Top landscaper working wonders in the Wakatipu

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An award-winning landscaper plying his trade in Queenstown has been working wonders on some hot local properties. 

Andrew Rae, 27, was last weekend awarded Young Landscaper of the Year at the Landscaping New Zealand awards in Hamilton. 

Rae impressed judges with his knowledge and demonstrations of planting, pruning, machinery use and paving to take out the national award. 

Employed by Southern Landmarx, Rae – who commutes to Queenstown from Cromwell – builds lavish gardens designed by the company’s landscape architects for luxury Wakatipu homes. 

Rae recently built a sprawling garden at the holiday home of a Singaporean family on the Crown Terrace. 

“It was a challenging job – it consisted of mostly dry riverbed with a pond at the bottom,” Rae says. 

“It had quite a bad rabbit problem so we had to do quite a lot of pest control, putting wire around it. 

“It was challenging because there were different heights and different levels and the likes of making sure the pond doesn’t leak, that sort of thing.” 

Rae enjoys the problem-solving aspect of his job. 

“I just get given a plan and have to work it out and build it. 

“You go into a garden and you can’t look at the whole thing and be overwhelmed by it. You’ve got to pick one part of it where you’re going to start, which is usually round the back, so you’re not treading over stuff you’ve done. You start at one point and work it out like a puzzle.” 

A stickler for quality, Rae prides himself on doing the job properly. 

“If you put something in that looks bad your client’s going to pick up on that and you won’t get a good name. There’s nothing worse than going back to a job and something hasn’t been done properly.” 

Rae’s also helped build a Japanese-themed garden at Lake Hayes Estate and is working on major long-term projects in Lake Hayes. 

“It’s a very physical job – it can feel like you’re digging at the end of a shovel for days on end but when you’re finished the job it’s all worth it in the end.” 

Rae’s win automatically qualifies him to compete in the grand final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year to be held in Auckland in November. 

His boss Joe Nutting says: “We’ve known for a long time that he’s hugely capable and a great asset to the team at Southern Landmarx, so to have that recognised at a national level is very rewarding for Andrew and us.”