Building a Lush Spa Retreat in St. Heliers, Auckland

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jacuzzi with tropical plants in front of brown wooden fence

With clever planning and custom features, this boring backyard was transformed into a stunning spa retreat and tailor-made BBQ space, complete with lush, tropical planting.

Before After
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Help Needed

There’s no question that outdoor renovations can be daunting. With so many options for design, materials, and tradespeople, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s exactly how Jonathan was feeling. He was considering changes to his underwhelming backyard but had no idea where to begin or how much money a complete makeover would cost. So he sent an SOS to his local Zones Consultant Monique Nielson asking for help.

Monique was quickly on the case, meeting with Jonathan at his home to see the space first-hand, listening to what his renovation goals were, and explaining more about the Zones 5-step process. 

Zones are the outdoor renovation experts, having completed thousands of successful transformations. With Zones, you get all the strength of a global company with proven systems, along with all the benefits of a dedicated consultant with local knowledge. Plus, your consultant is with you every step of the way, from design to delivery, taking care of every detail so you don’t have to worry about a thing!

The Zones process sounded ideal to Jonathan. So, after talking through a few initial ideas and options, he decided to go ahead with the outdoor makeover, with Monique leading the way to keep things simple and stress-free.

Time to Design

Monique and Jonathan began the exciting process of designing and refining the perfect outdoor concept. Jonathan had been considering a spa but wanted it to feel private, hidden away from the neighbour’s view. Using the BBQ was also important to the family, so a deck with room for the large cast-iron BBQ and smoker was also a priority. Beyond that, the whole area needed a facelift, to take it from boring and basic to a beautiful backyard retreat.

Because space was limited, it was important to make the most of what was available, with careful planning to meet Jonathan’s renovation priorities. To create a lush spa retreat, Monique had a modern custom pergola designed that offered privacy while looking stylish. New soil would be trucked in for mass planting to create a tropical feel and make the new space feel established, while a new deck would replace the old and slippery tiles to create a new zone for relaxing and entertaining – with the BBQ taking pride of place, of course!

Construction Begins

Once Jonathan was happy with the concept, detailed plans, and budget, the transformation could begin. Monique’s crew took care of clearing the old gardens to create a blank slate for the concrete spa pad and pergola and the stunning array of new plantings.

As a Zones Consultant, Monique had access to her existing network of local suppliers and tradespeople whom she trusted to deliver top-quality workmanship, which also meant accessing any available budget-friendly trade discounts. The backyard might have been a small space, but there were still multiple contractors involved, from excavation, planting, and concreting, to carpentry, drainage, and decking. Monique expertly managed every element of the project, including the council consent process.

The new deck was tailored to Jonathan’s needs, with reinforcement in the BBQ area to accommodate the large weight of the cast-iron smoker. The deck was also built using a decking jack system laid over the old tiles, raising the deck to be level with the back garden area with seamless connection between the decking area and the new spa space.

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A Lush Escape

Jonathan’s backyard is now a private spa escape, with lush tropical planting, and a stylish new deck for entertaining and relaxing. Nestled amongst the new plants is the hero feature of the backyard, a spa pool with a pergola that provides privacy while looking fantastic. Made using powder coated galvanised steel frames and vitex battens, the custom pergola provides a real wow factor in the new space.

The new decking used hardwood Kwila timber to match the front of the house and is now a welcoming spot to relax and enjoy Jonathan’s quality BBQ meals! Large stepping stones leading from the deck to the spa through the lush garden, along with stainless steel wires on the house for climbing plants, complete the fabulous new look.

Final Words

Monique is thrilled with the transformation from boring backyard to stunning spa retreat. The tailor-made BBQ space and decking, lush tropical planting, and custom pergola combine to create a private and attractive enclave for the family to enjoy. “Jonathan and Catherine love their new space, and I’m so happy Zones could deliver their dream backyard,” she says.

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This project was completed in
August 2023
Project description
Tropical Spa and BBQ Deck
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Project duration
10 weeks, including some delays on materials because of COVID
Cost estimate
$58,000 excluding spa
Actual cost
$58,000 excluding spa
Deck required reinforcing to accommodate large cast- iron smoker BBQ; tight access space for delivery and installation of spa
Interesting aspects
Mass planting for a lush, tropical feel. Decking jack system laid over old tiles to raise deck level
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Monique Nielsen is a Landscaping Consultant of Hammock Bay Landscaping Limited, a franchisee of Zones Landscaping New Zealand, doing business in Auckland Central.

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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