Lowe Living Speaker Series – Insights into greenery for apartments and townhomes by Jack Merlo
This month we launch our new Speaker Series, giving you exclusive access to our experts and award-winning partners
Jack Merlo Landscape Architect
Our first feature guest is leading landscape architect Jack Merlo.
Growing up in Brighton, Jack’s love of greenery started as a teenager when he worked at the local nursery. At 16, Jack began employing his friends to landscape properties in the neighbourhood and shortly after won several prestigious awards for his work, including Gold at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.
Jack’s team of eight now work on a variety of coveted residential and commercial projects. Their commitment to stunning design and meticulous execution has made them the perfect partner for Lowe Living over the last three years.
“We enjoy working with Lowe Living to design and develop boutique landscape architecture. We tailor the design to suit each space, prioritising lifestyle for residents in some of Melbourne’s most sought-after locations. We know and trust they’ll always execute our designs well.”
Jack’s unique approach celebrates the interconnection between architectural scheme, site conditions, client brief and quality of lifestyle. He believes outdoor spaces should be as functional as they are inviting and considers landscaping as an extension of the living space.
Jack Merlo creations are known for a clean aesthetic, with a detailed level of refinement. They take an architectural approach, carry through clean lines with authentic and natural materials like timber and natural stones, and creating layers of lush planting to contrast hard lines. Plant selection is based specifically on the location and surrounds of the site, using local native species as much as possible, to ensure they thrive while paying homage to the local area.
Jack’s tips for enhancing the design intent of a Lowe Living project
The easiest thing you can do is de-clutter. Curate what you have and get rid of the excess. Some of his other tips:
- Use the right outdoor furniture pieces for your area and remember, less is more!
- Furniture pieces that float and aren’t block-like make a space feel less cluttered.
- Ensure any accessories or sculptures are in metal or bronze.
- Be patient – landscaping will need a year or two to establish.
- Remember, even low maintenance gardens need care and some attention; trim, feed and mulch.
Favourite low maintenance indoor plants
Indoor plants are perfect for enhancing space and improving air quality. They can make a space come to life. Here are my favourites:
- Ficus Lyrata – the ‘Fiddle Leaf’ has been trendy for a while but for good reason. They suit a simple and stylish aesthetic.
- Ficus Benjamina – this weeping finer leaf fig can be fickle but is also very popular.
- Ficus Elastica – the ‘Rubber Tree’ is renowned for its stunning green and black burgundy leaves. Like all Ficus family plants, it is tough and robust.
- Maidenhair ferns – gorgeous, but be sure to give them lots of light and no direct sun. Remember to care for them with misting spray and a little bit of water.
- Philodendron Scanden – the ‘Sweetheart plant’ – beautiful and easy to grow. Looks gorgeous trailing from a bookshelf or staircase.
- Philodendron Xanadu – its striking serrated leaf gives your space a tropical feel.
- Phalaenopsis orchid – another popular choice. Adds beautiful colour and is good value for money.
Looking after your indoor plants
- Lots of natural light.
- No direct sun.
- Regular watering – set them up with good drainage and never let them sit in water.
- Near a south-facing window is ideal.
- Near a north-facing window is ok if you use a sheer curtain.
- And don’t forget – indoor plants don’t grow a lot!
Favourite outdoor plants perfect for apartments and townhomes
These are well-suited to low maintenance living, especially along the coastline, and look good all year round:
- Dwarf Bougainvillea – enjoy the vibrancy of its namesake, but on a smaller and more controlled scale.
- Indian Hawthorn – a robust but beautiful shrub that suits exposed balconies.
- Bay trees – perfect as a small ball topiary or as a screening hedge.
- Olive trees – sophisticated and suits modern interiors.
- Rosemary – thrives when exposed to the elements and looks great.
- Miss Muffet Dwarf Pittosporum – low maintenance and grows in all conditions.
- Star Jasmine – flowers in the summer months, producing a beautiful fragrance.
Looking after your outdoor plants
- Require less deep watering and more frequent shallower watering.
- More starved for nutrients, particularly as the pots establish, so nurture it.
- You’re doing well if you get 2-3 years out of a potted plant, then you need to re-pot and freshen up.
- Trim plants regularly.
- Slow-release feed so you don’t burn the root system.
- In general – don’t overdo the fertiliser. However, you can’t overdo liquid seaweed fertiliser – every fortnight will help sustain the plants.
The finishing touches
Small groups of pots at different heights and sizes always look great together. Why not start at Gill’s Nursery in Cheltenham; with a modern range of accessories, they can also give you tips on how to best style your plants. Cosh Living, also Cheltenham-based, has a variety of pots to help you make a statement and The Balcony Garden online will also help you curate an enviable space through their range of handcrafted pieces.
To explore Lowe Living’s current, upcoming or completed projects, click here.