How much is this going to cost?
Landscape design is a major addition to any home often involving multiple trades (in addition to the designer), and taking several months to complete.
With that in mind, the Sydney and Melbourne-based designers we spoke to said ground-up projects tend to start at a minimum $40,000 for the full scope of works (design, labour and materials).
Elements that drive up the price include pools (landscape architect and director of Svalbe & Co, Katy Svalbe, says anything larger than a plunge pool typically adds an easy $100,000+ to the budget), uneven sites, and complex site access.
Richard explains, ‘It’s very hard to give generalised budgets, and it all depends on the scope of works, but in confined gardens where we need to create new flooring, walling, as well as planting, lighting, an integrated barbecue, seating, etc, it’s not hard to spend between $100,000 to $150,000.’
Some designers calculate their fee as a percentage of the total build cost (typically between 6-15%). Others like founder and principal of Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design, Kathleen Murphy, charge by the hour.
Here’s a breakdown of project costs for the full scope of works (design, labour and materials) based on these designers’ experiences creating residential gardens Sydney and Melbourne:
– Courtyard or garden accompanying a modest-sized cottage, duplex or terrace: $40,000-$70,000
– Total refurbishment of a garden or courtyard and upper-level balconies around an existing residence (including modifying an existing pool): $120,000-$250,000+
– New gardens, paving and deck accompanying a new freestanding house (flat site with no pool): $150,000-$250,000+
– New gardens, paving and deck accompanying a new freestanding house (sloping site with pool, terracing and pergola and more): $300,000+
Even if you’re working with a lower budget, it’s still worth reaching out to a designer and asking what’s achievable.
How long is it going to take?
According to Katy, if the project is relatively simple; your preferred designer, builder and landscaper are available; plants are in stock; and no development approvals are required, the process can be as quick as four to six months. Where development approvals are required, a minimum 12 month timeframe is more realistic.
When the plants in your garden will start establishing themselves is another question, and depends on what existing plants were used, the soil preparation, the size of newly-installed plants, the time of year installation occurred (autumn is best, says Katy), the irrigation system, and degree of ongoing maintenance.
‘From my experience, newly-installed gardens generally find their feet 12 months after installation, but tend not to feel ‘full’ or be anywhere near fulfilling our vision for them until they are at least two to three years old,’ Katy says.