Sections are getting smaller but demand for well designed outdoor spaces is increasing. Photo / Getty Images
Once again, many New Zealanders have had unexpected time on their hands spending it contemplating their homes and gardens. Now that spring has arrived it’s a good time to begin planning changes outside the home, aiming to get projects underway once current Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.
The Block NZ teams have been working on their outdoor spaces recently, with sections that are considerably smaller than the legendary quarter-acre Kiwi pavlova paradise.
Sites are shrinking quickly in Auckland, in particular, due to intensification, which is needed to counter unmet demand for housing. As a result, those sections need to work harder in order to deliver the outdoor experience that is part and parcel of modern Kiwi life.
Richard Burge, landscaping specialist at Zones, says that this can be a challenge, but there are always solutions.
“The days of your classic garden with fruit trees and lots of lawn are over in many places, and some sites are smaller than 200sqm but it’s surprising what you can do with them.”
He says that most yards can at least accommodate a deck or a patio and there are many ways to enhance them.
“Louvre systems are very popular at the moment because they can be installed right up against the house and opened for the sun or closed for shade and wet weather.”
Where homeowners still have larger sites, swimming pools are a pricy luxury, but Burge says when property prices rise as they have been, the cost of the pool represents a smaller proportion of the total value. This means owners are likely to get a return on their investment, where in the past they might have overcapitalised by spending, say, $100,000, which is roughly the entry outlay figure for buying and installing one.
“There are some great products on the market for pool owners these days including hidden, retractable covers which open and close like a charm and we find that many of our clients want glass fencing because it doesn’t break up outdoor areas in the way that an aluminium fence might do.”
Trees and hedging can offer homeowners privacy. Photo / Getty Images
He says that privacy is a major consideration for home owners, especially as housing density increases and carefully placed trees and hedging can add a sense of security.
Even on smaller sections his clients are usually keen to invite birds into their gardens.
“We encourage native birds by planting flowing natives such as Kowhai.”
Burge says that garden lighting remains fashionable, especially as New Zealanders like to entertain outside at night, but it’s important to keep environmental impact in mind when choosing light sources.
“We tend to urge them to consider buying very high-quality lighting which will last for many years, whereas cheaper alternatives can end up in landfill much earlier.”
He says that subtle lighting is better for the planet, and he always suggests using warm-coloured lights rather than cool blue, which is attractive to insects, but can blind them.
Burge adds that lighting done poorly can be harsh and overwhelm people, creating a sense of being trapped in the headlights.
Added value: This Auckland cottage was smartened up and sold for $2.38m. Photo / Supplied
He says he expects to encounter pent-up demand for landscaping services when Auckland finally comes out of level four lockdown.
“We can do some things at level three but if someone on a site gets a sniffle we have to stop, so I don’t think things will really be back to normal or semi- normal until we enter level two.
“Many people have been saving money while overseas travel is on hold and they’re keen to put it into enhancing their properties.”