Take an under-utilised, recently developed section and turn it into a lush green oasis. Now there’s a challenge.

WORDS Sharon Stephenson

Take an under-utilised, recently developed section and turn it into a lush green oasis. Now there’s a challenge.

It’s one that brothers Boyd and Matt Gillespie were faced with last year when the owners of this Hobsonville Point property, Nigel and Faith Griffin, called them.

The Auckland-based renovation consultants of Zones Landscaping Specialists admit they had their work cut out for them.

“[They] wanted to be able to do something with the existing lawn, which was always boggy and patchy due to poor drainage. And they were after a dedicated area where they could grow their own vegetables."
- Matt, landscaping specialist

“Nigel and Faith had bought their new group-build home a year or so before they contacted us,” says Matt. “They had a fantastic 760sqm section, but wanted to get more out of it.”

The Griffins’ wish list included a larger deck area to replace the existing 15sqm concrete pad, as well as a low-maintenance lawn and planted area for entertaining friends and for their two young sons to enjoy.

“They also wanted to be able to do something with the existing lawn, which was always boggy and patchy due to poor drainage. And they were after a dedicated area where they could grow their own vegetables.”

Raised vegetable garden bed surrounding clothes line section

The couple contacted Boyd and Matt with their wish-list six months before completion.

“Our brief was to create a contemporary family garden with a subtropical feel, which included options for outdoor entertaining, living and playing,” says Boyd.

“Our brief was to create a contemporary family garden with a subtropical feel, which included options for outdoor entertaining, living and playing."
- Boyd, landscaping specialist

“The key elements of our plan included 55sqm of extra decking to incorporate seating, a generous dining table and storage. The long-term plan also included the area being covered by a louvered roofing system.

“We also completely re-laid the existing lawn and created a second, destination-style, smaller artificial lawn for the kids to play in, where they could permanently leave the trampoline.”

An outdoor gas fire was added to the rear of the property to provide shelter and an area to enjoy the view looking back towards the house.

Deck with seating and outdoor gas fireplace

Construction of the hard composition was started towards the end of December and finished a month later. Artificial turf was laid around the trampoline and provides an ideal spot for father-and-son golf lessons. And planting of large bungalow palms and silk trees, under-planted with lush ligularia and birds of paradise was finished in early February.

“Our landscape designer Nichola Vague from Zones suggested we go for these plants because they suited both the space and Nigel and Faiths’ preferred planting perfectly.”

“The artificial turf came out better than we expected and the straight lines and formality of the defined areas look great."
- Boyd, landscaping specialist

The brothers, who bought their Zones franchise a year ago, say they are pleased with the end result.

“We love what the area has become,” says Boyd. “The artificial turf came out better than we expected and the straight lines and formality of the defined areas look great.”

Ditto the pebble garden adjacent to the front entrance, which creates a key focal point in a space that was previously not used.

Extended deck with dining table surrounded by a pebble and grass garden

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. Boyd admits that the barbeque bench didn’t work as well once the posts were up. “The clients wanted more of an unobstructed, open-type feeling as they moved from the deck to the grass. So we resolved it by taking the screening out and having an easy step down grass level.”

On the initial plan, a series of boardwalks were intended for the southern entrance area. But when it came to install them, a better simplified access way was chosen instead of having a change in levels. “So we came up with the concept of a pebble garden on planted bromeliads.”

“The lawn has managed to make it through an extremely dry summer and we’re now just trying to get the final consistency perfect.”

“We’re really pleased with the outcome, Boyd and Matt really listened to us and worked with us to help achieve a more user-friendly and beautiful garden."
- Nigel, landscaping specialist

Having enjoyed their new garden for the last few months, what do the homeowners think?

“We’re really pleased with the outcome,” says Nigel. “Boyd and Matt really listened to us and worked with us to help achieve a more user-friendly and beautiful garden."

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