ARTICLE Libby Schultz

With a high-end budget you can introduce a cohesive design that links your garden and home and also create a sense of luxury with high-spec materials and features.

What type of materials are available in New Zealand?

What’s the difference between a budget garden and a high-spec one? Our experts explain it’s a similar equation to building a house. Putting size and scale aside, it all comes down to the quality of materials you use.

“The main features in the garden are all about selecting the best quality materials’’, says landscaping specialist Debbie Gill.

“When considering a deck, for example, you can begin to look at a quality hard wood like kwila or Vitex or the clean sleek look of composite decking. Paving is moving towards schist or granite, which give you a quality finish.’’

The same applies to garden accessories.

“A wonderful accessory for a garden is the addition of a water feature. A lovely off-the-shelf water feature can be found for as little as $150 or you can look at building a bespoke waterfall that cascades into your pool if the budget allows’’, recommends Debbie.

‘’The lovely sound of running water can be used to detract your attention from other sounds that can be heard in a busy built-up street’’.

Other features of luxury gardens will often include full outdoor kitchens, built-in fireplaces, and outdoor sound systems.

Outdoor kitchen and dining room

How do I create a luxury resort style garden in my backyard?

Nichola Vague has first-hand experience of unlimited budgets, having previously worked in the Middle East designing gardens for luxury resorts and royal palaces.

“With a high end budget, the client can start to access some of the things they do in resorts. It’s all about creating an atmosphere that will draw people out into the garden.”

Any resort worth its five stars will incorporate two key elements into their design, says Nichola.

“Fire next to water looks stunning, and you’ll always see this at top resorts. At home, think of installing firebowls next to your swimming pool, or gas torches leading the way to your water feature.”

Other luxury concepts include multi-level areas – whether you’re digging down (e.g to build a firepit), or building raised platform structures.  There is always a mix of shared open spaces, as well as multiple private areas.

“Translating this to your garden at home, you may want a wide open space where you can watch the kids run around; plus a dedicated entertaining area, and a few quiet nooks where you sit and chill.”

At resorts, anything less-than-glamorous is always hidden from sight. Your designer can provide clever solutions for functional areas at home; such as where to put the washing line or garden shed.

Should I engage with a landscape desginer?

If you’re investing a lot of money in your garden, you’ll probably get your designer involved in some capacity.

“It’s important to integrate your garden with your home’s architectural style,” says Nichola Vague.

“You might want to pull walls out from the house into the garden, for instance, or create an attached pergola. Your architect can also help with designing other garden structures that complement the house. For example, you might want to build a kids’ playhouse that can be turned into a pool-house later on.”

On the subject of pools, they’re obviously a significant cost to incorporate in your outdoor budget.

“There are many options available when it comes to swimming pools. It's important to check what’s included with a swimming pool installation. An in-ground pool will require paving and pool fencing. Plus, there needs to be an allowance to do the landscaping around the new pool once it’s completed. Prices realistically start from $80,000 upwards for a finished pool package and landscaping depending on what you choose’’, says Debbie.

Luxurious outdoor pool with in pool seating and firebowl on the perimeter.

How to create an eco-friendly garden

As they say, sustainability starts in our own backyard.  And if you have the funds, you’re duty-bound to incorporate as many environmentally-friendly features as you can.

A ‘rain garden’ is specifically designed to have a positive effect on managing stormwater. Using certain drainage methods and specially-chosen plants, the stormwater is both cleaned and reduced in volume.

And no matter what your garden budget, there’s no excuse to waste water on the end of a hose. For the relatively low cost of around $6,000 for a small garden, you can install an irrigation system that links to a stormwater tank.

“Good irrigation is critical, especially in the first few years when your garden is getting established,” says Nichola.

“I always recommend a drip irrigation system rather than a spray, as it’s a more efficient use of water.”

Creating a green space by adding plants

If you’re prepared to pay for it, you can grow virtually anything (although you may have to invest in a glasshouse).  

“Your planting scheme will probably be quite comprehensive,” says Nichola.

“You might have a high density of feature plants, and create a layered effect, which is more expensive to establish.”

You can also afford to buy very advanced specimens, so your garden will look established from day one. There are even suppliers of ready-formed hedging (check out Twining Valley Nurseries).  Large or unusual specimens will probably be sourced by your team from a specialist ‘big tree’ company.  

Rock garden with uplighting and waterfall

What lighting options are available in New Zealand?

A well-designed garden often looks even more stunning at night, especially when artfully lit.

There are specialist outdoor lighting companies who will do you a lighting plan, as well as supply the hardware and electrical services.

‘’Using quality light fittings to highlight specimen trees is one of the most spectacular ways to create atmosphere. Using higher quality and marine grade, especially in damper areas, means that they provide extra protection against the weather and provide a quality finish that will last for many years,’’ says Debbie.

If you have the budget for a piece of outdoor art, there are numerous talented New Zealand artists to support.

Two well-known names include Wanganui sculptor Jack Marsden-Mayer, who works with driftwood to create stunning pieces from the animal kingdom. The sculptures of Wellington-based Max Patte are collected by the likes of Sir Michael Hill, Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen.  

And finally, don’t forget to budget for ongoing maintenance of your masterpiece garden – whether you do it yourself, or call in the professionals.

‘’Ongoing maintenance is the only way to ensure your investment keeps looking good. The longer a garden is neglected, the longer it takes to clean up. Plants can become woody instead of lush, and harder surfaces require cleaning. Without maintenance your garden will not continue to look the way it was initially created,’’, says Debbie.

In order to achieve a high end landscaped garden the foundations must be well planned. If you are working with a smaller budget, you can begin to achieve your well-established foundations; read our basic project estimate for more information. With a mid-range budget, you can properly finish the foundations of your garden and begin to add more elements and features.

 

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This project estimate by Libby Schultz featured in Issue 019 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine . New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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