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recipe for relaxation

From Habitat magazine - issue 11

An easy-care garden, great indoor/outdoor flow and a sun-drenched pool. It’s the recipe for the perfect outdoor space, and exactly what one family is now enjoying.

When this villa was bought in 2002, the owners had long-term plans for an extensive renovation. Their wish-list included opening the living spaces and kitchen onto the outdoor area, landscaping the property and adding a swimming pool and garage.

Outdoor pool
An overhanging deck at one end of the pool is the perfect spot for sun loungers. Pavers: Stevensons Veneto honed concrete pavers. Acmena hedging for privacy.

It was a multi-stage process that had to be done in a specific and logical order. The garage couldn’t be built until the pool had been installed or there would be no access for the digger.

Landscape Transformations was commissioned to design the new outdoor scheme. Designer Sam Lockie says the space was essentially a blank canvas with some lawn and a stand of tall evergreen acmenas on the southern boundary. These were retained for the privacy they provided.

Top of the family’s requirements was a heated pool and it has provided a fantastic focal point for outdoor living and entertaining – especially for their two teenage sons.

Pool tiling
The long pool is the perfect dimension for the restricted garden. Get the look with Resene Waterborne Woodsman tinted to Resene Crowshead. Pool fence: COLORSTEEL®. Get the look with Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Foggy Grey in double strength.

“The pool gives us endless entertainment in the summer, and it’s been easy to maintain. Having a pool encourages the kids to come home and have their friends over, which is what we wanted.”

A timber deck overhanging the deep end (2m) of the pool is the ideal spot for a pair of sun loungers. This corner of the property captures the last rays of sun, making it a popular spot.

Says the owner: “Landscape Transformations suggested incorporating this deck and it’s been great to hide away the pool cover as well as creating a good ‘bombing platform’ for the boys.”

Side lawn
Side lawn: A side lawn provides some play space for the owner’s two boys. Plants: A trio of potted buxus, ficus and mondo.

Behind the deck are three black timber feature screens, which provide privacy, create a visual full-stop to the garden, and hide the fact that the property falls away on an angle. “It was just one of the really clever problem-solving ideas that Sam came up with,” says the owner.

There were other practicalities to consider, like the siting of the pool and heat pumps.

The black screens help to conceal the pipes to these necessary services. Off to the side of the pool is an area for bin storage and the clothes line.

Trees: A row of acmenas provide privacy – and shelter for the birds. Flowers: Potted Primulas dress the table.

A black COLORSTEEL® fence provides a simple, uncluttered solution to meeting pool fencing requirements. “With a simple black fence, you tend to look through it, rather than at it,” says Sam. “This style of fence, as opposed to glass, which gets dirty quite quickly and is much too modern for this environment, suits the more traditional style of the house.”

The area around the house and on either side of the pool is finished in large square concrete pavers. “The pavers are laid as a tile, with a grouted joint on a concrete pad,” says Sam. “It provides a nice, solid, long-term solution and they won’t move at all.”

At the owners’ request, Landscape Transformations chose plants that would look good year round and require minimal maintenance. A buxus hedge along the edge of the pool paving provides a clean formal edge. Behind this are port wine magnolias (Michelia figo), which can be trimmed and kept under control. With their delicious honey scent they’re a lovely addition to the garden. Three or four eugenia were added along the back boundary, and Ficus pumila, has been trained up the wall of the neighbour’s garage.

“We’re thrilled with the end result,” says the owner. “We wanted to achieve good indoor/outdoor flow from the living, dining and kitchen area out to the pool, and it’s fantastic.”

Pool planning checklist

Consult an accredited designer or architect about the pool and surrounding living space for the best result.

Pools must be enclosed by a fence at least 1.2m high that’s made from an unclimbable material, and with an automatically closing and latching gate. Use a reputable fencing contractor who knows the regulations. Consider what type of fence would best suit your house and outdoor area.

A cold, shady pool isn’t inviting. Think about when you’ll use your pool most and choose a spot that has sun at that time.

Try to avoid overhanging trees or install a pool cover to save on cleaning.

Pools require underground services and piping. Be aware that you cannot dig within 1.5m of any public services such as water mains or sewer pipes. If this is an issue, you’ll need to pay for relocation of the public services.

Your site will influence your pool’s shape to some degree but consider your needs and lifestyle – for a family, bigger is often better. Include a large shallow end for children to use. If swim training’s your thing, a lap pool is the answer.

Your zoning may affect how deep your pool can be, as there are limits to the amount of soil you can remove from your site without resource consent. The pool depth also dictates its proximity to the boundary.

Solar heating, gas heating or heat pumps are different ways to warm your pool and extend its use by another few months each year. Weigh up the options according to your budget.

A pump, filter and sanitising treatment are essential to keep the water healthy. Salt treated pools are becoming popular as they don’t irritate the eyes and skin like traditionally chlorinated pools.

Alternative solution

A usable outdoor area

Sandra Batley of Flourish Gardens suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 1

This scheme is to make the outdoor area highly usable, year round, with the addition of a pergola out from the house, timber bench seating and an outdoor fireplace. Interest is added to the long pool with a dramatic two-metre-high stone wall, over which water flows. The pool fencing has been replaced by seamless glass, while the paving has been retained. Lush subtropical planting includes mature kentia and bungalow palms rising up behind the wall and edging the perimeter of the garden. Low plants such as cycads, red cannas and bromeliads are placed nearer the seating area.

Contact: phone: 09 414 5649 mobile: 0275 109 872 email:

Accessories: Japanese sago palm (Cycad revoluta). Stonecladd Basalt waterwall, from Original Stone. Louvretec custom-made pergola. Rinnai Impression outdoor fireplace. Bromeliad andligularia (Ligularia reniformus). The house weatherboards are Resene Powder Blue and the trims are Resene Wan White and Resene Zibibbo.

Alternative solution

This design is divided into rooms to give a number of experiences

David Clayton-Greene of CGC Landscapes suggests this alternative scheme:

Alternative solution 2

This design is divided into rooms to give a number of experiences. The pool is now ornamental with small decks that appear to float on the surface. These decks are the only access to the private sanctuary garden in the foreground. The main outdoor living area has a courtyard around a glass-topped fire pit and a circular gazebo linked to the house. The enclosed area to the right is a woodland-style retreat for afternoon or morning tea with the soothing sound of the water feature and rustling leaves. Hidden from view at the back of the garden is a barbecue area and a formal sculpture garden to be viewed from inside the house.

Contact: phone: 07 577 6444 mobile: 021 511 049 email:

Accessories: Artisano pavers in colour latte, from Stone Directions. Aluminium lounger, from Bbqs and More. Corokia 'Frosted Chocolate'. Rhododendron vireya 'Java'. Sheer Descent water feature Stone & Water World. Weatherboards are Resene Archive Grey, the house trims are Resene Barely There and the water feature wall is Resene Identity.

Words: Deirdre Coleman
Pictures: Frances Oliver
Illustrations: Bruce Bryant and CGC Landscapes

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