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Working with Top Auckland Landscapers

Feature rock being placed by top Auckland landscaper

Top Auckland Landscapers

Working with Top Auckland Landscapers is the dream of any aspiring Auckland Landscape Designer. Or at least it should be.

Reflecting recently on my career as a landscape designer to date, I realise how much my design style and my approach to designing gardens has been influenced from having cut my design teeth working directly with one of Auckland’s top landscapers. I believe this is one of the key reasons for my success as a designer.

Anyone who knows me, knows about my long affiliation with top Auckland landscapers Second Nature. I was fortunate enough to be given the chance to do work experience with this Auckland landscape company as an eager (not so young) student way back in 2009 and have continued to work with this team of incredibly skilled and talented craftsman ever since. As a big supporter of emerging designers, I encourage any landscape design graduate who is serious about landscape design as a career to find a great landscaper to round out their training with. If you can do this with a landscape company that also offers garden care in addition to construction services, be it in Auckland or anywhere in NZ, I promise you, you will be a better designer for it.

Here’s some of the best things that working with top Auckland landscapers has taught me:

  1. Consider the Cost Implications – Landscapers in Auckland have some disadvantages compared to landscapers working elsewhere in NZ, when it comes to trying to keeping landscape implementation costs down. Travel costs have to be factored in somewhere and rents are high, pushing overheads up. Then consider that as a designer, every line or mark you put on a design drawing has a cost implication. If you are working closely with the landscaper or construction company, you may well be presenting those costs to the client, in the hot seat if you like. Even worse, if the costs blow out while your project is still in the estimating stage, your design might never make it off paper. Suddenly, designing well doesn’t just mean coming up with something that looks good on paper, it also means designing cleverly in terms of keeping build costs down. This is only possible if you understand how much it actually costs to build a garden. (Hint, more than most people think!). Working with a landscaper on costings as part of the design process, rather than after it, provides a great foundation for new designers in helping understand how much things cost, where the hidden costs lie and what other alternatives may be  worth considering. It’s also invaluable in terms of understanding construction methods and materials, which is a must for any serious designer. 

  2. Accountability – This one is huge! Landscapers are the ones on the coalface, the people who make your gorgeous designs a reality and who front up to the client on a daily basis during the landscape construction phase.  As a landscape designer you can be surprisingly removed from the realities (and accountabilities) of implementation.  You do a great design (on paper) and off it goes to the landscaper for pricing and, hopefully, implementation. At this point, you may well find you are cut out of the equation.

    This is often to do with the costs associated with design services, and a client’s understandable reluctance to keep paying you once the design is seemingly ‘done. But the experience gained working with a landscaper in the planning or implementation stages of a construction project is helpful to avoiding finding yourself in discussion with them when the budget blows out because you missed something crucial in your design or having to justify or back pedal on a poor design decision, such as specifying large, heavy rocks when there is no access for machinery to lift them into site. Being a part of the implementation will make you think twice about what goes into a design and you will always consider how practical and feasible your design is to construct and maintain. Fake rocks anyone….

  3. Details Matter - The best landscapers, here in Auckland and of course, good landscapers throughout NZ, are at the top of their game because they care about the finer details. They are craftsman. A garden design at a concept stage generally focusses on getting the big ideas across to a client – the layout, the garden theme etc. Often the finer details are brushed over at this stage, so we designers might use a photo or generic render to show or to explain to a client the general detail or look we envisage. Understanding how that detail is achieved takes you to another level as a designer. Therefore, I encourage any new designer to spend as much time as possible on site with an experienced landscaper, in particular as your design comes to life during the construction phase.
    This gives you the opportunity to have input into finalising those all-important details one by one once the ‘big picture’ stuff is taken care of. This is invaluable, particularly in the early stages of a landscape design career when there is still so much to learn. Often, it’s what you don’t see that makes the difference so understanding what is happening below the finished surface and seeing in the flesh how materials and surfaces come together in the minutiae broadens your design thinking and will enable you to come up with clever and creative landscape design solutions and details.

  4. Longevity – Landscapers can construct your design relatively quickly and the Auckland climate makes for fast planting establishment, but gardens are undeniably a long game.
    The elements are harsh and materials can deteriorate really quickly. Working with top landscapers has given me a good understanding the long-term advantages of quality materials - a concrete mowing strip over a timber one, the difference between an aluminium framed gate and a timber framed 5 years down the track, why you should lay your tiles on a reinforced concrete slab and essential things like the importance of having solid foundations under every built structure and considered drainage infrastructure. All good, sensible landscaper stuff! Working with a landscaper or landscape construction company that also provides garden care services, opens your eyes even further and means that you often get to see, or hear, how your design and plantings selections (and those of other designers) perform in a temporal sense. When you have to consider in the planning stages the practicalities and challenges of things the landscaper or gardener faces, such as how they are going to maintain a fast growing, three-metre high lilly-pilly hedge behind a pool with only a thin band coping tiles to stand on, your design thinking becomes very considered in terms of construction materials, layout and plant choices. 

A big thanks to all those amazing  Auckland landscapers who have supported me in my landscape design career to date and helped contribute to the success of our Auckland based landscape design company, DIY Designs. Located Titirangi, West Auckland we provide design services to both homeowners and trade clients.