You probably have been gauging costs instinctively during the planning stages. Now it is time to work up specific figures.
Real-estate agents consider it reasonable to spend 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the house and lot on landscaping, not including such large improvements as pools and patio roofs.
If you keep your landscaping costs in this range, most of the expense is likely to boost the value of your property. Some of the work, too, will immediately or eventually reduce the costs of heating and cooling. And all will make an appreciable difference in your quality of life, comfort, and health.
Most plans will call for some work that is beyond the capability, time, or desire of the homeowner to do personally. Begin talking to contractors or doing some comparison shopping for materials.
To get a realistic picture of costs, generally you're best off doubling any number you come up with initially. Figure you can save about half of the hired cost if you do a job yourself, if you can. Stinting on such things as erosion control, walls, utilities, and such could cost you more in the long run or jeopardize your family's safety.
Whether you do your landscaping work over a series of weekends or years, breaking large jobs into small segments makes your goals attainable. Personal priorities can prevail. Ask yourself these questions:
- What existing conditions can I live with longest? In a new home, a lawn will reduce glare, summer temperatures, erosion, and tracking into the house. An old lawn, however weedy, may do until the patio and walks are in place.
- Which improvements will contribute most to my use and enjoyment of my yard? You will need a service area right away.
- Will a new entryway that visitors and passersby see every day mean more, or should I build the deck that will expand my house and outdoor living? The most satisfaction and success usually comes from concentrating on one area at a time. Then let your enjoyment of that area spur you on to and through the next stage.