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Designing Gardens & Landscapes


At DIY Designs we love to share our knowledge and to help hands-on types who are DIY designing gardens and landscapes, or who are thinking about getting started on a garden makeover or landscaping project and looking for some garden inspo.  

On this complimentary resource page you will find:

  • Blogs covering a range of subjects such as designing themed landscapes, landscaping with NZ native plants & general ideas for designing specific areas such as small gardens and front gardens.

  • Links to media articles 

  • Inspirational ideas for decks, fences, retaining walls and patio's

  •  Aspirational garden design case-studies from some of our DIY client makeovers

  • Other articles and helpful, free tips and tricks for designing gardens and landscapes. 

  • Our theme book showcasing popular NZ garden themes and trends

Get started by checking out this popular 4 week blog series written by our lead designer (no robots here)to help get people started on a DIY garden makeover. It's a crash course in designing gardens and landscapes.


It may surprise you to know what's currently trending in New Zealand garden design. Our lead designer Kerry Speirs talks about what home owners are currently asking for in their garden designs. 


TIP: Use the functional Items in your landscape, such as garden walls, retaining, fences and privacy screens, paving and decks to add wow factor to your garden. 

Designing Gardens - Decks and Decking Inspiration

New Zealanders just love their decks, and with good reason. When designing gardens and landscapes with uneven or sloping ground, you can use decks to create flat, usable landscape areas. While it's common to keep the natural wood, if you want a deck with a difference, consider a dark stain or whitewashed finish instead.

Tip: If there's a lovely tree or palm right where you want to build your deck, you don't have to cut it down. You can build around it and make it a unique feature of your outdoor living space. Decks look spectacular broken up with areas of planting. 

Designing Gardens - Fence Inspiration

Fences are important features when designing gardens and you can use these to make a statement at the entrance to your property, and to provide a backdrop to your planting. They can also provide much needed, instant privacy and security. 

Tip: All that fencing can add up to a considerable cost.  You can stretch your landscape dollars further by going basic on the bulk of the fence structure and covering it with foliage, and spend the savings on fantastic feature fences in key areas only. For a cost-effective fence makeover you can get brave and just add a splash of bold or unexpected colour. Picket fences and slat screens look spectacular painted in vibrant shades such as bright green or rich plums and purples.

Designing Gardens - Paving and Patio Inspiration

Areas of hardscape can make your NZ garden space both beautiful and functional. When designing gardens and landscapes, you can use those paved areas as a fantastic design opportunity to impart life and personality into your outdoor living space. Consider breaking up large expanses of patio and paving with a blend of permeable and impermeable surface materials, chosen to complement each other textually and colour-wise, or add wow factor to your patio with a patterned tile or a checker-board layout. 

Tip: Keep plants lower than pavers or you might create annoying debris traps or trip hazards. To prevent movement and weed growth, lay pavers on a concrete slab rather than on grade.

Designing Gardens - Retaining Wall Inspiration

Retaining is one of the necessary evils of landscaping. It can really transform a garden and create flat, usable garden spaces and lawns. As retaining can also eat up a big part of the budget, when designing gardens you can use this functional item to create clever design features that will enhance your garden space. Think beyond timber and consider rock walls and gabions too.

Tip: Walls at seating height with wide caps create casual seating opportunities within the garden. If you have a small garden budget consider re-contouring with battered, grassy slopes instead

Designing Gardens - Productive Garden Inspiration

Productive gardens take many forms. Their design is usually driven by the available sunny space in your garden, and by the type of edibles you want to grow. When designing gardens, if landscaping space is tight a large pot on your deck or patio crammed full of herbs, seasonable vegetables and even some flowering colour makes a lovely petite potager.

Tip: Think vertical supports to maximise growing space. Use raised pots or planters  and for easy weeding don't make the vegetable beds too wide. Around one metre is good.


Rosa 'White Carpet' (Carpet Rose) 🏡 DIY Designs

The wonderful thing about groundcover roses is that they are highly disease-resistant, simple to grow, and they flower almost year round. They're easy to maintain AND there's no need for any fancyRead more

Lomandra 'White Sands' (Mat Rush) 🏡 DIY Designs

A beautiful, easy-care plant for creating impact in your planting schemes. Not all grasses give year-round impact the same way Lomandra 'White Sands' does. Maybe because this Australian native is, Read more

Ohiopogon 'Nana' (Dwarf Mondo Grass) 🏡 DIY Designs

Dwarf mondo grass is a tough little plant that pops up in many garden designs. It’s ideal for using between pavers instead of pebbles. The most commonly grown dwarf mondo in New Zealand is OphiopogRead more

Ophiopogon 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo)

Despite its small stature, 'black mondo grass' is a great plant for adding drama to a planting scheme. The narrow strap-like leaves give a grassy effect, and the unrivaled black colour makes a greatRead more

Nandina 'Lemon and Lime' (Heavenly Bamboo) 🏡 DIY Designs

🙊Shh, don't tell everyone, but I think this might just be the perfect small garden plant 🎉for all you low-maintenance, time-poor and novice gardeners. Nandina 'Lemon and Lime' is the green forRead more

Best White Camellias for Hedges 🏡 DIY Designs

Camellia Sasanqua 'Setugekka' (Sasanqua Camelia) Camellia Sasanqua 'Early Pearly' (Sasanqua Camelia) Camellia Sasanqua 'Silver Dollar (Sasanqua Camelia) Also beautiful as standalone shrubs , theseRead more

Acorus gramineus 'Ogon' (golden variegated sweet flag) 🏡 DIY Designs

PLANTS FOR FREE!! Well, almost..... These small grass-like plants are super easy to grow and great value for money as the little tufts will spread naturally over time to form a dense groundRead more

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' (redclaw) 🏡 DIY Designs

🌱Talk about underrated! Here's a tough little hedge plant that should be giving poor old over-used Griselinia littoralis a run for its money 💫 I say a tough 'little' plant but there are a aRead more

Ajuga reptans 'Jungle Beauty' (bugle flower) 🏡 DIY Designs

🌱This lovely little blue flowering feature plant is.... Ajuga reptans 'Jungle Beauty'. It's not the typical planting choice for between pavers, but sometimes it's good to mix it up 😁 'Ajuga'Read more

Lomandra 'Frosty Tops' (mat rush) 🏡 DIY Designs

🌾I love using THIS lomandra in my garden designs JUST AS MUCH as all the other lomandras 😅. What's not to like! 'Frosty Tops' has that gorgeous grey-green foliage that everybody is lovingRead more

Farfugium japonicum 'Aureomaculatum' (leopard plant) 🏡 DIY Designs

What do you plant yours with? I'm adding a few of these spotty farfugium to my own garden, popping them in my shady, under the 🌳🌴🌳trees garden, next to my tractor seat ligularia (LigulariaRead more

Chamadorea costericana (Bamboo Palm / Costa Rica Palm) 🏡 DIY Designs

👀perfect to block out your neighbours, or an ugly view, ‘bamboo palm’ makes a fantastic screening plant and will give your garden a lush, tropical look ⛱ on quite a small footprint.  *THISRead more


With a little bit of skill and a DIY attitude you can build your own gorgeous garden area from one of our easy and achievable garden concepts, or like these clients,  just use it to inspire & project manage your own landscape subbies.


In just one year the garden of this Auckland property has been transformed, and the owners have done most of it themselves. By designing around the existing landscapes features, our garden design ideas have made the landscaping project achievable and affordable ...


Keep up to date with new blog posts, design tips and general news from the landscape industry by following DIY Designs on facebook, or by following our lead garden designer Kerry Speirs on instagram


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