When I meet with clients one of the first questions I ask is ‘do you have a budget?’. While lots of our clients don’t have an exact number in mind, and aren’t sure of what landscaping costs, I find that most people have a number that they don’t want to exceed. And, when a client is willing to share that number with us, it is really helpful – having a budget enables us to focus the project on what the client cares about most, and develop a plan that is within reach, or that can be implemented over time, in reasonably sized phases. Read on to learn how to set a budget and stick to it for your project.
- Determining what to keep and what to remove. Sometimes I’ll meet with a client that has just done a lot of removal or clearing. And while this can be a great first step to get out of the way, I encourage clients to remove existing plants strategically, because you don’t have to pay for what you already have. Sometimes a site needs a good amount of clearing, but often times we can work around at least some of the existing material, saving money on both removal and replanting.
- Limit the number of areas that you are addressing. During a consultation clients will often mention several areas that they want to address. While some of our clients do end up redesigning their entire property, most are best served by starting with one area – like the front entry, or back yard. By concentrating your budget in one area, you are able to get a complete installation, rather than spreading a budget out over several areas that are only partially planted.
- Consider what hardscape you need. Hardscape tends to be the most expensive part of a project – both in material costs and installation. As a result, I encourage clients to add hardscape where it is needed for function (ie a walkway to the front door) or where it be impactful aesthetically.
- Know what you want to change. A lot of our clients are unsure of which plants they want to add, or how many, or how big they should be – and that is fine. As a designer it is my job to advise you on the plants that will do well, and how to select sizes and quantities. But, I look to my clients to explain their priorities, and what they want to change most. Remember, it’s your garden, and to create a great design we need to know what is important to you.
- Consider both upfront and longterm costs. When I discuss different options for addressing a client’s needs, I talk to them about both upfront and longterm costs. For example, removing lawn to create a natural area is very popular right now. While I almost always prefer plants to lawn, I make sure to tell clients that natural areas require maintenance too, and it is more expensive to have an area remulched than it is to have it reseeded on an annual basis.
The above recommendations can help you prioritize how to spend your budget, but the hard part for most clients is coming up with a number that they are comfortable sharing with a contractor. When we ask for a budget we aren’t looking to push clients to that point, or beyond it, we are looking to design something that is within their reach, and will add value to their property. And, we are willing to work within any budget that a client is comfortable with – knowing what it is will just help us target our recommendations, or develop a plan that can be phased.
Need help developing a plan and budget for your project? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-475-1015 or fill out our online contact. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!