North Shore Landscaping SpecialistsView Other Locations
North Shore residents have the distinct privilege of being within just a few minutes’ drive of some of the loveliest coastline in New Zealand, regardless of where they happen to live, so it makes sense that convenient outdoor living is at the top of most homeowners’ priorities.
Brothers Matt and Boyd Gillespie, and married couple Tracey and Glen Barker manage two Zones Landscaping franchises on the sunny North Shore. Between all of them, the landscaping specialists have extensive experience living and working on the Shore, with Matt and Boyd growing up and going to school locally and Glen living in the area for 25 years.
Their professional expertise is very varied though. Matt has 20 years’ experience in the building and construction industry, starting from an apprentice carpenter through to project managing the construction of luxury, multi-million-dollar homes. Boyd trained as a teacher before heading overseas to play professional rugby. When he returned to New Zealand, he worked in residential construction for six years then ran an FMCG distribution company for another five, before taking over a Zones landscaping franchise alongside his brother Matt.
Tracey and Glen have been together for five years, married for two, and have three adult children and two grandchildren between them. Tracey comes from a Biotech background where she worked in drug development for a number of years. Tracey took the opportunity to make a career change and, along with Glen who previously spent 18 years working in office products, launched a Zones landscaping franchise. The couple has been working with Zones for 18 months now and recently took out the Zones Best New Franchise of the Year award.
“We’ve always loved landscaping, especially on our own properties, so when we came across Zones it seemed like a really good fit,” says Tracey. “We loved that we could put our passion into practice.”
Since taking over their Zones franchise in February 2017, the Barkers have been involved in almost 40 projects, from backyard renovations and new builds right through to massive projects where homeowners have completely overhauled their outdoor living spaces. “There’s definitely a trend for outdoor living and entertaining – it’s the Kiwi way,” Tracey says. “Low-maintenance is also a popular request. Everyone has busy lives so they don’t have time to look after their gardens – but they still want them to look good.”
Whether it’s used mostly by a family or for entertaining, functional outdoor spaces are essential for a comfortable, welcoming home – not to mention when it comes to adding value to a property, says Matt. The Gillespies enjoy helping homeowners transform outdoors areas into functional, high-quality spaces that positively impact the way they live every day.
Zones proudly work alongside a range of local contractors to fulfil their clients’ needs – in their first year the Barkers even did a lot of their own soft landscaping like planting. Because Matt and Boyd have lived on the Shore for most of their lives, they’ve developed strong working relationships with a strong network of local designers, suppliers and contractors too.
When it comes to dealing with the council with projects like swimming pools or retaining walls, both franchises work closely with designers and landscape architects who have great relationships with the council and have the experience necessary to understand what boxes need to be ticked to get plans approved first time around.
When it comes to guarantees and insurances, Zones’ overarching Contract Works Liability and Indemnity insurance covers most scenarios. “At the beginning of the process, we always tell a client that we won’t walk away until they’re happy,” says Tracey. “We’re proud to go the extra mile to make sure every one of our clients are happy, and in the first few months after a project has been completed they can come back to us if anything goes wrong.”
Tracey thinks it’s wise to utilise the skills of a landscaping specialist, rather than attempting to do it all yourself. “The main benefits that come with using a Zones North Shore Landscaping Specialists is time and cost,” she says. “We know from the bottom up what’s going to happen, and we try to offer a fixed quote accordingly. Things can drag on when you try to do it yourself too, whereas we might be able to do the job in just a few weeks while the homeowner sits back and relaxes.”
But of course, landscaping is so much more than a few flowers here and a couple of fruit trees there.
“I love working with Zones because every day is different, we meet some awesome people, and we love the tradies we work with,” Tracey says. “It’s fun seeing the look on a client’s face when they see their design for the first time and they get really excited. It’s really rewarding doing the whole process for the client.”