Building a New House in Sydney - Landscaping Your New Home
The costs of landscaping need to be factored in when building a new
house. Before you know it, they can really add up. What is more, not
putting thought into landscaping before the house is built can come back to
hit you later in the form of extra costs and restricted options.
So, how much of it to do now, how much to leave till later?
We help you decide what to do and when.
The Design Phase
In this phase you will figure out the plan for your landscaping.
Everything else you do will be affected by your plan.
You can get a professional landscaper to design your outdoor space. Some garden
centres also offer a landscape design service. Or, you can make a plan yourself.
If you decide to go to a professional designer, following as many of the steps
below as possible will help you get the most help from the designer in the
shortest possible time.
- Do at least some of your landscape planning before finalising the decision of
what house you will be building. Some houses will fit on your block better than
others. Some will create a large backyard and not much other space, some will create
small spaces in more than one place - think about how you want your house to work
with your outside areas before deciding on a house.
- Plan how you want to use your outside areas. How do you use your current outside areas? Is there
anything lacking that you want to particularly have in your new home. Decide what features you want to
include in your landscaping. Examples of features you might want to include are:
- Swimming pool
- Lawn area
- Entertaining area, possibly paved
- Retaining walls
- Water feature
- Vegetable garden
- Planted areas
- Privacy screens
- Fences and gates
- Chicken run
- A place for the dog run around
- A place to store garbage and recycling bins
- Rainwater Tank
- Note down the possible places for each of the features you want. For example:
- The best place for a clothesline is one that gets plenty of sun. It is also
very helpful to place it near the laundry so you don't have to walk a long way to get to it.
- For a planted area, consider whether you will want sun-loving or shade-loving plants
and note down possible places accordingly.
- Consider what shape your driveway should be. How wide do you want it? Do you want to
have extra space on it so you can get get a garden deliveries of soil or mulch and still get into the garage?
- Vegetable gardens require a lot of sun - though full sun may actually be detrimental in very hot areas.
- If you are including a water feature, where do you want it to be visible from?
- Focus on using every square metre efficiently - don't overlook your use of the space in the corners.
You are paying thousands of dollars for each square metre so use it to its best effect.
- Once you have narrowed down your choices to no more than a few plans, draw a scale diagram of each.
- Do a walk-around of your whole block, at least in your mind, stopping to consider how the various features of the garden
will look from every angle.
- Do a walk-around of your whole house, at least mentally, and consider how the garden will look from each window and door.
- At each point ask yourself how much value a feature you want to include will add to your home in comparison
to how much it will cost you. Swimming pools nowadays add about an equal value to what they cost, water
features often add more value to the home than they cost.
- At some point you will need to estimate the cost of your design, either by asking for a quote from
a professional landscaper or, if you want to do the work yourself, by finding out costs of materials
from garden centres, hardware stores and landscape suppliers. Calculate not only the total cost but
how much money you will spend when, depending on how long you are prepared to wait for a given
feature. You may not want to wait 20 years to get a really expensive garden finished!
Hard landscaping is almost any landscaping that doesn't involve plants or can't be carried
away with you if you sell the house.
It's the expensive part of landscaping - so how to avoid all the costs hitting you at once?
- The difficulty with hard landscaping is that once it's done it's very difficult to
change. This is where you really need to spend time thinking - at the planning stage. Consider
every possible place for hard landscaping elements and every possible option regarding how
you want that element to look and work. For each one, ask yourself how
locations of the other features are restricted and how your outdoor area would look.
- Always allow money in your budget to have a driveway straightaway. $5,000-$10,000 is a reasonable amount
to put aside. It is such a big hassle trying to live without a driveway (in the case of a
slope you may simply have to keep your car in the street) that it makes sense
to start arranging the building of it before the house is finished. That way you won't be
stuck with a waiting period of several weeks during busy periods.
- Swimming pools and rainwater tanks are easier to install before the house is finished,
or before fences have been put up. They can be so much trouble to get around the side of
a house that you need to hire a crane. In the case of concrete swimming pools, they can
be put in at around the same time the concrete slab for the house is poured.
- You don't want to be without any necessary retaining walls for too many months - the soil
will gradually be washed away.
- Paved areas are more convenient to complete at the same time as the house is being
built - but it's not necessary. For paved areas, make sure that adequate drainage is
built in. Also consider anything you may want to run under the paving (irrigation pipes,
electrical wires for outside lighting), and place some conduit pipes underneath in preparation.
- Other things can generally wait while you save up for them.
Tips on plants and extra features.
- When you're short on money, buying plants, lighting and ornaments can wait. But it does mean that it takes
longer for the garden to become established. You may want to compromise in some areas.
For example, it's a good idea to get a privacy screen under way quickly if it will
consist of plants so you get the privacy sooner.
- You can never have too much information! Get your hands on the last few years of
gardening magazines such as "Burke's Backyard" and "Better Homes and Gardens". Watch
gardening shows such as "Gardening Australia" and makeover shows such as "Backyard Blitz".
Note down ideas you like.
- Decide what theme the garden will have - tropical, cottage style, formal ... ?
Choose plants that will match this theme.
- Read the tags on the plants you buy and follow the instructions. You will have a much
easier time if you place sun-loving plants in the sun, shade-loving plants in the shade,
place frost-sensitive plants in protected areas and so on.
- Place plants with similar watering requirements together, unless you want to spend
time individually watering each plant.
- You may want to install an irrigation system. It's best to do this before putting plants
in. See the page on Home Watering Systems
for more information.
- Remember that all plants require water until they are established, even drought-tolerant
plants. This can mean watering for up to a year before you even think of reducing on watering.
See the page on Saving Water
for information on how to save water and how to save yourself watering time.
- To make watering easier, consider installing a rainwater tank.
See the page on Rainwater Tanks
for more information.
- The line between outdoor and indoor areas is becoming a bit blurry. Garden furniture and
ornaments can be used to decorate a garden just like one would decorate a house. Used well,
the result is an extension of your home living space.
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money and incorrect decisions when building a new home.
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