This garden acts as a visual extension of the home's rear-facing rooms – sense of place and a Japanese aesthetic are also part of the plot

Landscaping by Zoe Carafice, Xanthe White Design

From the landscape designer:

The existing garden

The site was what we would describe as a forgotten backyard. You could have imagined that once there had been a loved garden there but it was pretty stripped back and un-gardened.

While the existing garden was pretty tired there was generous treescape on the neighbour’s boundary which created a backdrop to grow into – making the garden feel more established sooner.

What we wanted to create

We wanted to create immersive spaces that are integrated within a garden setting.

The garden spaces flow and connect but are submerged in layered plantings. The resulting spaces offer both long disappearing views and discoverable areas within the lush planting.

Our starting point

The two main design approaches were to relinquish a large lawn and to manage the water through a natural rain garden.

This move allowed the living spaces to be set within plantings rather than against a lawn, which changes the dynamic and depth of the spaces.

The rain garden also offered the opportunity to draw on some traditional Japanese influences in terms of the rain chain and stones bridging the flood zone to connect spaces.

It’s the marriage of productive plantings, Japanese influence and local stone and materials which make the garden feel unique to this place.

The garden has Japanese influences such as a
The garden has Japanese influences such as a rain chain & stones bridging the flood zone to connect spaces.
The rain chain you're having when you're not
The rain chain you're having when you're not having a drainpipe.


Diversity and seasonality were the key drivers for plant choices – so we looked at a blend of native material which are always the base building blocks in any design.

These earth the garden in this location with highlights of colour and productive trees.

Plants include Geranium ‘Rosanne’ and Euphorbias, Canna panache, Isotoma groundcover, taro, and titoki – there are a lot of layers to the planting in this garden!

Hard landscaping

The stone is all Paradise stone which is the most available locally sourced paving stone appropriate in the Auckland region.

Using local stone is not just more sustainable, it also creates a signature of place.

When we use stone we look at the weight of use and invest more in high use areas, drifting into soft floating pavers for areas where the movement is secondary.

As the seasons change

Gardens definitely rise and fall but in the warmer north the falling period is shorter – and this garden was no exception.

When working on planting design we analyse the seasonal shifts of colour in a garden to make sure there are ‘moments’, even if they are singular, through each period of the year.

The idea of four seasons is insufficient for a master garden designer.

The patterns of this garden are broken down into at least monthly cycles so there is always anticipation as one thing passes for another ‘moment’ arriving.

Versatility meets an expansive feel

SGA really opened the house into the garden space and the garden itself is really an extension of rooms rather than a singular space.

It’s this versatility and discovery that makes the garden feel more than it is even though it is not a large space.

See the related house story

Credit list

Renovating architect

Designed by: Garden of dreams

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Neeve Woodward

05 Dec, 2021

Home kitchen bathroom commercial design

Latest Post

03 Dec, 2023

03 Dec, 2023

03 Dec, 2023

We know the Specialists

Related Book

TRENDS MINI COVER 11 landscaping - architecture | architecture, botanical garden, botany, building, estate, facade, garden, grass, home, house, landscape, landscaping, lawn, plant, property, real estate, residential area, tree, brown, gray

Looking for suppliers, ideas, solutions for your outdoor project? Find a wealth of al fresco inspiration here

Read More

Similar Stories