Landscaping specialist Kate Ryan completely transformed this modern backyard in St Heliers, providing both design and build.

WORDS Raul Sharma

The backyard of this modern St Heliers home was completely underutilised, with an uninviting concrete patio and a steep path that was constructed haphazardly by the original developer. Homeowners Robert and Sharon wanted a total revamp of the back area and brought in Zones landscaping specialist Kate Ryan - who didn’t see an unkempt backyard, but a space full of opportunities!

“Our plan was to convert this relatively unused area into a private functional space for entertaining and family use,” says Robert. “We were attracted to Zones as they were a one-stop-shop capable of organising all parts of the project.”

Kate started by listening to her client’s needs and provided them with a detailed design of her vision. “This gave them the confidence to invest well in the area, allowing us to turn it into a fun family and entertainment space,” says Kate.

The clever design included a well-proportioned level deck that would be flush with the inside house, while retaining the soil to increase space! Not only did this create an indoor-outdoor flow, adding an element of elegance to the home, but it opened up several possibilities that lead to installing a cedar hot tub and an outdoor fireplace!

“We paved granite steps in solid macrocarpa that lead up the side of the house to access the hot tub area,” Kate explains. “We even planted some lush palm trees all around the boundary of the property for extra privacy, along with underplanting and uplighting to create the perfect night-time ambience.”

Adding to the theme of comfort and privacy, Kate’s team proceeded to install feature cedar screens that give the area a natural and organic feel. “The screen really softens the neighbouring house and adds a beautiful attribute to the space,” Kate says. “We fixed the existing fence too and used Pacific Outdoor Solutions for the bespoke aluminium fencing detail,” she explains. “Each cedar end was carefully cut to run along the slope. But the intricate install was well worth the result!” Looking at the pictures below, we’re sure you’ll agree!

The cedar Colonial hot tub sits on “stop digging” piles rather than the standard concrete pad you’re used to seeing. Not only are these easier to have installed, but create a sort of floating aesthetic to the hot tub! 

“We needed two cranes to get the firepit in. The tight space made it so we had to get under a tree and cover the fence - it was very challenging!” reveals Kate. But with the hot tub and Trendz “Mini Burton” fireplace, the homeowners have covered all their bases from a warm summer day to the coldest winter night, transforming their backyard into an area they never want to leave!

To finish off, Kate’s team laid a new lawn in the front areas, utilising corten steel edging, and added a myriad of alluring plants. 

“Kate was really great to work with,” says homeowner Robert. “Her communication was excellent at all times and she was willing to take on any logistical problems or inevitable changes in the plan and come up with elegant solutions. She was always quick to answer any questions and enquiries we had, which was most appreciated.”

When asked about the final result, Robert and Sharon say “We are very happy. It was an uninviting space that was rarely used and now it’s one of the families favourite spots! The hot tub is a really popular feature and the new decking area is a great spot for BBQing and family dinners, or just sitting in the sun with a coffee!”

Contact Zones

If you’re thinking of updating your backyard or need any other landscaping work done, get in touch with your local landscaping specialist for a free consultation!