lines. The Link Edge range includes powder coated colours plus circle and square kits. Learn more and find stockists at

7 celebrity garden elements you’ll want to copy

Pro tip: For edging garden beds, paths and driveways, you can’t go past Link Edge. With a modern aesthetic and safe roll top-edge, it’s easy to install, incredibly long lasting, won’t rust or crack and is great for creating curves or perfectly straight lines.

1. Jason Mraz – avocado tree

Be like the ‘I’m Yours’ singer-songwriter and plant an avocado tree. Living on a 2.2 hectare avocado farm in California, Jason has no problems whipping up smashed avo on toast for breakfast with friends. Surprisingly, avocado trees grow successfully across Australia, from Darwin to Tasmania! And with the trees being self-pollinating, you don’t need a whole farm – just one should be enough.

Image: via Huffington Post

2. President Obama – statement entrance

Strictly this isn’t the former president’s personal estate. But this Hawaiian rental property at Kailua Bay on the main island includes a lagoon style pool, waterfalls and awesome views. Fittingly, it also has an impressive statement entrance to welcome guests and their entourage. Symmetry, good lighting and a tantalising glance into what’s beyond are the key elements here.

Image: via Top Ten Real Estate Deals

3. Cate Blanchett & Andrew Upton – statement trees

When the couple sold their heritage harbourside Hunters Hill mansion, it wasn’t just the sophisticated contemporary interiors that garnered gasps of envy. The landscaping – low maintenance and practical for an active, jet-setting family – also shared the stage. The muted colours of the sandstone paving, retaining walls and gorgeous pool, were offset by the vibrant purple of the flowering jacarandas. Just beautiful!

Images: via Domain

4. Gisele Bündchen & Tom Brady – avenue of trees

Even if you’re pressed for space, you can create a mini avenue with four trees, just as Gisele and Tom have done. Choose trees with branches that spread a little and form a vase or oval shape. Also, for more impact, think colour! Some trees with spectacular autumn leaves and flowers include Japanese maple, crepe myrtle, Manchurian pear, Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ or Prunus mume ‘Splendens’. Add interest in the garden beds below with massed plantings. Or make it easy on yourself when the leaves and petals fall and need to be raked – simply create mulched beds held in place by attractive garden edging such as Link Edge.

Images: via Architectural Digest

5. Julianne Moore – controlled wilderness

What we love about the actor’s New York garden is how her courtyard feels so wild, yet is essentially low maintenance. Sticking to a green and dark grey colour palette helps the courtyard to feel like a cool oasis in the middle of the city that never sleeps. Plantings at different heights, the spreading tree creating dappled light and massed groupings of pots add to the sense that this could be a forest glade.

Images: via Architectural Digest

6. Oprah Winfrey – vegetable patch

In Oprah’s case, the vegetable patch on her Hawaiian property is more farm than patch. But you get the picture – every home needs its own little space for fresh herbs and some easy to grow vegetables.

Image: via 365 Days of Self Care

7. Chris Brown – tiered hardscaping

Chris purchased a new beachside property in late 2017 – and the hardscaping is every bit as handsome as the Bondi Vet himself! Bring some of this style to your home with garden beds at different heights, wide steps to lounge on and matching wall and floor tones to increase the sense of space. The minimalist chic of Chris’ new garden is balanced by the warmth of inbuilt wood seating and a splash of neatly contained lawn adjacent the house. This gorgeous garden probably even has Link Edge garden edging between that lawn and the garden beds. Which means the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here host can spend more time surfing than maintaining his plot.

Image: Phillips Pantzer Donnelly

The toughest places on earth to plant a garden

Next time you’re cursing the weather while working in your garden, spare a thought for gardeners elsewhere. We’ve compiled a list of some of the toughest places on earth to establish a garden. These are places where choosing native plants is the best course of action – unless you’re cashed up or extremely stubborn!

Hot, hot, hot – Dubai

Mention Dubai and it conjures up visions of awe-inspiring skyscrapers in the desert; it’s hot, humid and averages only five rainy days every year! However, this futuristic city is also home to the world’s largest natural flower garden, which encompasses over 72 hectares of garden beds and 3D  floral displays. It is estimated to have 50 million flowers and 250 million plants, with 120 species of flowers featured.

The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and is open from November to May when the weather is more convivial. Planting occurs in the peak of summer – in July temperatures can reach a blistering 50ºC. What keeps this tourist attraction looking fabulous during the season? Regular watering, of course – an average of 750,000 litres of reclaimed water are used daily.

Image: via Gulf Daily News

Cold and colder – Arctic Circle and Harbin, China

Inside the Arctic Circle the average winter temperature is -34ºC, while summer hovers varies between -10º and 10ºC because of the comparative ocean warmth. What’s interesting about life in the tundra is that arctic foxes are responsible for the flowers that bloom around their dens. While they aren’t actually gardening, their organic waste supports the abundant growth of summer’s yellow wildflowers.

Harbin, China is famous for its annual ice festival with average winter temperatures plummeting to -24ºC overnight and rising to -12ºC on sunny days. While this harsh weather could make one think of a barren wasteland, the nutrient rich chernozem soil, or ‘black earth’, is ideal for agriculture (like wheat) and flower farming. In spring, the city’s botanical gardens are carpeted with colour as tulips and daffodils bloom.

Images: Daniel J Cox via National Geographic; The Guardian; Escape Artistes

Inhospitable soil – Nishi-no-shima Island, Japan

This uninhabitable island 940 kilometres from Tokyo is really the caldera of an undersea volcano. It lay dormant for around 10,000 years until a series of eruptions, starting in 1974, saw it grow in size from 600m long and 200m wide with an area of 0.1 km2 to its current size of 2.9 km2. In 2016, a group of scientists studying the ecology of the island found that nesting birds, including gannets and bramblings, had created an environment for goosegrass and purslane to grow.

Image: AFP: Japan Coast Guard

Lack of sunlight – Rjukan, Norway

The inhabitants of Rjukan, Norway live without direct sunlight between September and March thanks to the mountains that tower over their village. Since 1928, the locals have had a cable car to take them up to the top of the mountain for a dose of vitamin D. But for some that wasn’t good enough. So in 2013, they installed the Solspeilet – a group of three sun mirrors perched up high and reflecting a circle of warm orange sunlight into the town square. Of course, a lack of direct sunlight doesn’t mean a beautiful garden is out of the question, but it does limit ones choices. The local is area is known for its wild blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries and mushrooms. But no sunflowers are grown in Rjukan.

Image: via The Guardian

Monsoonal rain – Meghalaya, India

With an average rainfall of more than 12,000 millimetres in some areas, this state in India is the wettest place on earth. However, it doesn’t seem so foreboding if you focus on the positives – like it’s great for growing rice, pineapples, papayas, maize, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, orchids and other water-loving plants; and there are truly awesome natural wonders in the region, like Nohkalikai Falls, India’s highest waterfall. The living root bridges woven from the aerial roots of the Ficus elastica tree are also a gardener’s delight.

Image: via Travel Triangle

Wind – Oklahoma, USA

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain… Those cheery lyrics just roll off the tongue, like tumbleweed and uprooted trees! But imagine what it’s like to garden in one of the world’s windiest inhabited places. Online forums talk of the need for 6 stakes to hold up one tomato plant and creating 3 metre high windbreaks for garden beds using densely planted corn or sunflowers. Constant wind affects a plant’s ability to put down roots and absorb water, causes breakages and distortion, and increases the chances of fungal diseases and other pathogens being spread. It’s enough to make consider another hobby. Musical theatre, perhaps?

Image: The Oklahoman via NewsOK

Feeling inspired to get into the garden this weekend? Why not add structure, definition and the finishing touch around your garden beds, lawn, paths or driveway with Link Edge. Stylish, easy-to-install and long-lasting, it’s the garden edging that can cope with all weather conditions!

How to get that Palm Springs garden style

Palm Springs is the ultimate in cool resort cities. Think poolside lounges, Hollywood stars, palms and cacti. It also has an average maximum temperature of 42ºC in July. While our capital city temperatures max out a bit lower, Palm Springs is a shining example of where to turn when you want a garden that’s modern, low maintenance and won’t need much watering. So, let’s break down the key elements of the style.

Sculptural, drought tolerant plants

These are the key elements that define the famous Palm Springs look and cacti instantly spring to mind. Choose a mix of heights, colours and textures to add interest, like golden cleistocactus, mother of hundreds and a prickly pear. Add clusters of mixed succulents and plantings of bright colour, like red hot pokers, low-growing banksias, euphorbia wulfenii or bougainvillea, and you’ve got yourself a garden. Add in a tall or spreading palm to provide dappled shade near your lounging area.

Image: Nicole Franzen, via Bloglovin


White walls

Palm Springs evokes images of white exterior walls and white painted breezeway blocks. White makes a great backdrop for the dramatic plants and gives the eye somewhere to rest. Channel your inner graphic designer and leave plenty of white space.

Image: Pinterest


Indoor outdoor flow

A key feature of the style is the lifestyle it brings, with a seamless flow between indoors and out. So, consider opening up your home to the garden with sliding or bi-fold doors and match the interior and exterior flooring colours and materials to enhance the effect. Another way to enhance the flow is with matched plantings inside and out – pots with mother-in-laws tongue is an easy way to achieve this look.

Image: James Haefner via Pinterest


Aromatic plants

Hollywood stars sweat just like the rest of us. Rather than overdoing it with spritzing the perfume on hot days, plan for a garden with some sweet scents. Sage, star jasmine, frangipani and the heat-tolerant daphne, Eternal Fragrance will all fit right in with their small flowers and pretty aromas.

Image: Artem Beliakin on Unsplash


Circles and curves

Palm Springs garden style is playful at its best. So, plan to add a few circular garden features, such as crushed gravel stepping stones within lawns or paths, or a highlighted garden bed featuring a spectacular cactus. This is easy to achieve with a circle kit from Link Edge, which comes pre-formed and ready to quickly nail into place. Curved garden beds are also simple to make as Link Edge’s rustproof metal garden edging features spike guides to ensure you easily create a smooth curve and garden edge that will last the distance.

Image: Pinterest


If you’d like to know more about the advantages of using Link Edge over other garden edging or where it’s stocked, visit the website.

7 Garden trends you should try in 2018

Pro tip: For edging garden beds, paths and driveways, you can’t go past Link Edge. With a modern aesthetic and safe roll top-edge, it’s easy to install, incredibly long lasting, won’t rust or crack and is great for creating curves or perfectly straight lines.

1. Unusual edible plants

Channel your inner Willy Wonka and deliver something unexpected! We’re thinking plants like the big-leaved monstera deliciosa, which produces large weird looking fruit that tastes like fruit salad. Or a gorgeous specimen that also happens to be a superfood – hello, goji berries and turmeric! Or just freak out the kids, with purple carrots. There are plenty of spectacular plants that are also edible at your local garden store or online.

2. Fauna friendly garden

We all know the importance of bees in the ecosystem. But what about the birds, butterflies, frogs, small native animals and lizards that traditionally use your postcode for their habitat? Planting native flowering trees and shrubs, and providing safe sources of water, can attract fauna back to your patch. By creating this small animal Airbnb, you’ll not only meet some cute visitors, you’ll also have hungry guests ready to eat the pesky bugs and beetles in your garden.

Image: Heather Miles, via GardenDrum

3. Outdoor room

If you want to impress your neighbours, turning a section of your garden into another living space is the way to do it. Won’t they be jealous when they sink into your sunken lounge area with oversized cushions, overhead speakers and an Aperol Spritz close at hand!

Image source:

4. Strip lighting

Of course, if building a room is out of your budget or skill set, how about a lighting upgrade?

Your local hardware store or online lighting shop should have all you need to create some drama in your garden. Think celebrity style when you do this – make a grand entrance with strip lighting under stairs, stick some beneath that gorgeous floating concrete bench you like to lounge on, and give your outdoor kitchen some bling beneath the bench tops.

Image: Dieguez Fridman architects

5. Floating seats

Speaking of floating benches, they look like a million dollars (unlike those rickety banana lounges your sister bought you). Integrated with planter boxes and leafy shrubs, floating seats provide a great spot for a gossip session with the girls and a shady outdoor spot for the kids to read. Concrete looks super expensive, while timber provides a nice contrast to any nearby hard surfaces. For extra points, add a hardy garden bed below with good-looking garden edging to keep the plants or pebbles in check.

Image: Benn + Penna, via Est

6. Coastal plantings

Create that year round beach feel at home – and make your garden low maintenance with coastal plantings. This relaxed combination of mixed succulents, native ground covers and large drifts of silver, green and blue grasses is the perfect complement to the strong lines of contemporary homes. Where you’d ordinarily use paving, used decomposed granite – it not only looks like sand, it’s cost effective too. Throw in a few tropical plants, like frangipani, for height, fragrance and colour, and you have a low key, yet gorgeous garden for the senses. We can already hear the rustle of the tall grasses!

Image: Peter Fudge Gardens


7. Greater variety of plants

The days of minimalism are waning, inside the home and out. Now is the time to express yourself in the garden. Those perfect rows of agave and cordylines neat box hedges could use some gatecrashing fun. Dig in some perennial flowering shrubs, trailing vines and a lime tree to fuel those mojitos. Work with your favourite colours or be inspired by Pantone’s colour of the year, Ultra Violet.

Image: Grounded Gardens, via The Design Files

Smash out a garden worthy of a ninja warrior.

So, you’d rather scale walls than build a retaining wall, and you avoid falling into water obstacles at all costs – that doesn’t mean you can’t create the perfect garden.

Even if you have never pulled out a weed in your life, our garden hacks can have you looking like a green thumb all year-round… And in doing so, help you free up time and space for ninja training!

Remember: planning beforehand saves on time, replacement plants and money.

Walk around your suburb and see what grows well without too much effort. If it grows on a local nature strip, it will grow in your garden!

Be realistic. If you would prefer to do nothing beyond watering, mowing and the occasional pulling up of weeds, don’t plant shrubs or vines that need trimming, or deciduous trees whose falling flowers or leaves will need raking.

Measure your space and sketch out your plans before shopping for plants. To create a green oasis, use different heights of plants with the tallest at the back. Use low maintenance hedging or spreading trees to define the ‘walls’ of your space. Or you could set up a low maintenance green wall system. See your local garden centre for recommendations.

Plan to have a focal point in the garden, such as a tree, wall art, fountain or even a fire pit. Note: a shed is not an ideal focal point!

If you are installing a fire pit, make sure it is on level ground and at least 4m away from flammable materials, such as buildings, fences, plants and overhanging trees. Also consider where the smoke might blow. Check with your local council for any restrictions.

Keep your garden beds narrow (less than 1m deep) and install edging. Any upkeep you need to do – such as reaching for the odd weed or sweeping adjacent paths – will be easy and quick.

Add hard surfaces, such as paved paths and pebble borders. As well as adding visual interest, they’ll reduce the area you need to water and tend.

Paved paths have a tendency to move over time. A quick and lasting solution to this is to install a durable and purpose-designed border system, such as aluminium edging, when laying the pavers. This also eliminates the need for ugly concrete to stabilise the pavers.

Repetition of simple details can give a sense of order and perfection. This could be as easy as repeating a well-defined mondo grass and pebble border throughout the garden.

Invest time in the front end of the project. Remove all weeds and dig in compost as you plant.

Choose low maintenance and drought-resistant plants.

Plant succulents as they don’t require much attention and thrive in poor soil.

For year-round beauty, choose plants that don’t die down in winter.

Have your plants closer than on their planting guides. This will give your garden an established look sooner and also reduce available space for weeds.

Add a sturdy border to your lawn to prevent lawn creep.

If you are also planting in pots, choose self-watering pots.

Use elements of formal gardens, such as a feature tree within the lawned area, to make a big impression without going against your low-maintenance plans. The secret is to add circular edging around the tree to keep the lawn at bay.

Make sure any borders or edging you add is durable and child-friendly. You don’t want to spend your time shepherding tiny feet away from sharp edges. Nor do you want to be replacing the edging in 5 years time. Look for a product with rolled edges, high UV and rust-resistance that is also easy to install. Products like Link Edge, which also offers a selection of powder-coated colours, are ideal.

Add mulch between the plants. It looks good, suppresses weeds, increases water retention, guards against temperature extremes and breaks down into compost eventually.

If you want a veggie patch, make it easy on yourself with well-defined beds. Raised beds reduce bending over, or for a more integrated veggie patch, create narrow garden beds with well-defined borders, so you can reach in easily, but the plants are contained.

Choose easy to grow, low maintenance veggies like lettuce, radish, Swiss chard, zucchini, tomato and cucumber.

Plant any herbs close to your house, so you are more likely to use them. Include hardy perennials, such as rosemary, sage, parsley, oregano, mint, chives and thyme, for year-round harvesting.

Consider adding an irrigation system if your garden is larger or the plants will require regular watering. Even if you don’t add one, group together the plants that have similar water requirements. This will make hand watering less complicated and quicker.

Add lighting to your garden, so you can enjoy it day and night. Solar lights are quick to get up and running, but may last less than 2 years. Wired low-voltage lights are surprisingly easy to install with the wires running under the garden beds or pavers and they can last for decades. Your local hardware store or garden centre can advise you on how to set up your ideal lighting system.


31 things that excite a gardening perfectionist.

For us perfectionist gardeners, our gardens are our ‘happy place’ – somewhere to relax and escape life’s stresses and be enjoyed all year round. While others might prefer to hit the sales or follow their favourite team, most often you’ll find us working or relaxing in our oasis of green.

We’ve compiled a list of 31 gardening-related things that give us thrills throughout the year. See how many give you a buzz…

1. A rain-free weekend

2. Using the perfect trowel

3. Multi-grafted fruit trees

4. First flowers of spring

5. Perfectly straight edges

6. Perfectly curved edges

7. Raked garden beds

8. Automatic irrigation systems

9. Heirloom vegetables

10. Growing multiple varieties

11. Saving seeds for next year

12. Blossoms on fruit trees

13. Bees on blossoms

14. Hedging plants

15. Vegetable planting day

16. Plant fairs

17. Open garden days

18. Ornamental trees

19. Herbs that don’t go to seed

20. Natural pest remedies

21. Companion planting

22. New rose releases

23. Different blooms on one stem

24. Grafting one’s own trees

25. Sharing one’s harvest

26. Homemade jams & pickled veg

27. Freshly mowed lawn

28. Bulb planting time

29. Sharp, oiled tools

30. Everything in its place

31. Neatly edged lawn

This one improvement can help you flip your property fast.

Whether you’re planning to flip your property now or in a year, there’s one improvement that can give you a return many times greater than your spend. And it can get your investment sold quicker!Before we reveal what the improvement is, take a moment to imagine you’re house hunting. Every real estate agent will tell you that street appeal is important. But what does that mean exactly?

Beyond the obvious explanation that it’s about making everything look good, street appeal is also what your home communicates to potential buyers. A facade with peeling paint, or giant weeds poking up through cracks in the concrete, suggests more work awaits inside.

Now imagine that the paintwork is in good condition, as is the roof, there’s a fresh white gravel path to the door and the gardens are green and lush. Perhaps too lush…

What if you buy this house and have to spend every second week in the garden? What if you let it get overgrown? What will your neighbours or friends and family think? How much will you have to spend on gardening services? Are there other things inside the house that will need regular attention? Is this really the right house for you? Maybe you should just look elsewhere.

Now imagine that same home with the gravel path and a garden that’s green and lush. But this time it feels low maintenance and manageable. You think that if you live here, you’ll have a great lifestyle. Your weekends will be free. You can relax. You can entertain. And you won’t have to worry about Auntie Jane tripping while navigating past the garden beds.

So, what makes the difference – and adds thousands to your flipper’s value?

It’s neatly defined lawns, paths and garden beds.

With a simple, unobtrusive border defining your garden elements, you convey the message that everything’s easily under control and where it should be. The borders don’t have to be high or wide or expensive, like concrete or bricks or timber – anyway, these could still trip up Auntie Jane – but there should be borders.

Choosing the right border is a matter of personal taste, but some things to consider are:

  • Material – its ability to withstand UV rays and resist rusting, and how long it will last
  • Safety – some borders and edging materials have rolled edges to make them safe for bare feet
  • Height – different areas may require different edge heights; look for a product offering multiple heights to give consistency across your project
  • Colour – nowadays you’re not restricted to green or russet-coloured plastic or naked steel; there are some new options on the market, such as powder-coated aluminium, offering
  • contemporary or neutral colours to suit every application
  • Ease of use – how the edges link together and how it stays upright are important; you don’t want to abandon a project because it all gets too hard
  • Designer features – are kits available if you want to form circles or squares around trees etc
  • Heavy duty – if want to edge your driveway as well, check if a heavy duty option is available.

The good news is that if you choose the right border or edge, such as Link Edge, you get to enjoy the benefits immediately… And, when you’re ready to flip the property, you will have nailed it for ‘street appeal’.

How to Tell if You’re a Natural Born Gardening Perfectionist

For most of us, gardening is a relaxing hobby. It is an opportunity to spend time outdoors in gentle exercise as we tend our patch and coax plants into bloom. Others are natural born gardening perfectionists – the need for order and perfection are paramount and nothing will stop them from the completing a task at hand!

Read on to see how many gardening perfectionist traits you have.

1. You believe deadheading roses is a daily task.

2. You spend your lunch money on ‘potted colour’ plants.

3. You devote the days before an overseas holiday to gardening rather than packing.

4. You secretly scan your friends’ social media accounts for flaws in their gardens.

5. You garden at dusk regardless of how many mosquitoes are out.

6. You plait the wilted leaves of your bulb plants to make them prettier until lifting day.

7. You mark on the calendar when you pruned the rose bushes and the date they will bloom.

8. You can’t bear to see shoe imprints on your garden beds.

9. You run your team of helpers like a commanding officer, regardless of their ages.

10. You respond to compliments about your garden by pointing out its faults.

11. You constantly replace underperforming plants to get that fresh-from-the-garden-centre look.

12. You have lost countless hours obsessing over garden ideas on Pinterest.

13. You feel embarrassed when your plants have pests or diseases.

14. You believe a defined edge is more important than a hot meal.

15. You search online for a specific colour of compost bin.

16. You measure the soil temperature with a garden thermometer.

17. You measured the soil temperature with the family’s thermometer when no one was looking.

18. You use your security spotlights to keep working past nightfall.

19. You always, always double dig your garden beds.

20. You use a string line to trim your hedges straight.

21. You buy an extra seed pack so that you are certain to fill all 24 cells in the seed tray.

22. You phone gardening talk back shows to give the hosts tips and advice.

23. You are obsessed with shoes – because gumboots, clogs and wellies all count as shoes.

24. You expect 24 traits in this quiz. Not 23.