This website may not display properly using your current browser version. Please consider updating to a supported browser to get the most out of the Metricon website.

View this website for more information about supported browsers

Charlie Albone shares his tips for creating the perfect outdoor spaces for your home


With spring and summer bringing more hours in the day to spend outdoors, your mind has no doubt turned to new ways of maximising your garden and outdoor living zones.

When it comes to outdoor spaces and landscaping, there’s no bigger name in Australia than Better Homes and Gardens gardening expert Charlie Albone. With thirteen seasons of Selling Houses Australia under his belt and back-to-back Silver-gilt medal wins at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it’s safe to say he knows his stuff.

Metricon was lucky to meet up with Albone and get his expert advice on DIY landscaping, plants, budgeting and more. Here, we discuss top landscaping tips straight from the man himself.

Get your priorities in order

According to Albone, the secret to a successful outdoor space is special consideration of how your features will interact with each other. His process usually involves dreaming up the core elements of the area – things like decks, dining areas, BBQs and fire bowls – and finding the right spot for them. “You need to look at how they will fit together,” he says. “This sounds a little bit hippy, but close your eyes and imagine you’re there. Consider the features moving through the space, and that will help you get the right scale and proportion.”

And if you can’t have it all, just get the fundamental outdoor furniture right. The most important aspect of any entertaining area is how well it allows people to connect. “Don’t worry about having the fire pit or the lawn. Start with a good entertaining space,” Albone says. “People come over, and they want to enjoy your house and your company in a nice space where they can have that connection.”

It’s an outdoor living ethos that aligns with Metricon’s designers, who favour homes with brilliant outdoor rooms that flow seamlessly from the open plan living room using bi-fold doors. The result brings the home, garden, and people together.

Know what you’re working with

Once you have an idea of what you want, it’s time to put your plans to the test.

Albone recommends spending a day in your yard to do a thorough site analysis of your garden, mapping the seasonal movements of the sun and any shadows cast across your yard.

Next, it’s time to get technical and draw up plans for your outdoor living space. Begin by noting all existing features, including buildings, trees, hardscapes, fences and even any neighbours you want to screen off. You’ll then be able to visualise the scale and proportions of what you have and what you want to change.

As Albone says, “It’s important to try and get it to some sort of scale because you don’t want to try and fit all your ideas into a block that is never going to fit them”.

It’s also essential to map the topography – the high and low points of the space. That way, you’ll be able to quickly work out where the entertaining space should be (flat areas), where you’ll need retaining walls or stairs (sloping areas), and where the wet and dry spots will be (it will be wettest at the base of the slope).

Think from the inside out

You may not have the most spectacular vista from your garden, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create sightlines and views to impress with greenery. By positioning plants and sculptures in spots where they can be seen from the window of a living room or kitchen, you’ll be giving yourself something beautiful to gaze out at and appreciate. In the same spirit, try to block out anything you don’t like to see. It could be the hot water system or a shady patch of dirt. All you have to do is use your other outdoor features to cover them from view.

Go with nature, but stick to your plan

Despite our best efforts to tame the wild, there are some parts of a garden that will decide what they want to be for us. Hazard areas that can’t be removed — like a neighbours tree or an airconditioning unit — are destined to be planting zones, simply because they can’t be anything else. Embrace these dead spaces by loading them up with good soil and plants.

On the contrary, don’t be afraid to remove plants that aren’t working. In your site analysis, you’ll work out which areas need extra planting, but if you’ve got something that needs removing, then go ahead and rip it out. “If it’s not doing what you want it to in the big picture, get rid of it and start again,” Albone says.

If you’re looking to make an extra impact in your outdoor area, there are some added details you may want to consider:


You can create ambience and illuminate sections of your outdoor living space with landscape lighting. Try softening the mood with low lighting, or accentuate a feature with a spotlight.


Plants can be a significant investment, and making sure they have enough water will ensure they live a long life. The best irrigation systems have weather sensors, which turn off when soil moisture levels are reached, avoiding overwatering and wastage.

Aim for the unexpected

Additional planting will turn ordinary spaces into beautiful ones. Rather than building an unadorned set of stairs in your outdoor space, why not leave a space between each step to insert some small plants?


Different paint finishes will add impact. Albone will often use copper paint because it gives a nice texture to the garden.

If you want to hear more landscaping and gardening tips, check out two other posts with Charlie Albone:

You can also subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date with the latest home care advice, investment news and styling inspiration.

Please note that Metricon Homes does not offer any landscaping services. Charlie Albone does not work for Metricon. If you want to find out more about his work or request a quote, click through to his website, Inspired Exteriors.