If you’re going to have a vast, luscious garden in central NSW, it helps if you run the local pump business.

Story + photos Ken Eastwood

It only takes a few minutes in the 2ha garden Aplico, near Narrabri, NSW, to work out that John Barden really loves lawns. From its 2.4km of sensuous curves marked out by 9000 edging bricks to its laser-straight cut, the Sir Walter buffalo grass is nothing short of immaculate. “I have a bit of a lawn fetish,” he says. 

“More like an obsession,” pipes in his wife Kim.

Over the past 15 years, the couple have created a private botanical paradise, spending at least 10 hours each week maintaining and enjoying their garden. Hedging and mowing takes a lot of John’s time. He mulches the grass three cuts in a row, taking three hours a cut, then catches on the fourth, which can take up to eight hours. But at least he gets to use the latest and best equipment. “It helps when you’re the local Husqvarna agent,” he says.

John and Kim run Barden Pumps, a multi-award-winning business in Narrabri that gives them access to top equipment to get plenty of bore water onto their garden. They top up the annual rainfall of 600mm a year using 286 pop-up sprinkler heads and 1800 drip points, including a dripper in every pot. “When you’re gardening on this big a scale, it just has to be easy,” John says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #139

Outback Magazine: October/November 2021