Browns Bay

Rowan and Ivor

Excavation work

Landscape construction

Paradise stone wall and steppers









Browns Bay

Richard at Neville Design Studio


Neville Design Studio

The Secret Garden

Rowan and Ivor met with us in the winter of 2020 with a broad idea of turning their bare, and some-what dysfunctional lawn and garden into an appealing environment for family play and exploration. Noting that this was beyond our design capacity at the time we engaged Richard Neville of Neville Design Studio to bring this project to life, and did he what!

The Challenges

The existing site provided us with many unique challenges - a big one being the 'heavy clay' soil composition, very typical of the North Shore area. Richard's planting plan detailed a diverse range of plant varieties, including a Japanese Acer feature tree, fruit trees, perennials, natives and a beautiful lush lawn. Implementing the planting plan in the existing soil just wasn't going to work

Our second major challenge sat with Richard in designing a family friendly, nature-play garden that would be safe and secure for un-monitored exploration. The site had inadequate fencing and large and unsafe retaining wall among other things

The Solutions

In solving the clay problem we opted to commence our works with a comprehensive excavation and removal equating to approximately 70m3 removed and even more brought back in to reach the new levels as designed by Richard. The new soils were a blend of premium Living Earth garden mix and free-draining Waikato topsoil allowing for a rich diversity of planting and improved site drainage.

The bulk installation of fresh soils also beautifully solved our second problem by adjusting the contours of the site, forming a natural flowing landscape and removing fall hazards. We lifted the height of soil below the retaining wall and formed garden beds for soft landings around the wall and other drops. Bespoke cedar batten fences with soft close gates provide an immediate impact to all visitors, and enclose the property without removing the sense of openness.

A unique feature, the 'secret garden' was installed in the furthermost southern corner, turning previously unused space into a tactile retreat for the children. Curved gravel pathways meander down to a hidden nook where the kids jump between carefully placed stumps, and let their imagination run wild in their own native tree grove.

The Result

This is one of our most treasured projects and was a delight to implement. We keep in constant communication with our lovely clients Rowan and Ivor and since completion our team have returned for mulching, extra planting and other tweaks.

A huge thanks to Rowan and Ivor and of course Richard for leading this project with his stunning design.

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