What is landscape gardening?
Landscape gardening is a trade that integrates traditional gardening with design and architecture to improve the visual appeal of an outdoor space. Where gardening focusses solely on the upkeep of an existing outdoor area, landscape gardening is considered a form of art. Extending beyond the front and back garden of a home, landscaping may also include driveways, patios, decking, pool, and communal outdoor areas such as parks and public spaces.
Landscape gardening can include the following elements:
A landscape designer will plan a unique, practical and visually appealing outdoor space while considering best practice in both horticulture and botany.
Landscape construction involves laying the foundation for an immaculate and functional landscaped garden. Landscape construction works within pre-defined boundaries to facilitate the laying of pavements, building of balconies, decking and walls, and the planting of flowerbeds and grassed areas.
A landscape gardener will maintain the landscape to keep the area in immaculate condition and to help plants and lawns thrive. A landscape gardener is responsible for nurturing flora and making minor improvements that will consistently add to the appeal of the landscape.
Landscape gardening features two central elements:
Softscaping involves the natural, vegetation elements of the landscape including soil, plants, lawns and trees.
Hardscaping encompasses the manufactured elements such as a driveway, pool, decking, stone wall and patio.
How much does it cost to landscape a garden?
Landscaping a garden is an investment in a property. While it might be tempting to create and maintain your own landscape, it's always recommended to allocate budget to engage with a landscape gardener who understands the land and what it needs to thrive.
The cost to landscape a garden can vary from $3000 to add some strategically placed plants and shrubs, to in excess of $50,000 to lavishly landscape an expansive outdoor area. A landscape gardener or designer may cost up to $85 an hour, but this cost is unlikely to include the purchase of plants and materials such as soil, bricks and water features. There's no clear answer to ‘how much does it cost to landscape a garden?' but the following factors may impact budget:
Is it a new landscape?
It will cost more to create a new landscape from scratch than it will to make improvements to an existing landscape.
What's the reason for landscaping?
Is there a time limit on the landscaping or can you landscape areas of the home separately starting with the front and working backwards? If you want to do it all together, the size of the whole area will impact cost.
How much equipment do you own?
If gardening and landscaping are already keen interests, you may already own some of the equipment and materials required to create your landscape garden which will help keep costs low. Make a thorough list of everything you have and want before making a start to avoid dipping into the budget unnecessarily.
The quality and style of the materials, plants, shrubs and grass
Depending on your taste and style, there are no limits to the cost of materials, plants and shrubs you can use for your landscape garden. With landscaping potentially including a broad range of trades such as building, paving, rendering, decking and gardening, the best way to set a realistic budget from the outset is to use Service.com.au which gives convenient quotes for every tradie you'll need to complete your landscape garden project.
How long does landscaping take?
The time it takes to landscape a garden can vary from two to three weeks for a basic landscape to up to three months to landscape a more extensive area from scratch. Depending on the purpose of the landscape garden, it's recommended to allow more time than you think you'll need. If you're landscaping for a special event such as a wedding or festival and you expect the landscape to be complete the day before, you're not allowing adequate time for delays and unplanned interruptions which are likely to occur.
Landscape planning and design – up to a month
The planning and design phase of a landscape garden can take up to a month (if not longer) depending on the scale of the project.
The planning includes:
- Creating a budget
- Defining scope for requirements for the landscape garden
- Creating and editing initial plans with a landscape designer
- Gaining relevant approval from local government and land and building owners
- Checking the licensing requirements of chosen workers
- Second and third drafts of the initial design
Basic landscape installation – two to three weeks
A basic landscape installation can take as little as two to three weeks from start to finish.
A basic landscape may include the following elements:
- A new lawn
- Planting of shrubs, trees and plants
- Installation of decorations such as water features, statues and furniture.
Complex landscape installation – up to three months
Landscape gardening a larger area or starting from scratch can take up to three months or even longer depending on the size of the land.
A thorough landscape may transform an entire space and include hardscape components such as:
- Pool area
When considering landscaping timeframes, keep in mind the seasonal requirements of the plants and shrubs you've chosen and how weather may impact building work.
How to choose a landscape gardener
Because of the intricacies involved in a landscape gardening project and the room for error, it's important to do thorough research before you choose a landscape gardener.
Choose a landscape gardener that meets your needs by following these tips:
Engage with the community
The chances are that while you may have an individual creative eye for what you want your landscape garden to look like, you're likely to be drawing information from the properties around you that you see every day. If you like the look of a neighbour's landscape, don't be afraid to knock on the door and discuss their experience with them. This communication will give you an idea of what you can expect within your budget and also let you know if they're happy with the level of service received from their landscape gardener.
Set a realistic budget
It's essential to have an idea of a realistic budget when choosing a landscape gardener but while budget is an important consideration, this shouldn't be a standalone decision-maker. One landscape gardener may have an extremely low rate per hour, yet their customer service may be poor, or vice versa. Budget is crucial, but it forms a holistic part of the decision-making process which includes other factors.
We recommend you get at least three quotes and look at the inclusions of each paying attention to the following:
- Ongoing landscape garden maintenance
- Quality guarantees with their work
- Insurance and licensing requirements are met
- Customer service expectations
Service.com.au is an online directory of landscape gardeners who can create and maintain the outdoor space that meets your every need. Complete a short online questionnaire to receive detailed quotes and customer reviews of trusted and reputable landscape gardeners in your local area.
Reviews and testimonials
No voice shouts louder than that of a satisfied customer. While you're trying to find the landscape gardener for your needs, ask to see their reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Many landscape gardeners provide access to these through their website, social media pages or Google My Business page. You're placing a great deal of trust in your landscape gardener. If something goes wrong, you risk ruining your existing landscape and having to start again so it's your responsibility to thoroughly research whether they can deliver.
Look specifically for the following:
- What is their one-off and ongoing availability?
- Are they flexible?
- What are their ongoing maintenance inclusions?
- Do they offer a commitment to customer service?
- Did they deliver what they said they would?
- Were they on time and within budget?
- Would the client consider hiring them again?
Landscaping- a step-by-step guide
There's no denying that it takes time to create a beautiful landscape garden that meets the functionality required from the outdoor area. Minimise disruption and avoid room for error by following these steps:
Step one: Design and planning
The planning and design phase of your landscape garden project is central to achieving the outdoor area you desire within budget and a realistic timeframe. Depending on how elaborate the landscape garden, ordering materials, installing features such as fountains, and building walls can take time and needs to be addressed in the initial planning stages. You'll also need to check permits, meet planning permission obligations and check the licensing requirements for all contractors involved in the landscape garden.
During planning also define the following:
- Public and private areas
- Entertaining areas
- Recreation areas
- Observation areas
- The short and long-term objectives of the landscape
Step two: Construction of hardscape
Construction elements such as driveways, porches, patios, pergolas or decking should be completed first to avoid the potential for trauma to newly laid grass and plants. Once the hardscape components are complete, the natural foliage can be laid around the framework without risk of damage.
Step three: Improve the health of the soil
The more nutrient-dense the soil, the more turf and plants will thrive long into the future. Prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost and mulch to help new plants and shrubs establish organically. The health of the soil must be a constant focus to ensure the longevity of the landscape garden.
Step four: Plant shrubs
The natural elements of the landscape including grass, shrubs, trees, hedges and plants follow the hardscaping. Shrubs should be planted once the layout of the landscape garden is complete and the soil prepared. Factor in the needs of individual plants such as sunlight and positioning. Consider the shape and colour of all plants and flowers to add the aesthetics of the landscape garden.
Step five: Apply the finishing touches
Once the hard and softscaping are both complete, add the final touches to the landscape such as furniture, artwork, children's play equipment and ornaments. This is an opportunity to get creative and really tailor the landscape garden to your unique taste.
Step six: Maintain
To keep a landscape garden healthy and in pristine condition, ongoing maintenance is essential. Once the final touches have been added to the landscape garden, arrange an ongoing maintenance plan with the landscape gardener. This may include primping and preening of bushes, mowing lawns, trimming hedges, replacing plants which aren't blooming in their new environment and paying attention to the health of the soil.
How to plan landscaping your garden
1) Take your time
The planning stage of landscaping your garden is the most crucial part and shouldn’t be rushed. While a landscape garden can develop over time, the plans you create today, could potentially last a lifetime, so adopt a long-term view. Seek inspiration from landscape magazines and websites, the properties around you, and attend exhibitions showcasing current landscaping trends. Consider the short and long-term objectives for the landscape and whether your family is likely to grow in size.
2) Get to know your garden
You must be realistic about what is possible in the existing garden. While a landscape designer will be able to achieve all of your landscape goals, as a minimum you must understand the following:
- Size and space available
- Restrictions caused by trees
- Any limitations caused by existing structures (such as sheds and garages)
3) Is it practical?
Once the landscape garden is complete, consider how much involvement you’ll need in ongoing maintenance and whether or not that’s practical. A landscape gardener can tend to a garden on a one-off and ongoing basis, but make sure you or a member of the household has availability for watering plants during dry spells and keeping the garden tidy. Also consider the plants you like and whether the position of your garden and climate are suitable environments for them to thrive.
4) What about the neighbours?
If you have neighbours, you’ll need to understand your obligations towards their property. Research regulations surrounding trees, height and style of fences and gates, and whether any building works will compromise their privacy. You may come across areas where you're legally entitled to make changes, but which may cause an inconvenience to neighbouring properties (such as new structures blocking a view or sunlight).
In all cases, it’s always best to discuss your landscape plans with your neighbours and try to reach a mutual understanding. Your landscape gardening project is likely to cause disruption while it’s in progress and as peaceful as you can make relationships during that time, the better for everyone.
A landscape garden can vary in size and grandeur, and it can be completed in stages. Plan where you want to start (we recommend the front of the house if you’re preparing a home for sale, or the back if you’re landscaping for an event or for lifestyle purposes) and make a plan based on your short and long-term priorities.
What are the benefits of landscaping?
When deciding if landscaping is for you, consider that the benefits of landscaping extend way beyond the look and feel of a stylish-looking outdoor area.
The following are some of the most common benefits of landscaping:
Makes better use of space
A landscape gardener can make a small space fully functional with creative design. If you're bursting out of the seams of your home, landscaping can also help utilise outdoor space to free up some room inside.
Improve social opportunities
Landscaping can provide unique socialising and entertaining areas for both children and adults. Whether it's playtime for the kids or fine-dining soirees for the adults, landscaping will encourage more people to visit and provide opportunities to network and engage with those around you.
Improves health and wellness
A stylish and functional landscaped garden will encourage all members of the household to work and play more outside. Connecting with nature and spending time in fresh air reduces stress and improves wellness by increasing vitamin D absorption and facilitating regular, gentle exercise in the form of gardening or physical activity. Growing fresh, organic produce such as herbs and vegetables also passes on the health benefits of self-sufficiency to all members of the family.
Increases the value of the property
A well-maintained landscape garden will increase the value of a home by improving the visual appeal. A landscaped garden may also reduce the general running costs of a home by encouraging members of the family to spend more time outside saving on power bills for amenities such as electricity and air conditioning.
Landscaping can also increase the rental potential of a property making it more appealing as an investment purchase. Landscape gardening will substantially increase the value of a property in a myriad of areas and should be viewed as an investment with return rather than an expense.
Service.com.au can help you get the most from a landscape gardening project!