Having a beautiful, landscaped yard is wonderful. Not only does it provide homeowners with the natural beauty they desire in an outdoor living space, but a well-designed and maintained landscape also add value to your home. And we haven’t even started talking about the major physical and mental health benefits of getting your hands in the mud.

Landscaping isn’t all roses, however. Many homeowners don’t fully understand the real costs of landscaping an entire property. Before you dive in, here are some things you should know.

Your Budget Should Dictate Your Plans

If you just start building your dream yard and garden without proper planning, then you’re going to run into financial trouble. This is because every landscaping project will likely cost significantly more than you think. The only way to ensure that the total cost doesn’t sneak up bite you is to outline a solid budget before any work begins and be honest with your landscape designer and /or contractor.

Be Realistic About What Landscaping Costs

Let’s say you decide not to go the 100 percent DIY route. This is normal. If you have a moderate- to large-scale project, doing it all yourself isn’t really feasible. So, you decide to hire professional help. You must go into this knowing what this is likely to cost you and that prices can really swing based on the project’s scale, materials you choose to use, and even the time of year. As a guide for your budget, note that the cost to landscape a yard and/or garden in Portland, Oregon typically starts at the $10,000 mark, and that is just for a basic urban front or back yard of grass, trees and plants. When you add in the hardscaping costs for patios, decks, fire pits, fences and pergolas, it adds up fast.

Start with a Design

Your first cost should be a landscape design. Landscape designers differ from landscape contractors as most are independent landscape designers who are responsible for the design only. Independent landscape designers like Harmony Design Northwest create the design, then recommend vetted landscape contractors who they deem a good fit for the project and the client. Most designers work with the client and contractor throughout the installation process to ensure the design is put in without any major changes and that any plant or materials substitutions work with the overall intent of the design.

Portland is home to many talented landscape and garden designers. Using a review site like YELP or Houzz is one way to find the right designer for you. You can find designers through two professional industry organizations: The Association of Northwest Landscape Designers (ANLD) and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Both are excellent resources when you are shopping for a landscape designer.

The Majority of Your Costs Won’t Come from Plants

When you think about landscaping, you think about plants, right? Though plants are the stars of any attractive yard, they are not what you have to budget the most for. Your hidden costs, so to speak, come from all the accessory items that you need to turn your yard into a true garden. This includes, but is not limited to, materials for retaining walls, wood for a deck or a porch, fencing and pavers or concrete for walkways and patios.

Be Smart About What Plants You Choose

The quickest way to spend too much money on your softscaping is to buy plants blindly — that is, without researching them. Putting plants that have little chance of thriving in your yard due to site conditions like the amount of sun or shade, soil conditions, surrounding plants and trees, or are too invasive can wind up costing you a pretty penny. The most important thing to know when selecting plant is to put “the right plant in the right place.”

Investing in a landscape designer is the best way to ensure that your garden is full of plants that will thrive and mature into a landscape with the right proportions and balance. They are trained professionals who understand the myriad of conditions that need to be considered when creating a landscape.

Remember: You don’t just landscape your yard and call it a day; it requires maintenance every year. As Investopedia says, “the costs of maintaining a beautifully landscaped garden can be staggering if you have a large garden with high-maintenance plants.” Sure, you can put a few hard-to-manage plants in your yard, but the majority of your landscaping should be hassle-free. You’ll only be able to factor your maintenance costs into your budget if you do your homework.

As with most things, research and preparation are key when it comes to beginning a substantial landscaping project. When budgeting it helps to be as practical and realistic as possible about your goals, expectations, and how much professional help you will need to turn your yard into the landscape of your dreams.

Content contributor: Bret Engle | DiyGuys.net

Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash