Outdoor Living Spaces

Landscape Design and Build tips and ideas for residents of Toronto and the GTA.

Landscaping Design—5 tips to get what you want on your budget

Keith Evans - Thursday, March 22, 2012

I couldn't agree more. Jaime Lerner is a world-renowned Architect and Urban Planner who has made a huge impact on the redesign of many urban landscapes in South America and around the world. Although Mr. Lerner deals with designing city landscapes and I deal with designing residential landscapes I believe his thinking is bang on. It isn't the budget that determines how creative or successful a project is. In fact, as Mr. Lerner says, creative solutions are often not found until you're pushed to find a great solution—like having to do it for a lot less.

The reason that Land Effects specializes in complete redesign projects isn't because we don't want to do the smaller projects. It's because it is in the complete design and build project that our real creativity, efficiency  and expertise comes to the fore to benefit our clients and it is on complete projects where we add the most value.

Remember the often used adage:  "You get what you pay for." It's not always true. Throwing more money at a problem doesn't necessarily lead to the most creative solution. If we listen to Lerner, sometimes less is more. A limited budget can actually spur your landscape designer to find a more creative solution. Your challenge is to find a creative landscape designer with the attitude: when there's a will there's a way.

Close to your dreamsIn the real world most people dream bigger than their pocketbooks. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't shoot for it. I believe it's about getting you as close to your dream as possible within your budget—and that takes creativity, experience and efficiency. And that's what Land Effects brings to the table; that's the value we add to our clients.

That said, we still meet with people with sixty thousand dollar ideas and only a $10,000 budget. And, even though we're highly creative and find it a huge challenge to meet our client's objectives within their budget we're not magicians. But, there may be a solution for them too. Check out TIP FIVE.

But, since this article isn't supposed to be about Land Effects, here are some tips on…

How to get what you want on your budget


Doing a little homework so that your thinking and your budget are more closely aligned is an important first step and will help make you be better prepared before you meet with a landscape designer.


When that landscaping design contractor comes to your house and so wisely offers: "You get what you pay for." you might think carefully about whether they have the creative approach you need to help you get what you want.


Look for a landscape designer who will understand what you want and asks questions around how he/she can get you there. The result often isn't exactly the same as you envisioned but it will likely be a lot closer than you might think. A creative landscape designer works with this question in mind: In what ways might I get this client as close as possible to her desired outcome within her budget? 


Getting you what you want for the resources you have available takes creative thinking, experience and efficiency. Look for that in your landscape design and build contractor, not just a beautiful portfolio. Any designer can do wonders with huge budgets. And, of course, the portfolio will look pretty exciting. But I think a great landscape designer can do wonders within almost any reasonable budget, including yours. Look for that designer instead.


Consider a phased-in approach. If your dream and your budget are still way too far apart a strategy we often use is the idea of doing a complete design based on your dream but phasing the implementation. Although the total cost will be more this can be a very effective approach because it spreads your cost over two or three years. The down side is that all too often the client's energy from the initial phase gets lost or things change and the project never gets finished. Only you can decide if this approach is right for you.

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