As with any large-scale renovation, money expenses can quickly pile up when you want to transform an existing garden. However, this can be avoided if you follow some proper steps and decisions. By doing so, you can both stretch your budget and achieve the look and feel of your dream garden. Where it makes sense to save without compromising on quality or style may not always be where you would expect. Here are some clever ways to reuse or rework existing materials, as well as strategies for completing larger landscape projects in stages.
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- Simplify a wish list and redesign an existing garden
Simplify wish list and redesign an existing garden
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to creating your wish list for your dream garden . This can range from elements for patios to outdoor kitchens and pools to fire pits. In doing so, however, the costs add up quite quickly. Therefore, focus on the design elements that you actually want a lot and will use frequently.
So if you want to save money, trim down your wish list, or cut out a few features that you might add over time. A professionally drawn site plan will help ensure that you don’t have to redesign an improved area when you install new features later.
Don’t necessarily opt for the most expensive materials
Hard surfaces, such as garden paths, pavers and patios, are often money-eaters when you’re remodeling an existing garden. Both the materials and the installation can be costly. If you’re looking for ways to limit your budget, you can use durable but less expensive building materials either temporarily or permanently. A mixture of gravel and pavers instead of cut stone would be a fitting example. Gravel, in fact, can be an excellent, durable and cost-effective alternative to natural stone in the garden.
It is also recommended to use a mixture of gravel and concrete or prefabricated paving stones. Regardless of which material you choose, it’s worth investing in a professional installation. If you need to roll a wheelchair, walker or stroller over your main path, consider gravel instead as a cost-saving material for side paths or patios.
Use materials you already have
While it’s tempting to want to rip everything out and start with a clean slate. However, a smart idea would be to stop and take stock of what you have. Repurposing existing plants and materials, especially durable and high-quality ones, can help stretch your budget and improve your design. For example, you can use existing clay pavers mixed with bricks to create a new walkway. You can also leave flowers and perennials already installed and established in the garden. Keep your original structures and give them a fresh coat of paint, such as new ball caps for posts and new gates for an updated look. In addition, a fresh coat of paint on an outdated item can be worth the investment for a relatively small cost.
Choose local or salvaged materials
If you don’t have existing items when you’re remodeling your existing yard and want to reuse them, chances are someone in your area does. Check with local scrap yards and material storage facilities. You may be able to snag a pallet of bricks for a patio or boards for a fence at a fraction of the price of buying new. In addition, if you’re buying new materials such as gravel, lumber or cut stone, you can ask which ones are local to your area. These are usually much cheaper than materials that have been transported from elsewhere. This way, you’ll help your new old garden blend in with the natural tones of the area. You may also want to ask a landscape architect if you could use local materials for this.
Buy young plants or seedlings
Non-grown garden plants can also be easy on your budget. You can easily find these in smaller sizes and can grow to their size over time. It would be even wiser to invest in permanent elements like hardscape. Even planted from small containers, many herbs, perennials, ground covers, ornamental grasses and vines fill in quickly. Some shrubs, trees, cacti and succulents may be slower to mature, depending on the species. A few exceptions for which it may be worth buying larger plants: one or two mature trees and shrubs that you will need for more shade or screening. If you’re looking for more color in your flower beds, perennials that come back year after year are a much better investment than annuals. That’s because you have to buy and plant the latter every season. Nurseries often have end-of-season sales in the fall that are well stocked with perennials, which is a perfect time to plant.
Cost effective and effective accents in the garden
For permanent and frequently used design elements in the garden area, it makes sense to choose the highest quality materials and craftsmanship you can afford. However, this is not always necessary for smaller decorative accents. Cute little garden details can make a big impact. Adding such impactful elements when you are remodeling an existing garden can be another way to improve the overall look at a low cost. Other outdoor accents with a low investment and high payoff that you can try include fancy house numbers or an eye-catching mailbox.
Plan with maintenance costs in mind
Once you’ve installed the materials and grown the plants in the ground, your future costs will be associated with maintenance. Some materials require more maintenance than others to keep looking good over the long term. All plants will also still require varying amounts of water and plant care throughout the year to continue to thrive. It is best to keep this in mind when you are just starting your project so you can design your plan accordingly.
In general, high-quality natural materials such as honed stone and flagstone for patios and walkways require minimal maintenance when properly installed. Gravel and decomposed granite, on the other hand, need to be replenished every so often. Synthetic decking boards can save the cost of having to seal a natural wood deck every few years.
For plants, the best choice to reduce water costs is to use native varieties or those that grow well in your climate. Gardens consisting of low-maintenance shrubs, groundcovers and perennials require less garden maintenance than those with high-maintenance annual flower beds or pruned topiaries. So choose a style that you have the time and budget to maintain in the future. Skipping a traditional lawn can also provide big savings in both water and maintenance.
Break the project into phases
For major garden redesigns, splitting the design into phases can be quite helpful in terms of budgeting. For phased projects, bring in a professional at the beginning to draw a complete site plan. This will allow you to sketch out the overall design and divide the phases based on construction access. Think about everything that will be useful or desirable in the future. It’s no fun to repeatedly excavate the ground or drill holes in finished surfaces.
A complete site plan to guide the construction process is also likely to lower overall costs. For example, with proper planning between phases, a contractor could lay the foundation under a patio for a structure that will be installed later. Then, when the client is financially ready to build their patio and pergola, installation can be accomplished by simply pulling up the pavers that hide the footings, as opposed to major excavation and repetition.