These 10 cost-saving ideas from professionals can help you stretch your budget without sacrificing style or quality.
As with any large-scale renovation, the costs of a landscape remodel can quickly add up. With the right design moves and decisions to stretch your budget, you can pull off the look and feel of your dream garden without letting the budget get out of hand. But where it can make sense to save — without compromising quality or style — may not always be where you’d expect.
Read on, as landscape design professionals on Houzz offer their advice on the best places to save money on a landscape redesign, such as savvy ways to repurpose or refinish existing materials, strategies for phasing larger landscape projects and more.
1. Simplify Your Wish List
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to creating your dream landscape wish list, with elements from patios to outdoor kitchens and pools to fire pits, but costs quickly add up. Focus on the elements you really want and will use often. “If you want to save money, scale things back or take out a few features that you could add over time,” says landscape designer and contractor Heather Sweeney of Mom’s Design Build.
Tip: Having a professionally drawn site plan in place will help ensure that you won’t have to disturb an improved area when installing new features at a later stage.
2. Choose Hardworking, Less Expensive Materials
Hardscape — hard surfaces such as pathways, pavers and patios — is often one of the biggest “budget eaters” in a landscape remodel, as the materials and installation can both be expensive. If you’re looking for ways to help rein in your budget, resilient but less expensive hardscape materials can fill in, either temporarily or permanently.
For a front yard redesign in Berkeley, California, landscape designer Ian Moore used a mix of gravel and pavers instead of cut stone for the front patio and walkway as a cost-saving measure. The 12-by-10-foot gravel patio, pictured here, was installed with the thought that the clients might upgrade to cut stone in the future. “Gravel can be an excellent permanent low-cost alternative [to cut stone],” says Moore, who recommends using a mix of gravel and concrete (another of his go-to budget-friendly materials) or precast pavers to create pads for furniture.
The cost savings on material choice can be considerable. For example, he says, the average cost for decorative pebble installed is in the range of $3 to $8 per square foot. “By contrast, cut stone typically ranges from $10 to $30 per square foot or up to $60 per square foot for an experienced stone mason,” he says. Regardless of the material you choose, it pays off to invest in proper professional installation.
Tip: If you need to be able to roll a wheelchair, walker or stroller over your main path, consider gravel as a cost-saving material for secondary paths or patios instead.
3. Use What You Already Have
While it’s tempting to want to rip out everything and start with a clean slate, it’s better to pause and take stock of what you have. Repurposing existing plants and materials — especially long-lasting, high-quality ones — can help save your budget and enhance your design.
For this cottage-style garden in Minneapolis, Sweeney used existing clay pavers mixed with brick to create a new walkway and relocated established daylilies and hostas. She kept the original white picket fence, giving it a fresh coat of paint, new ball caps for the posts and new gates for an updated look. “A fresh coat of paint on a dated item is worth the investment for a relatively low cost,” Sweeney says.
4. Select Local and Salvaged Materials
If you don’t have existing elements that can be repurposed, chances are someone in your community might. Check with local salvage yards and material warehouses. You may be able to score a pallet of bricks for a patio or redwood boards for a fence at a fraction of the price of purchasing them new.
If you’re purchasing new materials such as gravel, wood or cut stone, ask which ones come from your local region. They can often be more affordable than materials that have been transported from elsewhere, and can help your new garden fit in with the natural tones of the area. Ask the landscape designer or architect you’re working with if local materials could be prioritized.