Calling in the professionals - at home

Getting a professional to design your garden can add hundreds of thousands of dollars in value to your property, says Dunedin landscape architect, Emma Taylor.



She cites a house in Christchurch as a strong example. Design and Garden Landscapes, where she works,  became involved after the house had been on the market several months. The offers coming in were hundreds of thousands of dollars below Government valuation, and the real estate agent felt the property needed a new kitchen, and a tidy up around the entrance way.


“Our brief was to create a cool and funky entrance so that it was a feature rather than just a means of accessing the property,” Emma said.

She felt the timber beams used near the front door were too close together and too thin, meaning it didn’t provide that grand entrance style that was expected of a property like this.

“We focused on new elements of design including wider Corten steel pillars to give substance to the existing structural posts, and new screening walls to hide the front of the house.


“We also used  a feature series of accent steel plinths to frame the entrance path which could be lit at night if you wanted to.

“And a white marble sculpture feature draws the eye to the front door.

Because the property was going straight on the market, planting had to be simple and established. Instant Corokia screening hedge was used along the main boundary, with an entrance of pleached Hoheria and low Hebe and Viburnum hedges. Texture was accented with the use of Libertia and bold foliage of Pachysandra and Ligularia.

Overall the client invested 3.5% of the GV on the landscaping and the same on a new kitchen. It ended up selling for 62% more than the owners had previously been offered.



“The new owners loved it so much they approached us to design the rest of the property,” Emma said.  “They really fell for the entrance way the first time they saw it. We added wow factor, made it feel larger and lighter.”

Once landscaping was finished the property sold immediately for more than the GV and has won a couple of landscape design awards to boot.

“When you invest in a landscape architect, you gain our specialist knowledge and ability to turn your vision into a reality; you’re not dumping money down a black hole. You are adding to your property value, and get the pleasure of enjoying it.”

Emma says that with the arrival of summer, too many do-it-your-selfers rush off to DIY mega stores with a vague idea of what they think they can achieve and run the risk of compromising or being unable to fully maximize their space.  

“Then we get called in to fix it up, or they have to live with a job that’s not what they dreamed of.

“People tend to focus on the building and often this is at the expense of the garden. I think landscapes are often undervalued because the tendency is to throw in a couple of plants, doesn’t matter if they die, (people think) I can just replace them. Domestic landscaping is seen as ‘low risk’.

“Today landscape architecture is so much more than that. We know what we’re doing and can tailor projects to your budget and needs. Good design will pay for itself.”