Budget Landscaping

Does Budget Landscaping mean: our business targets a certain target market?

We do a cheap job? We use the cheapest of materials? Because our customers have champagne taste and beer money, we offer them the world but under deliver on their expectations? We set a budget and stick to it? We plan and cost the project ahead every step of the way and once our quote is accepted we implement a landscape design that complements the home, the owner’s lifestyle and accommodates both our budgets?

As landscapers we can offer to provide our clients with competitive, discount landscape plans that suit their budgets. On acceptance, we would undertake Planting Plans and Landscape Plans for Development Application (DA), Construction Certificate and Complying Development Certificate (CDC) approvals. Just think about the intellectual property that goes with those plans and processes. We often undercharge for our abilities just to get the job. Allow for this aspect in a project budget.

TIP: Variations will occur during the project so be very clear before you start any project with clients about the parameters of the project. Variations are a nuisance or a blessing depending only on your attitude.

Effective budgeting is more than just planning – a responsible homeowner will monitor the budget closely and be conscious of the investment, regardless of who is actually performing the work. Build rem flexibility into your projected budget that you present to your customer to ensure your project can handle the unexpected. Depending on the size and complexity of the project a budget spreadsheet does not need to be lengthy, but it should be detailed enough to be accurate.

Few people have the financial resources to landscape all their property at once. Consider dividing your project into phases and offer this approach to customers. This approach works especially well if you can schedule the works for your shoulder/off peak seasons. Both parties can then create a budget that is spread over time. Your customers will save on loan or credit costs and be able to evaluate your progress, better appreciate your worth by using the newly created space and in need, adjust plans with you before moving to the next prioritised phase.

When you buy products can be as important as where you buy them because the savings you make will impact your bottom line and reflect in your budget. Timber for outdoor projects is often cheaper during the winter months. With managed scheduling, you can sometimes save money on trees, shrubs and perennials by buying late in their season.

Newly released plant varieties will be expensive initially because supply is low and demand is high. Quote accordingly. An excellent source of online plant knowledge is at http://www.touchofclassplants.com.au, which specialises in the production, distribution, management and marketing of quality modern plants.

A sustainable landscape business will have professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance and all other necessary insurances to best suit their business. Shop around yearly because quotes vary widely and consider engaging an Insurance Broker because they’ll take all the long hours of hard mental work out of trying to determine the best risk adverse deal for your business. One such well respected Senior Insurance Broker to the landscape industry is: Peter Freeman of Midland Insurance Brokers (NSW) Pty Ltd (http://www.midlandinsurance.com.au). Industry specific Insurance Broker Australia wide SMART (http://www.smartbusinessinsurance.com. au/landscaping-business-insurance) can access over 30 insurers and underwriters to save you time and money.

TIP: Read the fine print in any insurance contract. My Insurance Broker told me about a landscaper who took out insurance cover for all his tools including his expensive power tools. While on the job at a customer’s house there was a fire in his home garage and thousands of dollars of power tools were destroyed because they were in his garage safely locked away. No worries he thought, I’m covered for tools – I’ll claim for their loss. Wait for it… the insurance company didn’t allow his claim because he didn’t have Contents Insurance. So, if he had stored all his tools in the truck, no worries, he could have claimed under tools cover. But the tools were in a building at the time. Bizarre but true. The landscaper has always engaged an Insurance Broker after that incident.

All good businesses should to be a member of their industry body to add credence to their business and comfort to customers. For landscapers, the LNA Master Landscapers Association (http://www. landscapenswact.com.au) and the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (http://www.aildm.com.au) are the leading member bodies.

When we source our landscape supplies we are attracted by the term “budget”. Take for instance: “At Budget Landscape and Building Supplies (http://www.budgetlandscapes.com.au) we pride ourselves on our friendly, efficient service and competitive pricing across our huge range of products and services.” Budget landscaping could also mean working with like-minded people who provide us with products at market price or perhaps less if we buy in bulk.

Another landscape supply company at the top if its game is in Albany, Western Australia- http://www.facebook.com/albanylandscapesupplies. For same day delivery in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich go to: http://www.westernlandscape.com.au– from one scoop to a truckload, WLS guarantees low prices on landscaping supplies and delivery seven days a week. Soilworx (http://www.soilworx.com. au/index.html) has a fleet of over 30 trucks, delivering six days a week to Melbourne Metro, Greater Melbourne, Geelong and surrounding areas all with live delivery tracking. Great gardens don’t demand a big budget, but they do require some resourcefulness and creativity. Landscapers always think about constructing in the landscape. Maybe the next ‘budget’ quote we provide to potential customers we could include lots of painting. Especially in a small garden, painting several items the same intense colour creates continuity and punch. Painting doors, fences, pots, garden furniture and even dead tree trunks can help bring it alive. Concrete paint is the saviour of many a boring concrete slab. Paint, for example, a concrete slab in a grey and green checkerboard pattern or give a driveway a warm glow by painting it a deep umber. Even in deepest winter, the garden will be colourful and interesting. Colours that do well in gardens include magenta, teal, deep purple, spring or lime greens, deep sunny yellow and brick reds. Nearly any quality oil-based or latex-based paint will do, whether it’s in a bucket or a spray can.

Potted plants solve many design problems and help keep a budget low. They dress up a plain entry and add colour and greenery to barren concrete corners and back doors. Potted plants also pretty up verandahs and patios. Focus on purchasing pots that go with one another, made of a similar material or some other unifying theme. Think about spraying them all the same colour to help tie the garden together. More good news is that pots are cheap. Your collection of pots will be even more striking if you scatter little accents among them, such as small sculptures or even something as simple as an eye-catching stone.

Hang a mirror. It will add glitz and light to a space and can reflect views. Just be sure to hang it in a somewhat protected spot, such as under an eave.

Hinge old doors together to make an outdoor screen, which is great for hiding garbage bins or a compost heap.

The next time someone mentions budget, ask that person what do they really mean by that word.

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