Setting realistic landscaping budgets

Setting realistic landscaping budgets

What should you expect to pay for a good quality garden makeover? Paul Baker from Holland Landscapes talks frankly about landscaping budgets.

What is a realistic landscaping budget?

Landscaping budgets vary immensely – of course they do – that’s the nature of bespoke work. So how do you know if the landscaping quote you’ve just received is reasonable? Is it shockingly overpriced? Or worse – is the price so low that the work couldn’t possibly done to a reasonable standard for that money?

All landscapers have different pricing policies. At Holland Landscapes we don’t just look at the price of landscaping materials in B&Q, then guesstimate how long it will take to do the job. Each one of our quotes is carefully considered all the way from concept to completion. We’re thinking about things like the initial garden clearance, waste disposal, health and safety, machinery costs and lots lots more.

Looking for a landscaper? You could compare quotes from different landscaping companies. If you plan to do so though, please make sure that you have a professionally created garden design for them to work from – either you may find that their quotes are not like for like!

What should your landscaping budget cover?

Think for a moment about what your landscaping quote includes – or should include! If you were going to do the job – what steps would you need to take? What materials would you need? How long would it take you? And how much training would you need before you could tackle each task? 

Finally – how would you value your labour? Now that you have learned how to be a civil engineer, a digger driver, a carpenter, tiler, plantsman, bricky, plumber and painter – what should your hourly rate be? (Don’t forget you will need to pay income tax, national insurance and pension contributions out of that money. Oh and there’s the van to run, the yard rent to pay and possibly Portaloo hire as well as public liability insurance)

landscaping budgets should reflect the expertise of the landscaper

The preparation work for landscaping is time consuming and needs to be very precise.
These are the footings for a curved retaining wall, steps and a patio.

Don’t believe everything you see on TV

There are two garden makeover programs showing on TV at the moment. One gives a really inaccurate picture of landscaping budgets. The other one, in my opinion, is far more realistic.

Garden Rescue makes great entertainment. However, I’m thoroughly perplexed – angered even – by the costs they quote.  The program makers do state quite clearly that the budget is spent only on materials. The design costs and the landscaping is paid for by the program makers. Even so, I often wonder how they manage to buy the landscaping materials and get them delivered to site within the landscaping budgets they are allocated. I suspect that suppliers offer generous discounts to TV shows in exchange for getting their products “on the box”

What upsets me the most is the disappointment on people’s faces when I tell them that I can’t build their dream garden within their budget. Their expectations of landscaping budgets are just too low…..even if we pare the project right back.

Your Garden Made Perfect – a Breath of Fresh Air

It’s not often that I can sit in front of the TV when a garden makeover program is showing and not cuss at the screen. But Your Garden Made Perfect is a breath of fresh air. Not least because the build budgets are realistic.

OK, so maybe I would design the gardens differently – but design is subjective so that’s OK. I like to hear the designers explain their thinking and talk about safety, workmanship and using the right materials.

The owner of one of the show’s project gardens summed it up beautifully when he said “You’d spend thousands of pounds on a new kitchen – so why wouldn’t you spend it on the room outdoors?”

As for the “budget” section of the program where homeowners are given an idea of what can be done with a small budget and a lot of DIY…. It’s great! Far more realistic than the “other” show.

The cost of garden design

One thing that doesn’t get mentioned on Your Garden Made Perfect, is the cost of garden design.  If you are planning any sort of garden makeover, a garden design is essential. It allows landscapers to quote accurately for the build. And also gives you a chance to manage your landscaping budget before the build begins. Most landscapers will happily work with you to tweak materials, or divide the job into phases so that the cost is more manageable.

However, garden designers don’t work for free – and neither should they! But their skills need to be factored into the cost of your garden makeover. I would like to see more discussion around price of garden design as well as its importance.

garden design

A garden design is a vital tool for managing landscaping budgets

Do you need to budget for garden maintenance?

We landscapers like to chat, and I was reminded by a discussion on the Landscape Juice Forum .  that gardens need maintenance too. Some of my clients, I know, are keen to look after their own gardens, others will search out professional help for aspects such as lawn care and hedge trimming. Some employ a regular gardening service to keep things looking ship shape. If you think you will need help with garden maintenance, once your project is complete talk to your landscaper – he or she may well be able to recommend a service.

Tips for setting realistic landscaping budgets

  • Talk to friends and neighbours who have had landscaping works done – find out what they got for their money and more importantly ask if they feel they received good value for money
  • Hire a reputable garden designer and discuss your build budget as part of the design brief
  • Think of your garden makeover in the same way you would an extension or a kitchen makeover. It’s an investment in the value of your property. A well executed garden makeover could increase the value of your house. Research by Foxtons suggests that a garden can raise prices by as much as 20% – does that put your landscaping spend into perspective?
  • That old adage “buy it cheap, buy it twice” is very true for landscaping budgets. Substandard products or workmanship won’t last very long and could even become dangerous.  Always err on the side of caution and get quotes only from reputable landscapers.
  • Please don’t undervalue the skills required to be a landscaper. Most of us have trained for years and years to get where we are today. There’s more to landscaping than digging holes!

Still wondering how much your landscaping budget will buy? Contact Holland Landscapes  for a quote.

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