Creative Solutions

Amanzi Landscapes love a challenge; often this raw enthusiasm manifests itself into great ideas and creative landscape solutions that make a complete garden makeover simply brilliant.

This case study with accompanying pictures is one of our creative landscaping constructions that ended up making this garden good enough to be featured in the magazine, Gardens and Outdoor Living.

We've called it a Subtropical Sensation!

Subtropical Sensation

After renovating their house the owners knew their garden would be a challenge beyond their own abilities so they asked Amanzi Landscapes for their expertise in professional garden makeovers and landscaping ideas. It was a steep site and access was difficult, there were natural outcrops of rock and poor soil that had been leached for years by rain runoff. Amanzi Landscapes designed an easy care garden with suitable landscape construction. A sensational garden water feature was chosen as the centre piece, subtropical garden plants appropriate for the site and climate were then selected. The makeover has added thousands to the value of the owner's home.

Read on and see how Amanzi landscapes architect perfected the challenge.

Brief and Proposal

1. The client's brief was for a complete garden makeover, this included a garden water feature which had a waterfall to compliment the subtropical theme requested.

2. The site was an old fashioned English garden with a narrow winding pathway of crazy paving (sandstone) with irregular steps to the front door of a newly renovated and modernised home.


It was very steep and to the East side of the house there was a poorly built concrete garden retaining wall, it was curved in odd places and tapered upward from 2m to half a meter in height with the slope of the natural rock bed on which it was built.

3. The potential was abundant and Amanzi's Landscape proposal to the client was to create a water feature as the central focal point in the garden. The waterfall would cascade into a number of garden ponds and then into a larger Koi pond being the main feature of the garden, this would capitalise on the full potential of the entrance area. (See garden layout below)

Garden Layout

A. Amanzi converted the concrete retaining wall into a rock face, using cement and oxidants to create an imitation rock wall.

B. The newly made rock wall became the garden waterfall; it cascaded into a smaller garden pond, and flowed over a natural rock bed like a small stream. It then poured over into the larger Koi pond - approx 5m in diameter - not perfectly round, but as natural looking as possible.

Garden Waterfall Conversion

C. The garden theme was changed to a tropical style, reusing as much of the existing garden plant material as possible.

Pond and Garden

This was challenging due to the steepness of the site and the fact that the property drainage ran through the pond area which contained 80% layered bedrock.

Pond and Garden

1. The pipe work was laid in position from the external pump box housing, up the old concrete retaining wall to a bio filter box (size 125 L) the lip of which was positioned to flow over the new rock face as a waterfall. The bio filter was filled with hyper spheres.

2. The pond was excavated by hand and jack hammered to a depth of 800mm, exposing a large portion of feature bed rock protruding approx 400mm above water level and approx 400mm below water level. The pond would be a liner pond due to costs and the potential risk of leakage in areas where concrete meets sandstone (and we did not want to lose the feature rock). We used a mechanical seal between the liner and rock just below water level, this was done by cutting a slot into the rock at right angles, 30mm deep and just wide enough to fit the liner in doubled over. The liner was then held in place by pushing a round strip of rubber between the folds securely holding it in place and ensuring a good seal.

3. The pond liner is normally laid over a compacted base covered with river sand, but in this case, as there were a lot of sharp stone edges left by the jack hammers, a weak river sand cement mix of 1:6 was used, and the liner was laid while it was wet so as to seat it in as best possible. (Liner used: 1.5mm EPDM heavy duty liner from Dunlop.)

4. Natural bush rock was used for the pond surround and river section, with pebbles being added to the river section.

Subtropical Sensation

5. The pump is an external Onga model 414 with a non return valve at the bottom of the suction pipe end. A control valve is fitted on the pressure side of the pump to control the water flow rate.

6. A UV steriliser was also installed to reduce the algae in suspension for water clarity.

7. Water plants featured in the Koi pond are Nyphea Nivea, Nyphea Hollandia, Pickerel Rush, Azola and Louisiana Iris.