I wanted to draw one's eye out into the landscape and tempt people to explore the greenery," Kamelia Bin Zaal, creative director of Second Nature, explains her inspiration behind the design of this lavish, modern outdoor space in Arabian Ranches. "The owners of this property love to socialise outside, so the project was centred entirely around creating a cosy yet practical area in which they could enjoy time with friends and family."
The garden - which took four months to complete from start to finish - is rectangular in shape. "The landscape's shape was intentional," Kamelia says. "I'm not one for curves and this garden's size suited a linear, clean aesthetic softened by an abundance of flora." Deciding on this look meant "striking a balance between what my clients, a husband and wife, wanted" she adds. "This was sometimes tough, but we managed to create a style they both loved."
Kamelia says it's important a garden is decorative yet functional. "The desire line - which is the line people follow when walking through any garden - is not only the shortest route, but usually where grass will often get worn out, showing the soil underneath. I've added steppers to ensure that route through the garden looks pristine at all times. I wanted to add a twist to the pathway to make it more interesting, which is why the steppers are offset."
Aside from the sandstone steppers, there are several other elements on display, including a textured, sandstone wall water feature that can be seen from the dining room windows. "The sound of water is cooling and calm, not to mention that it looks lovely rushing over the stone. When it came to other features, I created raised planters - which double as seating - near the water feature, as well as alongside the house. From the sitting room windows one can see pots built on plinths, which are also part of the raised planters."
The garden's manmade landscape was finished using entirely natural materials. "Aside from being able to withstand the hot and humid Dubai summers, they also match the exterior of the house," Kamelia explains. This is especially true of the built-in, shaded sunken seating area made of concrete and finished with sandstone that leads off the home's formal sitting room and is "literally an extension of the house".
When it came to the flora selection, heat and aesthetics were primary factors, with washingtonia, hibiscus tiliceous, phoenix dactylifera, delonix regia trees and palms dotted throughout the property. "For shrubs, ground covers and succulents I used ixora chinensis, cyperus, pandanus, jasmine sambac, chlorophytum, alternanthera red, alternanthera variegated and agave," she says. "Because the garden is fully grown now, it's beautifully lush and green. It's also easier to maintain as there is plenty of shade that protects the other plants. Having said that, there are areas in every garden that suffer more during the summer. The trick is to give more loving care and water than usual and - if needed - a temporary shade structure."