A steep, exposed site is landscaped to provide shelter, sun, views and privacy

Schist, gravel and railway sleeper steps leading down backyard, garden, grass, grass family, landscape, landscaping, outdoor structure, path, walkway, wall, yard, gray
Schist, gravel and railway sleeper steps leading down to house entrance, with view of bay below.

Sometimes the best view in town comes at a cost that's more than just financial. A steep and exposed building site can test both home and landscape architects.

The house featured on these pages successfully overcomes such drawbacks by maximising the hillside setting with a co-ordinated landscape plan. Owner and landscape architect Ralf Kre¼ger, who designed the garden with his wife Gabriele Walter, says his approach to the project was different than what he normally advocates.

"We built the house and lived in it for a year before we decided what we should do," he says. "This gave us time to discover the best positions for the sun and shelter at different times of the year."

Kre¼ger says the 1500m² site borders an urban area on one side with regenerating farmland on the other.

Raised garden on retaining wall near entrance of architecture, cloud, cottage, facade, grass, home, house, plant, real estate, residential area, roof, sky, white
Raised garden on retaining wall near entrance of house, and lower garden. House clad with weatherboard, stone and zincalume.

"Our aim was always to work with the land, rather than fight it," he says. "Consequently, the lower part of the site features an established mix of native plants with a few exotics, while the upper area, which is much drier, is planted with subalpine tussock grasses and grey shrubland species."

A path made from local stone leads from the road up to the house. This is flanked by the lush foliage of lady's mantle. Plants either side of the path reflect the New Zealand and German heritage of the owners and include gossamer grass, Chatham Islands flax and delphiniums.

At the top of the path, near the front entrance, a large, curved stone wall forms part of a circular tower. This is the pivotal point of the house, which was designed to hug the hillside. A pittosporum hedge the same height as the wall helps enclose a sheltered patio.

"This area also receives plenty of sun," says Kre¼ger. "To capture the views, which are on the other side of the house, the architect has glazed the walls, so you can see right through the house."

House clad in zincalume with large windows, a architecture, cloud, cottage, estate, facade, farmhouse, home, house, loch, property, real estate, reflection, sky, villa, window, teal
House clad in zincalume with large windows, a grass area and gardens in front, and views of bay beyond.

Retaining walls with terraced gardens beside the patio provide a sheltered spot to grow vegetables. Terracing the site was also a way to gain a bit more usable space. The top wall features a line of strawberry plants, which mark the boundary between the cultivated and wild gardens.

Other seating areas on different levels ensure there is somewhere to enjoy the sun at any time of the day. These include a private lawn garden, accessed from the master bedroom, which occupies the only flat piece of land. The lawn overlooks a large expanse of native planting on the lower hillside.

A deck on the east side offers further views of the garden, as well as the lake and mountains in the distance.

Credit list

House architect
Max Wild Architect
Stone walls and cladding
Gibbston schist
Stone walls
Outdoor furniture
Freedom Furniture Photography by Doc Ross
Landscape construction and planting
Schist on edge and crushed gravel
House cladding
Zincalume, macrocarpa weatherboard and stone

Story by: Trendsideas

03 May, 2003

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