As a landscape professional the first thing I ask my clients is about their budget – right away you need to know how much you want to spend on the project initially and long term. Let me explain, when you undertake a landscape project it is important to know how much money you want to spend on the project when you are done putting everything in the ground (no pun intended). Regardless of whether you plan to do the job yourself or if you want to hire a professional, you should have a budget in mind for your project.
Many people may plan to approach the project over a number of years, which is often referred to as “phasing in the project”, and in doing so will allot a set amount to the project each year. Other people will approach the project in “one shot”. Whichever way you decide to go, it is important to write those numbers down as this will become your budget.
If you have never landscaped before its a good idea to talk to your family members and friends and get some advice on what tools they find are most helpful, perhaps they have something they can give you or lend you for your project but you are going to need some tools for the upkeep of your garden once it is in place.
Now in terms of long term budget, ask yourself –
• do you plan to plant annuals in your garden each year? Yes – that’s going to cost money each year so you need to budget for that.
• do you want to use city water to irrigate the gardens? If so, that will impact your water bill so you will want to take that into account and if you don’t plan to water or want to reply on rain barrels you will want to consider plant materials that are more drought tolerant or native.
• do you plan to use decorative mulch in your beds? If so, this will need to be topped up every year or so to keep it looking fresh and to maintain its garden friendly properties.
• you will also want to budget for regular maintenance costs such as fertilizers, etc.
Once you have developed your budget, I suggest drawing up a list of “needs” and “wants”. This can be an important exercise as many people get the two confused, especially when planning something as exciting as a new backyard! It is easy to blow through your budget your “wants” while forgetting about your” needs”. Sure you might “want” that hottub but you really “need” a patio to accommodate your family and friends on long weekend BBQs.
It’s also important to determine what area of your property you want to landscape first – is your front yard the area that is most important to you (are you planning to sell in the near future or if the entrance is a safety hazard?), or are you planning to use the as your “staycation” spot for summer weekends? Involve the entire family during this process, it can be a lot of fun coming up with ideas and searching out photos!
During this phase one of the biggest things I advise people to do is to seek professional advice. By searching out the advice of a professional you are likely going to save yourself money. By speaking with a professional they will often make recommendations on materials that will do best in a certain area (ie: plants that will do best in that dark, dry shady corner or beside the driveway where you pile your snow) or how to best design a patio or deck around your windows and doors will ultimately save you both the time and aggravation of figuring out the elevations yourself. I have met people who have spent thousands of dollars on plant material only have it fail time and time again because they had selected the wrong plant or had simply planted the right plant in the wrong spot. A quick consultation with a contractor or designer could have saved them thousands of dollars they could have enjoyed on one of their “wants”.
Landscaping can be a great asset to your home and can increase your home’s value by as much as 15%. Curb appeal is a big factor to a lot of homebuyers, so it is important to think about what people see when they pull into the driveway for the first time…after all first impressions are everything. Have you ever read the local real estate listings? Notice they often mention the landscaping? It can be an important selling feature!