Second Nature


Awards and recognition

Registered Master Landscapers
Gold Award - Residential Project Construction: Over $100,000
Registered Master Landscapers
Gold Award - Residential Project Construction: Over $100,000
Registered Master Landscapers
Landscapes of Distinction Supreme Award

Second Nature
Second Nature


Second Nature was commissioned to design, build and project-manage our backyard in Stonefields, Auckland in September 2013. The brief was to create a backyard which was beautiful, unexpected, required little maintenance and included the use of natural materials (timber, grass and stone). The garden needed to be sufficiently robust to accommodate the presence of two high-energy dogs, and all planting decisions had to be made with this in mind. The Second Nature team worked closely to ensure that the design maximised the space and lighting, as well as enhanced the appearance of the rear of the house.

The existing pergola, grass, planting and concrete walkways were all removed, although some wooden retaining was reworked and incorporated into the finished design. A new large wooden deck and pergola now frame the garden. Second Nature constructed a large day bed, a wooden seating area and a stone outdoor fireplace. Hand-finished concrete planters hold the unique and thoughtful planting selections that all reflect a consistent palette of white, green and various hues of purple. The overall result is stunning.

The predominantly clay site required the installation of an extensive irrigation system. A grass was selected that would be sufficiently resilient to withstand the dogs’ rough playing. A stone retaining wall running along the back of the property provided a design challenge. The wall was softened with large, custom-made steel frames to support climbing plants. To the side of the house, a utility area with a washing line extends into the garage. This area was paved with StoneSet to facilitate drainage and easy movement of bulky items, such as bins and gardening equipment. This StoneSet paving was also repeated at the front of the house.

Working with Second Nature was a pleasure. The team are exceptionally professional and knowledgeable and made the whole process thoroughly enjoyable. No conversation was too small or unimportant to ensure the end result was exceptional. I’d highly recommend Second Nature to anyone looking for a team to work with them to create a beautifully landscaped garden.

Belinda Dick

I have used Second Nature on both my beach house at Castle Rock, Whangarei Heads and also my Auckland home garden.

They have completed work for us at various times over a period of six to seven years. Chris understands very well what I like and he’s very good at coming up with suggestions and interpreting the direction we want to pursue. He’s extremely easy to deal with.

He’s very practical, not afraid to express a contrary opinion but also willing to listen and be flexible. Everybody loves the results he and his team have achieved.

At our Auckland home, construction work included sheds, pergolas and a daybed, all built to a very high quality. Second Nature’s project management was excellent and very proactive. Whenever I came home the Second Nature team were extremely helpful. They were unobtrusive, polite and enthusiastic.

The project leader would always have a chat, providing feedback, comments and a general update. Worksheets were left behind every day so I was always kept abreast with progress of the schedule and the costings to date.

Alastair McClymont

I like working with Second Nature because of their general professionalism and excellent project management. No detail is left unattended, from the nitty gritty details to the big picture. Second Nature has very good team leaders.

They’re all reliable and knowledgeable. They’re very familiar with our procedures, so we don’t get false alarms, nor are there any surprises. They know exactly how long each stage of a pool installation takes and what will be required. Second Nature sets timeframes and expectations that are realistic. This makes our job easier, reduces stress and enables us to do a professional job.

We’re often involved from the beginning in creating and planning the pool shell. After we’ve installed the shell, Second Nature works on the surrounding landscaping. We then return at a later date to complete the job. We always get reasonable advance warning from Second Nature about when we’re required on site so that we can deliver in a timely manner. The client sees the job proceeding smoothly and on time.’

Neil Runciman, Managing Director, Frontier Pools
Second Nature operates at the quality end of the market for discerning home owners who want a bespoke and cohesive landscaped section and garden. They deliver in every respect, providing a friendly and expert service. For us, the added benefit was being able to tap into their landscaping partners. These included designers, lighting specialists, pool contractors and even a sculptor.

The Second Nature team are highly skilled. Their expertise extends beyond your typical landscaping-type skills to include a cabinetmaker, builder and joiner. All of their work is completed with precision. The end result is a clever and uniquely designed and laid-out garden.

We receive many compliments on our garden from guests and friends. Not only does it have a real “wow” factor, it is also warm and inviting. It’s not just to be looked at, it’s there to be used and enjoyed. It has exceeded our expectations in every respect.

Andy Evans
Our relationship with Second Nature began when a mutual client for whom we’d designed a beach house wanted to use Chris Ballantyne on the project. He immediately showed an appreciation for the fact that his design needed to be sensitive to our architectural expression. This led to a smooth overlap between our separate skills. Chris’ contribution to the project was very successful.

‘Subsequently we have brought Chris in on four other projects, each with a different scope. All have been a successful collaboration. A stand-out project of this group is a recently completed Bethells Beach bach for which he delivered a sensitive design, sourced the plants and materials and completed the installation within a tight pre-Christmas timeframe.
‘We would highly recommend Chris to any potential client

Nicola Herbst, Herbst Architects
In my experience working alongside Second Nature I have found their team to be conscious of design issues and very details focused. They actively keep the designer involved throughout construction, something that designers are not always able to follow through with. This continued involvement helps to ensure that the many small decisions made during construction are in line with the bigger picture.

There are many strands within garden making. I like the fact Second Nature has specialists in their team who are willing to share their hard-earned knowledge, both experienced soft landscape/horticultural staff and the craftspeople who deal with intricate timber and concrete construction work.

There is an open communication between myself and their team during projects. My clients often report that Second Nature staff are courteous to neighbours and great with their day-to-day management and communications, keeping all parties up-to-date as the work progresses.

As a designer, I can feel comfortable that not only do these skilled and knowledgeable men and women share my vision for each job but they also have the best interests of the owners and of the site at the centre of their focus.
Damian Wendelborn, Garden Designer, Urbanite Landscape Design
I’m a keen gardener, but because we’re flat out with a young family, the garden had got away on us. It needed a professional tidy-up. So in 2016 we turned to Second Nature, who had provided the original landscaping for our property in 2010. This had involved digging up the entire section, bringing in new soil and contouring the landscape ready for us to plant.

Six years later, Second Nature again demonstrated their expertise by providing a small-garden makeover that delivered great results.
‘Mossy areas were cleaned up, the whole garden was cleared of weeds, new soil was brought in where needed, two trees were pruned and various areas were laid with new bark. Existing paths were resurfaced with random natural stone paving. Second Nature did all the heavy maintenance work, leaving us with the fun part of choosing plants and doing the planting.

Chris Ballantyne made recommendations and defined the parameters of the job at the outset. A two-man Second Nature team of Ben (leader) and Richard were brought in to carry out the work. Ben was meticulous. Everything had to be perfect. We really appreciated the level of detail. Ben and Richard were very receptive to our feedback. Nothing was a problem. They were fabulous, regularly checking in with us to confirm we were happy with what they were doing. I found the whole company brilliant to deal with.

Larissa Richwhite
Second Nature completed landscaping work on our large half-acre property in early 2001 and since then they have worked with us to maintain and further develop the garden. Over the years the garden has matured and gives us much pleasure.

Our section presented a high degree of difficulty as we are on a very challenging slope and the site offers limited access. To overcome these challenges Second Nature demonstrated a close attention to detail, excellent planning, a lot of patience, innovation and real dedication and tenacity. The most demanding element of the construction work was in providing a platform for the pool. Working with a structural engineer, Second Nature oversaw the piling by a five-tonne pile driver of 18 steel beams installed to a depth of 12 metres.

The site also has unusual contours. Second Nature worked with existing terraces and shaped them into attractive outdoor rooms. It was evident that Second Nature had a very collaborative partnership with designer Trish Bartleet. The design phase was very conceptual and Second Nature made it all fit together. They had a very good understanding of the site, which required a lot of artistry to transform the overall design into reality.

Roger and Lyndsey Partridge
Second Nature came with glowing recommendations from people I trust. We were embarking on a huge job: rebuilding 100-year-old verandas, construction of ornate concrete columns and walls, stone decking, decorative pathways and the rest. Total re-landscaping, including some rather unusual, creative visions that were yet to be fully resolved. In the planning period my trust in Chris and his team developed. The estimates seemed high but Chris assured me they were realistic, with a bit of contingency built in, so there would be no surprises.

He was right. This is one of the great advantages of Second Nature: you know what you are getting into. Due to their professionalism and excellent project management systems, we came in on time and under budget.

This was the first stress-free construction project I’d experienced. Confidence in Chris and his team makes all the difference. Construction is of the highest quality. Communication is honest and effective. A multitude of other players (designers, pool company, council, etc) and sub-contractors were adeptly co-ordinated. The team was efficient, respectful and friendly. Most important was an ability to really share the vision developed by the designer, Robin Schafer, and me. Some unconventional features presented problems that Chris went about solving enthusiastically, and with great success.

The result is wonderful. Perfect. Our “garden” (it is so much more than that) is a daily source of joy for me and my family, and will continue to be for decades to come. Second Nature will always be my go-to for construction and maintenance projects. I whole-heartedly recommend them.
Sara Noble

The quality of Second Nature’s work was excellent. We appreciated their close attention to detail and their very skilled tradespeople. The design worked well, creating attractive outdoor living spaces that have been well used, enhancing our lifestyle. We now spend more time in our garden.

All of the plants were selected and recommended by Second Nature and some were specially sourced, giving us access to more unusual specimens. Second Nature’s garden designer Kerry Speirs designed a rock waterfall feature which Second Nature built with great attention to detail. They also sourced a quality pump and base, gates and watering systems, all of which are operating very efficiently. Included in Kerry’s design was a custom-built outdoor fireplace with a highly polished concrete hearth. A barbeque grill was built into a customised bench in the same finish. Second Nature also installed a custom-built clothesline of vertical posts in green heart timber of varying heights, joined with stainless steel lines encased in clear plastic. This ensured that the clothesline was seamlessly integrated into the landscape instead of being an eyesore.

The management of design variation was excellent, whether it was driven by a physical limitation or by the opportunity to maximise the outcome. The options were always clearly presented to be signed off before any changes took place, which avoided any “surprises” during the project. Second Nature’s project manager Eugene was fantastic, expertly managing every aspect of the project so that nothing ever became an issue. It was a joy to have the Second Nature team around. They were very considerate and hardworking.

The day-to-day communication was very efficient. The team arrived early to brief us in the morning and were there to update us about progress when we returned home at the end of the day.

Sharon Purdy and Simon Honiss