Saturday, 5 April 2014

Landscaping Update and Austral Wholesale Nursery

Our front garden with the new Buxus hedge.
We have been happily living here at The Ponds for over 2 years now and are so rapt with our location and suburb.  One of the problems that Phil was encountering was that the Japanese buxus hedge in the front yard just wasn’t thriving, despite copious amounts of love, fertilizing and watering in the long hot summer. 

After some research, it became apparent that the buxus was having problems with drainage (especially since the council put the footpath out the front of our house about 12 months ago).  The water could not drain away from the plants and the roots were becoming waterlogged.

Another view of our front garden
Consequently, Phil dug up all of the old buxus, dug a trench, put in an AG line (for drainage), filled the trench with a little blue metal and soil.  He couldn’t connect the AG line to the stormwater drain unfortunately, as it’s under our driveway.  Instead, he dug a 600mm deep pit, filled the majority of it with blue metal so that the water can drain away.  It has clearly working as we discovered this last week with all of the rain that we’ve had. 

 Buxus in the middle with some of the amazing camellias on the left hand side.
The problem then, was to find some mature to semi mature buxus to plant at a reasonable price as he needed 30 – 35 plants.  After some careful research he came across a fabulous wholesale nursery, which also has an online shop and is open to the public.  This nursery is Austral Nursery located at 165 Sixth Avenue, Austral.  It only took about 30 minutes from The Ponds, down the M7. 


Camellia's (although the photo doesn't do it justice)
He was blown away by the range of plants available at very reasonable prices.  Gregory (contact on 0417 671 475) who is one of the owners, spent some time showing me around and I was able to get some great Japanese Buxus in a 200 mm pot (8 inch) in great condition for under $8 a plant.  This is clearly a significant saving on all other local nurseries and the quality is superior.   He is planning another trip back there shortly as he now has a wishlist of these fabulous plants. 

The camellias were stunning and quite mature, at a reasonable price.  An example was a camellia in a 300 mm (12 inch) pot were under $30.  This is half the price that we’ve seen them elsewhere.  The Murraya’s and Gardenia’s were also well cared for, in various sizes, and priced well.  There were some beautiful magnolia’s as well in 300 mm pot for around $30, which is an incredible price.

If you are looking to do some planting, we would strongly recommend giving Gregory a call.  If you are buying in bulk, you can negotiate a further discount. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ducted vacuum and update on the bamboo

Outlets installed during the building process
When we were building Bel really wanted to have a ducted vacuum cleaner within the home, however it was just too much money.  At that point, after doing some research, we decided to put the piping in place as we could afford that component, but then wait to get the actual unit when we could afford it.  Phil wasn't sure that we would actually use it, however as the task of keeping the house clean with a small ineffective vacuum became more difficult, we started to look at other alternatives. 

We had bought a cheap vacuum to get us through, however both Phil and I were having problems with our backs after we had vacuumed.  Phil started to look at buying a decent vacuum and realised that it was serious money.  He contacted the company that installed the pipes to get a quote to install the motor and the associated accessories and it was a significant sum.  Phil then started researching second hand machines with the view that he might do it himself.

During this research Phil came upon Michael at Ducted Vacuum and Air Supplies and was blown away by his customer service and price.  It also helped that Michael was local and been in business for over 15 years.  Phil negotiated a deal with a second hand machine and new accessories for the house.  The hose for the house has a covering (officially known as a 'sock') which covers the house and protects the walls from the hose.  Phil was also talking with Michael about the garage outlet - as we didn't want to use the home hose in the garage for the cars and keeping the garage clean.  Michael was able to get us a reasonably priced second hand hose that we keep for the garage to do the cars. 
Vacusweep in the kitchen.

Machine in the garage

Our home is so clean.  We totally love it.  If you are thinking about installing a ducted vacuum, then we would highly recommend it.  We have also installed a 'vacusweep' in the kitchen, which is essentially an outlet that was on the same level of the floor, so when you sweep up in the kitchen, you open this flap and it sucks all the dust in that is nearby (see picture above).

He also suggested that we get a horsehair attachment for the vacuum for the timber floors and it has been amazing.  We use the vacusweep for the nightly clean ups and the horsehair attachment for the weekly cleans.  We are very happy with it.

Bamboo with tall stalks really showing the height that it will get to.
Another shot on a wet Sydney day.
If you are interested, give Michael a call and let him know that you saw his details here.  He uses quality machines that are made in Australia, therefore using good quality Aussie products at a reasonable price.  Although we opted for a second hand machine, his new machines are very competitively priced.

On another note, the bamboo has been growing quickly.  If you look at the photos you can see how high it is growing and imagine how it will eventually look. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Our landscaping and the new POOL!!!!!!!!

Well it has been a while since we updated our blog and it used to bug me no end when people wouldn't update theirs.  Guilty as charged.  :)

View from across the road
We have been quite busy.  We initially finished the landscaping.  After much debate (on Phil's side) we decided to go with an Asian theme.  We have Japanese Buxus hedge along the front footpath, camellia's (alternating pink and white) on both side borders and our feature trees are two red weeping Japanese maples (with green foliage in spring and summer) and 1 purple Japanese maple (with amazing red foliage in spring and summer).  On the other side of the driveway is our weeping cherry blossom.  Can't have an Asian theme without a cherry blossom after all.  It's in a half wine barrel due to it covering a sewer manhole cover, so it can be moved if it has to be and it completely camouflages the manhole cover too.  In the amazing Asian style pots are some buxus plants that we are hoping to train into a topiary shape in a year or two.  We have also put in our dry creek bed with some feature stones.  We were lucky enough to find the big rocks on Gumtree in our neighbourhood from someone who was keen to get rid of them.  A big win for both of us.  They were REALLY cheap and the other guy got them out of his way.   We did buy some of the smaller stones and our next door neighbour also donated some to us (as he had too many when he finished his landscaping - thanks Kam and Jen).  We got all of our plants (except the bamboo) from Sydney Plant Market.  Contact details are on the sidebar.
From the driveway so you can see the dry creek bed
Pink Camellias in bloom
Front view

From the other side
Closer view of our amazing trees and pots

Since the addition of the letterbox and concrete footpath some of the buxus plants around the driveway have been looking the worse for wear.  We are hoping that they come good and we are nurturing them to the best of our ability although we suspect that they have root rot due to the water being

captured under them and not able to drain away quickly enough.  Time will tell.

We also bit the bullet and decided to get a pool.  Naturally, our first port of call re building was the boys at Modernview Homes.  They don't do pools by themselves, but will do them as part of a build.  Because our build hadn't long been completed they agreed to do it.  As usual, their standards were high, their allowances generous and their customer service second to none.  As with the build, everything went very smoothly.  They honoured their time commitments, Dean (site supervisor) picked up any issues quickly and efficiently and Jason was also more than helpful at the end of the phone.  They did an amazing job and the pool looks fabulous.  We have spent so much more time out there this summer and have really enjoyed entertaining on our new deck.  Whilst we were finishing off the backyard we also organised our deck through Modernview Homes.  They had some top quality carpenters lay the deck and it has been amazing.  Whilst they were there we had them deck the front porch as well.

The Gracilis (Slender Weavers) bamboo that we planted in May has been growing at a phenomenal rate with several strands already taller than the neighbours fence.  The bamboo does add to the maintenance of the pool (as it does drop it's leaves) but we wanted it for the privacy that it will give us in the years to come.  We bought it wholesale from Bamboos Wholesale in Queensland and had it sent down.  This was still heaps cheaper than buying it from anywhere in Sydney.  Their website is Bamboos Wholesale.   Jason and Laura are more than helpful.  Let them know that you heard about them from our blog.

Bamboo when we planted it May 2012- prior to the pool starting.
2 crazy boys in the pool at night.  We love the blue lights.
View from our back door recently looking out to the pool through the fence. March 2013

Phil also sourced our own fencing as we wanted glass for a section of the pool - the part that you could see sitting in the alfresco and from the house.  Phil searched around and found Big Jim Fencing.  Jim was really helpful and his was the best price that we could find in Sydney.  Jim can help organise installers however, Phil decided to put it in himself.  Dean also came over to help.  We also sourced our own travertine for around the pool.  We got 600 x 400 mm tiles and it looks fabulous.  We got it from the Stone Wholesalers at Seven Hills.  These were also one of the cheapest in Sydney for a good quality tile.
From the corner of the pool looking across to the alfresco

Our waterline tiles were chosen from our local Amber store and covered in the cost of the pool build.  We had the pool built for solar heating, with all the necessary pipework and electricals, and now just need to save up some money to put on solar heating.  Everything is ready to go when we are ready.

Once again, Modernview Homes delivered on time and to a very high standard.  They are currently building a display home at the New Homeworld at Kellyville.  It should be open soon.

We have been very happy living in our wonderful house at The Ponds, as The Ponds continues to flourish.

The bamboo as at today with the pool.  

Sunday, 22 January 2012

We're in and settled

It seems like a blink of an eye since the last update but it's almost two months.  Wow!  Where did that time go???????

So to backtrack - We moved in on the 10th December.  Phil had also hired a box trailer for the week prior to that and moved most of the small boxes prior to the move.  Even only leaving the furniture it still took the removalists 7 hours.  We were worried they were going to get it all finished in under 3 hours.  Those boys certainly earnt their money that day.  Thanks also to our friend and family members who helped with the move.  By 8.30 pm that night, all furniture and all boxes were in the house.  The two big boys had their early Christmas presents of double beds already set up.  Phil started putting the kids beds together and got Ryan's all set up.  He had just started putting Tristan's bunks back together... when disaster struck (well maybe not quite disaster..... but it certainly seemed like it at the time.)  One of the boys went to the toilet and it didn't flush.  Phil took a look outside and discovered the sewer was overflowing.  All of this at 9.30 pm on a Saturday night.  OH NO!

Luckily the overflow was outside so exceptionally quick showers were the order of the day.  We sent our SS a text that night.  The next morning when we got up (Tristan, Phil and I slept on our mattresses on the floor) we phoned the SS.  He was straight onto it.  He came over immediately (on a Sunday!!!!) and had a look at the situation.  He went home, organised a plumber to come with an electric eel and dropped the money back around to us to pay for it.  The plumber arrived within an hour of Dean dropping the money over and the problem was fixed shortly after that.  This is indicative of Modernview Home's customer service and willingness to go the extra mile for their clients.  We were so impressed by their service.  The blockage seemed to be near where the sewer met the main sewer out the front and it appears as though a bit of brick or tile has gone in the uncovered inspection hole during the build.  This is what caused the blockage.

We continued unpacking (and Phil did get the other beds set up on the Sunday).  We were plowing through the unpacking at a great pace.  We had to.  We were having all of our family at our house for Christmas Day so the pressure was on.

After a lot of hard work, we were totally unpacked and ready to host Christmas at The Ponds.  We had even unpacked the garage and were able to put my car away.  Phil discovered (thanks Lynley) about our local tip that lets you tip cardboard and paper for free.  We were able to get rid of our rubbish along with our recyclables too.

We had a small delay with our shutters, which was no fault of the Blind and Shutter Centre.  They kept us informed at all times and compensated us for the delay.  Due to the delay they even bought over roller blinds temporarily for the bedrooms.  Two of the bedrooms face west and were getting really hot in the afternoon and evening.  The shutters were installed last week and look amazing.  I so love them.  Their installer was very professional and he did an outstanding job.  (Thanks Ross).

One of the problems that we have encountered is with our home phone and internet connection.  Apparently, in our area, there is a problem with Telstra connecting our whole neighbourhood to the local exchange.  The Telstra box that services our area is full (this is the old grey post kind of thing).  They are almost finished the new rim service, which was due to finish two months ago, however this has been delayed.  Consequently, our internet provider - Internode which is merging with iinet - have been very helpful.  We have, on loan, a 3G wireless modem so we can connect to the Internet.  Through this we have a temporary phone through the internet - VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) until we can get our proper home phone number and internet.  The kids can't wait as they haven't been able to access You Tube due to trying to reduce our downloads.  A whole school holidays without You Tube although luckily they could still use Facebook.

We are so thrilled with our house and wouldn't change a thing about it.

During this time (and in between ferrying kids to their friends houses) we have also been thinking about our landscaping.  We are thinking now of putting bamboo in our back yard.  This will provide us with a screen from our back neighbours and their neighbours.  This will give all of us some privacy even though they are lovely people (who have also moved in.  Hi Matt, Kaz and the girls).  We may even be able to save money on putting blinds on the alfresco.  After hours of research (cause we all have heard the horror stories of bamboo running for miles) this bamboo is clumping bamboo so it will stay within its clump.  We are thinking we might be able to cultivate it down the track and make a fortune.  We are getting Gracilis bamboo.  Phil had researched online and discovered some places in Queensland that would freight it down to Sydney.  We also discussed it with the nursery that we discovered at Annangrove, recommended by another of our friends.  Sydney's Plant Market's staff have been phenomenal.  Mark (at the nursery) recommended we wait to plant the bamboo until March due to the extreme weather conditions that are typical of a Sydney summer (not that we've had a real Sydney summer this year).

Partially due to this reason, we have decided to continue the Asian theme into the front garden as well.  We have decided to go with a purple Japanese maple as our centre tree, with two green weeping Japanese maples either side of it.  We have a sewer manhole on our property next to our driveway on the other side.  We have decided to get a half wine barrel and put a cherry blossom tree in there.  We are also hedging our garden with the Japanese Buxus hedge and having camellia shrubs down the side boundaries.  Dallas (another staff member) even came to our house to have a look and advise us of plants for a small fee.  This gave us the confidence that we weren't putting plants in the wrong position.  He also suggested some of the ideas that we are going with.

The landscaping will be the main project over the next couple of months as we prepare the front garden.  We have decided not to have any lawn on our front garden due to the space issues and are looking at putting in a dry creek bed feature.  We will, of course, have turf for our council strip.  However, all of this requires money.  So now we just keep working hard so we can get this done.

The photos are pictures of the rooms complete (at this stage and for the foreseeable future).  There are a few things that I would like as in the way of cushions and some kind of Asian decorative feature for the dining room.  These will come, in time.

Thank you for following us on our home build blog.  We will continue to update this as we turn our block / building site / house into our home.

Our study.  The bookcase on the right has Bel's scrapbooking and work resources.

Phil and Bel's desk.  Bel's is the clean one. :)

Bel's bookcase

The beautiful laundry looking from the door.  

The laundry from the door.  The laundry chute is to the left and Jackie the dog is outside.  She's cute, but she's noisy.  

Washing machine and dryer - obvious I know :)

Our downstairs toilet and shower.

Feature tile in downstairs toilet and shower.

Kitchen and family room.

Dining Room with timber spotted gum floor.  ( I so love that floor.)

Our kitchen (with our lounge in the foreground.  That is on the list to update - down the track)

Looking from the back corner of our family room all the way through to the front door.  We have 9 foot ceilings and have 90mm skirting boards all throughout the bottom storey.  The skirting continues upstairs, although the ceilings are standard height.  

From the other corner of the family room looking through the kitchen and the dining room.  

From the edge of the kitchen looking towards the dining room and alfresco area. 

View from the pantry door.  

Boys loungeroom.  This is their room complete with PS3, DVD player, Foxtel and big screen TV.

The other side with their fussball table, drums and Bel's additional books.

The view of our house prior to front garden landscaping.  

Our back yard.  The dogs are on 'their' side of the backyard and the other side, where the alfresco is  located, is dog free except by invitation.  

The back view of our house which is west facing.  The shutters from the Blind and Shutter Centre look amazing in our opinion and help keep the house cooler.  

The view down the side of the house.  This is the south side and the 'dog zone'.  This is also the laundry side of the house.  

Our backyard from the clothes line.  The garden edging that you can see behind the dog fence is where the bamboo will be planted.  

Our bedroom.

View of the bedroom from the ensuite.  You can see our door to the balcony so we have direct access to it and the children can access it as well.  

This is our walk in wardrobe (although not very much of it is Phil's).  My chest of drawers fits in there like it was bought for it.  
Our ensuite.
Our ensuite and bath. 
Feature tile in shower niche.
Our toilet that is separate.

View from the balcony - looking north.  The only change to this view in future, will the be the trees as they grow.  This is all part of the designated bush corridor.  

The 'quiet zone' and the main entry out to the balcony.  It is very peaceful here. 

Chris' bedroom.  

Another view of Chris' bedroom.  

Ryan's bedrrom (a mad keen Chelsea supporter).  This is a north facing window and the shutter helps to keep this room so cool.  

Ryan's room. 

Tristan's room.  (Clearly a Man U supporter).  This room faces west and so the shutters have made a significant difference in both Tristan and Dallas' rooms.  

Tristans room. 

Dallas' room.

Dallas' room. 

Boys vanity outside their toilet and bathroom.

Boy's bathroom.

Boys feature tile in shower niche.

Boys toilet.  All toilets are soft close and back to the wall for ease of cleaning.  

The linen closet - completely full.  I could easily have a cupboard double this size.  

Our stairs looking fabulous.
Looking to do some night shots shortly, (now that we've found the tripod).  We will update the blog with these photos when available.  Our rain garden opposite will start to have water drain into it next week as all landscaping has now been finished in the garden.  This will give us a 'little lake' ? out the front.