Shelley Ferguson turns her unloved garden into a Palm Springs paradise

Without a traditional back lawn, Shelley Ferguson had to think outside the box when it came to creating a space for child’s play, pool parties and more

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Who lives here?
Shelley Ferguson, 38 (editorial director of Your Home and Garden), Steven Ferguson, 38 (head coach of Piha Surf Lifesaving Club), sons Flynn, 6, and Jett, 5, plus Lily the cat.

Shelley Ferguson turns her unloved garden into a Palm Springs paradise

When we saw this 1960s home it was love at first sight. It’s a large home with lots of space. However, while it has a deck in front and a pool out back, there was zero lawn – even though the home is on a 780-square-metre section. I’m a big believer in assessing every inch of your outdoor area because often it’s there but not utilised or linked, so I drew up a design that created visual wow factor but also gained us valuable space. The mid-century home is surrounded by a beautiful palm garden, which inspired me to create a Palm Springs theme.

The final result?
We’re both ecstatic about the end result. Not only has it added space and value, it’s a unique design that’s sympathetic to the home’s era yet executed in a modern way.

Poolside glam 

While we were very happy to have a pool, it was a dark and dated area due to old, cracking black pavers and lots of overhanging trees. My poor husband, Steve, spent gruelling weeks sledgehammering out thick, old concrete and pavers and levelling the ground.

I have always dreamed of a Palm Springs-style breeze-block wall and my vision has finally come to life! I designed the wall using Firth Solar Screen Blocks and had it built, by a blocklayer, across the back of the section to create a streamlined focal point instead of the former dark, busy background. I chose a concrete slab pour for the entire area surrounding the pool to maximise the extra room and make the space feel larger.

The benefits of HRV solar

Solar power makes perfect sense to me – the sun is a sustainable energy source after all. So we were stoked to include HRV solar panels as part of our outdoor renovation. The HRV Solar team assessed our home’s electricity needs, then recommended the ideal system size and organised an upgrade of our switchboard.

From there, installation was simple. Twenty panels tucked out of sight on the roof capture the sun’s light, and clever inverters convert it into home-ready electricity which is fed to power outlets. A smart panel on the wall and a handy app allow us to track the details. All this works with our existing electrical system and we can stay with our current electricity supplier. Not only have we made a sustainable choice, it’s also future-proofed our home and my family’s needs.

Side hustle

Steve got rid of six skipfuls of trees and concrete path from the rear side of the house – he lost 10kg in the process but we gained a 20-metre-by-four-metre stretch of land! It’s not huge but it means the boys can kick a ball around and have a trampoline within a secure play space.

The side fence used to be a mix of about four styles – instead I wanted a horizontal cedar-slat fence to run the entire length. Huge shout-out to my clever hubby here – he designed and built it himself, with some slat-laying help from his dad.

Tim McIntosh from GameOn Turf’s top reasons to try turf:

GameOn turf is maintenance free; there’s no need to weed, mow or water it and it will look and feel good year round.
It looks authentic – you can get long-pile synthetic grass that has the look and feel of natural grass.
It’s great for tricky areas of land and small spaces where it’s difficult to grow real grass.
It’s pet-friendly and designed to withstand pet waste.
There are different types of turf to suit different aesthetics – long pile and lush with a soft feel to suit tropical style gardens, or short pile for a modern streamlined look suits high traffic areas.
Our products are tough too, they’re made for New Zealand conditions. They’re non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and heavy metal free, and made using raw materials.
There’s a wide range of prices, from $35m2-$75m2.

Get the Look

+ Solar panels from HRV Solar.
+ Solar Screen Blocks from Firth.
+ Block wall built by Humphrey Brick & Block.
+ Concrete colour from Peter Fell.
+ Concrete-laying by ACL Concrete.
+ Cedar from Hermpac. |
+ Turf from GameOn Turf.
+ Pink throw, cushions, gold drinkware and wood platter from Citta.
+ Umbrella from Paper Plane.
+ Drinks trolley from Jardin.
+ Butterfly chairs from Alfresco Inexterior Living.
+ Plants and planters from Hire Plants.
+ Wall painted in Resene ‘Alabaster’.
+ All other items Shelley’s own.


Fore more information visit HRVSolar and Game on Turf.

Words by: Shelley Ferguson. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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