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Originally a terraced lawn and garden, this rear yard has been transformedwith a new infinity-edge swimming pool, spa and barbecue area

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Even a small garden can be completely transformed by a makeover – in this case it was a new swimming pool that prompted a redesign of the rear yard.

The owners of the property approached landscape architect Gudrun Fischer, who had designed a terraced garden for them eight years ago.

"The family wanted a pool, but the site was very small," Fischer says. "The only way to fit the pool in was to remove the lawn terrace and retaining walls. But it was important that the works didn't jeopardise a large hedge that wrapped around two sides of the boundary, as it provides privacy from neighbouring properties."

Fischer says the pool was placed at the same level as the former lawn, which created the possibility of an infinity edge.

"Because the pool occupies so much of the site, we wanted to incorporate a special feature to enhance the outlook from the family room. In other words, the landscape also needed to be about aesthetics, not just functionality."


To this end, two raised planter boxes were introduced to the front of the pool. These are separated by the small weir, where water flows into a holding pool. A grate hidden just under the water ensures this feature complies with pool safety regulations. The rest of the pool is screened by a glass fence for uninterrupted views.

Fischer says part of the existing hardwood decking was removed to make room for the pool, but was re-used to build steps at one end. These lead to a sandstone-paved pool terrace and the pool entry.

This end of the property also accommodates a spa pool, and a utility area, concealed behind a trellis fence.

"Because the pool terrace is elevated, the spa pool is partially sunken into the ground," says Fischer. "This ensures it doesn't look too imposing from below. It is at the same height as the bench seating, which creates a less cluttered, more streamlined look."

A heat exchange pump for the pool is hidden within one of the bench seats next to the spa, and a retractable pool cover is concealed within a stainless steel frame beneath the pool terrace.

On the opposite side of the site, a barbecue area and gas fireplace are positioned near the alfresco dining area.

"This area at the side of the house used to be a wind tunnel, but a new concrete wall, which incorporates the fireplace and a hidden door, makes it more sheltered," says Fischer.

Existing macrocarpa bench seating was reinstalled beside the new seating area, and black squabs chosen to match the black market umbrella.

A turquoise-coloured pool interior and lush planting enliven the landscape. A low corokia Frosted Chocolate hedge in front of the high waterhousia hedging creates a layered effect and hides the leggy base of the larger hedge.

Other plants include the sculptural Alcantarea imperialis rubra and dwarf mondo grass in the planter boxes, and a line of liriope Royal Purple along the boundary near the table.

First published date: 16 February 2012

Credit List

Landscape architect Gudrun Fischer, Gudrun Fischer Outdoor Design (Auckland)
Landscape contractor Decker Landscapes
Pool builder Classic Pools
Spa pool Sundance Spas
Fireplace Warmington from Fires By Design