ARTICLE Libby Schultz
As a very approximate guide, around $80,000 represents a solid mid-range budget for an average suburban garden of 600-800 sq m. With this solid mid-range budget, you could expect to achieve new lawns, good planting and structure, some raised beds, a dedicated entertainment area, and perhaps a feature or two such as a spa pool or built-in fireplace.
How do I plan my landscaping project?
Whatever your budget, the first rule of landscaping is ‘know thy site’.
“A successful garden is one that you’re going to want to use,” says landscape architect Nichola Vague.
“Spend some time in your garden and note where the sunny spots are, where the wind comes from, and any issues such as wet areas due to poor drainage.”
When it comes to style, Nichola recommends creating your own moodboard – using magazines or online sites such as Pinterest and Houzz – to build a picture of what you like. Visit your local garden centre, join in local garden tours, or just have a good snoop around your neighbourhood.
“See what’s growing well in your area, and what isn’t,” says Nichola. “That gives you a good guide to the type of garden that will thrive in your environment.”
‘’We put a lot of consideration into the initial concept design’’, says landscaping specialist Debbie Gill, ‘’and often utilise moodboards with shapes, colours and textures selected by us which trigger the imagination of the client. This process, along with sending them our Pre-Consultation form, helps gather personal preferences and priorities for the project, such as privacy/maintaining views, creating defined and useable spaces, or protection for any kind of weather’’.
How much does it cost for an outdoor renovation?
Just as with home renovations, you need to have some idea of your available budget from the outset.
“The normal response to the budget question is ‘I have no idea how much landscaping costs therefore I can't allocate a figure to it’’’ says Debbie Gill.
“What we normally find is that people do have a maximal figure in mind and we need to know this before proceeding as it could be disappointing for all when a quoted design is well beyond what someone is wanting to spend. We can often guide them as to an appropriate figure to allocate once the brief has been taken".
If your garden structure and soil is already established, you may only need to spend around $6,000-$7,000 for a ‘plant-only’ makeover. But as soon as you get into hard landscaping, you’re in another level of budget altogether.
You’ll need to consider the big-ticket items such as site preparation (see below), drainage, irrigation, decking, screening, paving, retaining walls, and boundary fencing.
If you want to create those all-important flat lawn spaces, you’ll probably need retaining walls. The most common materials are wood, concrete blocks, or gabions (large cage-like structures filled with rocks). An average-sized retaining wall of around 5 metres using concrete blocks would cost you around $1,500. Wooden structures and gabion walls can be cheaper options. Depending on your wall’s height, position or surcharge, and/or resource consent, you may need to add the cost of building consent.
Our experts have some tips on giving the retaining wall a stylish lift.
‘’If the structural integrity of your retaining is solid then you can look at smartening its appearance with some new cladding, paint or using hanging or climbing plants to produce more of a green screen", says Debbie.
You can also make your wall do double-duty as a seating ledge, adds Nichola, by keeping it to a maximum 450mm height and adding a wide cap.
How much does it cost for removal or demolition?
Another hidden cost, warns our experts, is the amount of removal or demolition required. You could potentially pend up to $10,000 pulling out an old deck, digging up paths and removing trees – before you even get started on your new design.
If you need machinery just to clear out your section, for instance, allow at least an extra $1,000 a day for the digger; plus dumping costs. And that’s if you can easily get the machinery into your back garden; either through the side of your property, or by craning it in from a neighbour’s.
‘’It is tempting to want to leave in place some existing elements to save on cost. However, in our experience these are the items people wish they had changed as they emphasise their dated appearance when all other elements are new and fresh", says Debbie.
What are the lawn options in New Zealand?
Now you’ve built that nice level lawn area, how will you get it green? There are a range of options: seeded lawn, hydro-seeded (which has a better strike rate), and ready-lawn (the kind you roll out).
For a new lawn of 100m2, expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.
Artificial turf is another option which is becoming increasingly popular, says Nichola Vague, “for areas where you want the soft green look, but don’t want to mow it.
‘’It's durability is second to none and we have never had a client that has been unhappy with their new artificial turf. Today's artificial turf is of the highest standard and incredibly naturalistic”, adds Debbie Gill.
Artificial turf will cost around $3,000 to $4,000 for the same sized space. ‘’Installed, this will cost around $7000 - $8000 for approx. 100m2,’’ says Debbie. ‘’Zones Landscaping Specialists are skilled installers of artificial turf and this is becoming a busy and specialised area’’.
As a very rough guide, you can budget on installing around four plants for every square metre. A mid-range budget gives you more options when it comes to planting.
“You can afford to add in some specimen or feature plants, combined with a more standard palette. A larger budget will also allow you to include more mature plants, so the look will be more instant.”
And the good news is, you won’t have to pay the retail prices that you see at your local garden centre. “Your designer or contractor will have access to wholesale nurseries,” says Nichola.
With a higher end budget, you can begin to access looks only achieved in a resort; read our high-end project estimate to find out how to achieve this look. But even with a smaller budget, you can begin to establish a solid garden design with room for future improvements; read, our basic garden design project estimate for further information.
This project estimate by Libby Schultz featured in Issue 019 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine . New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
If you would like to discuss a mid range garden options and ideas for your outdoor renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Zones landscaping specialist. All Zones franchises are independently owned and operated.