A Japanese inspired garden in Morningside, Whangarei

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A Japanese inspired garden in Morningside, Whangarei\n

Blending vibrant plants with contemporary design, this courtyard has been re-established as an elegant sanctuary.

Before After
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The homeowner’s vision

Situated close to the heart of Whangarei but still very much amongst the suburbs, this townhouse benefits from the peace of city fringe living.

Wanting to upgrade their backyard, the owner of this property had a vivid picture in mind: a Japanese inspired garden with modern design. They envisioned boardwalks, tiles, and a stone wall, elements that would certainly enhance the existing tranquillity.

Developing the concept

To develop their vision into a feasible concept, the homeowner reached out to Jason Clarke, their local Landscaping Specialist. There was 120m2 of unkempt space, and they wanted it transformed into a contemporary area for outdoor living, complete with new decking, paving, planting, and a stone wall.

With Jason guiding the way, the homeowner walked through initial ideas for their desired landscape and explored each aspect before finalising the landscaping plans.


Based on materials from the original design, Jason presented a range of options that would suit the homeowner’s budget. 

Coming into the project, they had planned on spending $20,000 - $30,000; but later decided to upgrade the materials list and undertake additional work on their property’s upper-level vegetable patch. This alteration brought the overall price to approximately $45,000.


As the build was conducted over winter, Jason and his landscaping team needed to work according to the weather conditions. Additionally, due to site restrictions, they could only have limited tradespeople access the site at a time. 

Subsequently, to reduce risks and ensure perfection, the construction schedule was run across five weeks.


After firstly clearing the site, a curved stone wall was constructed by Haines Masonry using locally sourced schist stone. This feature contrasted beautifully against the smooth porcelain tiles that were also installed and perfectly matched to the home’s exterior.

Builders from G-Force Construction were called in to build the decking and boardwalks. For the wood, the homeowner chose garapa timber. Warm in tone and honey-brown in colour, this material breathed life into the landscape. From the deck and stairs up to the planter boxes, the wood ultimately ties the garden together.

Towards the end, Jason paid extra attention to the drainage. Built on a steep site with heavy clay, the landscape was holding onto water in wet periods and lacked sufficient draining. In fact, days with heavy rain would often make a waterfall of the stairs. In solution, Jason and his landscaping team made soil amendments and established drainage solutions. 

An oriental garden

The homeowner was very careful in choosing each plant to create their desired oriental ambience. Sourced from Mitre 10, the new planting features two large trees; cherry blossom and Japanese maple. 

Pairing the beautiful trees with flowering rhododendron, gardenia, and azalea, the garden now carries the vibrant pinks and reds that are so characteristic of Japanese gardens. In support, low-sitting scleranthus and tall-standing ligularia bring refreshing greenery at varied levels.

To complete the garden, Jason brought in additional plants to complement the Japanese style and Northland climate. The final results speak for themselves.

The transformed landscape

This garden has undergone a complete renewal. Once overgrown and tired, the space now feels bigger, more welcoming, and stands with an air of elegance - no doubt, thanks to its Japanese inspiration. 

“The end result was superb,” says Jason. The courtyard has become a spectacular place for outdoor living, perfect for relaxing after a long day - or even hosting guests on a hot summer evening.

Would you like to discuss your landscaping ideas?

Get in touch for a free consultation with your local Landscaping Specialist.

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This project was completed in
May 2021
Project description
New Zealand
Project duration
5 weeks
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Poor drainage, building in Winter.
Interesting aspects
Japanese plants, garapa timber, new drainage.
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Jason Clarke is Landscaping Consultant of Clarke Landscaping Ltd, a franchisee of Zones Outdoor Renovations Ltd, doing business in Whangarei

Actual costs vary by project. Plan ahead to reduce the impact of industry changes or disruptions. For more information see here.

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