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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Budget friendly landscaping

Yes the budget is a big factor in doing anything around the house, and being the bean counter and the budget owner in the house, I watch everything very closely.

The house is a fixer upper (upper...i am not quite sure at this point) and had lots of potential for fixing especially in the yard. 

After the first few estimates from landscapers/ designers we figured it was very massive and completely outside our affordability range to do it all at once. The travails with the economy just cemented that decision.
The last 2 years we have been going at the garden in small pieces addressing one little thing at a time. It will be a while before i get to post "after" pictures.

One of our strategies has been to leverage as much as we can off free resources that are easily available and to put our time to use to read and distill the information instead of having a landscaper do it all in one shot and have a nice garden in a few weeks (read SOD). Try

1. Your local library for gardening books

2. The internet (google for ideas) - of which my favourite has been garden designs on

3. Buy seeds and start your own plants (instead of buying 1 gallon plants from the nursery)

4. Start your own vegetable garden. Functionality and beauty are not mutually exclusive. (Not sure if i have broken even in a year, but i love that i know what goes into my veggies, and the priceless effect of starting your own garden and seeing them produce). 

As with everything we have done (but for some BIG things where we completely completely missed the boat because we trusted people ( family)who literally cheated us) we have done a lot of groundwork on landscaping and how much it should cost and what a good deal will be. 
Last weekend we had one of the contractors who represents a Big box home improvement store come home and give us some ideas and numbers. In most cases we find the big box contractors to give us a reasonable idea on pricing, especially the fact that they don't tend to be zip code sensitive. Having been in this neighborhood for the last 2 years and done our due research, I can say for sure that prices in our area are at least 20-30% of what is quoted in the nearby cities. (We don't fit the bill for the typical family that lives in our city). Back to the landscape designer-this time around, I really got a sticker shock for the amount that was quoted (a ball park).

My take (and i guess this might change by the time we are done with our landscape work) is that the whole design process is for people who do not have a very good idea of what they want and possibly lack the resources to plan and execute it. As we were being showed the drawings and what to expect, we pulled out a copy of our initial sketch. The designer was pretty surprised to see one.

This is one of the many versions.

This one is drawn to scale and has all the hardscapes clearly marked. This particular one with the blue lines denotes the sprinkler lines(in the front yard) and our planned sprinkler layout (for the back).

So this weekend we are officially beginning work getting the garden in reasonable shape. We are getting some help on the trenching and bender boards in the backyard and all the planning and design is done completely by us. More on our progress in the coming posts

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