Traditional landscape with flagstone path through lawn

So you’ve decided you want to make some changes to your yard.  Maybe your existing landscape is tired and needs an update, or maybe you’ve recently moved and want to personalize your outdoor space.  At the same time, you may realistically only have so much to spend on your landscape.  It’s not only totally possible to design a great yard on a budget, it’s also a common solution for most homeowners balancing their lives and financial responsibilities.  You can have a beautiful, unique outdoor space without breaking the bank!  We find that a few cost-saving tricks go a long way in creating yards as economical as they are irresistible.

Lush sitting patio with creeping thyme, Hostas and Azaleas

Landscaping a full property or a large yard may seem financially daunting.  We often find that clients who are new to landscaping are surprised by the installation costs – usually on par with a home remodel!  One common solution is Master Planning the site and Phasing the landscape construction.  A Master Plan is a design plan that covers all areas of your property, even if you don’t want to install it all right away.  Since it’s important for your landscape to feel cohesive, even a seemingly simple yard benefits greatly from a Master Plan.  The design of your landscape is not only the least costly part, it gives you a sense of what your finished landscape will be like and makes your options clear as to materials and construction.  Once you have this, it’s easy to Phase your construction (break it up into different areas by priority.) For example, you might choose to have a back patio built first and to increase curb appeal in front of the house, but to hold off on the rest of your yard until a later date.  Much less overwhelming!

Timber and decomposed granite steps leading uphill

When it comes to landscape construction, you have many choices that will affect your overall cost.  Informing your landscape designer of your budget will enable them to suggest different paving materials, plantings, and landscaping treatments to keep your costs within range.  Paving/grading, stonework, decking, and fencing are often costly parts of a landscape, but the materials and the ease of installation vary greatly and can be huge factors in the overall cost.  The most important part is that these elements be installed correctly.  It’s better to choose less expensive pavers than to have someone without experience install them!  For informal areas of your yard, consider gravel or decomposed granite as a cost-saving measure.  Economical and easy to install, these materials are invaluable additions to landscapes of all design styles.

large ornamental Miscanthus grasses beside a winding path

Choosing high-impact plants, such as large grasses, hardy shrubs, and quick-growing trees bought young also cuts back on cost and creates a strong base that you can always add to in future years.  These large Miscanthus grasses above are a fantastic fill for a sunny area, defining space beautifully with absolute minimal maintenance.  While planting is usually inexpensive, irrigation is not.  To save you a big hassle in the future, don’t skimp on a quality irrigation system, just opt for a majority of low-water plants for long-term savings on your water bill.

While landscaping can be costly, it is an investment that seems to pay for itself many times over.  We constantly hear from our clients that their property values soared even with simple landscaping.  Our own yards have been through many construction phases and many DIY building projects, but after all we spend as much time out there as in the house!  So even if it takes a few phases to complete, make sure your outdoor space becomes a space you love to live in.

J. Montgomery Designs creates landscapes on all scales throughout the greater Bay Area.  For questions or to book a consultation, contact our Alamo Studio.


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