This narrative focuses on three planning issues affecting the suburban residential periphery in Sydney, Australia: (i) amenity, (ii) biodiversity conservation and (iii) bushfire potential. All relate to private front and back yards, which provide key elements of the residential landscape. Embedded in the paper is the complexity of the planning system and the subsequent inconsistency between dealing with the three issues. Considerable attention is paid to local government and its changing legislative terrain. In particular, several local statutory planning instruments are investigated to illustrate this. The conclusion calls for further research while stressing more action is warranted within and outside the planning system in an integrated manner. Two significant matters comprise community support and regional structures.