With a rugged clay site as her canvas, landscape architect Nichola Vague converted this retirement village site into a lovely, functional space.

WORDS Mina Phillips

Following the construction and completion of their retirement home, the Leadleys wanted to focus on converting their bare outdoor area into a lovely private garden. They contacted Zones and were put in touch with Tauranga landscape architect Nichola Vague and landscaping specialist Charlie Vague, who supported them through every stage of their outdoor project.  

“As the pair really enjoy gardening, their key objectives were to establish a garden and outdoor design that met their lifestyle needs”, tells Nichola. “To achieve this, our first priority was to get the retaining sorted and create some levels.”

With a rugged clay site as her canvas, Nichola presented the Leadleys with a design and cost estimate, as well as a plan that would produce a cost-effective result which didn’t require council consent. The Leadleys worked closely with Nichola throughout the design process, selecting plants and features that stood out to them. Nichola ensured the plants would meet her client’s specifications and also made sure their selections would be suited to the site.

“They were lovely clients to work with”, tells Nichola. “They wanted a red and green garden. It was an interesting palette. Some of the main plants were Lomandra, a huge mix of native ground covers, retaining walls with rosemary and Loropetalum, prunus trees, bromeliads - a real mix.”

An earthworks contractor was needed to level the landscape. From there, the Zones team included a builder, a soft landscaper as well as a hardscaping specialist who carried out the paving and concrete works. Nichola managed every stage of the transformation, ensuring her team stayed on schedule and, therefore, in-line with her clients’ budget. Her highest priority was ensuring the completed project was one that the Leadleys would really enjoy.

As the property is closely surrounded by other dwellings, privacy was an important consideration. The kitchen and outdoor entertaining areas were in full view of the road, leaving the property quite exposed. Nichola and her team worked with The Outside to provide the couple with powder-coated aluminium privacy screens. 

“The screens gave them privacy not only for the outdoor terrace but also in their kitchen area. It also made a really nice backdrop for their garden”, explains Nichola.

Within a short amount of time, the property experienced a complete makeover. The space, which started out as unlevelled clay, is now unrecognisable. Smooth lawns, retained gardens, privacy screens and hardscaped outdoor living areas have collectively created a functional and attractive home exterior. Nichola says the planting and the decorative privacy screens were some of the most impactful design decisions.

“Eighteen months down the track, they’ve got a really lovely established garden. They’re really happy and that’s the main thing for me, that they love it.”

“From design concept to plant selection and final construction, Nichola's project provided us with the most satisfying part of our house build”, state the Leadleys in a recent Houzz review. “Her communication, attention to detail and willingness to adapt to challenges that arose was outstanding. Her organisation skills in managing all the contractors went smoothly and they, in turn, provided a great service. We would not hesitate to recommend Nichola and her team to anyone contemplating a landscape design project.”

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss your landscaping project with Nichola and her team, get in touch to schedule a free consultation. If you live outside Tauranga, see Our People to find a landscaping specialist near you.