Gardenvale, a residential area between Elsternwick and Brighton, is 10 km south-east of central Melbourne. It originated with the Garden Vale estate, a subdivision on Lempriere's Paddock (1908) in the vicinity of Gardenvale Road between Nepean Highway and Kooyong Road. The origin of the name is uncertain: in 1907 the railway station was named Garden Vale, presumably inspired by the market gardens in the gently undulating countryside. The Elster Creek flows through Gardenvale before entering the Elwood Canal.

Closer to the beach (ie North Brighton), settlement had occurred earlier. The Presbyterian church was opened in 1862 and the second building (1876) was named 'John Knox, Gardenvale', in 1940. The Catholic St James church was built in 1890. Both are in North Road, and the Catholic site includes the Star of the Sea Girl's Grammar school (1883) and a primary school. Another Catholic site was the O'Neill College, northwards from Elster Street (1908-72).

In 1917 the Gardenvale and East Elsternwick Progress Association persuaded the Education Department to build a school. The site is in Brighton East but the school is nevertheless named Gardenvale, and was opened in 1922 as a central school to year eight. It had 598 pupils in 2014.

Quite a large strip shopping centre was established either side of the railway crossing, in Martin Street and Gardenvale Road. By the 1990s the number of shops exceeded the availability of retail tenants and several were under non- or semi-retail uses. Later, cafes filled several vacancies. In 2009 the wooden railway station building near Martin Street was gutted by fire. The station building was restored and re-opened in 2011.

With its proximity to Brighton and Elsternwick, Gardenvale is regarded as a desirable residential suburb.

Gardenvale's census populations have been:

census date population
2001 925
2006 987
2011 969