Maltese Mother

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Maltese Mother’s Day

Evelyn Manche is a very special mother who has led a remarkable life while raising her large family. Evelyn was married at 14 years old and became a mother to the first of 15 children when she was just 17. She arrived in Australia in 1955 and spent the first 3 months living in a garage with concrete floors, an outside loo and no heating or running water. Evelyn still plays host to her large family for special occasions and thrives on the energy of her now even bigger family.

Design intent

Landscape designer, Peter Bachak from Art in Green, has devised a garden theme to remind Evelyn of her Maltese origins. Formal plantings and structures provide privacy and divide the garden into rooms, while a beautiful water feature provides an attractive focal point. Design ideas: This Maltese-inspired garden depends on formal shapes and features. Symmetrical garden beds and straight lines of brick edging define each garden room and give a calm and ordered feel to the space. Clever plant selection complements and enhances the built landscape.

Adapting this plan to your garden

Make a detailed scale drawing of your backyard (eg 1:100) showing the location of the house and major features, then incorporate the desired elements from our makeover. As your garden will be a different size, you will need to estimate the required amounts of materials.

Note: On your plan show the locations of any services (water pipes, sewerage, power, phone, etc) so you can avoid damaging them during the makeover.

Permits and approvals: Check with your local council regarding regulations about water features. If your water feature is deeper than a certain depth, you may be required to erect a pool fence around it. The depths vary between council areas across Australia.

Getting started

A bobcat was used to clear unwanted vegetation form the site and to excavate to subgrade levels for Nigel’s edging and granite courtyard. Heavy materials were brought in and stockpiled beneath the carport.

Garden elements

Tiled deck: Scott constructed a small tiled deck leading from the rear of the house down and into the new garden. Treated pine posts (H4, 90x90mm) installed vertically in-ground in quick setting concrete support bearers (H3, 140x45mm) nailed and bolted in place with cup head galvanised bolts (10x150mm). Joists (H3, 90x45mm), skew nailed perpendicular to the top of the bearers, support fibre cement sheeting (18mm, 2400x1200mm) screwed in place. Flexible tile adhesive connects tiles (300x300mm) to the fibre cement sheets. Tile grout was applied to bind the tiles in place.Blitz Tipz: All timber decks shrink and swell during changes in weather. A flexible tile adhesive helps to accommodate some of this movement rather than transferring the stresses into the tiles and causing them to crack. 

Masonry screens: Compressed fibre sheeting has been used to create fake masonry walls. Treated pine posts (H4, 90x90mm), installed inground in quick setting concrete, and a lightweight treated timber frame support compressed fibre sheets (7.5mm, 2400×900) nailed in place. Bonding tape and filling compound disguise horizontal joints and help to reinforce edges. A texture coating system applied with lambswool mitts gives a pre-coloured and rendered look to the sheets. Blitz Tipz: Design your screens with the available sheet sizes in mind. Doing this will save time and money while reducing waste. 

Granite courtyard: Brick edging is a simple and effective way to define spaces on the ground. Laid level on a 4:1 sand and cement base with a 10mm perpend (the vertical joint between bricks), this edging complements the earthy tones of the decomposed granite. A 100mm thick layer of roadbase was moistened and compacted prior to spreading a 75mm layer of decomposed granite and cement. This layer was then compacted and moistened to help it to set hard. Blitz Tipz: Order decomposed granite with premixed cement only if you plan to use it on the day it is delivered. If you do not install it on the same day it is likely to set into large lumps overnight!

Water feature: Jamie created a formal water feature with lightweight Hebel blocks, a prefabricated water feature and compressed fibre sheets.Two courses of Hebel aerated concrete blocks (600x300x200mm), laid into a 4:1 sand and cement mortar bed, support a prefabricated fibreglass pond shell (1800x1800x300mm) on a bed of coarse washed river sand. A capping piece of Hebel (600x200x100mm) connected with Hebel adhesive locks the pond edge in place and creates a stylish, decorative edge to the pond. The block walls and compressed sheet splashback were treated with the same texture coating as the masonry screens. Low voltage submersible lights (50 watt) and a low voltage submersible pump (4200 litres per hour) create a dazzling effect at night. Both pieces of equipment were powered by a low voltage transformer plugged into a powerpoint. Blitz Tipz: The base of the fibreglass pond was well supported on a compacted sand base. Remember that 1 litre of water weighs 1 kilogram. 

Steppers: Nigel laid sandstone steppers on a bed of 4:1 sand and cement mortar, to link the formal garden with the utility area and to provide an entrance from the deck to the garden. Blitz Tipz: Use a stringline stretched taut between two stakes to guide both the height and the position of the outside edge of your pavers.

Garden beds: Jody incorporated an organic soil mix through her new garden beds to ensure quick plant establishment. A mulch of Nepean River gravel (20mm) spread to a depth of 75mm thick will help to maintain soil temperature and reduce weed regrowth. Blitz Tipz: Jody guided the bobcat to turn all garden beds to a depth of 500mm before incorporating the organic mix. 

Herb garden: A symmetrical herb and vegie patch made from treated pine sleepers provides a free-draining garden at a comfortable working height. The 1200x2400mm dimensions mean that sleepers cut in half can be used for the ends of the bed, while full-length sleepers define the sides. A level base screeded with a straight edge provides a sufficient foundation to lay the first sleeper, while the remaining sleepers are skew nailed together with galvanised nails.


Hardy, screening plants provide privacy and contrasting foliage textures.

Trees: ‘Leighton Green’ cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Leighton Green’), olive (Olea europaea), eureka lemon (Citrus limon ‘Eureka’)
Palm: Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)
Shrubs and perennials: rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Portuguese Pink’), arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), bush germander (Teucrium fruticans) 

Cost and availability

We used mature plants in our makeover to create an instant effect for television. As a result, our total cost for plants and materials was $13,200. The use of smaller plants would have reduced the cost to $8330.

Product details

Travertine vitrified tiles were supplied by Art of Tiles in Sydney. They have a huge range of tiles available. Phone (02) 9565 1066 for further information. Texture coating system is available through Taubmans. When applied by an approved tradesman the product carries a ten-year warranty. Phone Taubmans Technical Department on 131 686. The Michelangelo frieze was purchased from Menduni Garden Artistry in Sydney. Phone (02) 9798 5155 for prices and product details. All pond components were purchased from Contour Ponds and Pumps in Sydney. Phone (02) 9690 2600 for more details. Decomposed granite is available from large landscape suppliers in Sydney from $70 per tonne. Locally derived materials are available for similar effects in other states and territories. Most of the plants we used are readily available at, or can be ordered from, nurseries. Nurseries can also advise on similar varieties suited to your area. You may need to contact specialist nurseries for some plants. Your local nursery should be able to provide you with contacts. Most other materials are available from large hardware stores or building or landscape suppliers. All tools used are commonly available for hire, including the concrete mixer and the nail gun.

Getaway details


Jervis Bay Guesthouse
1 Beach St
Phone: (02) 4441 7658

Dolphin Watch Cruises
50 Owen St
Jervis Bay
Phone: 1800 246 010


Design by: Peter Bachak from Art in Green
Phone: (02) 9453 3341

Construction by the Backyard Blitz team (all gardens are gifts from Backyard Blitz).