A Mediterranean garden in Ngaio
The garden to this lovely period weatherboard and terracotta-tiled house was concentrated on the Eastern, downhill and shady side of the house. What little there was to the West, predominantly WCC road reserve, with some parts of a drive built on the next door neighbour’s section, was a run-down, high-maintenance, impractical, and un-safe approach to the house with an unappealing aesthetic that needed bringing up-to-date.
The front garden had a small lawn running into a poor, sloping concrete drive that in conjunction with a tall concrete crib wall, retaining the footpath and road approximately 2m above, dominated the whole ‘garden area’ whilst allowing cars to park right in the middle of the garden. This was however the only sunny area of the property and also the only area that could potentially offer the indoor/outdoor flow from the house that the family was set on achieving.
The Clients were also keen to develop the Western garden to offer the children a secure, sunny garden to play in and adults a sheltered private courtyard in which they might entertain/dine/sit and read the paper over summer breakfast. As part of their brief they stipulated that the new patio be on the same level as the kitchen floor; this meant raising the level of the ground against the house by some 350mm thereby presenting some major issues re drainage and maintenance of the weather-tightness of the fabric of the building.
So a complete change was required to the way the ground was used with the Clients agreeing to a proposal to remove the intrusion of cars parking in front of the house by providing off-street car-parking, and re-working the approach to both the section in general but more importantly the front door. This included removal of all lawn and concentration of the new garden around a large patio enclosed by waist-high walls.
A timber carport/garage using the same terracotta tiles, matching rough-sawn pine weatherboards, detailing to faschia and paint colours as the house was built at road level at the top of the old drive. Its position, approximately 25m away from the house, provided privacy from passing cars/pedestrians and shelter from the prevailing Northerly winds that had previously been quite a feature of this part of the section, but also allowed all the space between to be developed as a proper garden. Lesser yet important tasks involved moving and re-using the Heritage gates already on-site to close-off the carport to the street, diverting drainage off the building and pad into existing storm water drainage systems, access through the carport into the garden and the inclusion of lighting both in and outside the carport to enable easy, safe movement to the house at night.
Main access into the garden was re-arranged behind the carport via a Heritage pedestrian gate salvaged from the Southern side of the house, with wide, shallow plastered steps gently leading one through the garden, presenting the visitor/guest head-on to the front door.
A walled ‘courtyard garden’ around a terracotta, coloured-concrete patio at the same level as the kitchen floor allows easy access via French windows from both the kitchen and playroom instantly creating a large, comfortable and welcoming ‘outdoor room’ for the family. Plastered, painted walls matching the weatherboard colour brighten and widen the whole area, defining this sheltered entertainment space with clean lines and a distinctly Mediteranean look ideal for outdoor living.
The whole garden but particularly the enclosed space of the courtyard is filled with romantic, scented planting, combining both natives and ornamentals. The planting was designed around an evergreen backbone to provide a constant, easy-care structure that offers privacy, colour and all-season interest to the garden without being a burden to look after.
Unobtrusive but modern stainless steel lighting in the courtyard walls create a feeling of warmth and safe enclosure, whilst the steps and carport have lighting to ensure safe movement around/through the garden. All lights are controlled from the house however the carport and step lighting are also controlled from the carport itself.
It was felt that emphasis should be placed on sympathetically bonding the new construction to the particular style of the property to give the completed project the feel that this area had always been part of the house’s planned use of space rather than a later addition. With that aim firmly fixed in mind the new garden has proved very successful in achieving its goals. Not only are the Clients delighted by the potential for outdoor living that it offers but also by the way it has dramatically altered their appreciation of their home.