Landscaping: where to spend and where to save

A Lutyens chair at the side of the pergola, with Eugenia ventenatii hedging behind in this large garden in St Heliers.
JANE USSHER/NZHOUSE&GARDEN

A Lutyens chair at the side of the pergola, with Eugenia ventenatii hedging behind in this large garden in St Heliers.

In a perfect world, landscaping would be planned and budgeted for as part of any renovation or new build project.

But all too often our plan on what to do outside comes at the end of everything else, when funds are low.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to spend your money with landscaping, because each situation is different. Do you like to stop and smell the flowers in your serene oasis or is your lawn one big cricket pitch for the family?

This multilayered garden in Auckland guides visitors to the front door of a gracious villa; the kentia palms and orange ...
JANE USSHER/NZHOUSE&GARDEN

This multilayered garden in Auckland guides visitors to the front door of a gracious villa; the kentia palms and orange clivia under the grand pohutukawa were transplanted from the original garden; the star jasmine, bromeliads, cycads and hedge are newcomers.

Henry Blakely of Henry Blakely Landscapes in Christchurch works at the top end of the market and says it's difficult to say where money should be spent and where it should be saved with landscaping, because "it depends on clients' expectations".

READ MORE:
Five things to avoid with your outdoor area

How to plan your outdoor space
The landscape completes a home's 'exterior design'

 
This four-bedroom home in Waitakiri is 225 square metres. including a two-car garage with laundry. The open-plan design, ...
DOUG RICHARDSON/AVENUES

This four-bedroom home in Waitakiri is 225 square metres. including a two-car garage with laundry. The open-plan design, large windows and high ceilings in the living areas create a spacious feeling. The exterior of the house is white Rockcote, a lightweight concrete material, with a Windsor Grey Colorsteel roof. The front deck is surrounded by hedging to keep the entertainment space private.

The key, though, is what you are using your garden for. Is it useable space and useful for how you want to enjoy your garden?

If you want to keep costs down, Blakely suggests sowing a lawn and having minimal planting, perhaps a border of griselinia. At an approximate cost of $80 a square metre, a sown lawn is less costly than decking or paving.

"You end up with a nice, green space that's something simple from a budgetary point of view, but which is aesthetically pleasing," Blakely said.

Outdoor lighting glows on the steps leading up to the front entrance of a Hawke?s Bay home.
PAUL MCCREDIE/NZHOUSE&GARDEN

Outdoor lighting glows on the steps leading up to the front entrance of a Hawke?s Bay home.

Have you got a fantastic or interesting house you'd like to show others? Don't be shy, tell us all about it. Send your story, photos or video homed@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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If you have green fingers and want a garden with more than griselinia in it, buying smaller-grade specimen trees is less costly than larger versions. Of course, you'll need to be patient and wait for them to grow. "You have to have vision and be prepared to wait."
Paving stones add a bit of character - but you'll want to pick the right ones.
SALLY TAGG/NZHOUSE&GARDEN

Paving stones add a bit of character - but you'll want to pick the right ones.

Blakely says large trees immediately give a sense of scale, something smaller trees and underplanting can't provide straight away. Group plants in odd numbers to give a sense of mass – arrange in groups of three, five, seven and nine.

As for garden styles and costs, Blakely says a cottage garden can be less costly and easier to maintain than a clean-lined, contemporary garden. "A minimal look is harder to achieve," Blakely said.

If you're using fewer plants in your crisp, contemporary garden, you need to invest in quality specimens. Just like an architecturally designed house, something that appears simple and clean-lined is often more expensive to create.

Keen on a deck? Don't cut corners with the quality of materials.
Jane Ussher

Keen on a deck? Don't cut corners with the quality of materials.

If you are keen on a deck, you can't cut corners with the quality of materials. "It has to be built to spec," Blakely said. "You need ground-treated timber, proper fixings and finishing timber."

Imported hardwood pine is the cheapest option for decking.

"When it's stained, it can look pretty sharp at the end of it."

Short stone pillars stand out the front entrance of a Blenheim home.
Paul McCredie

Short stone pillars stand out the front entrance of a Blenheim home.

For paving, cobblestones or concrete paving slabs laid on compacted base course and crusher dust, with sand in between them, can be the cheapest way to pave. But it's not without its drawbacks.

"You will have weeds coming up in between," Blakely said. Also, in Canterbury and other earthquake-prone areas, pavers are best laid in 100mm of concrete to avoid movement.

High-end pavers include bluestone, basalt and imported Turkish limestone, which can cost between $250 to $500 a square metre, laid.

A nice green space is pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain.
PAUL MCCREDIE/NZHOUSE&GARDEN

A nice green space is pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain.

When it comes to lighting, Blakely says "less is more".

"Peripheral lighting is good as it's not so in your face," he said.

Remember too, that with garden feature lighting you need to have something to light. You're better off spending your money on fewer lights that illuminate some well-chosen and well-planted parts of your garden. Having too many lights can look messy and disorganised.

Blakely says if there is no electrical system in place, it's possible to use solar lights, although he doesn't encourage it.

 - Homed

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