Landscape planning adds value

By Dr Erik Ellis

With many people in Christchurch looking to rebuild their home, or after earthquake renovations, landscape planning is more important than ever to develop a home that suits the homeowners and the environment.

Good landscape planning is essential to develop a garden that adds value and integrity to your property. Landscaping should be 12 to 15 percent of the overall development budget for a new or existing home.

Landscaping is often an afterthought of the building process when it should be integrated into the initial planning process, with appropriate finances allocated to achieve desired goals. Securing professional landscape plans is money well spent. You wouldn’t dream of building a new home without plans on paper, so think of the garden in the same way.

Gardens link the inside of a house with the outside and set the house into the surrounding environment. As often quoted “first impressions last”.

The first view most people will get of your home will be from the street with the house set into context within the garden and its surrounds.  Many of us see the house and garden as separate entities and treat them as such.


However, if we think of the inside and out as a single living environment, then we will choose garden materials and furnishings that are compatible both with the house and its setting.

To ensure your home has good indoor outdoor flow and your garden is well structured, talk to your designer or architect to coordinate the plans for the house and garden as an integral project.

Allocation of resources early on in the design process allows for the most efficient use of time and money. There is nothing worse than finding that the large palm or tree you wanted as a focal point of the garden cannot be planted due to a lack of access after building.

When remodelling a home take into account the outdoor spaces and what goals are to be achieved. Features such as timber decks, outdoor fireplaces, shaded areas, water features, swimming and spa pools, fruit and vegetable gardens are all design features that are highly sought after when the home is to be sold, and can transform a home from the mundane to the special. Be aware of the costs associated and capitalise on worthwhile improvements.

Poor design is always poor, but objects, materials and systems that are well conceived will always relate well to another in an entirely sympathetic way. The role of landscape designers is to produce a cohesive overall design to link indoor and outdoor spaces with the broader environment to fashion a quality product that will withstand the test of time.

Timely and appropriate landscape design is especially important for properties with difficult access so site works can be programmed into the building phase to conserve both physical materials and
financial resources.

Good garden design is essentially simple and fit for its purpose. “Less is more” is a commonly repeated maxim that is frequently harder to achieve than say. How many of us wish for a simpler, less stressful life and then complicate things by having a mortgage, car payments, children and a raft of recreational pursuits. Such is modern life.

When “less is more” materials and details become more important as everything that is used must stand alone, but be compatible with its accompanying pieces. Every material must be carefully chosen and appropriately used, as it will be seen and the impact pronounced.

What is the first thing they do on most TV make-over shows; throw half the stuff out. The same can be said for gardens. Simplicity is the key.

Appropriate early planning and limiting design features can help to create a home and garden that will flow, mature graciously over time, and add the maximum value to our most prized asset, our home.

Dr Erik’s garden planning tips

  1. Incorporate garden plans early in the home design process.
  2. Keep the garden design simple and fit for the purpose.
  3. Professional advice is money well spent.
  4. Indoor outdoor flow adds the most value.
  5. Future proof the garden with sustainable concepts.
  6. Budget and allocate funds wisely.
  7. Be aware of council regulations and bylaws.
  8. Use competent tradespeople for a professional finish.
  9. Trends change; aim for design integrity and lasting styles.
  10. Match the garden style with the home architecture.

For more advice contact Erik Ellis Landscapes at or visit

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