Break Out Pricing
Some landscape tasks may cost less than you think; some may cost more. To figure out what fits into your budget, ask a designer to break down an overall plan by section and price so that you can evaluate what you can and can't afford to do professionally.
Divide and Conquer
Just because you've come up with a plan doesn't mean it has to be implemented in a single year. In fact, most homeowners should look at an overall vision that's phased in over several years at a minimum, says Miller. To gain the most in curb appeal, start in the front yard and work your way back. Phasing in a project may also allow you to pay for some landscaping tasks in later years while doing some yourself up front.
Don't Be Impulsive
"People have a tendency to go buy something and plunk it in the backyard, and they wind up with clutter and pieces that don't match because they got it on sale," says Miller.
Use the same thoughtful approach to hardscaping as you would with plants: Evaluate your choices based on budget to buy, install, and upkeep as well as time you have to maintain it yourself. "People don't do the research and spend time learning about how to do projects successfully," says Miller. "Do your prep and be patient, but if you really want it and are not patient, hire somebody to do it right."
Check out our landscaping materials guide.
Allow Your Garden to Change
A garden for a family with little kids may not be the same as a garden that empty nesters desire -- and that's OK. "Our yards are a direct expression of how we want to live," says Miller. That translates into a more fluid approach to do it yourself landscaping. For example, when your kids are little you may not have lots of time to maintain gardens; instead you want a tough, durable, low-maintenance approach to landscape. As your kids grow, you may have more hours and willingness to devote to small and large projects that you do by yourself. "There are different stages and phases of life and of the garden," says Miller.
Set a Budget and Stick to it
When you develop a plan, put real numbers to it and realistically decide what you can and want to spend -- this year, next year, and into the future. "Be true to your budget," says Miller. "So many people get a bid and it is over and they put off the project. That's when you work with your designer to figure out what you can change."
Set a Time Budget and Stick to it
Much like dollars count, your time counts, too, when it comes to do it yourself landscaping. "You have to think about when you'll get to things," says Miller. "You have to realistically look at when you can get things done and if you want to eat up every nice-weather weekend. Don't overcommit and wind up disappointed."