Reimagining a Backyard in Grey Lynn, Auckland

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An innovative outdoor renovation at this Auckland home resulted in a beautiful backyard transformation with increased safety and ease of access.

Before After
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Need for Safety

Claudine’s Grey Lynn home had a seriously steep driveway and path, making access difficult and at times dangerous. The front area lacked personality and was hard to maintain, which was not great for curb appeal! The backyard was also in need of a makeover to create a more enjoyable space in which to relax or entertain. Not quite sure where to start, Claudine contacted her local Zones Landscape Consultant Kate Ryan for some expert advice.

Kate arranged a free consultation with Claudine to discuss her ideas and goals for her outdoor renovation, and to explain more about the Zones process. Since Zones focus on a bespoke customer experience, Claudine’s landscape transformation would be tailored to her specific needs, lifestyle, and budget. Kate, as Claudine’s dedicated Landscaping Consultant throughout,  would provide exceptional customer service and fully manage the project, thereby providing Claudine with a straightforward and stress-free experience. Claudine was sold! So together the pair began to work on a concept for a stunning back (and front!) yard makeover.

Consultation and Design

A key priority for the outdoor renovation was improving the front access to Claudine’s home. Kate developed a design that would include a retaining wall and tiled steps, visually attractive and much safer than the existing steep slope. To avoid the need for council consent, the retaining wall would be less than one metre in height, a great solution that avoided additional costs. The entrance would feature new block walls and a custom handrail, along with formal planting. The retaining wall would also allow for a new level lawn and fencing at the front of the home.

Around the back, lawns and plantings needed renewing, and a paved area was planned to accommodate a potential spa. Irrigation was included in the budget, and painted walls and fences would freshen the space up and provide finishing touches. 

Excavation and Transformation

Once Claudine was happy with the plans and the budget, the exciting transformation could begin. With Zones, no work starts until the customer is completely comfortable with the working plans and final budget. This ensures all parties are on the same page and reduces the risk of any unwanted surprises along the way.

Claudine’s backyard transformation involved multiple tradespeople and suppliers, from tilers, electricians, and excavators, to plasterers, landscapers, and a block layer. Finding and scheduling so many tradespeople is often a nightmare, but Kate simply tapped into her existing network of trusted professionals and seamlessly scheduled every step of the project.

Sticking closely to the agreed budget was important to Claudine, as it is to many homeowners, so any proposed changes or additions to the original plans were considered carefully and agreed to before being undertaken. As the transformation progressed, planter boxes and garden lighting were added to enhance the end result.

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A Beautiful Outdoor Space

The front of Claudine’s property has been completely transformed into a beautifully tiered space with safe and easy access to the front door. Wide, porcelain paved steps set between new block walls have replaced a steep and slippery path, while a retaining wall with aluminium fencing means that there is now level lawn to enjoy at the front of the property. Buxus, magnolias, and ficus hedging complete the smart new look.

Around the back, fresh lawn and plantings give the outdoor living space a new lease on life. Laser cut aluminium screens installed on the neighbour’s large brick wall make an attractive artwork feature on the boundary. Paint, planter boxes, and steel wires for climbing plants complete the transformation.

Final Words

Kate took a very challenging space and applied innovative solutions to deliver beautiful gardens and outdoor living areas for Claudine. A nondescript hill and dangerously steep path were replaced by a lush and level lawn, formal planting, and a feature entrance – all without the need for council consent. The home now has masses of curb appeal, and most importantly, safe access. The backyard was also refreshed and included custom feature touches such as planter boxes and laser cut feature screens, so that Claudine and her family have a space they love to relax in. Kate loves the result. “The entrance especially has undergone an amazing transformation. Investing in detail such as the porcelain pavers and laser cut screens have added quality touches that set this renovation apart”.

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This project was completed in
October 2023
Project description
Front and backyard renovation
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Project duration
3 months
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Steep driveway and keeping retaining walls under 1m in height so council consent was not needed.
Interesting aspects
Tiled steps and custom handrail as part of the entrance. Laser cut feature screens.
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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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