It’s just like the tropics in this lush Orewa garden

Award-winning designer Kirsten Sach transforms a completely bare garden at housing development Millwater in Orewa

In a nutshell

Who lives here? Henry Lin (director/head of consulting services for a dairy commodity consulting company), Coco Liang (retail banker), Chelsea, 5, and Bush, the Japanese Spitz.
Henry, what attracted you to the Millwater area? Good local communities, high quality education for my daughter, good lifestyle for the family (lots of outdoor activities, close to the beach, and expansion of local amenities).
What are some of your favourite attractions in the area? Orewa beach, Roberts Coffee Bar and the Mozaik Cafe, Millwater playground, and the 5.8km cycleway/walkway from Millwater to Orewa.

Design process

Henry and Coco had already done their homework on what kind of garden spaces they wanted before talking to Kirsten, so they had a well-thought-out view of what they felt the garden should look like and how it should function. “We wanted a tropical/contemporary-style garden with low maintenance requirements,” says Henry. “All the plants had to be evergreen and tolerant of harsh weather as our house is in a high-wind zone. We also wanted all the fences and most of the retaining walls to be covered by plants within a couple of years for better privacy and a nice outlook from the house.”

The build

Bringing the vision to life was not a straightforward process, though. Kirsten says the site was “extremely challenging” with all the topsoil removed and only bare clay remaining, which is common with subdivisions. “There were drainage issues and this came to a head during construction when heavy rain sent run-off from the rear property cascading down in a massive waterfall over the retaining wall. It was an absolute shocker.”

It was clear that the drainage had to be fixed before any planting or major works could take place and landscape contractors Urbis Landscapes came in to sort it out.

Once the garden beds were built they then had to be filled with large amounts of good-quality garden mix. Screening for privacy was also a major concern. “A lot of thought went into screening trees and palms and creating attractive cedar screens,” Kirsten explains.

Henry’s garden design tips

  • Do your own research before talking to a landscape designer. It will save a lot of time if you know exactly what you want first.
  • Have a clear budget before approaching a designer so they can design the garden as close as possible to what you want within your budget.
  • Be present. The designer’s job is to bring your concept/dream to reality; they should not make all the decisions on your behalf.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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