Tactics of design

This Dubai garden gets an overhaul with Mediterranean plants, colourful accessories, wooden decks and a giant chess set

  • Local garden
    The garden is only 300 square metres but still feels spacious.Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
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    Textured elements add dimension to the space.Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
  • Local garden
    The garden’s handmade, giant chess set is made of aged, natural, solid teak.Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
  • Local garden
    Since the pool was already in the garden before the renovation, adding elements to the space proved to be quitImage Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
  • Local garden
    To keep friends and family cool throughout the year, Nehme installed wooden beams and tensile canvas above theImage Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
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    Ayman doesn’t like symmetry so a variety of shapes and angles were incorporated.Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
  • Local garden
    Ethnic sculptures and light fixtures reflect Ayman’s love for vivid hues.Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
InsideOut

When you see the giant chess set sitting beside the lush green lawn, a bed of frangipani, palms and other beautiful plants, you know this is no ordinary outdoor space. At 300 square metres, the smart design of this garden in the Villa Project fuses aesthetics with functionality.

Nehme Moujaess, the managing director of TerraVerde and the man in charge of the garden’s design, says that while much thought went in to the planning of the landscape, the construction itself took only 30 days. “Our brief, which was supplied by Ayman Rashad, the owner of the property, was really focused and clear, which was really helpful when it came to the creation of a practical yet beautiful outdoor living area,” he says.

Ayman wanted his dream garden to be a place where he could entertain guests. As a fan of cooking and alfresco dining, he wanted both a barbecue grill and an outdoor tandoori oven. “I really love to cook and I bought the tandoor mainly to experiment with making fresh bread,” Ayman says. “Since the barbecue and oven are structural items, they had to be subtly incorporated in to the design of the backyard, enhancing its character, not detracting from it.”

Since the pool was already in the garden before the renovation, adding elements to the space proved to be quite a challenge for Nehme. “We had to work around the pool, adding features and flora to the garden without offsetting the balance of the space. The fact that Ayman really knew what he wanted helped us immensely, not to mention that it gave the garden an authentic style and personality.”

Nature was a big influence when it came to the garden’s design. A colour palette of earthy tones lent a feeling of warmth and comfort to the surroundings. “We wanted the garden to feel really homely, which is why we looked to organic elements for inspiration. The design, while modern in its shape, is also subtle,” Nehme says. Ayman agrees, adding that the garden is a result of his “appreciation for natural elements, hence the wood, sandstone and natural rock”.

Planters made of stone and rock skin cut stacks – which is a type of finish – have been placed throughout the garden, adding elegance and texture to the space. A rainbow sandstone pathway embedded with seashells leads to a cosy seating area by the pool – a perfect place to relax.

To keep friends and family cool throughout the year, Nehme installed wooden beams and tensile canvas above the seating area, adding an artistic yet practical shield from the sun. A wooden bench beneath the coconut palms lining the edge of the pool brings a rustic feel to the landscape, while vibrant cushions, bean bags and vivid batik-printed throws add colour to the area. “I chose the vintage tapestries and light fixtures myself to fit the lighting design prepared by TerraVerde ” Ayman says. “They lend a Moorish feel to the garden and create a homely atmosphere where I can unwind.”

Nehme opted for Mediterranean plants that can handle the heat of the UAE, including phoenix dactylifera, phoenix roebelenii, cycas revoluta, cocos nucifera, hymenocallis and cyperus. The position of the water feature in the home’s front garden was well thought out. “This location was deliberate as it gave the entrance a welcoming character,” Nehme says. As for the secret behind creating a stunning outdoor landscape in the UAE, he says, “Beauty lies in simplicity. To create your ideal outdoor retreat try not to incorporate too many elements in to one space.”