Fresh ideas to inspire landscape designs for small spaces

Jeff Mills has spent his whole career in the landscaping industry and just over two years ago started Warkworth Landscaping. Mahurangi Matters looked at how he developed three small spaces on residential properties to encourage those seeking inspiration

Kaipara Flats Road, Warkworth

The pool is obviously the main feature on this section. It’s a fibre glass one with a paving and concrete area around it. I always go with concrete for pool areas, instead of decking, as concrete is not slippery and lasts longer. The concrete here is 150mm thick and was acid-washed, which takes the smooth surface off, so it has more grip for when it’s wet. This pool uses salt water; mineral water is better, but both require less maintenance than a pool using  chlorine. The plants around the pool are palms and agapanthus. Both are ideal as they don’t shed leaves into the water and create problems. I’ve also got another dry bed here to take care of excess water and moss rocks. These rocks naturally have growth on them, and I like their appearance.

Rural View Road, Warkworth

Like so many of the properties I do, this one was on a steep site, which the owners wanted to make manageable. The first stage was to put in a retaining wall and fill in behind it with top soil to create a flat lawn area. The lawn was instant turf that we rolled out. Over a space of 40 square metres it was affordable and doesn’t require the attention that sowing grass does. The section sits in a natural channel. Water runs through it from surrounding properties. I put in a dry bed with rocks to keep water off the lawn and concrete area. I put down concrete instead of paving stones because the weeds won’t grow through it. A wooden garden box was a cheap addition in the concreted area. A pathway was installed around the entire house, which is 70mm of pebbles on top of crushed lime stone.

Deerness Crescent, Algies Bay

This property was another steep section, which required two levels of retaining wall. This was filled with top soil and grass was sown. Lawn seed takes 10 days to germinate and then about six to eight weeks of growing time before you mow it. Once you mow grass its roots stop getting deeper, so you need to wait before mowing so the grass becomes firmly embedded in the soil. There were a lot of big volcanic or landscape rocks used in this project. They’re a common option and you can always fit them together to create borders for paths. The paths here are crushed lime stone. The gardens have a top soil base and then either shells or bark placed over the top for the effect.