Project: A full backyard design and build, including a large deck and planting
Estimated project budget: $35,000
Actual project budget: $38,000
Project duration: 2.5 weeks
Plant types used: “We used mainly native plants, but also included a few edible ones such as banana, orange, mandarin, lemon and lime trees.”
Best decision made: “Going for a big deck and native plants, especially the large Nikau palms. They give a bit of instant height while the other plants grow.”
Landscaping advice: “Working with a professional company like Zones was great. They really listened to us, worked with us and our ideas, and were extremely flexible.”
Anna Harrison had been living in her new Hobsonville home for about a month, when she contacted Zones Landscaping to build a deck and native garden. “The whole house was new, and we had just moved in,” Anna says. “The outdoor area that came with the house would have been a standard concrete pad with a strip of grass around it. We wanted a planted backyard, and the work Zones has completed has made our garden a truly beautiful space.”
Her children Esme (12) and Starr (9) couldn’t agree more and love spending time outside on the deck. “We recently bought two new outdoor couches, so it’s a great place to relax after school,” they say. Even their little puppy Benny (7 months) is a fan of the garden, although Anna admits that had she known they were going to get a puppy, she might have done with a bit less mulch.
The Zones team completed the project in just two and half weeks and dog-proofed it while they were at it. Anna adds: “Matthew and the team were great about working around us and our requirements. Nothing was too much trouble and they really listened to us and our ideas. They were also really flexible and accommodating when we changed our minds.”
Matthew Wilkinson from Zones Landscaping in the Waitakeres enjoyed working with a ‘blank canvas’ site and creating a fun and functional sanctuary: “The design incorporated a good mix of palms and smaller plants to surround the deck to give a full, lush coverage as the plants mature. This will create a beautiful green outlook from inside the main living areas of the home. The three Nikau palms in particular look fantastic.”
The deck itself is made of vitex, which had to be oiled before it was installed. At approximately 38 square metres, it offers plenty of space for relaxing and entertaining. The vegetable tanks were a great addition to the space as they match the existing water tank in the backyard and create a visual link. It’s a functional solution that allows Anna to grow anything from parsley and mint through to lettuce and tomatoes. There is also a compost bin and a worm farm, providing great soil for the veggies.
One of the key issues of this project was that the soil quality of the site was poor. Anna explains: “We noticed that old paint and other building materials ended up on the site, and we were keen to remove the toxic top layer of soil, especially where we were going to place edible plants.” Anna was also aware that plastic weed mats can break down and wanted to use the most natural materials possible. In fact the team laid down several layers of old newspaper as a weed mat before adding the mulch on top.
Matthew says that the removal of the soil required a digger and had an impact on the project budget. He says: “The soil of the site was poor which required a lot of excavation and removal of the soil. Once the poor soil was removed, we were able to bring in quality garden mix to give the native plants a good base to be planted in.”
There is no grass at all in any part of the garden. “Some people might say that’s a bit radical,” laughs Anna. “But we came from a large section with lots of lawn that needed mowing. It was great when the kids were young, but now we enjoy our easy-maintenance garden and deck. There is no mowing the lawns, just watering the vegetable boxes!”
You might be interested in reading this: Kohimarama Garden Sanctuary
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