Natural Habitats is proud to announce that we have won an impressive 11 Awards in the 2016 Placemakers Riccarton Landscaping New Zealand awards – more awards and in more categories than any other landscaping company.

/projects/Brickworksentrancesmall.JPGIncluding winning the prestigious PGG Wrightson SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE YEAR, our team won three Gold Awards and seven Silver Awards for Landscape Design, Construction, Horticulture and Maintenance. That each project won awards for both design and construction is recognition of the complete value our Design and Build service model provides to our clients.

We’ve profiled the award winning landscapes in a series of blogs and would like to thank all our team involved in these projects as well as our clients who gave us the opportunity to design and build such fabulous gardens. First up is Bricklane – Brickworks (Lynn Mall Shopping Centre) which won one of the top awards - the PGG Wrightson SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE YEAR 2016 AWARD, as well as a Gold award for Landscape Design, and a Silver award for Landscape Construction. Congratulations go to Landscape Designer Lloyd Atherfold, and our Build Team – Nick Blandford and Phil Komene.





Balclutha Green Wall becomes school project

28 May 2016

South Otago High School teacher Christine Elder was first wowed by green walls when she saw a high rise building in Sydney with a green wall a few years ago and thought the green wall concept would be a good study focus for her students.

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“I taught a few of my classes looking at what the benefits of a green wall are and got students to research the different types on you tube,” explains Christine. “The nearest we got to a green wall at school was the purchase of plastic containers that we stacked up to grow lettuces during the summer. Our only problem was that we didn’t have a watering system to go with it!”

And then Natural Habitats was commissioned to install a 29 sq m green wall for the Clutha district council in Balclutha – the home town for the school. With its diverse range of native species, the green wall became an ideal teaching tool for Christine’s Year 7 and 8 students as part of their technology curriculum.

To help with the student’s study, our Business Development Manager, Kim Johnstone, sent the school general information and technical material on our green walls including some international studies on the positive effect of green walls in living and working spaces.

Each green wall and its environment is different and finding plant species that would thrive in the Balclutha green wall was a big challenge for our green wall expert, Sam Dixon.

“Balclutha’s environment has a cooler temperature, lower rainfall and a lower humidity overall compared to say the Auckland area,” explains Sam. “So choosing species that grow well in that area and species that are known to tolerate cooler temperatures – particularly frost tolerant - was the main priority.”

Positioned in a newly developed civic square, the green wall has thrived and has been really well-received by the local community as it provides an attractive backdrop to historical information about the Clutha area, says the Clutha District Council.

“Our green wall adds real character and vibrancy to an important communal space and the feedback from our residents has been positive.  The green wall is a key design feature in Balclutha’s new-look main street,” says the Council.

Mounted on a steel frame constructed by Fulton Hogan, the green wall is made up of 29, 1x2 metre panels. While it took some six months for the chosen species to grow in the green wall media – the install only took two days to turn a concrete wall into a living, green wall.

Care for cool Devonport Library

28 May 2016

Our Care division is looking after the grounds around one of the coolest libraries in the country – the brand-new Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua – the Devonport Library in Windsor Reserve on Auckland’s North Shore.

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Designed by Athfield Architects, the $7.8 million library opened last year and sits on the same footprint as the original library on Windsor Reserve.

Feature windows frame harbour views on the south and east sides of the building, while to the west the entrance, expanses of glass pathways, and outdoor seating integrate the building with Devonport’s main street.

Surrounded by mature Morton Bay Figs, Oaks, as well as phoenix palms, the library also has modest garden beds, says our Care division manager, Mike Ramsay.

The library has huge foot traffic so our main focus is keeping the garden beds, lawns and outdoor seating areas looking presentable throughout the year,” says Mike. “The library, grounds and location make it a real pleasure for our care team work on!”

Bike Stands for Sustainability

04 December 2014

Natural Habitats Graduate Landscape Architect, Thomas Keal, is now seeing his winning design come to fruition.

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The bike stand design showed how 10 bicycles can easily be accommodated in one car parking space, highlighting the inefficiency of the car, particularly in the case of single person use.

These bike stands have actually been adopted into the Unitec campus with 10 already installed. 

The practical considerations of the design were:

  • Bikes must be visible
  • Property secured without causing damage
  • Accommodate different types of bikes
  • Provide shelter from the weather and provide night illumination

“The intention of the design was not to produce an object that existed in isolation, but rather to create a structure in the context of issues surrounding transport and land use” said Thomas.

The structure was designed to be modular. It can be linked together end on end, or facing toward each other to occupy adjacent car parks. 

Star garden at Starship

14 November 2014

The Children Family Unit courtyard at Starship, sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson, is in the midst of an overhaul. The play area will provide a tranquil environment for mentally challenged children between the ages of 12-18 years old.

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The uninspiring area will be transformed into a calm and shady natural environment. It will also feature a basketball hoop and seating for watching the action.

“It is all about softening and adding life to the dark sterile space through organic lines, planting and colour,” said Landscape Architect, Richard Neville.

It’s in the eye of the beholder

14 November 2014

Plants are generally the last thing to go in the ground at the completion of a project, and the first thing seen by visitors to your site. Do we underestimate the importance of the plant palette and the role they play in portraying our projects in the best possible light?

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Sometimes size does matter.  The impact of a large specimen tree and its relationship to its built environment can make or break a project. But not just any old tree. We need to consider the site context, the site content and what we are trying to achieve. Too big can be an uncomfortable fit, too small and its disappointing.

We need to consider the trees form and function. Trees come with a range of habits, tall and erect, short and spreading, evergreen, deciduous. The trees we choose need to fulfil a variety of roles in our landscapes. Do we want to screen, produce fruit, attract birds or compliment the architecture. Frame a view or block something unsightly. There is a lot to consider when selecting the right tree for the job.

The accompanying shrub palette is just as important. Will the plants perform in the environment, over an extended time? Plant material should be considered for its colour, form and function. Does it flower? When does it flower? Does it fit with the concept? The art of plant selection goes well beyond budget and the variety of plant material is exhaustive. It’s not a case of one plan fits all occasions.

Plant material takes time to develop and reach full maturity, there isn’t an endless supply of plants which are “just right”, forward planning does allow time to develop before going in the ground. Early procurement allows working with budgets from the outset and fewer surprises as the project unfolds.

The moral of the story, engage the landscape architect early on in the project. Involvement from the outset allows working collaboratively with the client and other consultants to produce a landscape fit for purpose.

The Landscape team at Natural Habitats can help with your next project from the outset and ensure a well resolved landscape. 

Creating Play

26 June 2014

This is a new term in the world of housing shortage in Auckland. An admirable aim to promote the rapid development of “affordable homes …. without compromising quality design.” While this type of development will ultimately lead to a broader housing choice, what is the quality of the outdoor space which accompanies this model? There appears to be scant mention of the provision of quality outdoor space within or close to these developments.

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Swell Park in Long Bay by Natural Habitats

With increasing pressure on existing services, including recreation facilities, it would seem an opportune time for landscape architecture to step into the breach and design innovative, quality outdoor space to serve these developments. The landscape architect is responsible for making places, for a variety of uses and habitation. We can help you create attractive, innovative, quality outdoor space for:

Play space
Community gardens
Social space
Street environments
Stormwater management
Multi use spaces

Working with the Local

26 June 2014

Be they frog, bird, tree, human or built in form, our landscape architects work with the palette of contextual materials in developing our designs. We consider context to be extremely important in our designs and addressing physical, cultural and spiritual elements. This means we design bearing in mind ecology, sustainability and usability all with creative design flair.

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At Natural Habitats we are constantly striving to create memorable landscapes for our clients. Be they the smallest garden to the largest urban development we believe it is vitally important to ensure our designs fit within a sites’ context.

The basic fundamentals of our design are based on Context, Content and Concept.

Context includes:

Physical attributes – vegetation, structures, aspects, climate
Cultural attributes – demographics, diversity
Statutory attributes – national, regional and local planning documentation

We look to make our projects fit seamlessly within their environment, which is increasingly important from an ecological perspective. We strive to make connections with the wider environment to promote habitat and broad linkages.

Content includes:

Site features – contour, aspect, soil


How do we deal with the context and content to deliver a successful landscape? We consider style, materials and plants.

All our designs are arrived at after careful consultation with our clients and account given to their desires for the landscape. We work collaboratively with a wide range of professions to produce the best outcome.

Well considered and delivered landscapes contribute positively to the fabric of the environment. Natural Habitats deliver considered designs and outcomes.

Natural Habitats working with Iwi

12 November 2013

Natural Habitats are working with iwi on numerous ecological projects to not only create landscape designs with cultural meaning, but to also benefit local hapu in training

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Natural Habitats are working with iwi on numerous ecological projects to not only create landscape designs with cultural meaning, but to also benefit local hapu in training.

The latest project completed is Stage 2 of the Ngaruawahia Expressway. Natural Habitats wanted to ensure the local Tainui iwi, derived as much benefit as possible from the project and worked jointly on how youth could be employed. They inducted and trained young unemployed rangatahi into our project teams, who then helped implement the landscape designs.

“Natural Habitats engaged Tainui and provided job opportunities along with extensive training in health and safety, work ethics and best horticultural planting practices. In turn these skills will help build towards NZQA credits,” said Tūrangawaewae Board of Trustees Environment representative, Dennis Ngataki.

“We have been part of many significant projects which have embodied a holistic approach, weaving together sustainable practices with connective and meaningful environments. The aim of our landscapes are  to strengthen our connection to Papatuanuku, make cultural identity visible through design, markers and art and strive to maintain a healthy and plentiful environment for future generations,” says Debbie Tikao, Natural Habitats’ Principal Landscape Architect.

Natural Habitats endeavor to integrate traditional indigenous knowledge to provide a deeper understanding of their environment. While planting out Wiri Men’s Prison, Natural Habitats also involved Corrections, so inmates could contribute to improving their surroundings.

Hon Anne Tolley, Ministry of Corrections wrote, “Employment is considered to be one of the most important factors in preventing re-offending, and I would like to express my gratitude to Natural Habitats for offering job opportunities to offenders. Work experience gives ex-offenders a legitimate income, heightened self respect and the ability to contribute to the financial wellbeing of their whānau. Most importantly it leads to better lives and safer communities.”

Natural Habitats have been developing their knowledge of Mātauranga Māori relating to Māori values, sustainable development, enhancement and protection of native biodiversity and knowledge of native plants, which are used for traditional crafts, rongoa and kai. This knowledge has been growing over many years through working closely with various iwi, kaumatua, Māori architects, artists and through our own whānau involvement.

Josephine Clarke, Natural Habitat’s Maori Landscape Architecture Graduate, is passionate about strengthening an awareness of Tikanga Māori (Māori philosophies/processes) and Mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge) within the profession.

Maori Woman in Landscape Architecture NZ

03 October 2013

As part of the Auckland Architecture week 19-29 September Josephine Clarke, Natural Habitat's Maori Landscape Architecture Graduate was privileged to be interviewed by Te Kāea, in regards to the exhibition "In Between the Silos," focusing on Architecture + Women

This was a celebration of Mana Wāhine (Women in Architecture) ranging from Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture to encourage more graduates into these creative industries.

Manaaki Whenua - Manaaki Tangata
(care for the land - care for the people)

Watch interview here:

Natural Habitats Creating Award Winning Landscapes

01 October 2013

Natural Habitats are delighted to have contributed to five of the award winning properties in the 2013 Property Council Awards, the country’s most esteemed commercial property development awards.

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“The association of these great accolades reflects the innovation and quality construction Natural Habitats contributes to the projects, to enhance the value of New Zealand’s urban landscapes” said Warren Warfield, Director of RCP.

Education and Arts Property Award

  • The University of Auckland, Grafton Campus, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (The University of Auckland) - Excellence

Construction Heritage and Adaptive Reuses Property Award

  • Abbeville Estate (Auckland International Airport) - Merit

Commercial Office Property Award

  • ANZ Centre Auckland (RCP & Warren and Mahoney) – Best in category
  • Geyser (Patterson Associates & RCP) – Merit

Green Building Property Award 

  • Geyser (Patterson Associates & RCP) – Best in category

Industrial Property Award 

  • Paykel Building (Davis Langdon, an AECOM Co) - Merit

“Geyser, which is the first six star green rated building in New Zealand, is one project we are especially pleased with,” said Graham Cleary, Director of Natural Habitats.

Green Buildings are scattered across the country, representing wide acknowledgement of the benefits of sustainable design and Geyser stakes a claim for the most sustainable building in New Zealand. The underlying assumption of Geyser is that if a building belongs in its ecology, both environmental and social, then the people who use that architecture will feel they belong there also.

“Natural Habitats’ green walls and roofs are at the leading edge of contemporary landscape design and green build solutions; they are the key to the future sustainability of our environment. Green walls are an innovative way of greening a vertical surface and have proven to have considerable health benefits, contribute towards your green star rating and increase the overall value of your development,” said Graham.

Over the past three decades Natural Habitats have won more awards than any other landscape company in New Zealand and are pleased to add these accolades to their other 2013 ‘Pride of Place’ LA Awards for Landscape Design: Rural/Park/Recreation:

  • NZILA Award of Excellence: Cliff Face Park at Stonefields
  • NZILA Distinction Award: Maungarei Springs at Stonefields