Garden makeover: Front garden

A Tauranga front garden gets a lush planted border and a clear grassy space


Dear Carol

I’m stuck. Our Tauranga front garden is a sun trap with so much untapped potential. We’re down the bottom of a quiet cul-de-sac. The front garden has a large oak, which can’t be touched, and I’m happy with the lawn, which the kids love to play on. There is, however, a collection of mismatched plants (and a dead kowhai), too many stones and a hedge that attracts flies. Visitors traipse through the front garden bed by the door and due to the hot, dry conditions plants here are struggling. I’d like to develop this area by removing the hedge and having a green belt along the driveway with a variety of contrasting colours/textures and leaf sizes. What plants would suit the Tauranga climate? New Zealand natives and flowering plants to support our declining bee population would be great. What should I do underneath the lounge window and in the garden bed by the front door?


Suggested planting plan

  1. DIRECT ROUTE Remove the large fatsia hedge by the front door and replace with a low hedge that continues around the side of the driveway. This would direct visitors along the path to the front door
  2. SOFT TOUCH Plant a low flowering hedge against the front of the house to soften hard surfaces and connect the building to the garden
  3. SHAPE UP Reshape the lawn to make a more pleasing even, oval form
  4. PRETTIFY PEBBLES Plant low perennials into existing pebble mulch and around stepping stones
  5. FLOWER FENCE Plant flowering climbers to disguise the old timber fences
  6. MOVE IT Replant palms and the olive tree into the borders around the edge of the lawn to leave a clear grassy space
  7. BORDER CONTROL Plant a border around the lawn with a mix of flowering perennials and shrubs
  8. DOWN LOW Edge the lawn with low perennials to accentuate the shape.

TIP Newly-planted gardens need to be watered regularly for several months until plants establish, especially during summer months and in north-facing gardens like this one. Replacing existing soil with a good quality garden mix will also ensure better survival rates for plants.

Words by: Carol Bucknell
Illustration/plan by: Carol Bucknell