If you’re thinking about having an outdoor living project designed and built for your Reading, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, or Hershey, PA home then you may be thinking about your landscaping budget—that is, how much of your hard-earned money you are willing (and able) to invest in the project.
Of course, we understand that a lot of homeowners go into the process with absolutely no idea what to expect cost-wise. After all, it’s not something that your friends may choose to openly talk about and if you’re not familiar with the industry, understanding costs for projects may be a challenge.
For that reason, we find that people often come to the process with unclear cost expectations and it can set things off on the wrong foot when suddenly you feel as though you have to downgrade your dream. Had you been able to start the process with honest expectations, it would alleviate that stress.
After witnessing a fair amount of homeowners experience this type of frustration, we decided to create this article to help you have a better understanding of how to discover what your landscaping budget should be.
Why Starting With a Budget is Key
So often, as we begin the process of talking about an outdoor living area with homeowners, they haven’t really started to seriously consider their budget. A lot of people even say they don’t have a budget in mind.
But if we may be completely honest, we know that everyone (no matter the size of project) has a threshold that they don’t want to surpass. Even after working on some very high-end projects over the years, we have yet to have a client tell us they have a completely “unlimited budget.”
With that being said, we completely understand that the landscaping budget can be an uncomfortable discussion for some homeowners. Oftentimes, homeowners are worried that if they share their true threshold—the number they don’t want to surpass—that they’ll end up getting ripped off. For that reason, a lot of homeowners are often unwilling to share their budget upfront. They might say, “Here’s what I want, how much will it cost?”
Unfortunately, this can leave a landscape contractor shooting in the dark to develop a design. That is not an ideal way to start the process. After all, the cost of outdoor living areas can completely run the gamut. There are so many different factors that impact cost. If you don’t give your landscape designer/contractor some idea of what you’re willing to spend, then their design may miss the mark by tens of thousands of dollars or not be what you’re truly dreaming about.
It’s also a huge waste of time for you to get that far into the process and be back to square one. The fact is, it’s much more prudent for everyone to have a budget—at least a range—in mind from the very start. Beginning the process with a realistic budget truly helps the rest of the project journey to fall into place and alleviates a tremendous amount of mystification for both you and your landscape contractor.
Landscaping Budget Ideas
The first and probably most important step in coming up with your landscaping budget is determining exactly what you want your project to include. After all, the only real way for you to get a price for the job is to share all of your plans for what you want to be featured in the project.
However, if you’re going into the process with absolutely no idea what things cost (as most people do), then it will be incredibly helpful to divide that list up into “must-haves” and “wants,” the latter of which being items that you could take off the list should the price exceed what you are able or willing to pay.
You should go into the process understanding that what may start as a base cost for your landscaping project is really just the starting point.
Rarely do we find that homeowners want just a patio. Most homeowners want to add upgrades to that patio to make it a complete outdoor living area. As you start to add these features, the cost will rise. These features include but are not limited to some of the following.
Obviously, these features are going to start bringing the cost of your project up which is why it’s important to go into the process with a firm idea of what you can “let go of” if you need to and on the flip side, what you can’t live without.
For those that are looking for a better idea of what they can expect to spend, an experienced landscape designer with numerous past projects in their portfolio will be able to provide you with ranges of what past projects they’ve completed cost.
In addition, a landscaping budget calculator could be an invaluable tool in really honing your landscaping budget. Earth, Turf, & Wood has such an interactive tool and we provide it to prospective clients after we’ve had a chance to explore more of their project wants and needs on an initial discovery phone call.
Phasing to Cut Landscaping Project Costs
We mentioned that cutting out certain features can cut down on cost. Keep in mind that you don’t have to necessarily let go of these upgrades forever. If what you really desire is an outdoor living area with a patio, outdoor kitchen, pavilion, and pool—but all you can afford right now is the patio and kitchen—we can develop a master plan to include the pavilion and pool at a later date.
This is called “phasing” and it’s something that helps accommodate a first-phase landscaping budget. If you do have future ideas for your outdoor living area it’s important that you plan ahead because it will ultimately keep the cost and hassle down for you.
Instead of having to tear up your patio later to add footings for your pavilion or run conduit for a future outdoor kitchen, those can be added at the time the patio is built in order to prepare for the future.
Similarly, if you plan to have a pool in the future, it’s important that many factors such as grading and spatial layout are taken into account when your patio is being built so that it doesn’t create future problems at your Reading, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, or Hershey, PA home.
How Material Choices Impact a Landscaping Budget
It’s also important to recognize that the materials you choose for the project are going to have a major impact on cost. Like any other product out there, there are those that fall on the low-end and those that fall on the high-end of the cost spectrum.
As you think about your landscaping budget, think about whether materials are a factor in which you are willing to compromise to cut cost. For instance, while you may have thought you’d have the entire patio built in natural stone, using pavers could help keep the cost down in some instances, without sacrificing quality.
An experienced landscape designer is going to be able to get creative with your options and give you choices. We’ve had some homeowners who had a very particular patio size in mind but couldn’t keep it in their budget by doing the entire space in natural stone—so we switched to pavers. We’ve had other homeowners who were less committed to the overall size of the patio and cared more about material. In those cases, we may have designed the patio a bit smaller in order to complete the entire design in natural stone, with the option to add an additional level in a later phase.
This flexibility in options is why it’s important to work with a landscape designer who isn’t married to just one way of doing things (as a lot of inexperienced landscape contractors are). You’ll be able to know if this is the case if you find that your landscaper is pushing very hard for you to have your project completed a certain way (their way).
Taking the Next Steps
Developing a landscaping budget is an early step in the path that will take you to your finished project. At Earth, Turf, & Wood, we have invested in the development of tools like our landscaping budget calculator and a detailed Dream Builder Workbook for the primary benefit of helping you get a better idea of what things cost and how to also get an outdoor living area that’s perfectly fit for you.
Once we have an opportunity to meet and discuss your intended project, these tools will be made available for your use when we have mutually decided to move forward in exploring your options.
Of course, not all landscaping contractors are experienced enough to be creative and to work within the confines of a budget while still creating something spectacular that fulfills your dreams. That’s why your choice in selecting the appropriate landscape company to partner with for your outdoor living project is so important.
We know that everyone has a budget. Fortunately, we have ideas that you may not have thought of which can help you meet your budget without completely compromising your dream space. We’re accustomed to working within the confines of a budget. It happens all of the time.
Don’t leave your dreams in the hands of a company that lacks the creativity and the know-how to make them come true in an value-engineered and cost-effective way. Even worse, don’t leave your outdoor living dreams in the hands of a company that will cut corners to keep your budget on track. This leaves your project open to serious problems down the road that could end up costing you more in the long-run. There’s no reason you should have to compromise quality when there’s a company that can help you have it all.
If you’d like to start a conversation about your outdoor living dreams for your Reading, Lancaster, York, Lebanon, or Hershey, PA home, that fits into your budget, then contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 717-276-9447.