Garden makeover: Seaside front section

A seaside front section with a mishmash of planting needs more of everything


Dear Carol

We love our little seaside cottage, but we are unsure what to do with the front garden! We would love some assistance to help it reach its full potential. We live beside the sea in Wellington, in a 1920s weatherboard house. We need help with the front garden. It has a lot going on and hasn’t been updated in over 20 years. There are two things we’re keen on keeping and they are the olive tree and the nikau palm. We’d love to use plants that tie in with these two features, while creating a coastal/tropical oasis. There are two camellias in the middle of the lawn, which we are keen to get rid of, so we are left with an open grassy space. This area is east facing so gets the morning sun. During the summer it gets sun until early afternoon. The area is quite sheltered. A planting plan that is going to add more interest to the front of our home would be ideal.

Suggested planting plan

  1. FOCAL POINT A large rock, gabion basket or artwork at the gate will act as a focal point and add structure to the border.
  2. ADD MORE If you like a particular plant, adding more can be effective. Planting two nikau palms alongside the existing one will give the garden vertical interest and screening from the road without creating too much shade.
  3. BORDER CONTROL Plant a mix of subtropicals and natives with attractive foliage and flowers for year- round interest in the border along the boundary.
  4. GREEN SCREEN Plant a hedge along the boundary to create privacy from neighbours and give the garden more structure.
  5. COLOUR UP Plant medium-height shrubs with bold foliage or flowers to add more interest to the front of the house.
  6. ON YOUR MARKS Position an attractive pot to mark the front entrance and give it more presence.
Garden makeover

Carol’s solution



  • PLANTS WITH STRONG ARCHITECTURAL FORM FOR POT – Try Aeonium schwarzkopf, Poor Knights lily, cycads, Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae).
  • EAST-FACING BORDER ALONGSIDE HOUSE – Try Leucospermum, Muehlenbeckia astonii, Corokia ‘Frosted Chocolate’ or ‘Geenty’s Green’, Coprosma ‘Karo Red’.
  • CURVED BORDER ON BOUNDARY – Try Astelia banksii, ligularia, rengarenga lily (Arthropodium cirratum), vireya rhododendron, coloured flaxes such as Surfer or Merlot, Euphorbia glauca.


  • Try – Libertia peregrinans, Dianella ‘Little Rev’, rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida), Liriope muscari.


Words by: Carol Bucknell
Plan/Illustration by: Carol Bucknell