January 5, 2024

Using timber within a landscape

Sharing a meal with friends on the back deck is quintessentially Australian.  The use of timber as a building material is so common within our industry and for good reason.  The versatility timber offers coupled with its natural warmth makes it a favourite of ours at Harrisons.

Types of timber:

Spotted Gum:

One of the most popular premium Australian hardwoods, Spotted Gum is striking in appearance and with a high degree of natural durability, making it an ideal choice for exterior applications.  Spotted Gum is typically light brown in appearance with beautiful tonal movement within each piece.


Known as one of the more softer hardwoods, Merbau is a great timber for decking as it’s less prone to cupping and movement.  People either love or hate the deep red tones of Merbau, and watch out as it leeches tannins more than just about any other timber.  Merbau is harvested from rainforests in South East Asia, so be sure to check with your supplier that the timber has been ethically sourced.  You supplier should be able to provide certification, including DNA tracking, which will provide assurance that the wood is from ethically sourced forests.


A premium Australian hardwood with light tones that even give off a light pinkish appearance.  It is also one of only several timbers that are often suitable for bush fire prone areas. We don’t often use Blackbutt for decking in our landscape designs, but it’s great for timber screens and fencing.


A common timber used in furniture making, Rosewood is also a great option or timber decks and screens.  While Rosewood does initially look quite yellow, it does fade overtime to a beautiful silvery grey colour if left untreated. Rosewood is a premium hardwood and you can expect to pay a premium price for it too.

Advantages of timber:

No other building material is as versatile as timber.  It can be cut, bent and shaped to suit any application.  It’s been great to see a resurgence in the popularity of full timber-built houses around Australia.  There’s always at least one (normally more) timber feature within our landscape designs.

Using timber for decking is undoubtedly one of its most popular uses.  Not only do decks look great and perform well, but decks are a cost-effective alternative for creating a level terrace on a steep site.

One of the many reasons we love using timber within our landscape designs is the warmth it brings to any space.  Often the landscapes around pools are by natural very hard, cold & structural which makes timber an effective solution to bring warmth and soften the space.  A recent report commissioned by Planet Ark has found that exposure to wood products has similar health benefits to those created by spending time in nature.

Life cycle analysis is a method of measuring the environmental impacts of materials over their whole life. The life cycle analysis of timber follows the piece of wood from harvesting, manufacture, construction and product life to recycling and disposal.  Timber is by far one of the most environmentally friendly building materials as many other materials require larger energy inputs during manufacturing.  These same materials also require far more energy to dispose of, if they can be at all.

Maintenance of timber:

Timber is one of the few building materials that can be left untreated.  In fact we believe it looks its best when left to age and “grey off”.  Some of the best timber species to achieve that beautiful silvery grey tones are our own Australian hardwoods such as Spotted Gum.

As a rule of thumb, try to avoid timber “staying wet”.  By this I don’t mean getting wet, but rather avoid using timber in any application where it stays in contact with water or excessive moisture.

If you wish to apply a treatment to timber, we use and recommend Cutek timber oil as it moisturises the timber but also allows the colour to fade over time.


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