• Patrick Hughes

Budgeting For New Landscape and Gardens

Updated: Apr 8

Are you dreaming of your very own backyard oasis? If you are reading this blog, more than likely you are. Quite possibly you found this blog by searching the Internet trying to gain a foothold on how and where to get started. If this is the case, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog I will discuss things you’ll need to consider as you work your way to sipping umbrella drinks on your brand new patio in the garden of your dreams.

I understand that you might be in the dark about what a new or renovated landscape might cost. If it’s not something you’ve tackled before it can seem like a daunting task. I wrote the following to help shed some light on what can be expected and things to consider as you develop your budget for a new or renovated gardens and landscape.

The first place I will start is the landscape design. Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, established that the second habit of said people is “to begin with the end in mind.” That is exactly what a landscape design can do for you.

A well-crafted landscape design will enable you to consider the gardens and landscape you hope to create and confront and overcome any challenge that may stand in your way. Upon completion the design will empower you to articulate to your contractor precisely what are seeking to create. If you are planning to install the design yourself it will help you plot your course so you understand where to begin and where you’ll end.

Unfortunately there is no one size fits all answer for the costs of either design or installation. It depends on the project variables. And each project is unique. But when considering a landscape design, fees may range from $250 to $4000 or more subject to the size and complexity of the project.

I won’t discuss this at length because I have written another blog you can find here about the landscape design process. In short, my process is very much collaborative. This is important to me, because I want to understand how you want to live in your space and what you want the end result to be. Because your happiness is my happiness.

Moving past the design phase and into landscape features and the installation, there are always questions about these elements. To begin you want to understand labor costs. You can expect a range of $50 per hour for each landscape technician on site. For a crew of 2-4 that could mean a labor cost of $800-$2000 per day. Specialists from other trades with higher billing rates could also factor into the equation.

Something else to consider is the access on the site. Challenging access may mean the project will take longer. An example of this is when work has to be done by hand because it is not possible to get the equipment to the space.

Irrigation is often a question that comes up. Despite the fact that in the Midwest, where we get relatively consistent rain throughout the growing season, irrigation can play an important role in the success of your landscape and gardens.

Without consistent water your plants can die, or generally not reach their potential. Now you might be thinking, “I want drought tolerant plants.” These are great, but they still need some water and the first two years while they are getting established they will need consistent water while they take root. Also, keep in mind that without a functioning irrigation system on a timer your plants may not be warrantied after installation.

In terms of the costs to install an irrigation system, I typically tell people to expect a range of between $3000 and $6000 for a typical city lot. Usually contractor’s price irrigation by zone, and cost per zone is around $1300 to $1600. I’m not an irrigation contractor, so I relay this information from a 10,000’ perspective. Again, each project is unique, so price may fluctuate depending on the situation. Your irrigation/landscape contractor can educate you on everything from installation costs, to drip irrigation to Wi-Fi enabled control boxes that respond to the current weather conditions.

Things to consider about plants are size, quantity and quality. The more plants you have of course the higher the cost. If you have a big space and you want it densely planted that will factor into what will need to be budgeted. If you want mature trees, or plants, this will mean an escalation of the price. Other costs associated with plants are soil amendments such as compost and surface coverings like mulch.

There are numerous landscape features to consider. Some of those are fire pits gas and wood burning, covered structures or sheds, water features, outdoor lighting, retaining walls and paths and patios. The latter of that list, paths and patios I will touch on briefly.

Patios and paths can be constructed from various materials. An economic approach might be to use cedar chips, gravel, or compacted lime screenings. Compacted decomposed granite is another low to mid level option. Hard surfaces can be created using concrete, pavers or stone. Concrete and pavers are going to begin between $12-$25 per square foot. Concrete will be on the lower end of the cost scale, pavers will likely start around $19-$25 per square foot and go up from there. For mortar set stone or specialty pavers you can expect costs to be in the range of $40-$80 per square foot. Dry laid flagstone will begin around $30 per square foot.

I hope this overview was beneficial and helped illuminate the path to new and better yard and gardens. If you are interested in Wheel & Barrow’s landscape design services contact us here. And cheers to sipping umbrella drinks on your new patio in the gardens of your dreams!

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