The Great Australian Dream is a belief that in Australia, home-ownership can lead to a better life. Add to that, the fact that a great garden can improve both your mental and physical health, it’s no surprise that a landscaped garden is at the top of most people’s shopping list when on the house hunt. Not to mention, a garden makeover is one of the first things many couples look to tackle when starting out on the renovation trail.
With such an aspiration for a beautiful outdoor space, it’s no surprise that it’s easy to get carried away. The good news is, well planned and executed landscape design can add between 5-11 percent to the perceived home value. A Michigan University study found that homeowners achieved a 109 percent return on every landscaping dollar spent – higher than any other home improvement.
The key is to keep your garden makeover under control. Check out the following recommendations for where you should save and where you should splurge in your next garden makeover project.
Save on plants
Now this doesn’t mean buying the dead or dying plants over in the corner, or planting so sparsely your garden looks like a barren wasteland. Simply design your planting scheme for maximum impact on a shoestring. Buy small and save. The price difference between a 140mm plant to a 250mm shrub can be up to 500 percent. Sure, planting larger plants give’s an instant impact, but often, older more established plants can be root bound and take a long time to establish and grow when planting in the ground. Compare that to freshly potted stock that is primed for luscious and exponential growth. After 12-months of growth your won’t know the difference. In the long run, the smaller plants will develop deeper and stronger roots.
Splurge on garden soil & mulch
Your new plants need nurture and nutrition to thrive. So often we spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on plants only to go cheap on soil. To parody a well-used clichè, soils ain’t soils and commercially available soils range in quality and intended use. If you’re planting natives shop accordingly, likewise, acid lovers, alkali lovers, plants that need good drainage and so on. Stretch the budget to the best quality soils you can afford, it will pay off in the long run, saving you money on fertilisers and maintenance.
When it comes to bark and mulch, splurge by actually using it! So many people just don’t bother assuming its function is purely aesthetic. A layer of bark and mulch aids in moisture retention protects your plants, prevents weed germination and feeds your soil. Mulch continues working to improve your garden while your back in the house with your feet up. Don’t skip it!
Save on the hard surfaces
Most landscape designs incorporate some hard surfaces be it paving or concrete and this is somewhere you can definitely find some savings. Decorative concrete surfaces can cost upward of $100 per square metre fully installed and usually have to be left to the professionals. Playing with wet concrete yourself can be messy and is a time sensitive trade. Not to mention, some decorative surfaces which require exposing require acids and other specialty gear.
The solutions? Paved surfaces! Paving is an easy DIY project and even the most expensive of paving options usually comes in below decorative concrete surfaces. Better still, shop for the bargains. Just like scratch and dent stores with white goods, factory outlet shopping is available for building and construction materials. You don’t have to buy damaged goods, it’s just a way to stretch your budget a little bit further. Pick up end-of-line gear, old stock or factory clearance lines as good as new for up to half the price.
Splurge on turf
With so many species of turf available, it’s easy to get bamboozled. Some good in shade, other good with animals or kids (what’s the difference?). Some keep their winter colour, other are better in drought conditions. Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo Grass is Australia’s favourite lawn for good reason. When all turf requirements are put on the table, more often than not, Sir Walter lands on top of the grass heap.
When it comes to Sir Walter, make sure you are buying DNA Certified. There are plenty of less than honest wholesalers out there passing uncertified buffalos off as the real deal. Insist on the best and your investment will give you years of joy. Just ask Phil!
Save on garden edging
Functionally, garden edging simply holds your garden in the garden and it doesn’t need to redefine design. Forget the fancy Cor-TEN steel or hand cut stone blocks, the most effective and still the most popular product used by Landscapers country wide is a simple brick paver. Installed end on end with mortar, a 100mm wide edge is the perfect functional width stopping turf runners and acting as a level mowing strip. Brick pavers such as this sell for as little as $15 per square metre (38-50 pavers) which will reach a length of up to 10 metres of edging. That’s only $1.50 a metre!
Splurge on shade
Extending your living space outdoors is one of the best investments you can make in your backyard. Spending money designing and installing covered areas such as pergolas will allow your garden to be utilised year round and add value to your home. Further, if the budget can stretch, invest in the link between the two. Bifold doors and windows allow the indoors to flow seamlessly out and extends the usable living area.
‘Landscape plant material, size and design sophistication increase perceived home value.’ Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing.