Budgeting for your landscape design project can be a tricky proposition, especially if you are new to this game. The most important thing to remember is that each project is unique and involves a costing based on its complexity, scale and the materials utilised. There are a whole range of elements and factors to consider such as your soft works – elements such as soil excavation and planting; as well as hard landscaping - decking, paving and walls. While you may be tempted to take on the job yourself, remember that if you use the services of a professional landscaper you get access to all their accumulated experience and know how. You will also be serviced by qualified trades and be serviced by all their specialised equipment and machinery.
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From the Horse's Mouth
Chris Gill from ROOM Landscape Design and Construction has number of pointers in this regard. “It is useful to give your landscape designer a list what you don’t like, what you want to change and the reasons why. An experienced designer will be able to find answers to your particular site problems, and if they don’t have any pre-conceived ideas to work with they may come up with an alternative idea that works better and fits your budget. A good landscape designer or contractor can suggest more cost-effective workarounds for certain things you may want to do. If you can avoid digging or infill, for example, then you may end up with more to spend on some good quality timber decking or other visible part of your design – essentially giving you more ‘bang for your buck’.” Chris also bemoans some lifestyle makeover shows on TV which often give a misrepresentation of the costs of landscaping, only listing material costs and conveniently omitting labour.
Developing a Landscaping Budget
When developing a budget for your upcoming landscaping project, a safe rule of thumb is to set aside no more than 15 – 20 per cent of the capital value of your property toward your landscaping budget. In terms of a breakdown of these costs, 60 per cent should be set aside for soft works and the remainder for hard landscaping. Other major considerations to consider when developing a budget for your project include:
- Size of the project – the larger your garden or outdoor area the more materials, manpower and effort is going to go into revamping it.
- Scale of the project – this is often determined by the client who has a specific desired outcome or vision they would like to realise. The more complex or detailed, generally the more costly.
- Site access – if you have awkward access to your property or a sloping site this will often drive up costs.
Landscape Budget Pointers
Giving your landscape designer an indicative budget to work with is also useful as they can then work toward creating a suitable outcome for your site. Besides having a well-written contract in place to prevent expensive and unexpected additions, ensure that you get your costings set out in advance so there are no budget surprises. It also makes sense to have certain amount of contingency in your budget – typically 10 per cent - to cover anything any unforeseen costs like rises in material costs.