How the landscaping of this Christchurch new-build helps it feel established

The landscaping plan for this new site in Christchurch took advantage of established neighbouring gardens to create leafy sight lines and a sense of privacy

How the landscaping of this Christchurch new-build helps it feel established

When Craig Wilson of Form Garden Architecture admired some mature trees next to a bare section in the Christchurch suburb of Strowan, his first thought was to borrow the view for a garden he was designing for the site.

“It was a bare section down a long right of way,” he says. “The neighbouring sections had some established trees which I could see would create a lovely backdrop and a ‘borrowed’ landscape that would provide a sense of scale to the two-storey home.”


With the trees’ foliage screening out the neighbouring houses, the 556-square-metre site provided just the right amount of privacy – a quality that Craig’s clients, Walter and Paulette Scott, were after. “We were not interested in being in a new subdivision,” says Paulette. “This section is in a secluded spot at the end of a long driveway which is shared by five other homes. We have two boundaries which look out onto large, established gardens with large trees, the houses of each being some distance back from us, which means we can enjoy the borrowed landscape of our neighbours.”


The couple commissioned Benchmark Homes to construct their house and the builders recommended Craig for the landscape design. “We wanted to have the landscape plan finalised in the early stages of the build so any structural work could be coordinated with that,” says Walter.

“We wanted a design that reflected the French-villa style of the house, easy-care with outdoor living options. Craig was very quick to visualise what would work and he drew up an initial plan with the ideas we had agreed on. We then were able to take it away to study it and we met him back on site to talk about a few changes we had identified. Once we had agreed on the plan, we took it to the next stage where he drew up working drawings and planting plans.”

Walter and Paulette wanted a structured garden without it being rigidly formal, says Craig. A key element in his design was disguising the boundaries of the irregularly shaped section while also maximising afternoon sun and providing shelter from the prevailing easterly wind.

“Responding to the house layout, we built an outdoor entertaining deck at finished-floor height to seamlessly integrate with the indoor living spaces. The deck wraps around the northern and eastern sides of the house to create a large, sun-drenched area. The design lines of the deck, planters and paving are aligned with the house to disguise the irregular section, which would otherwise clash with the semi-formal aesthetic of the house,” he says.

Wide steps connecting the deck to the lawn can be used as informal seating areas for larger gatherings, as can the plastered concrete block planters at the eastern end of the deck. To the west, steps down from the deck lead to a smaller patio where the wine-red foliage of a forest pansy (Cercis) provides a lovely focal point for Paulette to enjoy from her painting studio.

A raised vegetable garden is screened from the easterly wind by a slatted timber fence in a utility area off the kitchen. Although this garden is quite small, it’s still handy. “We manage to grow a few basics like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, rhubarb and herbs,” says Paulette. “It is right outside our kitchen door so it’s great to be able to just step outside to get what we need.”


Two years on, the owners and designer are delighted with the rapid growth of the garden. “It was certainly worthwhile choosing larger specimen trees to begin with,” says Paulette. “I particularly love the raised garden near our living area which, in the summer, is filled with blue and ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas which reflect the colour scheme of our inside decor.

The three trees (Michelia ‘Lemon Fragrant’) in that bed have a delightful fragrance in the spring which we can smell inside the house when the doors are open onto the deck. However, we enjoy all the other areas as well; they have a great variety of plants including standard camellias, jasmine, lavenders and buxus hedging, to name a few.”

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Kate Claridge.

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