fifth-season-landscape

Phil Antcliff, director and Design & Maintenance manager of Fifth Season Landscapes

|| Eco Outdoor Creatives Interview Series ||

Today we spend 5 minutes with Phil Antcliff of Fifth Season Landscapes, a Sydney based firm who have gained a reputation for creating and maintaining contemporary liveable outdoor spaces.

We’ve previously shared the work of Fifth Season Landscapes in articles such as Winners Of The LNA Landscape Excellence Awards and Which Pergola Is Right For Your Outdoor Space? but today, we’re happy to provide you with an insight into the firm, their design philosophy and challenges of working in the industry.

Can you provide a short introduction to Fifth Season Landscapes?

Fifth Season Landscapes was developed by myself and Jack Hayes. We were running separate businesses and joined in 2009. Jack and I had known each other initially through school then met again at TAFE. We kept in touch over the years, mainly at the pub, and worked out that we both loved the landscape industry but we were looking at it from different angles. We decided that a partnership would be the best way to grow and allow us to concentrate on the areas that we enjoyed the most. For me it was Design and Maintenance, for Jack it was Construction.

Can you provide some specifics about your firm?

We have approximately 16 staff lead by a design manager, three construction foreman and two maintenance managers. We generally have up to 15 design jobs happening at any one time, 4 – 6 construction jobs and we have around 100 garden maintenance clients.

Lower North Shore Project by Fifth Season Landscapes
Lower North Shore Project by Fifth Season Landscapes

Do you have a design philosophy that you apply to your projects or process?

Our design philosophy is based on form and function for outdoor living areas. We aim to bring a balance between nature and structure to our gardens. With that in mind, we do have realistic budgets to consider so gaining a clear understanding of design, construction, the client’s needs and wants along with the budget is critical to delivering every project.

What are some of your career highlights?

We love to see our projects come to life as the design intended. We have won Design & Construction awards, however, what we really love is seeing a client enjoy their new surroundings and hearing how the area has improved their family’s lives. Having a bottle of wine dropped at the office to say thanks for the great design and construction from the team is the best award.

What are some of the challenges of working in your industry?

Landscaping, in general, has evolved so much even in the 20 years I have been involved. Our use of outdoor living areas has grown and therefore the scope of work for landscaping has grown. It’s not uncommon to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on landscaping. That’s hard for some people to get their head around.

A challenge we find in the landscape industry is having to justify construction drawings, many clients believe the concept design is enough to accurately price from, however, detail construction drawings provide in-depth detail showing exactly what they will be getting.

Paddington Urban Retreat by Fifth Season Landscapes
Paddington Urban Retreat by Fifth Season Landscapes

What/who/where do you get inspiration from?

I find inspiration comes from all around me. I’m constantly observing how people treat their gardens and living spaces. Whether it’s walking down the street and admiring a fully planted front garden with each plant thriving in it’s planned location or observing how groups of people at a Sunday BBQ use the space around them.

We have had the pleasure of working with some great architects and I’m inspired by the direction they have taken residential design. It allows us to complement their design through the garden and help create a seamless indoor-outdoor feel.

What advice would you give an individual starting their career in your industry?

My advice to an individual starting out in design would be to have some understanding of how structural elements in your design are built. This will help you while designing the job and also help the client to understand the steps involved in completing the project.

What’s next for you and your firm?

Next steps, that’s always a tricky one as we find the business continuously evolves along with our target market, however, our core values will always remain in the delivery of residential garden design, construction and maintenance.

Lower North Shore Project by Fifth Season Landscapes
Lower North Shore Project by Fifth Season Landscapes

To wrap up…

All-time favourite garden or landscape?

Hard to pick just one! Last year I was in NYC and loved spending time at The High Line. It is an amazing example of breathing new life into a structure that was destined for demolition. That’s the power of people committed to green spaces.

Reading right now?

The Gruffalo, my youngest daughter loves it.

Dream holiday destination?

Colombia. My father-in-law was born in Bogata and I would love to take the kids so they can learn more about their heritage. I heard there are some amazing gardens to visit, which is a bonus, I also love empanadas.

Best gardening tip?

Good soil preparation; the plants will love you for it.

Favourite way to spend a Sunday?

Lately I have been in the garden most weekends, however, normally I do enjoy getting away with the family. We recently went camping and it was great to switch off by the campfire.

What does #livelifeoutdoors mean to you?

#livelifeoutdoors to me is having friends over for long, long, long lunches. The morning is spent getting the garden ready and firing up the bbq coals. The kids are playing with the neighbours and running through the gap in the front hedge. The antipasto plate is being designed in the kitchen and the beer and champagne is on ice. 

See more of work by Fifth Season Landscapes here.