Between a rock and a beautiful space in Mount Eden, Auckland

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Bespoke design elements complement natural materials to create a contemporary year-round outdoor entertaining space.

Before After
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A desire to create a weather-proof, user-friendly, outdoor living space for her Mount Eden home saw property owner Gillian reach out to Zones Landscaping Consultant, Kate Ryan. Gillian wanted to talk through options for her outdoor living area, which currently boasted a tired deck and old cracked paving. The space wasn’t getting much use and lacked connection between the family’s home and garden.

Kate’s expert eye for garden detail and design, and her experience in landscaping transformation, meant Gillian’s vision of a functional yet stylish outdoor area was realised. Key design features such as a louvre roof system, a bespoke slatted screen, lighting, and specialised materials including tiles and wood, has ensured the space can be used day or night, all year round.

A plan of attack

The suburb of Mt Eden in Auckland is known for its rock; it’s built on the side of a volcano after all! And Gillian’s backyard was no different. In fact, the sunniest spot in the garden was a rock garden, which no one could sit in and enjoy, and which added to the disjointed feeling of the outdoor area. 

To achieve Gillian’s vision of a practical and connected outdoor space, Kate worked with her designer to create an initial concept. The design not only allowed for better indoor-outdoor flow and usability of the back garden, but included a smart new front entrance with paving, artificial turf, and plants. Detailed drawings and a planting plan followed and Kate was able to work to Gillian’s initial budget of $150,000 as well as the timeline Gillian had specified - starting work in July and finishing two months later.

Transforming the outdoor space

Once Gillian had approved the design, Kate began coordinating the tradespeople and contractors who would be required to complete Gillian’s landscape transformation. This included landscapers, a louvre installer, fireplace supplier, hiab contractor, electrical specialist, heater supplier and plumber. Kate organised these experts at every stage of the build, always making sure the project was on track, and keeping Gillian well-informed along the way.

The transformation of Gillian’s backyard was achieved with the careful integration of multiple elements. A deck, made as large as possible while working around the existing rock, was built from hardwood timber and oiled for a luxurious finish. This was made level with the house floor height, improving the usability of the space and ensuring indoor-outdoor flow.

A louvre installed above the deck, complemented with a bespoke slatted screen made from composite timber, has created a large entertaining area which can be used in all weathers, and which provides a great view of the extended back garden. An infrared heater provides warmth for guests enjoying the outdoor seated area during cooler evenings.

But the pièce de résistance of Gillian’s beautiful new outdoor entertaining area is the sunken fireside seating area, laid with anti-slip and stain resistant porcelain tiles. The Trendz outdoor concrete fireplace is framed with corten steel boxes, providing a decorative feature while allowing for ample wood storage.  

Overcoming unforeseen challenges

The end result of this Mt Eden garden transformation is simply stunning but, during the project, Kate and her team had to navigate several unforeseen challenges. These included adapting the design to accommodate volcanic rock which couldn’t be moved, placing the 1.2 tonne concrete fireplace in position via the neighbour’s property, and procuring new flashings during a time when lockdowns made sourcing materials difficult.

As these challenges arose, Kate communicated with Gillian to let her know exactly what was happening and how the team were navigating the unexpected. This clear communication ensured any changes made along the way were considered and agreed upon, and enabled Kate and her team to meet the project deadline.

A beautiful space to enjoy throughout the year

Auckland’s balmy year-round temperatures mean homeowners can enjoy outdoor living in every season; something Gillian and her family can now do in style thanks to Kate’s professionalism and landscaping expertise.

What was once a disjointed outdoor area is now a modern and inviting entertaining space, providing shade in summer and warmth in winter. Kate’s upgrade of Gillian’s front garden, complete with paving, artificial turf, and new planting, completes this garden transformation.

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This project was completed in
May 2022
Project description
Creating an outdoor living space
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Project duration
214 days total, 2 months for bulk of work
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Environment and land, acquiring materials during COVID lockdowns, moving a 1.2 tonne fireplace
Interesting aspects
Louvre, bespoke slatted screen, infrared heat, anti-slip porcelain tiles, sunken floor which creates separate spaces.
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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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