Top landscaping tips from award-winning designer Wayne Butson


Based in Dunedin, landscaper Wayne Butson creates award-winning gardens and outdoor areas. We caught up with him to get some tips on how to make the most of our garden.

Tell us about your background and how you got into landscaping:

During my school years I helped out a farm shelter nursery during the school holidays. After I completed school I was then offered a job at Pukerau Nursery which I took up as pre-entry work before Lincoln University.

My next job was working as a landscaper for a company but not long after that I decided to go out on my own. So at the age of 25, and with the help of my new wife Ella, I started Design + Garden Landscapes. I liked the idea of being the “master of my own destiny.” What started as the truck and me has now grown to a team of 10.



What are your 'go-to' product favourites for outdoor spaces?

I’m a big fan of good lighting so we’re using a lot of LED strip lighting at the moment. We install them on the ground, in seating and decking, even on the fireplace hearth.

We also use outdoor fireplaces a lot. Usually wood cooking fires which are popular right now, along with outdoor kitchens. These days people are willing to invest in creating an outdoor space that is essentially an extension of their home. It’s like adding an extra room to your house.

Vertical garden walls are very trendy at the moment and we import a great product from Australia to get the ‘green wall’ look.



Talk us through your design process:

The first step involves meeting the client, going over the site and creating a brief with them. From there we come up with a pencil concept sketch and a quote. Once the client is happy we take the pencil sketch and turn it into a more complex CAD drawn plan that we are even able to give the client 3D walk through.

Tips for busy households wanting a low-maintenance garden? 

Raised garden beds are a good option for their ease of access.

A lot of people think that weed mats will solve their problems but at the end of the day they kill the soil and cultivate weeds. They serve no purpose.  You’re better off adding mulch with compost and getting your soil up to scratch then covering the garden with some clever planting. Go for the right plant in the right space and design it for total coverage.  Then you end up with a garden full of plants and less space for weeds.

There’s also the option of turning your lawn into a patio.



Street appeal is a big factor when it comes to selling houses. Any tips for ways to make you home's exterior more 'buyer friendly'? 

> A tidy main entrance with a direct path to the front door is key.

> Define your garden areas and different spaces as much as possible.

> Boundary fences and good lighting are also great assets.

Favourite plant or flower?

At the moment I’m a big fan of Rhododendrons, probably because the ones in my garden at the moment are in full bloom.

Having won a few awards you're clearly a taste maker when it comes to outdoor spaces. What style is 'hot right now'?

There seems to be two schools of style that don’t really date. The first is the formal gardens, typically with lots of structure, clean-lined hedging, symmetry and patterned planting. Then there’s the natural garden style. This is more informal and creative (think of wild and colourful cottage gardens).

We go for a look that uses elements from both styles – I would call it a fusion. And because we use native New Zealand plants a lot we end up with a look that is a bit different and ‘uniquely Kiwi.’

Dreaming of your own amazing outdoor space? Enter our Pinterest competition and you could win $500 cash to go towards it.

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