The Landscaping Challenges of Rugged Weather, a Harsh Environment and Low-lying Land
Located in South-east Otago, this Kaka Point coastal site is across the road from the beach and ocean. It sits on the lowest point of a series of sections, below road level. Water and flooding are a problem with the site becoming completely submerged at times.
At the north end, the section slopes uphill to a road with established native plantings on the bank up to the footpath edge. The clients were very keen for the landscape to integrate seamlessly into this public and community space but the chosen plants also had to thrive in both coastal and windy conditions. As well, the clients wanted walkways and access to the back shed in poor weather.
The stunning natural landscape and a desire to integrate and blend with the local environment and community spaces underpinned the design which meant using native plants and local materials was important. The shape and architecture of the house created interesting opportunities for integrating paths and edgings. Local stone materials from local quarries were used in the design.
Design Elements and Features
A curved boardwalk flowing through the garden softened the square edges of the house. Set at floor level between the deck and house, the boardwalk allows the owners to walk to the shed and around the north side on a level surface in any weather.
Gabion baskets stacked with local quarry stone and local gravel stone were used for paths and driveways to blend with the surrounds. The stone wall gives definition to and makes a strong barrier between the house, footpath and road. The wall will showcase a sculpture where it is stepped around a storm water manhole cover.
Rocks at the base of the house allow air to flow underneath, preventing soil and mulch sitting on skirting/timber below floor level.
We created the landscape planting to mirror local wetlands and to complement the local community landscape and architecture of the house.
Plants were grouped en masse as they would grow in the wild with reeds edging the boardwalk. The orange stems of divaricating Coprosma rugosa ‘Clearwater’ contrast with the black cladding of the house. Reeds Typha orientalis and Leptocarpus similis edge the path in a similar way to local wetlands.
All plants are wet-tolerant natives and include Phormium ‘Emerald Green’, Plagianthus divaricatus, and Gunnera procumbens amongst Libertia ixioides.
Of her new garden, client Annie Rankin says, “People still stroll/cycle past and stop and chat about the garden as we are usually in there weeding etc. It continues to give us immense pleasure and less back-breaking work now. It will be amazing once the ferns and other plants take off.”
The Mature Garden
In 2022 we won a gold medal at the national landscaping awards for this project. Here’s what the property looks like now that the planting has had time to grow and mature.