Branch Out Landscape Design in Sydney provides landscape design and project management services across a range of projects. Director, Catherine Gard, made the change from a career in optometry to landscape design and has never looked back! We talk to Catherine about some of the beautiful gardens she and her team have created.
1. From residential to schools to commercial and everything in between, your experience crosses a range of projects. What part of the process do you enjoy the most?
People are the most important part of the process and I enjoy developing a dialogue with clients to understand how they use their outdoor areas and how we can improve on that. Finding a solution for a difficult spot or issue and conveying to the client how the new design will change the way they live is a pivotal moment as the clients start to visualise themselves in their new garden.
2. With this project on Sydney’s lower north shore it looks so spacious. What was the highlight for you with this project
I was interested in modernizing the pool surround and creating destinations in the garden to encourage the family to further enjoy their outdoor spaces. The expansive area is perfect for active play but can sometimes be overwhelming if there are not smaller zones within to provide comfortable places to pause and enjoy a quiet moment. The clients are keen entertainers with three children eager to make new memories in all parts of the garden but for me the highlight is the cosy firepit area that provides a focal point for friends and family to come together.
3. You’ve used Sareen Stone’s Classic Travertine tumbled for this project, what was your brief here?
The clients were keen to use a natural stone to replace the existing terracotta tiles in the garden. The pool area has become a glamorous destination in the garden and the warmth of the classic travertine ties in with the warm tones of the house colour. The lighter colour makes the spaces feel even larger and its beauty will only be enhanced over time.
4. Are there any trends that you currently choose to incorporate into your designs?
I always design with my clients needs foremost in my mind but design must always be functional as well as beautiful. Consideration of how the garden will look as it matures into the future and deal with the changing climate is also essential. Sustainability is important if we are to continue designing interesting spaces with the resources we have. Recycled materials can help strengthen the sense of place and smart design can help manage energy loss, resource depletion and save water.
5. What have been the biggest challenges (if any) changing career paths from an inside type role in optometry to a fairly rigorous outside one in landscaping? We’re curious to know if there are any similarities between the two?
Client interaction is very much the same across both professions. Relating to the client and understanding their priorities and needs is crucial to achieving success in any business. I do spend much of my time at the computer working on designs but the time spent in the garden is invigorating and enjoyable. I have others to help construct my designs but I aim to be involved in all aspects of the process. Style and design plays an important role in optometry with the selection of beautiful eyewear that suits your face in the same way that landscape needs the right shapes, plants and accessories to look its best.
6. What are some of your favourite landscape moments?
I love to receive texts from clients after the contractors have left and the clients have had time to explore and interact with their new landscape. Seeing photos of clients swimming in their new pool, sharing flowers from their garden and delighting in new growth and seasonal change is always wonderful. I want the client to be excited about all facets of their outdoor spaces and enjoy the outdoors in new and enjoyable ways.