Whether you’re building a new home, refreshing an established backyard or adding value prior to selling your property, enhancing your landscape is a very sound investment. Whether you’re starting with a blank canvas or modernising an older area, the following tips explore the basics and outline some ‘need-to-knows’.
In your planning, consider the sun. Sunlight can provide an advantage in parts of your landscaping yet is not an essential requirement for other areas. High levels of sunlight promote great growth in productive food gardens, enhance entertaining on decks, patios and BBQ areas and are crucial for sun-loving plants. Utilise shady parts of your garden for storage and functional spaces that don’t need to be sunny and those plants that prefer cooler, shadier spots.
Opening up spaces provide an opportunity for sun exposure
Soft landscaping versus hard landscaping:
Hardscape and softscape are both elements in landscaping. Hardscape refers to the heavier elements in landscape design, such as stones, rocks, patios, fences and driveways. Softscape refers to everything else, such as soil, plants, flower and colour schemes.
Soft landscaping provides a range of benefits - from its ability to be easily transformed, (generally at lesser cost), to enabling seasonal variation. However, it’s a necessity to imagine how your garden will look in 5-10 years and how that will affect the landscape. Hardscaping such as patios, decks and fencing are considered to be good investments as they provide long-lasting benefits of enjoyment. Plan these improvements carefully though, as these constructions can prove costly further down the track, if alteration is needed, given removal and disposal costs will be labour-intensive and often require the use of expensive machinery.
Areas which are sloped need to be thought through in terms of the whole design. Consider the opportunity cost of maximising usable space, provided by installation of retaining walls or level stepped sections. Alternatively, leaving areas ‘as-is’ can provide opportunities for natural hedging or tree planting.
If you have a range of soil types on your property, make a mental note of which soil type is where. This will arm you for better planning, of species to plant or where to put hard landscaping. Soils naturally rich in nutrients should be prioritised for plants and any clay or hard- packed soil areas can be utilised for structure-building. Naturally wet areas will prove beneficial in the dryer months, but drainage may need to be evaluated and addressed for the long-term.
Flowers with the right nutrients, will thrive in peak seasons
Evaluate Your Situation
A new build:
When dealing with new subdivisions, it’s advisable to wait for the building process to be completed, (not only for your house, but also the surrounding ones), prior to landscaping. We’ve heard many stories of new homeowners getting stuck in to their landscaping on moving in, only to find the neighbours have chosen to put their outside entertaining area directly over the fence from theirs. Having an understanding of your neighbours’ planning intentions can be hugely beneficial when designing areas that are investment-intensive.
Refreshing an established backyard:
Understand the why
Try to understand why the choices for the existing landscaping design were originally made. This may open up new ideas or highlight potential limitations for your alterations. Look at older listings of the property or online satellite maps to see what was there previously, if you aren’t the original owner.
Generate in-depth ideas prior to beginning work
Use idea-generating tools such as Pinterest or Houzz to explore current trends and new products or concepts. These tools also let you know what is not likely to work for your space.
Selling a property:
Cater for the future buyer
When landscaping a property that will be on the market in the near future, it’s very important not to get too caught up in what you would like to have- your favourite choices for each aspect of the landscaping. It’s crucial to plan to appeal to your target market and to cater for them. After all you won’t be the one living with your design in the future. Often a real estate agent will be able to help you to identify the target market for your property. Interested parties will be defined by considering points such as the features of the local area, the price bracket and the house and garden size and layout.
Consider it an investment
Some elements, such as outdoor entertaining and cooking facilities, water features and other amenities can add substantial costs to a landscaping project. During the designing phase, ensure that the investment you put into the space can be seen, and appreciated, by the future buyer. It’s often suggested that a good foundation to a landscape such as a deck or paving should be created to give structure, leaving soft landscaping such as lawns and gardens which can be modified more easily. This not only leaves the future owners to add their touch according to their own taste, but will make the property more attractive to a wider range of buyers. Remember - if in doubt, leave it out.
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