How Do You Balance Budget & Vision?

The smaller the project, the harder it is to balance vision and budget. This is due to how difficult it is to make a small space work without spending a little more, the budget a client has in mind for this space, and the difficulty of bringing architectural elements in harmony with the taste of the client. Once you throw in environmental concerns, local materials, FSC certified woods, the little details that make a garden go from average to really interesting, the price per square foot can go way beyond what the client ever hoped for, and actually much higher per square foot than a larger space..

 In the end, it always comes down to the value the client feels they are getting. If the client buys into the design and falls in love with it, they will find ways to make a higher budget work. This always starts with prioritizing the structural elements of the garden; Deck/hardscape, Pergolas or Gazebos, planter boxes plant materials and furniture.

Starting from the ground up is the wisest choice, however, often clients lose sight of the fact that treating the “ground” with detail and interest before anything else is really vital to the process. Most folks want a garden now, not a finished patio/deck/groundcover area. Once the “ground” is handled, whether it be patio, decking, or plantings is established one has a firm base to build on.


Structural elements like pergolas, arbors, and trees would be next, Irrigation and the basis for lighting would be followed by shrubs, perennials, garden ornaments, water features and finally annuals and pots would fall on the end of the list.

Of course some of these elements can be interchangeable, but always think structure first, detail second. In breaking the basic elements of a garden down into pieces, the budget can be more manageable and spread over years.

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