HOW TO DESIGN A GARDEN ON A BUDGET

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If you have limited cash for your project there are still many ingenious ways of making the most of your garden, says landscape designer Paul Hervey-Brookes

THE BRIEF

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For many self-builders and renovators, the garden is a long-delayed project that falls low on the list behind new bathrooms, lighting and kitchens. But even on a limited budget, spending wisely on the garden can have a dramatic impact on your property’s value, so it’s worth having a plan and a timescale of how to maximise the green assets, even if the ‘budget’ is limited to your labour.

Many of us start with an initial budget, with funds later on which can be released to carry out further work, so it is important to prioritise what should be tackled first and what can be left for another day. Think about maximum long-term durable impact over quick fixes and expensive luxuries that don’t have a broad base of appeal.

CREATING A NEW GARDEN

If you are self-building a new property, the chances are your landscape and garden budget will have very different priorities to an existing garden, so let’s start here. New build projects have some landscaping challenges that need to be factored into the overall plan. These include access, driveways, storage and potentially garages, alongside the standard garden requirements. If you have a limited budget, then most of your money would wisely be spent in ensuring you create well-planned parking and principal access routes from car parking to the main entrance of the house.

Block driveway materials are an excellent option to comply with Building Regulations and to successfully deal with repeated movement, watershed and rainwater soakaway issues. Parking needs to include space for the number of vehicles your household has and for turning. As a rule of thumb, a well-built driveway that will last without repair or resurfacing will cost at least £20,000.

You may also want to consider tree planting for screening or windbreak purposes and hedging for boundaries. A fence may be natural, but it tends to be a short-term, cheap option that doesn’t add value or kerb appeal. Brick and stone walls cost over £300/m, so a well-thought through hedge is a sensible option. Budget allowing, they can be purchased mature, in 1.5m-length sections for £200, or as 30cm whips at under £1 each. Hedging should, usually, be mixed native species if you are in a rural or semi-rural location, and evergreen if you are in a built-up area or wish to have a little extra privacy. With hedging, make a note of your neighbour: Taxus, otherwise known as the English or Irish yew, is poisonous to livestock so should not be planted on any external boundary.

Semi-mature trees can create instant screens or a sense of maturity within the garden itself. At first glance, this may seem a luxury but being able to buy a tree that is more than 30 years old or a multi-stem birch for under £2,000 and have it installed, giving instant joy and character, is a wise investment when you consider the 10-year wait for the same effect from a £50 sapling. So if budget allows, instantly screening the neighbour’s kitchen windows or conservatory lights, and thus improving the atmosphere of your own home, is well worth the investment.

With garages and sheds, try to budget for the best you can afford. It seems odd to spend a lot of money creating your dream home and then not to carry the same sense of detail to the outside space.

The same rule applies to the path to the front or main entrance: spend money here to create a wow-factor feature, with durable, high-quality materials. The hallway inside your house is not the first impression — this comes just before the front door, so set the tone and budget to do this well.

WHAT TO AVOID

A few things don’t add value and have a minimal appeal. As such, they could be seen as a luxury if budget is an issue:

  • Overbearing external lighting can ruin a house and can be expensive both to install and remove, so think simple, discreet and practical.
  • Electronic gates, unless you have a rolling estate and budget is not a huge issue, can be retrofitted so this can be an investment for two years.
  • Hot tubs and garden spas take up a lot of resources, both in terms of installation and maintenance, while adding little value. The money is generally better used on good terraces, outdoor dining spaces and planting to settle the new garden into the landscape.

EXISTING GARDENS

If you are working with a current home then hopefully the big-ticket landscaping items are in place, and you can spend the budget on upgrades, enlarging outdoor terraces or investing in replacing boundaries or fencing and gates.

Often extensions and additions to homes bring a disparity between the existing garden and new layout requirements, so your budget should be spent on items such as specimen-sized shrubs and landscaping that mirrors the best elements you have inherited and want to retain. If you plan to make significant, wholesale changes, right- quality paths, access routes and terraces are the first considerations to be made. There is no point installing bifold doors if the indoor/outdoor flow has not been budgeted in.

Where the budget is tight, ask yourself: ‘what can I live with for the longest?’ Large conifer hedges and other items you want to remove should be weighed up against essential planning and access considerations, for instance.

Regardless of the garden, you are working with, always have an eye on what adds real financial value. And ask yourself: ‘do I need a professional and the associated cost to achieve a lasting finish, or is this something I can do myself, and achieve a good standard of finish?’ Long term, this will make the budget go further as there will be little in the way of costly mistakes as you renovate or extend. Also the safety of Garden maybe the roofing materials sometimes the consultant or seller tries to convince to make as buy Asbestos, as we know sometimes asbestos can cause disease in the future and it’s harmful. Then you spend money on medicine better you money spend for help form Asbestos Removal Adelaide Cost if you are living around Brisbane.

In a decade or so, you may want to move on and a well-maintained planned and designed garden can add up to 20% to the value of your home — so consider it a long-term investment, just like an adequately prepared bathroom or kitchen.

FIVE TOP TIPS FOR LANDSCAPING ON A BUDGET

Avoid tiny saplings

Use semi-mature trees to add an instant screen or a sense of maturity.

  • Don’t scrimp on sheds or garages

You don’t want to cut back here when you’ve spent time and money choosing external cladding and detailing for your home.

  • Make the most of your kerb appeal with right quality paths and driveways. Block driveway materials are a good choice.
  • The budget for good quality items when specifying key elements such as terraces, outdoor dining spaces and planting, over high-ticket items that may go out of fashion.
  • Avoid luxury items such as hot tubs that take a lot of time and money to maintain and may not add a great deal of value.

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