Scrimp Or Spend? Experts Advise Homeowners On Landscape Projects

by | Jul 12, 2014 | Blog, Remodeling / Do-It-Yourself Projects

Remodeling / Do-It-Yourself ProjectsIf you’ve been thinking of making landscaping improvements to your yard, now is the time to act. In the coming weeks, the searing heat of mid-summer will be dissipating, allowing new plants to flourish while still having time to establish roots before the first frost.

Recently, Better Business Bureau magazine surveyed landscape experts on where homeowners on a limited budget should put their money. Here are their thoughts on where it’s important to splurge, and where you can skimp without compromising your project.

Splurge on these items:

Mulch and soil amendments: Soil amendments are critical to creating a proper growing environment for your plants. They break up Colorado’s notorious clay soil, improving the ability of plants to get nutrients and moisture from the ground. Don’t skimp here. Buy a quality product “that doesn’t contain detrimental fillers like salt,” suggests BBB. As for mulch, a slightly more expensive, quality product will likely be heavier and keep the mulch from blowing away on a windy day.

Decks and patios: Composite or plastic materials may cost more money upfront than wood, but in the long run, you’ll be happy you spent the money, as they require far less maintenance. In addition, while they are usually the most pricey part of your project, they retain their value, so you’ll recoup the cost when it’s time to sell the home.

Irrigation: Again, spending more money initially – on things like underground drip systems, soil sensors and timers — will save you dollars in the long run, as these features help deliver water more efficiently. In addition, don’t skimp on the person installing these features. Find someone with a stellar reputation who will do the work right the first time.

Lighting: High-quality LED lights or photocell systems last longer than cheaper styles. Spend the money here, while paring down the quantity of lighting, if necessary, taking security and safety into consideration before all else.

Landscape designer/contractor: Experienced designers can often purchase supplies at a discount from their contacts; know how to cut costs without compromising the final result; and won’t make mistakes that a rookie might. Pay for a professional located through referrals, and meet with several contractors before making your choice.

Save on these items:

Plant size: Here’s the beauty of plants: They grow. Instead of looking for the largest plants, concentrate on choosing healthy vibrant-looking specimens. “You may lose a few seasons of growth,” says BBB, “but the plant will make up for it in time.” Also, be sure to choose trees, bushes and flowering plants that are suited to Colorado’s climate; otherwise, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of money replacing plants that die out quickly. 

Fountains and other water features: Large water features, says BBB, don’t retain their value, require costly maintenance, can be hard to clean and often waste water. “You don’t need a grandiose waterfall to make an impact on your landscape. Even a small boulder with water cascading into a small pool or prepackaged tabletop fountain, can create a sense of peace.” In addition, if you’re looking to attract birds, they generally prefer smaller, shallower basins.

Get more remodeling and DIY tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

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