How to stick to your budget when landscaping
It’s the same every year; just driving around Johannesburg there is an overflow of runners, walkers and cyclists trying to get fit after the festive season, and yes I am one of them too! Here’s to 2017 being more successful than previous years in this regard!
Another favourite resolution is often to keep finances on track and stick to a budget. I am sure many of you looked at your bank balance in January and were shocked to see how low it was. Probably asking yourself how you are going to manage to spend less and stick to a budget?
As a landscaper, and trying my hand at home renovations, I know all too well how easy it is to get caught up in just spending because something will look good in a specific space. Social media adds to this consumerism, making things look so enticing. When scrolling through Pinterest I often catch myself getting caught up in just wanting something for the sake of it.
I just love plants, every time I go into a nursery it is as if I am going into a candy store. I find it hard not to buy more plants for my garden. My garden is already full of plants, so I definitely do not need any more.
Therefore, I’ve really had to work on creating and sticking to a decent budget for my landscaping needs. I’d love to share some of the most important tips I’ve picked up with you, hopefully helping you to not break the bank this year when embarking on landscaping and renovation projects.
#1 Only buy with a plan
You need an idea or plan of what you want. It often happens that you walk into a shop and see something that looks really nice and you are sure that it will look fantastic in a specific area until you get home and place the object and to your horror it does not fit anywhere, so you try to force it to fit. Your best bet is to refrain from buying for the sake of it, have a plan and then buy what will work.
#2 Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need
Secondly whether you are doing minor or larger landscaping projects ask your landscaper to break the areas into sections. This really helps and makes it easier to stick within your monthly budget.
Pro tip: When providing the initial quotation, we give clients large trees and shrubs, which often cost a couple thousand but most often than not we are asked to work within a budget. So what we do is we down scale the large trees and shrubs, this is where you can save a lot of money. Hard landscaping such as pathways, decks and pools can cost you a lot too.
#3 Focus on the high traffic areas first
The next thing is if you have a garden or any open space that you could do some gardening in. Focus on the area that is closest to your patio or entertainment area first.
Work in stages, focusing on the focal points that are within your garden. Eg: looking out a kitchen window, can you picture an herb garden with a citrus tree and a birdbath, or a vista looking down into your garden where there is that private bench that you really wish you had. Spaces that are closest to your house you tend to spend more time in. These are generally high traffic areas, so focus on these areas first, then only the outer perimeter.
#4 Visualise and create a dream board
Creating a garden is not a rushed process, it takes time and it is a lot of fun creating the perfect space. When I stand in a client’s garden, I stand at the different corners and try picture what each area will look like. I do little sketches and pace out the area. Get a board and cut pictures out of magazines, this really helps you and the designer when creating your perfect space.
#5 Hire the right person, and avoid cutting corners
When looking for landscape designers and builders ask for references or view a few of their previous jobs. Once you have gone through the design process and you have worked out your budget, do not cut corners and try to get the cheapest deal. What often happens is people want the full deal but can only afford a portion of it. You will have to redo the job again in a few months’ time.
I see it often: A client asks for a quotation but then gets another service provider to do the installation. Things do go wrong when that service provider has no clue about what the previous quotation entailed and clients have high expectations and the alternative service provider does not deliver the same standard.
Do it correctly and stick to within your budget. When we are asked to stick to a budget, the client will receive the exact same service as if they had spent even more, all this means is we buy less plants and spend less days on site. No matter how big or small the job is, each garden is special to me.
Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.