Identifying An Overall Budget; Budgeting For Planting; and Budgeting For Built Elements were written for Homes and Gardens Magazine in the UK and published in February/March/April 2013.
They guide you through some key decision making stages, based upon your budget and timescale, and introduce some things to think about.
IDENTIFYING AN OVERALL BUDGET
Changing your garden is an exciting prospect. Do you wish you had somewhere to sit, to
relax and to entertain in, and that your garden should be more colourful,
vibrant, scented and varied? Do your children want somewhere to play? Maybe you
are just a bit bored with a garden you have never really fallen in love with,
or perhaps it has become a drain on your valuable time. You need a strategic
plan, not just in terms of design, but also how to finance it.
With no budget, choices are limited but you can make a positive start. Make time for
a proper clean and tidy-up. Reveal an un-exploited view or focal point by
pruning overgrown shrubs, or removing self-seeded trees. Edge lawns, clear
weeds, and mow paths through longer grass. Swap plants with friends, divide
existing plants and double your stock. Perhaps you need simply to think about
your garden a bit differently, and work on it with new eyes; for instance, that
annoying and, hitherto, problematic wet area becomes a beautiful bog garden and
you buy plants to suit.
Up to £100
Think about buying some new plants or accessories. You could buy 20 to 30 new
container-grown plants or four to five young trees; you could cover 10 square
meters with a gravel surface; mulch 20 sq m of planting beds to supress weeds
and retain soil moisture; buy 30 to 40 packets of seed; or cheap timber to make
a raised bed. You could invest in some attractive containers, or three to four
tins of external paint or wood stain. Or, consider a new piece of equipment
that will help you save time and improve the health of your garden.
Up to £500
With this sort of budget, you can consider building materials as well as plants.
Simple concrete slabs, edging and a sand base will cost around £20 per sq m and
will cover 25 sq m; or you could 10 sq m worth of natural stone. Alternatively,
you could buy 20m of lapped panel fence, more than 100 new container-grown
plants, turf for a decent new lawn, a liner for a pond, a set of garden
furniture, or a small shed. Or make a statement with a piece of sculpture.
Up to £1,000
Now you can just about start to consider bringing in outside help. Two days from a
skilled tradesperson will cost somewhere between £200 and £400, leaving £600 or
so left for materials, but there are very few significant projects that can be
completed in just two days. A good investment is a digger driver to prepare the
ground for your own work. You could repairs walls, re-lay or extend an existing
area of paving, build a new fence, invest in professional tree surgery, install
simple garden lighting. You can buy 300-plus plants, a very good quality set of
garden furniture, 10 big trees, 50 fruit trees, or enough transplants for a
£5,000 to £10,000
The lower sum will buy you around seven or eight days’ work by a skilled
tradesperson with a semi-skilled helper and still leave £1,500 for materials,
allowing you to plan a more serious project. It is important this is well
conceived. Think about paying for some time from a professional designer
(particularly if your budget is more than £5,000), who will help you make the
most impact with your money. Expect to pay a designer around 15 per cent of
£10,000 to £30,000
At this level, you should definitely employ a professional contractor and a
designer to ensure that the finished work is done to a specified standard. Contract
labour and design fees will account for around two-thirds of the total cost,
but much less if the garden is mainly planted, laid to lawn or more natural.
Architectural (built) approaches will always cost more.
A planting based approach (i.e. little or no building work) should be budgeted at
around £30 per sq m while hard landscaping on flat sites will require at least
£100 per sq m. Add to this any walls, fences/screens, trees, hedges and
individual elements such as water features, garden structures, gates, lighting
and ornament. Creating a 10 sq m urban garden pretty much from scratch, with
significant hard surfacing, high-quality planting, some work to vertical
barriers and some special features, will cost from around £25,000. With design
fees on top, you quickly reach the £30,000 mark.
£50,000 to 80,000
A budget of this scale is for a very serious project and will enable you to
create a garden that will not only make a very big difference to you, but will
be a legacy for future generations. Obviously you will not attempt this alone;
you will need a professional designer, who will account for around 10 per cent
of your budget. However, that will buy you the peace of mind that the garden
will be the very best that your budget affords.
Building with this sort of money takes us into the realm of gardens of national
significance, and in Britain, just 30 or 40 of these are completed each year.
Nearly all will have been professionally designed and constructed, materials
will have been sourced from the best suppliers and manufacturers, and labour
will be of the highest quality.
How to create a budget plan
Common mistakes in budget planning