As you approach the home of Sam and Rhonda Alkharrat, it is obvious that the family members place a lot of emphasis on their garden. While the front garden is particularly inviting, it is not until you arrive in the backyard that you realise the true potential that a garden in Dubai can have. With evergreen tropical plants that include ticumeria, ixora and gardenia, amid a labyrinth of other beguiling features, this garden in Arabian Ranches makes for a tranquil retreat in a frenetic city.
Sam explains just how this fairytale garden came about. "When we bought the house, the garden was a major consideration for us. We are from the United States where it is critical to have a sizeable backyard. We wanteda garden that would accommodate all tastes and ages and somewhere where we had enough privacy. We chose a house with a large plot so that we were not constrained by the space." Once they had bought the right property and, with the humid Dubai summer behind them, it was time to start developing the garden. "This was a large investment so we were looking for someone with artistic capability, depth and expertise and great experience with water features. We discussed our ideas with three different companies, but found that Milestone had the depth and expertise we were looking for."
The project went ahead, beginning with the generous patio area which could comfortably accommodate 10 to 12 people. Next it was onto other practical aspects. Practicalities were especially important as Sam and Rhonda are the parents of two children - with a large age gap between them - who require very different things. "We wanted a grass area to play football," says Sam. "We laid the patio, put down the grass and then installed the swimming pool. We chose a place to put the pool where the sun would last the longest. The corner was the only area that got the sun all day. Also, where it is positioned, the noise of the waterfall and the pump equipment is further away from the house."
But one of the biggest challenges in making this perfect garden was not what you may have expected. "The trampoline was a major project!" insists Sam. "We wanted a kid'splay area, a play house and a trampoline in an area that was shaded, but that also didn't break the scenery."
Ingeniously, their plan has worked, as when you are seated near the barbecue area, and on the patio, it is impossible to notice the children's play area. Instead your eyes are drawn immediately to the magnificent pool with its cascading waterfall and custom-made stone slide.
While these main features do demand your attention in the Alkharrats' garden, it is also the attention to every minute detail that all adds up to make this the dream garden that it is. There is everything from natural stone tiles, to a custom-made seating area in the pergola, to the authentic Arabian lighting and spotlights that enhance the plants and various garden fixtures. Everything in the garden also curves perfectly, including the barbecue and the rose beds. Even the tops of the perimeter walls have been matched assiduously with the walls of the house. As for the boulders in the waterfall, even these were brought in by special order from Oman.
So is this exquisite garden difficult to maintain? "Not for us," assures Sam. "It is not difficult to maintain, but it is fairly costly to keep up. If you want a beautiful garden in Dubai you do have to pay." But the financial outlay is worth it as it is the perfect venue for entertaining the Alkharrats' many friends and family, and Sam elaborates, "My favourite thing about the garden is that it attracts quality social time. Everyone worksso hard in Dubai that you want a place where you can relax."
So is there anything in this beautifully designed space that the Alkharrats would change? "No, there is absolutely nothing I would change about the garden. It is not overwhelming. We didn't go extreme in any direction and we have just the right balance, which is what gives the garden its uniqueness," concludes Sam.