Christine Milliner's yard was huge but it was sloping and challenging for anyone to spend time in.
Located on a semi-rural site on the southern outskirts of Auckland, Christine Milliner’s recently built home was surrounded by a predominantly unusable space, despite its significant size. The land was sloping, falling away half a metre over six metres, rendering it a difficult space in which to entertain, or for the children and pets to play.
When Christine Milliner and her husband decided to overhaul the outdoor area of their weatherboard home, they approached Zones landscaping specialists with some rough ideas about what they wanted to achieve. “We wanted to create a garden that was an extension of the house. Prior to the landscaping the garden was a place where nobody wanted to venture,” Christine says. “We also wanted to link the whole garden together so the ‘story’ flowed.” Surrounded on one side by paddocks, and on the other by neighbouring houses, the couple decided to invest in landscaping focused on creating a private outdoor oasis in which they could entertain, and effectively construct an additional living space with a covered seating area.
“We wanted to create a garden that was an extension of the house."
- Christine, Zones client
The couple have two primary-school-aged children, two dogs and a cat so usability and low maintenance underpinned the design from the outset.
Zones’ detailed design phase meant the couple met with a Zones landscaping specialist and after considerable discussion, the landscaping specialist put together an initial design before meeting with Christine and her husband again, at which point the design was revised to reach its final iteration before construction began.
“Our biggest challenges with this project were the weather and the limited access."
- Landscaping specialist
The site was not without its challenges, requiring the installation of a six-metre retaining wall around the back perimeter of the property to flatten what would become the lawn area. “Our biggest challenges with this project were the weather and the limited access,” our landscaping specialist says. “In order to mitigate any damage or mess to the property, we decided to lay boards down along the narrow 20-metre access path along the side of the property, which allowed us to get straight back onto the job after periods of heavy rain and meant we didn’t create any mud or mess.”
Once the property was flattened and the retaining wall complete, a composite grey-washed deck was built, which is covered by an overhead louvre with an automatic rain sensor to create an additional living area, and focal point for the family’s alfresco dining and entertaining area. “The client really liked the idea of schist paving so we incorporated this into the design. A barbeque area adjoins the decking, which will eventually be developed into a more extensive outdoor kitchen. This area is paved with different-sized schist to create a relaxed rural feel in contrast with the relatively modern aesthetic of the new home,” our landscaping specialist says.
“The client really liked the idea of schist paving so we incorporated this into the design."
- Landscaping specialist
From the other side of the northerly facing deck, a small step down takes you to a flat lawn surrounded by a carefully considered low maintenance garden, which sits on top of the retaining wall. Highlighted with two kowhai trees, an existing apple tree that was salvaged from the original garden, and a variety of grasses and groundcover to restrain any weed growth, it is completed with local riverstones.
“The boundary fence is a real feature, and something the client had found and asked us to create.” A combination of rough-sawn timber and grey Colorsteel panels, it complements the grey weatherboards of the house and the decking, while creating a juxtaposed feature around the perimeter of the section. At night, it is lit with lights, which will eventually accent the planting as it matures, including a strategically placed stand of non-invasive bamboo, which was planted to create a green screen and more privacy from surrounding homes. Two water features complete the landscaping, which in its entirety, offers a pared back infusion of rural and contemporary styling, with a low maintenance, relaxed feel.
“The project managing was great and everyone was easy to deal with and accommodating. They transformed our dysfunctional garden into our vision.”
- Christine, Zones client
Christine says dealing with Zones was a pleasure. “The project managing was great and everyone was easy to deal with and accommodating. They transformed our dysfunctional garden into our vision.”
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