There are two ways to landscape: the right way (ie planning your landscaping budget from the outset) and the expensive way. The expensive way means phoning up the first landscaper you find, giving them carte blanche design guidelines and then paying the bill as progress payments without keeping an eye on the total.
The better option is to spend some time preparing your thoughts and ideas before contracting a landscaper. Once you’ve engaged one, time becomes money and all those meetings will start to rack up the bill.
Setting a landscaping budget can be quite laborious and certainly not as much fun as the first option – but you will be able to still put food on the table when it’s finished. Plus, if you keep within your allotted amount you may find that you are willing to allow a few extra pieces of garden bling at completion.
So, where should you start?
Plan Your Landscaping Budget Before You Start
The first thing to consider is what do you want done: new fences, paving, plants, water features, focal points, garden whimsy etc all need to be weighed up. If you can engage a landscaper in a consulting role at this stage makes it much easier.
Then, when you have some preliminary ideas seek out a few landscapers to come and further the design and offer some concept drawings. Once your happy with one of the sketches it’s time to engage the landscaper and then set the budget.
You have two options when it comes to setting up your landscaping budget; a fixed-price contract or a cost-plus method. Both have pros and cons but you are more likely to get the best deal with a cost-plus arrangement.
Fixed-Price Landscaping Budget vs Cost-Plus
Basically, a cost-plus budget means that you pay for the materials plus the landscaper’s pre-determined hourly rate. It allows you the freedom to be creative throughout the process but still only pay for what you get. The problem with this method is that it requires a much more hands-on approach in controlling the budget.
The fixed-price contract is ‘set in stone’ at the outset and does not deviate through to the end. Any unforeseen problems are taken care of by the landscaper and they are factored into the original landscaping budget. This means that you could be paying far more for your landscaping than you should be.
Before you set ahead with the contract it makes common sense to roughly cost out each part of the project. Demolitions and removal of debris, access into your yard, plants and materials and the number of labourers required will all need to feature in these costs.
At this point, you can start to make some solid choices. You can opt for the method of contract (fixed-price or cost-plus), whether to complete all the design or just parts of it and the time-frame for the project. Once these decisions are made you can set your landscaping budget.
The final part is making sure you keep within it, especially if you opted for the cost-plus arrangement, and then paying the bill. See, that didn’t hurt at all.
Photo source: Landscape Design Advisor