Williams, Waihi Beach – design and build Waterfall, Deck & Gardens

This was the very first time we had been asked to build a rock water fall and as excited as we were by the prospect we had one very obvious hurdle to overcome right from the beginning because there was no access for machinery. Our design and quote needed to take this into account with all excavation of the sloping eight metre site and most rock placement being undertaken manually. Thankfully a neighbouring landowner allowed us passage across their property so that some larger rocks could be craned into place from the top of the slope once we had completed our digging phase. These large rocks form the spine of the waterfall and ensured the end result still appeared ‘large scale’. The remaining rock was barrowed or hand transported into place and set on an EPDM rubber pond liner. The waterfall design comprises a main pond surrounded by a deck and bridge crossing. The main pond is fed by way of three cascades as the water makes its way down the incline. The bridge crossing forms the beginning of a timber and bark stairway which ascends the slope adjacent to the waterfall and ends at a flat seating area above. The water is reticulated via a stainless steel Grundfos submersible pump. Completing the scene is a native planting scheme comprising groundcovers in the form of Carex grass varieties, Coprosma varieties, Muehlenbeckia, Pratia and Poor Knights lily.

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Jones, Waihi Beach – design and build

This project coincided with a major extension and the remodelling of the existing house plus the construction of a new cottage, all sited on a semi rural property. The clients brief was basically quite simple; keep the rural and rustic feel, maintaining a sense of space for children to roam, play & enjoy, plus include some exotic elements to appease the adults. Our focus went first to the nature of the house alterations. The exterior cladding and look of the existing dwelling was to be retained with the new modern addition quite literally ‘married’ onto it. So too the theme of marrying old and new became an important theme in the landscape design with recycled materials being used extensively and existing gardens & trees retained where possible. As a result large river rocks feature heavily and sit well alongside well-worn recycled cobblestones, aged macrocarpa decking, jarrah bridge beams, railway sleepers and redwood post and rail fencing. This amplifies the rustic country feel and a true sense of timelessness. Although brand new, the potentially harsh elements of the raised concrete swimming pool and large concrete driveway all still seem to blend nicely with the ageless surrounds of established gum trees and post’n rail bordered horse paddocks. This softening was achieved primarily by way of strategic planting and by drawing attention to the approaches to both the house entrance and pool. These approaches provide an experience for pedestrians by way of wide macrocarpa boardwalks that forge through the lush gardens. Comprising a mixture of native and subtropical plants the planting scheme relies more on striking foliage rather than colour so as not to steal the show from the timber and rock. This scene is then transformed by night into a shadowy wonderland thanks to subtle garden and path lighting.

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Beach Kids Childcare Centre – Waihi Beach

Beach Kids Childcare Centre, Waihi Beach – design and build

Another first for our company, this time a playground conversion. Our budget was lean and we needed to retain as much of the existing equipment as possible whilst breathing new life into the space. Our design was based around a tribal village style setting and with the creation of a series of smaller linked spaces the end result gives a sense of more space with separate areas for young children to escape and explore. Many different materials were used to offer a variety of texture, colour, shape and form to be experienced as the kids travel through and between each play area.

As with all projects this one came with its own set of challenges. We had very limited access to the site and because the centre was already established and running we had tight restrictions on when the project could be carried out. Hence, once a plan was formulated and accepted we had to pin point the most ideal time to move in for the installation, while causing the least amount of disruption to the centre. In the end it was decided that we undertake the project during the only time of year that the centre was closed – Christmas to New Year.  . So while the rest of the country was on holiday and lying on the beach we were busy working to our tight deadline. Overall, a fantastic transformation which the kids, parents and teachers just love.

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The Secret Garden – Wilson Road, Waihi Beach

Design and Build

Brief: We were absolutely delighted to be approached by Jacob & Willie early in 2009 with the challenge of turning this once neglected but sheltered back yard into ‘The Secret Garden’, a tropical inspired sanctuary where they could showcase garden art and collectibles and offer a venue where individuals or groups could ‘escape from everyday life’.

The first step toward helping our client turn this dream into reality was to formulate a plan which blended elements of design and sustainability with the function and practicality that they required to make the space multi purpose. It was intended to be, not only a place of business but, as it was open to the public, also a pleasant space to be enjoyed by all. The plan blueprint was established through constant communication and draft plans that were reworked and ‘tweaked’ until the clients felt 100% confident to proceed. Recycled and natural materials were high on the priority list and so locally sourced bamboo and rocks were some of the main mediums used in construction.

The overgrown plot that is now ‘The Secret Garden’ was at one time used as a vegetable & fruit garden by previous residents but in recent times became a space for burning rubbish and storing unwanted items. And so it was when work commenced that the initial clean-up uncovered many hidden surprises in the undergrowth. Most of the existing trees however were able to be pruned back and preserved as site clearing, then construction, forged ahead. This allowed the local resident bird life to remain, often as curious & friendly onlookers! Extra high fencing enclosed the area even more and with truckloads of compost and mulch brought in to the benefit the plants it was up to nature to do the rest.

6 months after completion and the sheltered aspect of this site is proving to be the catalyst for a truly sub tropical microclimate with all plants flourishing and trees fruiting at a rate far quicker than expected. The venue has already hosted many functions and the atmosphere has been everything the clients wanted it to be.

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Porter – Waihi Beach

Design and Build

Brief: This project, undertaken on a large coastal property, presented the usual challenges associated with beachfront landscaping – salt laden winds and poor soil. Add to this the encroaching winter coinciding with our start date and we knew we had a real job on our hands.

Our clients brief was relatively simple, maintain the unobstructed views, create privacy from neighbouring properties and allow for an expansive lawn area and petanque court. Our finalised design included nearly 500m2 of lawn, bordered by a large fence and a petanque court seemingly formed out of a natural boulder bank. We worked very closely with the client to establish a planting scheme which comprised transplanted trees and plants brought from the their Hamilton home and plants we sourced from our preferred nurseries. The list was very eclectic and included citrus, coastal natives, coastal exotics, tender sub tropicals and succulents.

The existing soil was a blend of sand, rock and rubble. It was so poor that it even struggled to sustain kaikuyu & gorse! Therefore our very first task was to truck in 120m3 of clay ash and topsoil for the lawn and ‘ready to plant’ garden mix for the garden beds. With our soils established we could form the footprint of our design, first with the boulder banks using locally sourced quarry rock, then mowing strips and garden edging formed with Firth “Holland” and “Boulevard” pavers. Next the lawn – preferred for its tolerance of drought and harsh conditions, we used “Legend Couch” instant turf.

Planting and mulching came next and unfortunately so too did back to back winter storms. Nearly three weeks of torrential rain and gale force easterly winds lashed the site. Although severely battered and salt burnt nearly every plant survived and by the spring we all breathed a sigh of relief as new growth started to appear!

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Pascoe – Waihi

Design and Build

Brief: Another brand new modern home but seemingly built on an old rubbish tip… from the first spade turned we were unearthing the history of Waihi! The focus of our design here was on an open, sunny outdoor living and entertaining area. Apart from the rock & rubble filled earth our main hurdle in achieving this was privacy, being that the outdoor living circle ended right on the footpath. This proximity to the public meant a substantial fence was needed. Because the brick used on the house made such a strong statement we incorporated it into our fence design along with the sleek look of timber slats. A two tiered deck added some elevation to an otherwise flat section and garden. ‘Matangi Gold’ exposed aggregate driveway and paths complemented the colours in the brick and framed the planting nicely. The lush foliage planting scheme is pocketed with splashes of bold colour provided by alstromeria, dwarf canna and calla lily.

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Edginton – Katikati

Design and Build

Brief: The brief for this project was to replace the existing modern contemporary garden and lawn with a ‘country style’ edible garden to include citrus, herbs and vegetables. The client wanted chemical free materials to be used where possible, an all weather potting shelter and because of the property’s proximity to a public reserve they wanted privacy to be improved.

We built our design around two raised vegetable gardens constructed from untreated macrocarpa and kwila. Not only chemical free but they lent nicely to the country style that our client wanted to achieve. Our clients had recently moved from a rural Waikato property to retire in the sunny Bay of Plenty. Ironically the first week of work was hampered by torrential rain then frosts! Sub surface water was such an issue that temporary drainage had to be implemented to allow work to proceed. Our client was beginning to wonder whether they had made a wise move! The end result however was a simple but elegant blend of modern and country. Stained timber slat screens were constructed to provide the needed privacy from the reserve and an enclave previously used to house a spar pool was roofed and converted into a potting shed complete with kwila potting bench. All areas were linked with Firth Flagstones bedded in river pebbles.

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Beaches Motel – Waihi Beach

Brief: Take an aptly named and rather dated 70’s motel and transform into something relaxed and beach orientated. This pretty much summed up our brief. Oh, and do it on a shoe string! We got to work on this by drawing up a draft plan that could be implemented in 3-4 stages.

Stage one, now complete, focused on the two road entrances. The existing bright pink garden boxes were unscrupulously demolished but the plants were kept aside to be reused later. Rope, rock and shell were the main mediums used to create the “Beachie” theme and natural timber was used in the main areas of construction – retaining walls and edging to establish boundaries and gardens, privacy screens for road front units and chunky timber bollards. Some cleverly positioned lighting was also used to bring the main entrance to life at night and highlight the existing Queen Palms.

Watch this space!

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Purvis Industries

Design and Build

This recently built factory was in need of an outdoor extension to its staff meal and meeting room. The brief was to create an area where staff and on occasions, family, could enjoy fine weather during work breaks and staff functions. With no designated staff gardener, the owners wish was to keep any gardens minimal and low maintenance. The area was to be secure from the street and adjacent creek but remain open, sunny and spacious.

This was a simple design blending Firth plagstones and instant lawn. The gardens were edged with Firth cobblestones and a flagstone path linked to the smokers area with a flagstone patio.

For all its simplicity however this is a great example of the effectiveness and hardiness of instant lawn. The turf was laid mid winter in a frost prone area. The ‘after’ photo was taken exactly four weeks later, after the first mow. The lawn looks as if its been there forever!

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Pennell – Waihi Beach, Stage 1

Design and Build

This repeat client recently sold an architecturally designed home and bought a 1970’s style split level brick home and property in need of plenty of improvements! A total property makeover was requested and a full property Concept Plan was created to be implemented in 3-4 stages. The brief for this first stage included replacing existing retaining, establishing a large flat lawn and creating private, sheltered outdoor living and parking off a self contained flat being constructed downstairs. The client wanted the gardens to feature lots of large specimen rocks and low maintenance coast hardy plants. Our challenge was, in a word, SAND! The entire property consists of sand for as deep as you can dig. Retaining posts were placed especially deep and were anchored with plenty of concrete. Truckloads of compost went in to garden beds and a generous topsoil base was established for the instant lawn. All of this capped off with an irrigation system! We stuck to a relatively simple theme in keeping with the proposed improvements to the dwelling. The feature rocks in the gardens offer dramatic effect turning bold green when wet which contrasts wonderfully with a shell mix mulch and dark kauri stained timber. Martin couldn’t resist the urge and hollowed out one rock into a stunning letterbox complete with copper street number! Watch this space as this project unfolds…

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