An idyllic landscape transformation in Kumeū, Auckland

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No stone left unturned: the landscaping team took this phrase literally during the complete transformation of this garden in Kumeū. With every detail, corner, and crevice considered, the result is a smart and stylish, and practical design.

Before After
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With ideas in hand

The Auckland suburb of Kumeū has been experiencing something of a transition, shaking off its rural reputation in favour of residential developments. One of Kumeū’s new four-bedroom homes had caught Jonathan’s eye, as well as the opportunity it presented outdoors. Perfect for his family, Jonathan was excited at the prospect of turning his north-facing backyard into an alfresco entertainment area with unobstructed views of Riverhead Forest.

After moving into his home, Jonathan began envisioning his new landscape: an extended living area with ample seating, a deck sheltered by a stylish louvre, a paver patio with space to accommodate a spa pool, and a smart selection of plants to elevate the aesthetic. He wanted to review his options and related costs, so he contacted local Renovation Consultant Sandy Lochhead who would guide him through the process. 

The perfect design

Sandy, along with her in-house project manager Kyle, visited Jonathan’s Kumeū property to discuss ways in which to optimise the landscape and take advantage of its great potential. The duo worked closely with Jonathan to craft a design that included all of his ideas, adding and removing elements until it was perfect.

Kyle made some recommendations to take the landscape to the next level and Jonathan opted to extend the driveway for more off-street parking. Once they finalised the project scope, Sandy informed Jonathan of the project’s $112,000 estimate. While Jonathan had initially planned to spend $90,000, he saw great value in his investment, not only financially, but as a place to create memories with his loved ones. With that in mind, he was happy to move forward with the project.

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Challenges and a silver lining

The team broke ground on Jonathan’s landscape in early November, beginning with excavation and prep work to pour concrete and lay the lawn. Harsh weather impeded progress and forced the crew to pause. While this was inconvenient, it did bring to light issues with drainage surrounding the new driveway extension. 

Sandy discussed the next steps with Jonathan and how to proceed; proper drainage was essential. Although this incurred additional costs, Jonathan had peace of mind knowing his new landscape was executed with integrity and he wouldn’t encounter any flooding issues in the future. 

The bad weather passed, Jonathan agreed to the variations and new quote, and construction moved along; he could see his landscape starting to take shape. Just before Christmas, the project wrapped. After factoring in the scope adjustments — drainage variations and tipping fees — the final cost came to $125,000.

Backyard paradise

Sandy and Kyle have made Jonathan’s living space feel like an exclusive oasis. Flanked by lush green lawn on either side, the spacious deck has plenty of room to accommodate multiple seating areas, a barbeque, as well as a wood-burning pizza oven. The chic louvre offers the option of shelter and encourages seamless flow into the main house. 

The paver-and-pebble patio — complete with custom-built floating bench planters — was selected as a variation to the timber deck in case Jonathan opted to install a firepit in the future. It also breaks up the design and defines the auxiliary entertaining area. 

Despite the driveway extension creating challenges, parking is at a premium in the neighbourhood so the off street spaces are a worthwhile investment should Jonathan opt to sell in the future. For now, he’s happy to enjoy the transformed landscape with his family.

A glowing review

Despite a few hurdles along the way, Sandy and Kyle’s expertise and solution-based approach ensured they delivered an impressive result. Sandy is thrilled with the project and cites the floating benches as her favourite feature — the deck area coming in at a close second. 

As for Jonathan, he loves his new space but the highlight for him was working with Sandy and Kyle, noting their availability and professionalism: 

“Our experience with Zones, specifically Sandy and Kyle Lochhead, was amazing. They were hands-on from the design stage through to delivery and were absolutely fantastic to work with. They managed to deliver a full front and backyard re-design, including retaining walls, drainage, concrete, paving, decking, pergola construction, bench seating, and planting — starting in late November and finishing before Christmas. Kyle was always available to discuss the job and answer any questions. An absolutely stellar job!”

This project was completed in
February 2023
Project description
Complete landscape transformation with driveway extension
New Zealand
Project duration
7 weeks
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Inclement weather
Interesting aspects
Paver-and-pebble patio with floating benches.
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Sandy Lochhead is Landscaping Consultant of Landscapes and Outdoor Living Limited, a franchisee of Zones Landscaping New Zealand, doing business in Rodney.

Kyle Lochhead is a Zones Landscaping Owner of Landscapes and Outdoor Living Limited, a franchisee of Zones Landscaping New Zealand, doing business in Rodney.

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