Landscape designer Steve Taylor just missed out on getting into landscape architecture at university, but his passion for garden design led him back to the field anyway.
How did you begin in landscape design?
After just missing the final cut for landscape architecture after completing VCE, I deferred from a non-preferred back-up course and got caught up in the working world. I quickly earnt an advanced diploma in business management, but I was still missing something in life.
After building my own front garden of my first home in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, I applied to go to night school to become a landscaper.
After 12 months of study and working for a landscaper on my days off for free, at the age of 23 I left my well-paid management position and became a landscape labourer.
I continued my studies, with a significant pay drop. After a few more years woking at two separate companies and with my qualifications in landscape complete, I started my own business.
I entered the industry solely as a landscape contractor, however I was wanting to express my own design ideas into my work and commenced designing for clients for free.
My first-ever design won an award at the 2003 Landscaping Victoria Awards and featured in the Herald Sun, which generated 18 months of solid work for me. The rest is history.
When you begin a project, what are the first things you do?
Create a very clear concise brief from the client which takes into consideration the home's architecture, their lifestyle needs, the site, environmental conditions and, of course, their budget.
How important is landscaping to a property?
Landscaping is one of the very best initial / retrospective investments - if not the best - a homeowner could make. A great home is only made with the successful integration between the interior and exterior spaces.
The results we experience in relation to my clients' return on their investment continues to blow me away - even when I am concerned the clients may have overcapitalised. They reap the rewards beyond my expectations and theirs.
Savvy buyers are looking for this successful connection and seamless integration between the two, and it is the reason our industry is very healthy as a whole. Apart from the financial investment, this space is integral to quality of life - providing spaces of relaxation, entertaining, family bonding, and a sense of peace and calmness.
Homes of today highlight large picture windows and unless you have a water or mountain view, a landscape creates that inviting, calming green view that validates the use of glazing, bringing the outside in.
What is your favourite plant?
This is a tough one. I have many, but my top three would be bamboo, Japanese maple, and the understated and underrated black mondo grass.
What is something simple that home owners can do to improve their garden?
Stand inside the main living hub and assess where the main focal point is from this space and create a feature to frame and accentuate this view. It doesn't have to be an expensive feature - a single Japanese maple, an urn, a water feature, or a sculpture can do the trick. You can then also build the rest of your garden in and around this feature.
Most residential backyards can only handle a single feature, so keeping things simple can provide the best results.
You’ve won a huge number of awards. Does one accolade stand out as particularly special?
Yes, the Alana Correy trophy we won in 2015 which is the best garden design Australia-wide across all categories awarded by Australian Institute of Landscape Designers & Managers for our Bayside project. It was my first year as a member and to win the top accolade was an absolute thrill and honor.
Where do you live now?
Mornington, Victoria. We have half an acre opposite Mornington golf club and only 400m from Mills beach. We can also only see one roof line from any window/exterior space, so it seems like we live on four acres. It's our little paradise!
Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?
Mornington, however I would like a little city getaway in either Albert Park or Middle Park.
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