“Turn an existing, tired garden into a lawn oasis”. A simple brief and a relatively simple project for this urban Katikati property which featured no lawn at all. It is often the simple designs which prove to be the greatest transformations and this was no exception. A virtual ‘lawn island’ forms the centrepiece of the new garden with a flagstone patio and brick paver mowing strips adding a solid definition to the space. The planting scheme is mainly native hybrids and with the exception of some flowering leptospernum, the colours remain mainly neutral allowing the lush green of the ‘tall fescue’ lawn to standout as the hero of the design.
‘Bold’ was the key phrase for this coastal property. The owners, a busy couple with a rapidly growing business as well as a popular accommodation wing, were all about impact when it came to creating a landscape to compliment their architecturally redesigned home. Being a large, tall house on a narrow site, the challenge for designer Josh was to keep a balance and scale to the landscape so that neither element dominated the other. The resulting concept really met the brief with the strong architectural form of Titon board frames in the front garden setting the overall scene. These structures match the double story pillars used in the exterior design of the house. The cleverly designed cantilevered or floating corners defy gravity and often stop passers by in their tracks! To soften the industrial nature of these structures a planting scheme consisting of African cabbage trees with their unusual form, Kangaroo paw and ground cover Rata was implemented. The striking red flowers from these varieties matching that of the front door. Behind all of this lies a meandering paved patio which weaves between large specimen seating rocks and the hardwood deck eventually encompassing two sides of the house. The standout feature of the patio being the large rectangular pavers laid in a stretcher bond pattern. The effect seems to add an almost ‘olde world’ feel to an otherwise contemporary design. The element of bandsawn cedar was also included to match the cladding on the house, being used in the privacy screens built along one boundary. All in all a very satisfying project which we believe really highlights the diverse abilities of our design team. More photos to come.
Oliver, Waihi Beach – design and build
Our clients for this project are a well travelled, recently retired couple who had just built their retirement home. Their love of the outdoors and lush gardens was strongly emphasised in their brief and our design needed to reflect this and utilise as much space as possible for their future enjoyment. The size and slope of the property and site of the dwelling meant that the sunny side of the house was rather restricted & cramped. This presented our main challenge as to how best lend an impression of space to the outdoor living areas & maintain views whilst creating privacy & shelter from prevailing winds. Our concept begins with stack bond block fencing which invites passersby to imagine what lies beyond. Well hidden behind the fences lie a series of ‘outdoor rooms’ comprising smaller paved spaces framed by sub tropical plantings, built in seating and timber slat screens. The resulting spaces are both intimate and roomy with each area subtly obscured from the next by the foliage & screening.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!