10 tips to save on your landscaping budget
Interest rates keep rising, the economy is tight, and times are a bit tough in Australia. However, if you’re preparing a property for sale, moving into a new place, or determined to keep living your best (garden) life, the show must go on.
Our tutu-wearing garden guru Chris does almost 30 garden design consultations a week for people around Melbourne and Victoria. Based on his 60+ years of experience in the plant and landscaping business, we asked him for his top tips to make the most of your money and rock your landscaping budget without breaking the bank!
10 tips to make the most of your garden budget
- Skip the Fancy Garden Edges
- Embrace Mother Nature’s Contours
- Lush Hedges Beat Pricey Fences
- Mulch vs Pebbles, the Budget-Savvy Option
- Pots vs. Garden Beds: Big Plants, Big Expenses
- It’s Not Size That Matters, it’s How You Use It
- Score a Free Garden Design
- DIY with the Fam
- Turn Trash into Treasure
- Artificial Lawn Intelligence?
- Bonus tip: Picking Plants on a Budget
A fancy expensive landscape design probably sounds like the first place to lose the one of many chunks of your budget. Even if you plan to do it yourself, you can get professional advice to make sure you make the right choices for your new garden at practically no cost with our free Garden Design Service.
This is a one-on-one consultation in our Campbellfield nursery (or by a video chat) with Chris to discuss your requirements, budget, plant preferences and style, and go over photos and plans of the site. Together you will work out the perfect design based on your unique project and the growing conditions in your area. You’ll come up with the exact list of plants you need, and a basic action plan of what you need to do to make it all happen. Very handy for any size garden project.
1. Skip the Fancy Garden Edges
Seriously, those timber, stone, metal or plastic garden edges are more trouble than they’re worth. Not only are they a bigger additional cost than you would think, they mess with your lawnmower, and weeds love to sneak under them and refuse to come out.
So why not take a leaf out of the botanic gardens’ book? Make use of the forgotten “natural edge” technique and grab a sharp spade, chopping out your garden bed directly from surrounding grass. Great video on how to put in a natural edge garden bed here.
The added bonus is that you can have almost any shape you want. Sure, you’ll need to give it a trim now and then, but it’s a cleaner and smarter alternative that won’t cost you a fortune, and can last a whopping 100 years or more without being replaced!
2. Embrace Mother Nature’s Contours
Forget expensive retaining walls and levelling off your garden. Let the natural slopes and contours add character and interest to your landscape. Flat land is dull, but a garden with a little topography? Now, that’s something special.
Plus, it saves you from the hefty price tag of building retaining walls and then having to fill them with soil to level them off. Not only can they detract from the aesthetic of a garden, they can actually drain your whole garden budget.
3. Lush Hedges Beat Pricey Fences
Brick or steel fences may look fancy, but they come with a hefty price tag and maintenance headaches. Instead, opt for a well selected, planted and maintained hedge. It can last for over a century, enhance airflow, and provide a living, breathing boundary.
Hedges are hardier than bricks and can survive bumps, crashes and cars, re-growing if damaged. They offer a timeless and far less expensive alternative to traditional fences.
4. Mulch vs Pebbles, the Budget-Savvy Option
Let’s talk mulch versus pebbles. Pebbles may seem glamorous, but they’ll drain your wallet and energy. Coming in at 2 to 4 times the price of mulch, the weight of pebbles also make them much more labour-intensive to lay. Not to mention the nightmare of cleaning them when leaves and rubbish fall on top.
Instead, go for black timber or pine bark mulch. It’s light, easy to spread, and a breeze to maintain. If leaves pile up, just sprinkle some more mulch on top as needed—it’s a cost-effective solution that keeps your garden happy.
5. Pots vs. Garden Beds: Big Plants, Big Expenses
Don’t get lured into the idea of landscaping using large pots when a garden bed space is available. It may seem easier or cheaper to put large plants like feature trees in pots, but those pots can be expensive, and filling them with potting mix will burn a hole in your budget.
Not to mention the constant watering they require—a plant in a garden bed can spread its roots to draw moisture over a much larger area and require up to 75% less watering. For larger plants and feature trees, it’s much more cost-effective to plant them directly in the garden bed. Your wallet—and your plants—will thank you.
6. It’s Not Size That Matters, it’s How You Use It
If your garden budget is not limitless, or even depressing, you might think you’ll be stuck with buying plants no bigger than your pinkie. Who’s going to even be able to tell that you just gave yourself a garden makeover!
Here’s a sneaky trick from Chris to make the most of limited funds. Invest in 3-5 key plants in medium to large sizes for immediate impact. These bad boys will bring instant impact to your landscape. Fill in the rest with smaller plants, and voila! You’ve got yourself a gorgeous garden that looks semi-established and doesn’t break the bank.
7. Score a Free Garden Design
Why waste money on trial and error? Get a free garden design from Chris that’s tailor-made for your space. You’ll receive expert advice and a step-by-step plan to turn your dream garden into a reality. Avoid wasting money experimenting with plants that won’t thrive or just up and die on you. It’s a no-brainer, really.
8. DIY with the Fam
Landscapers can charge a fortune, with high hourly rates plus their own added mark-up on materials. Why not turn it into a family affair and get your whole crew involved in building your garden? Buy the materials directly, take advantage of our free delivery service, and plan a weekend of gardening.
By cutting out the middleman, you’ll save a significant chunk of cash and enjoy some quality family time. And you’ll pay them back when it comes to their own garden project of course… It’s a win-win situation!
9. Turn Trash into Treasure
Create a compost heap to transform your garden waste into valuable assets. Gather lawn trimmings, weeds, kitchen scraps, and layer them in a heap with garden soil. Before you know it, these will all break down into a nutrient-rich compost that will supercharge your plants.
Then dig this into your garden beds once or twice a year. It’s an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to improve your soil without spending extra money.
10. Artificial Lawn Intelligence?
At first glance, fake grass can seem cheap, fabulous, and did we say cheap? But in this race between mother nature and machine, natural turf triumphs. Artificial grass might seem like a low-cost solution, but trust us, it’s a slippery slope. The installation, earthworks, and all the extras quickly add up. And don’t even get us started on how it fades in the sun.
Instead, opt for good old natural turf. It’s half the price and lasts longer. Chris noticed that in properties where artificial grass had been laid, it was often messy and unkept with leaves and rubbish on it and did not have the desired effect. Although you need to mow turf, the benefit is that you’ll tidy up your lawn and pick up leaves at the same time in your mower’s catcher. Talk about killing two birds with one lawnmower!
Bonus Tip: Picking Plants on a Budget
When listing out the plants you want for your garden, try not to get hung up on fancy plant varieties or pricey trademarked plants (this is called “Plant Breeders Rights” or PBR varieties). There are plenty of wallet-friendly alternatives that look just as fantastic. Take, for example, the Little Gem Magnolia—half the price of the fancy-pants Teddy Bear Magnolia and just as fabulous.
If you share your planting list with us, we’ll help you find budget-friendly alternatives that are just as stunning. Sometimes pictures of envious overseas gardens fill our screens, but they’re often packed with plant varieties that are not easy to get in Australia (read: expensive) or that won’t do well in Melbourne or Victoria. We’ll help you create your dream garden right here on home soil.
Conclusion to all this? With these wallet-friendly tips, you’ll get as much garden as possible for your money. So roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening gloves, and let’s make your landscape dreams come true—without breaking the bank. If you want some personalised advice on making your money do the most for your your own garden project, big or small, you can always use our free Garden Design Service to combine your vision with our expert knowledge and years of experience. Happy gardening!