Upgrading a swimming pool, garden and outdoor dining area

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Poolside kwila deck and stairs

Zones' North Shore team helped this homeowner achieve her ideal backyard design.

Before After
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Homeowner Cara Billen asked Zones to redesign her backyard in Auckland’s North Shore. The property already had all of the foundations for a fantastic outdoor entertainment space but needed a new design and planting plan in order to create defined areas for Cara and her family to entertain and relax. 

“Our back garden and pool area were very overgrown, dated and unattractive”, tells Cara. “The sloping upper garden and pool area was not user-friendly and desperately needed a contemporary touch, new planting plus better use of space.”

Cara says that, after contacting a few different landscaping companies, she knew that Zones was the right fit for her requirements.

“We'd been in contact with three other landscape designers and none of them felt right or were on the same page as us regarding design and use of space. A mutual friend recommended (Zones North Shore’s) Matt Gillespie and his team and we organised an initial appointment which then became an appointment with his landscape designer Naomi. From that second meeting, we knew we had the right team who listened to our wish list and put it all together in a plan and design.”

Developing a new landscape design

Following their meetings with Cara, the Zones North Shore team developed a detailed design based on her ideas and specifications. 

“We wanted to be able to access all of the surrounding pool area, which was covered by trees and old planting beds, plus we wanted an area to have an outdoor dining setting plus a separate seating area”, explains Cara.

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Matt has transformed our garden and pool area into our dream back garden

To help Cara achieved her ideas, Naomi focused on creating three separate spaces: the first being the pool area, the second a louvred dining area and the third a relaxed outdoor lounge. Creating different heights for each space and breaking them up with planter boxes helped to clearly define them, says Matt.   

“We were blown away by the new design as it was everything we'd dreamt of”, says Cara. “We were excited to get started and bring Naomi's design and our wishlist to reality.” 

Hardscaping and softscaping

Zones implemented every aspect of the new design. This included clearing the original landscape, installing new Kwilla decking, pine retaining, planter boxes, refurbishing the pool area with glass fencing, installing coloured concrete patios, an alloy louvred roof with aluminium framing from Pacific Outdoor Solutions and, finally, updating the property’s planting and gardens. 

The final result

“Matt (was) really easy to deal with”, tells Cara. “He was always on-site to introduce his subcontractors and stayed on top of the whole project throughout the process. His communication style was open, honest and he was always ready to listen and be flexible.  Most of all, he was calm and steady and able to present solutions to any problems. As one might expect with a project of this size, we had a couple of minor hiccups but Matt was front and centre to ensure solutions were implemented or subcontractors were brought in to rectify issues. Matt's team were respectful, well mannered and thoughtful of our home and property and were a pleasure to have on-site.”

Now that the project has been completed, the swimming pool area looks tidy and spacious. The new decking, retaining and levelling has resulted in an inviting outdoor lounge which has been ideally positioned under the shade of the surrounding trees. The patio and louvre roof connects the indoors to the outdoors whilst providing a sheltered area to dine and observe the landscape.

“The clients have ended up with the exact outdoor spaces they desired”, tells Matt.

“Matt has transformed our garden and pool area into our dream back garden”, confirms Cara. “We now have a beautiful space under the LouvreTec for a stunning dining area plus a gorgeous separate seating area on the deck under the new and existing trees. The kids now have full access to run around the whole pool area which has made it so much more fun for them and their friends. Since completion, we have had friends and children over about three times a week because it has been so wonderful to entertain in our new garden space! We couldn't be happier.”

Let’s discuss your landscaping ideas!

Zones can help you turn your landscaping wish list into a detailed design and installed landscape. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation.

This project was completed in
December 2019
Project description
New decking, retaining, planter boxes, pool refurb, louvre roof, concrete patios, planting and gardens.
North Shore
New Zealand
Project duration
2 months
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Interesting aspects
Kwila deck, coloured concrete, sealer pine retaining, alloy louvre, Glass Vice fencing, Ficus Tuffi hedging
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Matt Gillespie is Landscaping Consultant of Gillespie Landscapers Ltd, a franchisee of Zones Outdoor Renovations Ltd, doing business in the North Shore.

Boyd Gillespie is Landscaping Consultant of Gillespie Landscapers Ltd, a franchisee of Zones Outdoor Renovations Ltd, doing business in the North Shore.

Actual costs vary by project. Plan ahead to reduce the impact of industry changes or disruptions. For more information see here.

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