Feature article

Create street appeal with these simple landscaping ideas

Here’s what to think about when you embark on your garden design project.

Last updated: 27 February 2024

Whether it’s a small townhouse garden, an expansive rural property, or an apartment balcony, there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating inspiring street appeal.

Cover image: Floating concrete stairs flanked by pared back planting create instant street appeal at the entrance of this Remuera home by Jessop Architects, with landscaping by Jared Lockhart. Image - John Williams.

Stunning landscaping for small front yards

While you may be working with limited space, by following a few simple rules, and choosing a style that suits you, your home and your budget — from low-maintenance landscaping to English cottage garden — you can still create impact and immediate street appeal. Unless the yard requires a total overhaul, work with what’s already there; existing planting can serve as focal points that you can then accentuate with minimal fuss and outlay. Don’t be afraid to use plants in unexpected ways; a green wall installation may be just what you need to give a small front yard a sense of space and height. Colour and texture are your friends; choose complementary plants from different species for depth and interest.

Where there are expansive vistas beyond the immediate backyard, it’s always worth considering encapsulating ‘borrowed views’ into the landscape plan. In the Central Otago home pictured below, a key part of the simple landscaping plan is connecting with the wider environment – something well worth considering in suburban and urban settings too. Perhaps it’s a mature pōhutukawa over the fence or a city park adjoining the property – framing these views from a private garden can make all the difference and dramatically extend the sense of space.

This simple landscaping plan at a Queenstown home designed by KOIA Architects utilises borrowed views of the dramatic surrounding alpine environment to enhance the private garden experience. Image: John Williams.

Contemporary garden design for townhouses

While townhouses are great homes to live in, a downside can be the limited outdoor space, more often designed for outdoor entertainment than a place to escape into nature. However, that doesn’t mean these spaces can’t be idyllic. First things first, start with a well-considered plan that includes the view from indoors, as most rooms in a townhouse will look onto the garden space.

To keep the feel modern and contemporary, choose a limited colour palette incorporating shades of green foliage punctuated with one or two other colours. Consider a curated colour palette of hardscaping materials where space is limited – instead introducing colour through foliage. Hanging plants, climbers and raised planters are all ways to introduce year-round greenery and lush foliage in a small garden.

Using layered foliage this small garden creates a lush backdrop oozing with street appeal.

How to keep your landscaping low maintenance

The ‘great Kiwi dream’ of a quarter-acre paradise of lawns and gardens is largely impractical nowadays. It’s also not particularly environmentally friendly, either. Firstly, while it may go against the grain, consider greatly minimising or doing away with a lawn all together — this will save you both time and money in ongoing maintenance.

Secondly, look no further than nature itself. Choose plants from the wide array of New Zealand natives, because, contrary to opinion, they’re available in all colours and sizes including proteas, mānuka, leucadendrons, grevilleas and leptospermums.

Going native will also encourage bird and insect life into your garden — creating an oasis not just for you. Most native plants thrive with little intervention if positioned correctly. Adding a sculpture, lighting and curated accessories will add a layered appeal without introducing further maintenance.

Here, a Paul Dibble sculpture is used as the focal point. This home designed by Jessop Architects unfolds around a simple, low maintenance garden designed by Jared Lockhart. Image - John Williams.

Landscaping on a budget? Consider these ideas to create a private oasis

When working with a smaller budget, there are a few simple tips you can follow to minimise your outlay, as well as ongoing costs. Plant perennials as they will keep coming back year after year. Mulch your garden beds. Not only does this minimise weeds, you’ll spend less time and money watering. Also, don’t be afraid to be ‘that person’ who asks friends, family and neighbours for cuttings or even whole plants — many avid gardeners are only too keen to share. Likewise, check out the latest listings for bargains as these can be a great way of getting additional landscaping products such as pebbles, larger rocks, or even paving materials, as well as mature plants and cuttings.

Buying plant seeds is another way to save costs and curate a stunning seasonal garden – it’ll just take a little more patience but will be well worth the wait. Bulbs are great if you’re organised, and when they bloom in spring the garden will be awash with colour and life.


HOME Magazine
HOME Magazine


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