We always focus on architecture and interior design when we look for home inspiration. Sometimes, we forget that landscaping plays a big role in creating beautiful spaces. Gardens allow you to enjoy nature and its benefits. Plants reduce stress levels and contribute to better health.
Hire a professional if you want the best garden. You get an architect to design your house and an interior designer to plan your home. “Landscape architecture is a profession relatively unknown to many. We feel homeowners miss out on personalized outdoor spaces that are practical and artfully translated,” said landscape architects Lou and Thea Licerio of Prasinos, Inc. A landscape architect is different from a gardener.
The difference can be seen and felt when you hire professionals. Here, Lou and Thea complemented the design of their client’s house and pool with slightly curved stairs and simple planting
“Ideally, we should be present at the start of the design phase. We work with architects and interior designers to make sure every aspect of a project complements each other. We are trained to organize and plan projects properly to make sure everything is efficient and cost-effective,” explains landscape architect Abby Abiol of Haute Flora.
Professional fees depend on the type of work or development to be done. One way landscape architects charge is by percentage of total construction cost. This can be anywhere from 10-20%. Another method is per square meter, which can range from P300-600 up depending on how big a lot is.
For this project, Abby designed a simple, minimalist garden that takes advantage of borrowed views from surrounding areas
Why should you hire a professional? “We have a long-term vision,” says Thea. “The designed outdoors is a dynamic aspect of the home. Plants grow and outdoor spaces are exposed to natural elements. We anticipate these so homeowners can enjoy and grow with their garden. The work of a professional is not only beautiful but purposeful, as well,” she continues.
Another benefit of hiring a professional is that they are flexible to your preferences, be it Japanese, contemporary, tropical, English, etc. “Some people are fond of those trendy, rounded shrubs. They’re actually high maintenance in the long run. Sometimes, the free design turns out to be more expensive than our fees. From experience, we redo a lot of our clients’ gardens,” explains Lou.
Lou and Thea used bougainvilleas to great effect in this area, providing contrast to the house’s stark white exteriors and pool house
What if you have a lot of plants and want to use them? Will this save you money? “Overall, you can save around 10-15% if you already have a lot of species we can use on-site. However, you should factor in labor costs that come from rehabilitating plants, balling trees, and transport,” explains Abby.
“We usually prioritize the most expensive plants from a client’s inventory. If all plants come from the existing garden, the client can save about 40-50% of plant costs had they been bought new. This is unlikely, though,” adds Lou.
Simple minimalist gardens can cost anywhere from P2000-2500/sqm according to Abby, while lush tropical gardens go for P4000-6000/sqm. Plant materials and other elements, such as garden soil, are included in this amount. “It really depends on the plant palette. Of course, it will cost more if you want special collector plant types,” she says.
Landscape architects understand maintenance, and how this will affect your garden long-term
Hardscapes are also something you should consider. These include paving materials, stepping pads, tiles, stones, wood, decking, and other built designs. According to Lou, you should expect to pay around P2500-3500/sqm up for these. Water features can go anywhere from P5000-17,000 or more depending on the design.
If you want a swimming pool, save at least P20,000-25,000/sqm. This may go up depending on the finish, design, and even location. Gazebos and other structures fall under the P15,000-20,000/sqm range, and may also increase depending on materials used.
Abby stresses the importance of having the right suppliers not just for plants, but for wood, decking, and even shade canopies. “They can ensure proper material standards, quality, and correct installation. This means your garden is beautiful and safe,” she says.
Aside from plants, there are many factors that will determine the cost of your garden. Your choice of paving, decking, water features, and outdoor furnishings can bring costs up or down
“There are also specialty suppliers for tiles, planters, outdoor furniture, and even play equipment and sculptures. They can provide custom designs unique to a project, and carry products not sold in stores,” adds Thea.
Another major cost that you need to keep in mind is maintenance. “You can have a low-maintenance garden, but there is no such thing as a no maintenance garden,” says Abby. Have something professionally maintained if you’re spending on it. An experienced gardener costs roughly P3000 twice a month, or around P1000-1500 per visit.
“Gardens are alive and need nourishment and pruning–and, at the end of a life cycle, replacement. There is only a number of months or years of life for every species. Generally, the smaller the species, the shorter the lifespan,” explains Thea.
You wouldn’t hire just anyone to design your dream home. Your garden requires the skills and talent of a professional, as well. In this garden, landscape design firm Prasinos, Inc. created a checkerboard pattern with tiles, gravel and grass to go with the boxy lines of the house
Much like interiors, exteriors require maintenance, too. “Drainage systems should be cleared of debris and siltation. Metalwork needs to be polished or sealed. Lighting should be cleaned or replaced to ensure maximum illumination and energy savings,” Lou says.
Overall, you should save at least P3000/sqm for a professionally designed garden excluding professional fees. Save more if you want a lot of elements such as structures, water features, or specialty planting. A simple garden with a large lawn will cost significantly less than a gazebo or a pool, but at least now you know how much (and how long) you need to save for the garden of your dreams.