Inaccessible Home Garden Transformed into a Contemporary Landscape Design in Orakei, Auckland

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Inaccessible Home Garden Transformed into a Contemporary Landscape Design in Orakei, Auckland

An unusual design turns a steep, difficult-to-maintain landbank into a stunning garden, featuring an irrigation system perfectly suited for Auckland's weather.

Before After
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A Collaboration Between Client and Consultant

A steep garden slope was proving difficult for these Auckland homeowners to maintain, so they decided it was an opportune time to seek professional landscaping advice. Reaching out to Zones Landscaping Consultant Kate Ryan, they explained what they wanted to achieve with the current space: a fresh design to complement the modern architecture of their home, easier maintenance, and an irrigation system with rain tank to accommodate water shortages in Auckland’s increasingly dry climate.

Kate’s experience of landscaping projects and her eye for clever yet practical garden design cemented a collaborative relationship between client and consultant. Sharing a passion for quality landscape design, Kate and her clients embarked on the transformation process. This included exploring ideas, proposing a design, finalising the working drawings, and managing the project to deliver on time and to budget.

Winter Timeline

When Kate’s clients first started out on their landscaping journey, they had didn't have a set budget and given the steep bank they were working with and the landscaping challenges that presented, a reasonable budget was required.

Kate’s clear communication around the design elements such a project would entail, and the retaining required for such a slope, meant her clients were happy to move ahead with a project cost estimate of $52,000.

Both homeowners were also keen to be hands-on throughout the project, so Kate went the extra mile to have regular consultations over the design, planning, and costing to ensure expectations could be met. 

It was July when the project was initiated and completing an outdoor project that involved both a challenging design concept and difficult-to-access terrain in the middle of winter was not easy. Add to that a completion deadline of September, before the homeowners embarked on an overseas trip, and there was little room for delays. Kate and her team worked diligently throughout construction to meet the construction deadline but, just as they were near the end, a COVID lockdown hit. Still, Kate and her team managed to deliver an outstanding landscaping result in just over nine weeks.

A Contemporary Masterpiece

Kate and her landscaping team had to overcome a number of challenges during the build stage, but through close cooperation with her clients, she overcame every obstacle and delivered excellent results.

When planning the garden, Kate proposed using Corten steel retaining in an innovative curved design, with the inside painted to protect the steel from garden soil – an idea her clients loved. The colour and texture of this material fits well with modern landscapes, providing a fantastic garden design while being a practical, long-lasting feature; the perfect match for the vision these homeowners had.

The distinct layout required several retaining lines to hold the slope and create level areas that were easy to walk through and garden around. Kate’s team achieved this by laying string lines in curved shapes and dividing the slope to the corten heights of 450mm. During the build phase, an additional design feature was integrated to create steps at both ends of the bank for ease of use. 

Lastly, there was the task of getting a large rain tank in the best position while also complying with the unitary plan. Kate’s clients had emphasised a need for a good irrigation system, and Kate safeguarded this requirement by bringing in specialists to complete the rain tank, electrical, and irrigation installations. 

A key solution was installing a control panel to service different areas of the garden, while other innovative products Kate drew on included Straightcurve for its steel garden retaining and Mulchman’s cost-effective mulch and soil spreader.

A Rare Kind of Landscaping Transformation 

The effort and hard work put in to overcome numerous challenges was worth it for both Kate and her clients. The homeowners love the final result  – a highly unique design solution, providing the perfect finish for their contemporary home.

Would you like to discuss your home landscaping ideas?

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This project was completed in
May 2022
Project description
Unique curved corten steel retaining, control panel irrigation system
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Project duration
9 weeks
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Access, steep garden slope, maintenance, lockdown, installation of large rain tank
Interesting aspects
Garden renovation
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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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