A Designer Backyard Transformation with Custom Decking in St Johns, Auckland

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This beautiful home featured high quality indoor living, but the outdoor areas were unimpressive and underutilised. A detailed, design-led renovation transformed the backyard into a space perfect for relaxation and entertaining.

Before After
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Untidy, unused, and generally unloved – that was how you could describe Michelle’s Auckland backyard. She loved her modern home, but the same could not be said for the outdoor area - or lack thereof. The spaces were disjointed, large concrete pillars were intrusive, and there was no planting to make the area feel attractive and inviting. Michelle knew she wanted some big changes. So she got in touch with her local Zones Landscaping Partner Kate Ryan for a free consultation to see what was possible.

Kate met with Michelle at her home to inspect the space and listen to everything that Michelle wanted to achieve. Ultimately for Michelle it was all about usability – a space for relaxing, entertaining, and perhaps even a spot of swimming. She also knew that any renovation needed to be design-led because of a challenging site that included multiple curves on the retaining walls, main building, and stairs. Kate was excited to work through every detail with Michelle and deliver a customised solution to transform her backyard.

Design Decisions

Since the renovation was going to be so technical, Michelle needed an experienced professional to manage the entire project, from design through to delivery. She found one! 

Kate coordinated and scheduled tradespeople, designers, architects, and suppliers, as well as managing the council consent process on Michelle’s behalf. The team spent a lot of time on detailed design right at the start to ensure they maximised the potential of the small spaces, and had the speciality craftspeople and suppliers available for the very technical build.

Initially, Michelle envisaged a swimming pool for the front section, but after exploring different options with Kate she settled on a new deck, louvre, and spa as the best use of the space. Elsewhere, open areas on different levels needed to be connected, a new lower patio space needed careful planning to meet existing steps, and new planting was required throughout.

With all the details agreed and confirmed, the transformation began.

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Custom Design

The new deck and louvre were two major elements of the backyard makeover, each involving significant planning, design, and excellent craftsmanship. The bespoke decking required every single board to be individually cut wide at one end and smaller at the other to fit the curved building and section. Supporting pedestals and timber substrate at a variety of heights were needed for the decking system, to match different sections. This was no ordinary deck: an extraordinarily skilled team produced the stunning build that beautifully complements Michelle’s home.

The louvre system also posed multiple challenges, for both the manufacturer and the install team, as it had to be customised to fit the curvature of Michelle’s home without damaging any of the plaster finish. To ensure accuracy, Kate’s architect hand drew and couriered detailed instructions for the main beam and angled blades for the louvre manufacturer. 

Elsewhere, concrete pillars were removed, different areas of the backyard were connected with levelling and new stairs, a spa was installed, and custom planting planned by the landscape designer was undertaken throughout the property to create a private backyard haven. 

Final Thoughts

Michelle’s backyard transformation was truly led by design and the results speak for themselves. A large, bespoke deck fans out from the home creating a beautiful extension of the living area, with steps that lead to a spa tucked in on an upper level previously rarely used. The curved louvre finishes off the deck and provides a sheltered outdoor entertaining area with plenty of space for friends and family; it also features gorgeous ambient lights at night.

A new, lower-level patio area fashioned from a complementary mix of timber, concrete, and pavers, provides even more space for relaxation and enjoyment. Lush subtropical planting hides angles and adds to the sense of welcome.

Kate is thrilled with the result: “Michelle’s renovation is testament to how important it is to take the time to get the design right at the early stages. The new deck and louvre system were very challenging, but the result is outstanding and is a beautiful addition to the home.” 

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This project was completed in
June 2023
Project description
A designer backyard transformation with custom decking and louvre installation.
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Project duration
4 months (additional time required for louvre installation)
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Connecting different spaces across different levels; working with curved buildings and retaining walls.
Interesting aspects
Curved beam and angled side louvre; bespoke deck created to fit the curved building.
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Kate Ryan is Landscaping Consultant of Woodbury Landscapes Ltd, a franchisee of Zones Outdoor Renovations Ltd, doing business in Auckland.

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