Budget Considerations

Budget Importance
One of the most important aspects of starting a landscape design is developing a realistic landscape budget.  A budget helps to shape and drive the design in a practical direction providing an achievable goal.   Knowing what you are comfortable spending is important to a good experience and your ultimate satisfaction.

Even if you are willing to install your project in phases you should still have a budget range that you can afford.  Designing a project that has no budget parameters can be fun or tempting however it might be a waste of your time and money (design expenses).   If the overall cost is much higher then you are willing to invest you may be faced with some hard decisions that could include negative outcomes.  Below are some benefits and risks associated with having and not having a budget.

Budget And The Design, Estimating Process
If you ask me to bid a new paver patio and you already knew the shape and size it would take me less then 15 minutes to put together a detailed estimate. 

Access Issues, Material and tool staging, Demo, Excavation, Baserock, Paver Selection, Paver Budget, Border Type, Paver Pattern, Slope for drainage, Paver Installation, Control Joint Sand, Sealer, Clean-up, and Detail - Approx. 14 sub-items may affect the estimate on this one item.

If this estimate came in over budget, only a short meeting and a few minutes to develop the estimate are invested.  You now can discuss options, how to proceed: 1- don’t do the project, 2- budget more money, 3- change the material, 4- change the size, are a few options to consider.

Designing a front yard, backyard or both will have many main items as part of the design.  Sometimes as many as 40 to 60. This may require 560 to 840 sub-items to consider. The development of an accurate estimate can take less than an hour or up to 16 hours. The overall budget effects how a designer develops your project.  There can also be a big difference between material costs.

- The difference between flagstone and plain concrete is 300 percent. 
------- On a 500 sq. ft. patio that could be $10,000 or more.
- The difference between prefabricated granite and custom granite is 300 to 500 percent.
------- On an 8 ft section of granite that could be $2,000 or $3,000 or more.
- The difference between an expensive grill and a moderately priced grill can be 300 to 400 percent.
------- That could be $5,0000 or $6,000 difference

The development of a conceptual design may take 2 to 20 hours depending on the size and complexity. A complete permit ready design may take an additional 40 to 80 hours

Designing without a budget can be a big waste of time and energy for both the client and the designer.  If the project is so far over budget you may need to scrape the plan and start over.

We will ask. Where does your budget fall?

We will use $25.000 increments on Small Projects
$25,000 to $50,000 - $50,000 to $75,000 


We will use $50.000 increments - on Medium Projects
$50,000 to $100,000 or $100,000 to $150,000


We will use $100,000 increments - on Large Projects
$100,000 to $200,000 or $200,000 to $300,000

Budget Benefits
  • saves time and money by keeping the client and designer focused on specific objectives
  • promotes a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere
  • less stress and frustration for both the client and designer
  • higher degree of satisfaction for both the client and designer
  • reduces surprises

No Budget Risks:
  • possibly creating a whole new design or major design revisions
  • deleting elements can drastically affect the appearance or function
  • your overall satisfaction can be affected
  • major design revisions can get complicated, discouraging and inhibit creativity
  • delay the completion for weeks or months
  • expense of redesigning

However, if you choose to shoot for the higher end of your budget there are several options for  making modest cost reductions.

Cost Reduction Considerations
  • reduce plant size and/or quantity
  • reduce hardscape / element size
  • change hardscape / element type
  • do only pre-wiring for low voltage lights
  • install conduits for future utilities
  • install in phases

What percent of a home's value should you spend
How do you determine how much to spend on your landscape.  Many professionals feel that 5 to 20 percent is what to expect.   There are many factors which could influence your decision.  

Factors that can influence your budget range
  • lot size
  • how long you plan to live in your home (short or long term)
  • family (function & activities)
  • life style
  • finances
  • employment stability
  • resell value

Rough or approximate estimating
A rough estimate is not a precise number.    However, if you are trying to obtain a rough / approximate estimate you can use the following  square foot numbers.  Keep in mind that these numbers are more typical of an average landscape lot size between 2,500 and 10,000 square feet.  Smaller lot sizes will typically yield more cost per square foot then larger lot sizes.

Square foot landscape rough estimating

Basic Landscape ($7.00 - $15.00)
- demo, excavation, grading, irrigation, basic drainage, softscape, hardscape, minor upgrades & elements

Intermediate ($15.00 - $25.00)
- basic items plus additional hardscape upgrades and element add-ons

High End ($25.00 - $45.00 & beyond)
- basic items plus swimming pools, spas, pool houses, solid roof patio covers, custom elements such as outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, water features, retaining walls, masonry, raised decks, extensive demolition, excavation or grading

Accurate estimating
A detailed estimate is based on an accurate detailed design or specific measurements and dimensions using exact calculations.   Depending on the complexity of a project a good estimate can take many hours, days or even weeks to complete.  There are many factors and considerations that effect an estimate.  Complex, engineered or custom projects can add time to the estimate process as well.

"Excellence In Craftsmanship"