The layout of Victorian terraces in Australia created unique challenges for gardens and outdoor entertainment. In many cases they were built right up to the street, meaning that there was little or no front yard. In verandahed terraces, there was often a small area directly beneath, sometimes featuring decorative tesselated tile.
Many terraces yards would receive sun only for part of the day, some rear built up courtyards of double and triple storey houses would receive little to no sun.
Where front courtyards existed, they were often small, consisting of a path, next to which was planted ornamentals including roses, short shrubs, delicate hedges and topiary.
Backyards often featured a lemon tree and herb garden and exterior toilet (or outhouse), kitchen and service quarters backing onto a service laneway. The service lane was often paved cobblestones to allow safe passage for horses and the collection of night soils and later for sewage and stormwater mains.
More affluent suburbs were planned around shared gardens or “commons” modelled on the English square design. This trend was aimed at alleviating the lack of garden space in the homes and many of the houses fronted the park. Few were actually planned around such a square and St Vincent’s Place, centred around St Vincent’s Gardens in Melbourne is regarded by many as the most elaborate such planned Victorian era common in Australia.