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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.


Drought Tolerant Gardens – Are You Watering Wisely?

Drought-tolerant gardens have been a popular choice in recent years and with experts now predicting the warming El Niño climate pattern to last until at least April next year, it seemed a goodRead more

Best Landscape Design Features For Property Resale

If you are prepping your property for sale, and want to make it more appealing to potential buyers, then don’t neglect the garden! Because a well-designed garden can increase the value of yourRead more

Planting Design - 5 Tricks Landscape Professionals Use

A good planting design or interesting planting scheme is what brings a garden to life! Read any plant-focused garden design blog (except this one) and it’ll bang on how if you want your gardenRead more

Plants for a New Zealand Coastal Garden

Auckland landscape design forms a large body of the design work we do here at DIY Designs, so our projects often involve the creation of tough planting schemes that will survive the challenges of aRead more

Coastal Auckland Landscape Design

During my Auckland landscape design career, many garden design projects I have worked on have had stunning coastal backdrops. With these gorgeous views, comes the challenge of putting together aRead more

Landscape Designer’s 6 Best Hedge Plants

From a landscape designer's perspective, the best hedge plants for NZ gardens are those that will meet the needs of the client and best serve the purpose for which they are being planted, be thatRead more

Blossom Trees for Small Front Garden Designs

Front gardens bring out the design voyeur in me! While out walking it’s hard not to snoop at what other Auckland homeowners are doing to smarten up their entrance spaces, as these small frontRead more

Garden Design Ideas | 3 Tips To Get Started

Garden designers love garden porn as much as anyone and we know that many enjoyable hours can be spent drooling over gardens in Pinterest and Instagram. These are great tools for getting designRead more

Low Maintenance Garden Plants

Cyclical garden trends make fashion victims of some great low maintenance garden plants.  It’s hard to keep a good plant down though, especially one that needs minimal water, is adaptable to a raRead more

Why Fake Grass?

Fake grass promises a lot of positive outcomes and one of the main reasons people consider it is because it offers a chemical-free, low-maintenance alternative to a real lawn. Or does it?  I createdRead more

Landscape Designer’s 10 Best Low Maintenance Groundcover Plants

From a landscape designer's perspective, the best groundcover plants are those that will quickly cover areas of bare soil, and therefore help suppress the establishment of undesirable weed species.Read more

Landscape Plans – When and Why You Need Them!

A landscape plan is a record of, or a proposal for a landscape, shown from an overhead or ‘birds-eye’ perspective.  You can be asked by Council to supply a landscape plan at the outset of aRead 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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