WORDS Patricia Moore
Auckland’s busy Sandringham Road may not normally be associated with serenity, but the makeover of a small back garden has managed exactly that for the homeowner. As Zones Landscape specialist Kate Ryan explains, the aim was to transform an overgrown, weedy and frequently boggy area into an outdoor room and interesting garden space – and do so using a Balinese theme which, to the owner, invoked “peace and calm.”
The owner had already designed what she describes as “a relatively comprehensive plan – it just took Kate’s expert eye to jig it to get it right.” But, she says, while she knew what she wanted, she needed a hand with plant selection, “and someone independent to bounce ideas off.” Hence, her choice of Zones Landscaping.
After she and Kate talked through the various design options and they were priced, it was decided to take a staged approach over two weeks. Stage 1 involved building a semi-enclosed room with shutters, replacing the existing deck and fitting it out with built-in seating and a wall at the end to give greater privacy.
“We chose grey composite decking and Santa Fe’s matt black shutters,” says Kate. “All the joinery and weatherboards in the outdoor room were painted to match and this has created a very modern, funky space that keeps the weather and wind out but allows sun and light through, while still being open to the garden.” There’s snug seating for day-time lounging and a welcoming space for evening entertaining.
“Opposite the daybed an end-of-deck screen which adds privacy, balances the deck space and provides another area to relax on a sun lounger – and hides the services and bins.”
The garden was Stage two of the project. This was designed around forming a new level lawn, with much-needed drainage to take the water away from under the house, highlighted by a curved garden bed bordering the fence. The garden shed was relocated to make it appear less obvious, and, in the fullness of time, the owner plans to replace it with one which matches the black of the outdoor room.
“Because the time of year was right – warm weather to promote germination - the lawn was hydroseeded, and levelled to connect with the new deck.” Hand pruning the overgrown Eugenia hedge to retain privacy but not achieve the ‘butchered’ look a hedge trimmer may have given, was something of a challenge, says Kate. “We carefully took branches out and formed the trees to suit; our client was very pleased with the result and appreciated the extra work involved.”
To contrast with the stylish black outdoor room, colourful plants were chosen to form a backdrop and brighten darker areas, and the actual garden layered from high to mid to ground level. “We mixed dypsis (sugar cane) palms with different grasses in variegated greens, rusts and ginger, and used quick-growing Bungalow palms to replace a large olive tree we removed and add privacy. Cordylines and black taro were chosen to hide the Eugenia trunks and using rain lilies and hostas that flower in different seasons mean the garden is always changing,” says Kate. The finishing touch – and one truly in keeping with the Balinese theme – is a beautifully shaped rock with indentations to hold water for birds, and a Buddha which adds to the Zen-like atmosphere.
A budget of $56,000 has seen “an absolute transformation, from an overgrown, cluttered space to fully landscaped paradise,” says Kate. “The shuttered room has extended the home’s living area and my client does yoga on her deck and entertains in a beautiful garden surround, thoroughly enjoying her hidden oasis.”
Indeed, it’s exactly what she was hoping for. “I love my garden and the fact that it has become an appealing extension to an outside room is magical!”
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