How this streamlined Mudon garden teams a space-saving design with yellow mellow accents and an eco-friendly evergreen lawn to rival a football pitch
Having just finished designing the inside of this beautiful Mudon villa in Dubailand, Lilly Engelbrecht, founder and manager of Escape Home was immediately tasked with transforming the dry and disheveled outdoor plot into a streamlined yet visually stunning space for the homeowners and their young children to relax in.
“The clients were very keen to get cracking on transforming their garden so they could enjoy their new home to the max and, with hindsight, they are extremely glad they decided to push ahead with it,” says Lilly. “As we had only just completed the interior, they were on a strict budget, so we looked at ways to keep costs down while achieving a fresh and modern look that would serve as a continuation of the interior.”
Opting to work with an independent, smaller contractor and turning to budget-friendly suppliers, such as RAK Ceramics and JYSK, allowed Lilly to comfortably and creatively answer the brief.
“The first thing we did was extend the terrace out onto one level, creating more usable space for different zones, including outdoor dining and lounging,” explains Lilly. “Next, we created steps down to the lawn that ran the full length of the house. This made the sliding door leading to the kitchen more useful, as previously the step dropped straight down to ground level. Not only are the steps functional, but they double as casual seating when friends and family visit.”
The pergolas were sanded down and repainted while the large grey patio tiles were sourced from RAK Ceramics and the eye-catching patterned tiles bought from Dragon Mart. The boundary walls were painted in a matching shade of grey, with the back wall featuring a full-length planter and bench facing the house. A number of additional planters were factored into the design.
“We filled the planter boxes with olive trees, which frame the windows nicely and will grow and mature in time,” says Lilly. “The boxes along the side of the house were filled with herbs – something the owners, who like to prepare meals from scratch, could use every day in their cooking.”
Stepping stones using the same grey tile were placed along the garden path, surrounded by white stones that accentuate the white of the patterned tiles. The old wooden gate was replaced with a black aluminium design that would endure those hot UAE summers.
When it came to laying the lawn, Lilly advised going with artificial grass over laying turf or seeding it. “I’m a huge fan of real grass – my husband is a horticulturist – but even I cannot deny the effort and expense it takes to maintain a quality lawn when living in Dubai,” she says. “I have artificial grass at my own home and as this space is fairly large, I recommended it as an eco-friendly, cost effective option that’s easy to maintain and will look great all year round. There is an art to choosing it, however, and you generally get what you pay for. We sourced this quality grass from Maze Grass on Umm Suqeim Street, which looks very natural and is great value for money.”
The lounge area is styled with furniture from JYSK, so the family can easily add more seating if they wish to expand it. The accessories, from IKEA and Pan Emirates, create a cosy feel, with yellow cushions that reflect the colour theme used indoors. Lastly, switching up the lighting gave a more modern look to the space.
“The clients were blown away by the design. It took us around three months to complete, although we were hit with a couple of unexpected delays that otherwise would have seen us finish the project within a month,” says Lilly. “It shows that you can easily give your garden a completely new look, even when you’re on a budget.”
Artificial grass dos and don’ts
Lilly shares her best advice for choosing an artificial lawn…
Do be prepared to spend a bit more if you are a homeowner, as better-quality grass really does make a difference. It won’t get hot underfoot, for instance, and will last for longer so is ultimately a better investment.
Don’t feel like it would be a waste to invest in a faux lawn if you are renting, as you can always take it with you when you move.
Do look for grass that has brown flecks in it, rather than a carpet of pure green, as it’ll look more natural.
Don’t forget to properly maintain it. I rate Red Lynx, who can come and do a professional clean involving power washing and getting rid of any odour, bacteria and pet debris and the like, to keep it looking its best.
For more garden inspiration, look around this tropical garden that’s perfect for hosting alfresco parties, see how this couple took their outdoor space from boring to blooming or read Emilie Jacob’s advice on the right plants to buy