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Lazy days of summer

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With the right planting, a sparkling pool and lanai-style outdoor living area, it's possible to create a subtropical paradise right on your back doorstep


In years gone by, a back yard was commonly a utility area, with a concrete area, garden shed, rotary clothesline and maybe even a garage.

Such back yards were hardly conducive to children playing, let alone serious entertaining. Today, the benefits of outdoor living are widely recognised, and homeowners are looking to maximise every corner of their property.

This landscaping project has transformed a tired back yard into a subtropical resort-style outdoor living area that can be enjoyed by the family all year round.

Owners Kyria and Rhys Warren decided to update the landscaping at the same time as they undertook a major home renovation. An old three-car garage at the rear of the property was removed, and a new garage with internal access built at the front. This left room for a large lawn area and 11m-long pool.

Landscape designer Mark Read of Natural Habitats worked closely with architect Jason Gibson to ensure the interior of the house would flow out to a sheltered deck and patio with a picturesque outlook. The new deck is level with the interior, but slightly elevated above the pool, which means the owners can easily watch the children swimming.


Kyria Warren says that with the adjustable louvre roof, outdoor fireplace and heaters mounted on the ceiling, the alfresco dining area can be used even in winter.

But it is not just the new seating areas that have made a big difference to the family's lifestyle. The landscaping has created a private retreat behind the large basalt walls that surround the property. Read says niches clad in ficus creepers break up the visual mass of stone walls.

"We married the new parts of the honeycomb basalt to the original walls bordering the property," he says. "We then added a range of semi-tropical plants, including king, chamaedorea and kentia palms, giant bird of paradise, bouganivillea and bromeliads. These provide a lush, green backdrop to the pool and spa."

Read says the rectilinear shapes of the pools and paved areas proved to be the best way to maximise every part of the rectangular site.

Lighting in the pool and garden areas ensure the landscape is just as inviting by night as it is by day.

First published date: 24 February 2011

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Credit List

Pool and paving Natural Habitats
Stone walls Honeycomb basalt by Auckland Stonemasons
Outdoor furniture Dedon
Outdoor heaters Outdoor Concepts
Louvres Louvretec
Pool fencing Euroglass
Dinnerware and accessories Freedom Furniture
Architect Jason Gibson Architects (Auckland)
Landscape designers Mark Read and Shane Wiles, Natural Habitats (Auckland)