Budget, Construction Costs and the Design Process

Clients often do not have a specific budget in mind or are reluctant to discuss how much they expect the landscape construction and design fees might cost. This is understandable because they may not be familiar with landscape construction costs.

According to the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ website www.wasla.org, “One rule of thumb is to invest ten percent of your property’s worth in the planning and development of the site. Consider that appropriate landscape improvements are estimated to return 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold. Landscape development is the only home improvement that can boast this kind of return on an initial investment.”

At Brooks Kolb, we address the issue of cost by drafting a preliminary design drawing for your garden and then developing an accompanying cost estimate or analysis. If the estimate exceeds your current budget or the amount you feel comfortable spending on the initial garden installation, the project can be split up into a series of construction phases that you intend to build over a period of several years. When this happens, we work closely to determine your priorities for the first phase of construction.

In general, the expensive parts of the garden are the ‘hardscape’ – the built elements such as decks, terraces, walls, steps, fences and arbors. An irrigation (sprinkler) system might also be a big budget item. Soil preparation and planting are usually less expensive and can be made more affordable if you decide to plant the smaller shrubs and perennials yourself.