Contributors: Mina Phillips & Libby Schultz
Imagine this: coming home from a busy day of work to a peaceful and tranquil garden. Aesthetic screens provide privacy from the neighbours, a pathway leads you through a myriad of themed gardens, and carefully placed lights give your outdoor area an atmosphere that can only be described as magical. But can such a haven be created for as little as $10,000? Absolutely - here’s how.
What can I achieve on a $10,000 - $40,000 budget?
How much will a basic planting plan cost?
According to landscaping specialist Nichola Vague, less mature plants are your best option on a restricted budget. “A smaller budget is more about planting well, and letting it grow. It will just take a bit longer…but gardens are meant to be a work in progress.” Following this advice, you’ll be looking at paying around $8.00 per seed pack, depending on the type of plant you choose. Alternatively, you might opt for seedlings, starting from as little as $5 each. When shopping for seedlings, Nichola offers some valuable money-saving advice. “Keeping to a plan is particularly important with planting. It will prevent unnecessary purchases, especially if you tend to just grab things from the garden centre at weekends.”
From $5 each.*
How much will a basic retaining wall cost?
Retaining walls are a great way to keep your garden looking tidy, however, they aren’t cheap. Pricing depends on the materials you use and whether or not you will require council consent. On a limited budget, timber will probably be your best bet - which starts from around $310 per metre to install - more if you exceed 1.5 metres high. “As soon as you get into retaining, it takes your budget to another level,” advises Nichola. If you’re more concerned with creating tidy sections for ground-level gardens, edging will be a much more cost-effective choice. Recycled railway sleepers are a common choice here, with materials starting from around $70 per 2.1 metres.
Basic retaining wall costs
From $310 per metre (up to 1.5 metres high), installed.*
Recycled railway sleeper costs
From $70 per 2.1 metres, excludes installation.*
How much does basic irrigation cost?
Irrigation might seem like an unnecessary expense, but any experienced gardener will tell you it’s essential. “Irrigation, mulch and soil conditioning are often overlooked costs but these items make the difference between a beautifully healthy lush garden or a garden that is less vibrant and continually struggling to get what it needs’, tells landscaping specialist Debbie Gill. “Good irrigation is critical, especially in the first few years when your garden is getting established,” agrees Nichola. “I always recommend a drip irrigation system rather than a spray, as it’s a more efficient use of water.” Drip line pipes can usually be purchased for around $50 - $200+ per 100 metres, however, you may need to consider the costs of installation as well as additional materials e.g. adapters, fit pipe connections, t-bars and automation.
Learn more about irrigation in the Zones Guide to Watering your Garden
Basic irrigation costs
Dripline pipes: from $50 - $200+ per 100 metres.*
Installation: From $40 per hour.*
Additional materials: costs vary.*
How much do basic privacy screens cost?
Privacy is often the first step to feeling relaxed in your home environment, so privacy screens should not be overlooked. Again, timber will be your most cost-effective option - and can really be brought to life with a quality exterior varnish. Alternatively, Mitre 10 has a lovely selection of garden screens ranging from bamboo screening at $30, through to intricately designed hardwood screens at $170. Be wary of height, as screens exceeding 2.5m may require council consent. It’s best to double check this with a landscaping specialist before making any purchases.
Basic privacy screen costs
Store bought screens start from $30 - $170.*
Professional installation: from $40 per hour.*
How much will basic paving cost?
Pavers provide a comfortable way to enjoy and access your garden - especially in the rainy season. While the pavers themselves are reasonably affordable, keep in mind that excavation, preparation and installation can quickly increase costs. For materials alone, set aside at least $30 per 500 x 500 paver.
Basic paving costs
Installation costs: from approximately $315 per m2.*
How much will a basic lighting plan cost?
You really can make your garden beautiful without breaking the bank. Much of the time, it comes down to quality over quantity. To insert some evening atmosphere into your updated garden, look for quality lighting that won’t require professional installation. High-quality solar lights are a good choice. Quality garden pathway lights start from around $100 each - they can simply be staked into the earth and left to soak in the sun. If there is a particular feature in your garden that you wish to highlight, Mitre 10 sells solar spotlights for around $50 each.
Basic outdoor lighting costs
$50 - $100 per light, excludes installation.*
How much does it cost to hire a landscape designer?
If you’re not feeling too confident in designing your garden, planning to your budget or adhering to resource and building regulations - a landscape designer can help you to enjoy your landscaping project and love the result. They can also help you to design a project that suits your specifications, style and budget.
“What we normally find is that people do have a maximum 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,'' explains Debbie. “We can often guide them as to an appropriate figure to allocate once the brief has been taken".
Cost to hire a landscape designer
$75 - $150+ per hour.*
If you are hoping to turn your small backyard into a peaceful garden retreat, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in this $39,000 Kohimarama garden makeover.
What can I achieve on a $40,000 - $80,000 budget?
According to Debbie, allowing a little more room in your budget can take your garden from basic to stunning. “For each element in your design there are often more economical options, yet this comes down to personal preference. Sometimes, our clients’ most favoured items are worth spending a bit more of the allocated budget on.’’ If you have $40,000 - $80,000 to work with, the following ideas could really take your garden to the next level.
How much will a mid-range planting plan cost?
Before heading out to purchase every plant that catches your eye, Nichola recommends thinking about the functionality of your garden. “A successful garden is one that you’re going to want to use. See what’s growing well in your area, and what isn’t, that gives you a good guide to the type of garden that will thrive in your environment.”
If in doubt, there are native plants to suit every New Zealand landscape. Manuka and Kanuka plants can light up your backyard and also make great privacy screens - prices start from around $7 each. If you’re leaning toward a vegetable garden, seeds can be purchased for around $8 a bundle. For more of a statement, Karaka tree prices start from $85 - they’re great at attracting birdlife. If you live in an area that experiences high winds, a Pohutukawa could be a lovely choice, starting from around $80 each.
From $80 - prices vary.*
Hire a landscape designer: From $75+*
How much will a mid-range retaining wall cost?
For gardens that require some serious retaining - that is, garden’s which need retaining walls that are over 1.5 metres high - building/resource consent will be required. This will add a decent amount to your budget (to give you an idea - stuff.co.nz recently published an article titled “Consent for retaining wall as much as construction”). Using timber, the costs of having a retaining wall built for you at 1.5 metres or higher will likely exceed $500 per lineal metre, more if you use expensive materials - but we’ll get to that in the high-end retaining wall estimate.
Mid-range retaining wall costs
From $500+ per lineal metre, installed.*
How much does mid-range irrigation cost?
On top of purchasing high-quality drip lines and soaker hoses, a mid-range budget will allow you to invest in irrigation automation. An irrigation timer or sensor will make it far easier to keep you garden thriving, regardless of whether you are home, working late or on holiday. Irrigation timers range from $130 - $200+, while high-quality rain sensors start from around $200.
Irrigation automation costs
Irrigation timers: from $130.*
Irrigation sensors: from $200.*
Installation: from $40 per hour.*
Additional materials & costs apply.
How much do mid-range privacy screens cost?
Aluminium panels are a popular privacy screen choice within many New Zealand homes, with powder coating providing a luxurious finish. Pacific Outdoor Solutions describe powder coating as a process where a fine powder is baked onto a metal surface in an oven - increasing the durability of your screen. It’s an environmentally sustainable choice which many homeowners are choosing over spray painting their outdoor panels.
Powder-coated aluminium privacy screen costs
From $180 per 1 x 2m panel, excludes installation.*
How much will mid-range paving cost?
For durable, easy-maintenance and aesthetic paving - look no further than concrete paving. There are a range of styles to choose from, making it easy to style the paving to suit your home. Concrete blended with pebble stones will look great in any coastal garden, while polished concrete will set a luxurious scene.
Concrete paving costs
From $500 per m2, includes installation.*
How much will a mid-range lighting plan cost?
If you are planning on investing in a long-term lighting plan, you will most likely require the expertise of an electrician - who will probably charge anywhere upwards of $35 per hour. You’ll also want to choose high-quality lighting that comes with at least a 1-year warranty. Options include LED string lights (approximately $22 per metre), spotlights (approximately $80 each), bollards (around $80 each), pathways lights (around $50 each) or perhaps an outdoor lantern (around $100 each).
Mid-range outdoor lighting costs
From $50 - $100 per light, $35+ per hour to install.*
Hire a landscape designer: from $75+ per hour.*
If you’re drawn to the idea of a garden which includes a peaceful pond, garden and social area, you’ll love this $60,000 project carried out in Tauranga.
What can I achieve on a $80,000 - $170,000+ budget?
A generous budget will allow you to select durable high-quality materials while giving your property a “staycation” feel. “The main features in the garden are all about selecting the best quality materials’’, shares Debbie, while Nichola adds: “With a high end budget, a client can start to access some of the things they do in resorts. It’s all about creating an atmosphere that will draw people out into the garden.”
How much will a high-end planting plan cost?
On a high-end budget, it’s about quality and quantity. Take the costs presented in our basic and mid-range budgets - and multiply them until your heart’s content! Unless you have a wide knowledge of horticulture, are extremely organised and pride yourself on your creativity; hiring a landscape designer will definitely be in your garden’s best interests.
Planting plan costs
Approximately $80 per plant.*
Hire a landscape designer from $75+ per hour.*
Labour: From $30 per hour.*
How much will a high-end retaining wall cost?
Stone-clad retaining walls emanate sophistication and are definitely worth considering on a high-end budget. Expect to apply for council consent for anything over 1.5m high - which could land you anywhere around $1,200 per metre.
High-end retaining wall costs
$1,200+ per metre, installed.*
How much do high-end privacy screens cost?
Bespoke, laser cut aluminium privacy screens are becoming the go-to choice for many New Zealand homeowners. The freedom to choose your own laser cut patterns and designs can result in striking surroundings - especially when highlighted by uplights in the evenings. Check out this privacy screen installation in Remuera for inspiration.
Bespoke laser screen costs
From $2000+ per screen, installed.*
How much will high-end paving cost?
“Paving is moving towards schist or granite, which give you a quality finish’’, says Debbie. Natural schist paving can contribute a lovely natural look to your garden for around $20 per 300mm paver. Living in New Zealand means we have easy access to locally sourced options, such as schists from the riverbeds of the South Island. Granite pavers are a great choice if you’re thinking of adding some outdoor heating into your landscape - particularly if you would like to install an outdoor fire. Granite is fireproof, durable and easy to maintain.
High-end paving costs
From $20 per 300mm paver, excludes installation.*
How much will a high-end lighting plan cost?
With next-to-no financial restraints on your lighting plan, you can afford to create a truly spectacular evening abode. The key to great outdoor lighting is to think about the different purposes lighting can fulfill at different levels throughout your garden. On a low level; pathway, driveway and patio lights are important safety features. At a medium height, lights can improve a social setting. High-up, you can install a motion sensored light for security purposes, while creating mood lighting throughout the garden.
“Using quality light fittings to highlight specimen trees is one of the most spectacular ways to create atmosphere”, emphasises Debbie. “Using higher quality and marine grade, especially in damper areas, means that they provide extra protection against the weather and provide a quality finish that will last for many years.’’
High-end outdoor lighting costs
$100+ per light.*
Hire a landscape designer from $75+ per hour.*
Hire an electrician from $35+ per hour.*
What additional features are worth considering on a high-end budget?
Debbie encourages homeowners to have a central focus in their landscaped garden, noting that it can be surprisingly affordable and effective.
“A wonderful accessory for a garden is the addition of a water feature. A lovely off-the-shelf water feature can be found for as little as $150, or you can look at building a bespoke waterfall that cascades into your pool if the budget allows. The lovely sound of running water can be used to detract your attention from other sounds that can be heard in a busy built-up street’’. Nichola’s recommended feature? An outdoor fire. “Fire next to water looks stunning, and you’ll always see this at top resorts. At home, think of installing fire bowls next to your swimming pool, or gas torches leading the way to your water feature.” If there is room in your budget to make some high-end changes to your garden, be sure to check out this St Heliers garden makeover for inspiration.
The importance of maintenance
All of the time, money and creativity you put in your landscape design will be wasted if you’re not willing to invest your time or money in some basic maintenance. Zones offers an ongoing maintenance service which can be designed to suit your schedule.
“Ongoing maintenance is the only way to ensure your investment keeps looking good,'' says Debbie. “The longer a garden is neglected, the longer it takes to clean up. Plants can become woody instead of lush, and harder surfaces require cleaning. Without maintenance your garden will not continue to look the way it was initially created.’’
If you would like to discuss 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. Prices are exclusive of GST unless specified.
The costs in this article reflect the prices at the time of publication. Learn more here about the importance of planning your project ahead to minimise industry disruptions.