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  • Doug Burgoyne

Save Heartache!

"A garden that is well thought out and constructed is certain to add value to a property. Maybe not dollar-for-dollar, but it will definitely create emotional attachment for someone who loves the outdoors."

A high quality landscape installation that adds value to your home starts with careful planning. My philosophy is that its not as important how much money you have to spend on landscaping but that each dollar spent is spent wisely.

I have seen many homeowners get frustrated after completing their home. Finding themselves with a limited budget left to complete the landscape the way they would like. Some people with limited access don't have the luxury of waiting a year to complete their landscaping. Some yards take thousands of dollars to complete basic structural requirements. I have seen many examples of this in a district like Signal Hill - yards that have 30 foot slopes and need some form of retention or terracing just to become functional usable spaces.

Determine what the basic costs will be ahead of time and get that amount added to your mortgage. That leaves you with the option of completing the entire landscape the way you would like it or at least the basics while it's still practical. This way your project can be completed without having to compromise quality because of an unrealistically low budget!

Simple projects may still require a design to give a homeowner basic information on plant requirements and to ensure that the work being performed will blend in with the rest of the landscaping. remember the following:

- With larger projects a design is crucial. Ideas can be put onto paper and become workable solutions. A design is something concrete that can be priced when figuring out a necessary budget.

- First stage is to complete excavation, grading, hard landscaping, plant large trees, cut out shrub beds and lay sod.

-Budget to do enough work in stage one so things don't have to be done over in order to go onto stage 2. Stage 2 can be adding special features such as pergolas, gazebos, and waterfalls.

- Stage 3 can be planting shrubs and perennials, adding low maintenance beds, and an irrigation system.

Hints to ensure a quality landscape:

- Use the best available materials (ie. cedar over pressure-treated wood) for projects with planters, benches, screens, etc. Cedar makes a much nicer finished product.

- Designs should have clean lines (a smooth appealing flow, not too chopped up).

- Designs should have practical outdoor living spaces, is workable in the short term, and be adaptable in the long run. Most of all, a design must fit the customer's needs.

- An unskilled carpenter can make even the best designs look unsightly.

- To obtain natural style, avoid artificial-looking materials for mulches like red shale. Mulches should be subtle.

- Over-planting should be avoided. If an instant garden is desired, a maintenance-free program should be implemented to remove or transplant in the future.

- Trees and shrubs should be placed to reach their full growth potential.

- Manipulating a plant's size to fit specific areas is generally detrimental to the plant's health and longevity.

-I like to use large rock for retaining walls where possible because it's low maintenance, looks like something found in nature and provides a striking visual contrast with soft plantings.

- Use an imaginative mix of perennials for lasting seasonal colour.

- Avoid perennials that propagate by seed, as they make the garden look untidy.


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