Counting the Cost of a New Garden

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The trouble with costing a garden design is that the price really can be just about anything you like. Like indoor furnishing and decoration, it very much depends on the materials you choose. Even more confusing is the fact that you are faced with endless TV makeover programmes which seem to be able to transform gardens for next to nothing.

Set a realistic budget

Most garden designers and landscapers will ask you to define your budget before they present you with a plan. This is not a sinister ploy to ensure they get all your money from you. It is because your budget will influence the layout and materials choice they present to you. Someone with a budget of 5000 will get a different design from someone with a budget of 20000 or more. Understandably, this presents a problem if you want to get several quotations for price comparison.

So, how do you budget for a garden design or makeover?

Budget a percentage of your properties value

As a general rule, a well-planned and built garden will add between five and ten percent to the value of your property and even more than that to the value of a new-build property which has no garden at all. So, if you are setting a budget, then somewhere between five and ten percent is a good place to start.

Your garden as an investment

If you are all about making money on your property - that is, if you plan to sell in less than three years and move up the property ladder, then you should look to spend a little less so that you can actually profit from your investment in the short term. In that case, you should plan to build a garden that is not for you in particular but that will appeal to a wider market.

A good basic design is all you need for a garden of this type and you should compensate for your smaller budget by cutting out all the extras which don't necessarily add value such as water features, pergolas, gazebos, expensive plants, etc.

A garden for your own pleasure

If the garden is for you to enjoy, then you should draw up a wish list for your designer or landscaper to consider. If money is no object then you can have your contractor quote for you based on your wish list. If you have a set budget, he or she may be able to tweak the design to give you what you want within your stated budget.

Don't believe what you see on TV

One thing you need to know is that the budget they give you on TV makeovers is normally extremely unrealistic. This is usually the base price for the materials alone and won't include waste disposal, labour and VAT. I suspect that the price doesn't include general materials such as sand, cement, membrane, etc. The truth is that, no matter they tell you on TV, you simply cannot get a full garden makeover for 1000 and you should be very wary of any contractor you says you can.

You get what you pay for

Like everything else in this world, when it comes to garden landscaping, you get what you pay for. A good landscaping contractor will most likely be VAT registered, be contactable on a land line and will have skilled employees who require a wage relevant to their skill. All this costs than, and ultimately you, money.

You can of course save money by doing the job yourself. If you are confident enough to do this, you should be aware that the job will go a whole lot easier if you enlist the help of a friend to help you with the heavy lifting. It may well save you money to undertake the build yourself but, if you put your back out and can't work for a month, it will be a false economy.

Whether you choose to build yourself or to use a reputable contractor, you should always use the best materials your budget will allow. Your landscaping contractor will charge you the same labour cost to lay budget slabs as they will charge you to lay the more expensive range.

The good news is that, unlike most things in life, your garden gets better with age and will therefore appreciate in value. Home buyers prefer a garden with mature planting and the longer you have your garden, the more its value will increase.

You might also want to read...
Online home garden design course
An eight part course to help you design your own garden. From drawing up a wish list to the final plan...Read more

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