Who doesn’t like to save money? With a slow economy, home owners are finding it harder to decorate their outdoor rooms and backyard getaways on a budget. However, here are some ways to trim costs and still get beautiful results straight from landscape and home design experts.
1. Find a Designer for Your Budget
It’s important to be clear and upfront with any decor or landscape expert in advance. Don’t ask for a firm quote until you have defined your home project’s scope and agree on specifics. You should prepare and idea file so the expert you choose knows what you want and can give you a realistic estimate. Take stock and decide on what you need. If you already have a plan, then only contract an installer to implement it. If you have a complex project, you need to contract with architect or landscaping planner to create a plan. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you need a designer to create a vision for you.
2. Create the Perfect Master Plan
Define your backyard project’s complete scope before you or your professional start. Make sure you, your family and your hired pro discuss what are the most important elements to you. All projects are in danger of going over budget, but if you get to and complete those aspects that you really wanted, you won’t be left unhappy with your outdoor room. Let your design professional help you to understand the cost consequences of different choices; like natural stone versus concrete, lawn versus low-hanging plants, and so on. Be patient and flexible.
Pick Hardscape that will fit your Budget and Style
Knowing the purpose of hardscape is definitely a plus when it helps you make good and cost effective decisions. A front walk or heavily used dining patio will need to be durable and stable over time, so concrete should be a perfect choice. A side path to the garden or shed will be lightly used and can be made of economical materials such as decomposed granite or reclaimed brick on sand. Different materials will have different costs based on how locally sourced they are. Understand the construction process too. To save money on materials, you may want to minimize the amount of hardscape you used. However, if you want to cut down on the cost of maintaining the lawn, increasing the hardscaping coverage will do the trick.
3. Pick Affordable Plant Materials
Plants become exponentially more expensive in larger sizes, so splurge only on large trees or other specimens. Always buy plants in the smallest container size you can stand. Young plants will catch up with older and bigger ones within a few growing seasons. There are exceptions, however, if you really must have an instant effect or if your plants are slow growing. Design your foliage plan with the plants ultimate size in mind and space plants accordingly. Packing plants too closely at planting time means removing them later.
4. Budget for your Outdoor Space and Wish List
Shop carefully before committing to a custom-built feature, remembering to be realistic. Will you use an outdoor fireplace frequently enough to justify its cost? Know what you’re buying; That “stone” wall fountain might be painted plastic, which won’t endure more than a few seasons. The assembly-required pergola might be close, but not quite right for the scale of your outdoor space.
Amortize costs over time by installing the infrastructure such as the plumbing lines now, but not buying the actual feature for a few more years. Consider different materials; Could a fireplace be made using a pre-cast form instead of a stone wall? Get in the habit of touring salvage yards and thinking creatively. A fountain can be crafted from scrap metal, and sinks can be turned into planters. A fire pit is and affordable way to extend your yard’s use throughout the year as well as into the evenings. If you want a water feature, but it’s not in the budget, consider a handsome fountain that contains a bubbler for sights and sounds.
5. Cut Back on Maintenance
Know your maintenance budget before planning your landscape. The easiest way to cut that part of the budget is to make low-maintenance materials integral to the design. Nothing requires more upkeep than a lawn. If you really have to have a lawn, water it deeply and infrequently, and keep it mowed at the height that’s optimal for the grass species. For lighting, try LED lights, which cost more up front but last longer than typical halogen bulbs. Know your plants growth habits and time-maintenance tasks. For hardscaping, consider durability over time.
6. Putting it all together
Master plans come in all price ranges, just as gardens and outdoor rooms do. Designers and architects charge different ways: Some charge a flat fee for a plan, while others charge by the hour. Ask in advance so there are no surprises, and be sure to find out exactly what’s included. Also ask where the plants will come from and if there’s a guarantee for a year of so. Always request a few recommendations from your professional before beginning, and whether they’ve had to deal with problems in the past and how they resolved them. With these guides in mind, go out and build yourself a beautiful outdoor room.