Spending time outdoors has become one of the great passions of today’s homeowners. Many have discovered the joy of gardening, growing their own food and herbs—even grapes for wine making–and landscaping for aesthetics, recreation, and resale. Also, neighbors will love you more when you improve your property’s curb appeal in the front, along the sides, and out back.
But getting started can be tough. First, there’s the basic question of what to tackle , and in what order? Add proper irrigation, plant flowers, seed a lawn, get rid of a lawn, reseal a driveway, install a walk, prune dead limbs, remove dead trees, plant trees, and so on with many other tasks to get done.
Finding the right help requires the same sort of due diligence that you need to undertake any interior projects: painting, resanding and staining hardwood floorboards, or constructing an addition. In the case of your site, you have lots of options regarding who will take charge: a gardener, contractor, certified landscape architect or designer, local nursery, or certified arborist. All offer different expertise, charge a range of prices (typically by the hour or project), and each should know which permits are needed to meet your community’s codes and setbacks.
And then, there’s the nitty-gritty matter of how much to spend in total to be sure you don’t overspend. Surveys like the annual “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine will help guide you regarding how much a mid-range and upscale landscape project—perhaps, building a wood or composite desk–usually costs in different parts of the country, as well as how much you’re likely to recoup when you sell your home.
But these types of surveys won’t inform you if your outdoor projects make sense for your pocketbook, your home, and your neighborhood, and most homeowners tend to underspend in relationship to the value of their house. Generally, landscape experts recommend setting aside 10% to 15% of your home’s value for outside landscaping, which includes the soft areas—lawn, flowers, shrubs–and the hardscape—patios, paving, shade structures. This can mean as much as $50,000 to $75,000 for a $500,000 home. Ouch!
If that’s way out of your budget, don’t despair; you can cut back and prioritize what your yard most needs or what interests you, or you can phase in work, which means tackling the front first, then the back, and lastly the side yards, which usually are less important. You can even phase in one area–laying the hardscape the first year, planting trees the next, and then finally putting in the flowers and accessories. There’s no single rule of thumb regarding green thumbs.
We’re here to help you spend more pleasurable time in your yard, so you don’t feel that you have to hop on a plane to get away and relax or head to that expensive neighborhood florist or vegetable market to have freshly cut, fragrant bouquets and healthy, tasty produce. We’re going to take you through the process of working on your yard, from the bare roots and ground up to the flourishing plantings and attractive hardscape you will love as it evolves and guides you. And we hope you’ll email us with suggestions on topics and problems you would like to have us cover. We’re here to help.