Amy Hamilton Chadwick 23 Apr 2021

Improve your garden for $500, $5,000 or $50,000.

Improving your garden can completely revitalise the look of your property – and it’s an incredibly cost-effective way to add valueThere’s a lot you can do in your garden on a low budget, if you have the time to invest. When you don’t have the time, but you’ve got a bigger budget, you can ask the experts to help you create something sensational.   

“Because we can’t travel as much, a lot of people have been looking out their windows and realising the garden needs some renovation,” says Ollie Newman, director of Onlandscapes and board member of Registered Master LandscapersA fantastic garden means great curb appeal, can add 10% to 15% to your property’s value in a hot market – and it’s pretty hot out there at the moment!”  


$500: Tidy, mulch, paint 


Time spent tidying and decluttering pays off in spades, whether it’s inside or in your garden. To give your garden a lift, begin by weeding and fertilising your lawn, removing weeds from paths and garden beds, waterblasting concrete and removing black mould from your deck.  

Using mulch on your planted areas is an excellent way to spruce things up on a budget, says Newman. Mulch sets off your plants, supresses weeds, traps moisture and provides nutrients for your soil.  

 “For the taller shrubs, prune the undergrowth to lift them up, then underplant with short grasses,” he adds. “If you have a tired old fence behind your plants, stain it black. It makes an unbelievable difference – it looks new and enhances all the plants. That’s a nice little weekend job.”  


$5,000: Edge, define and plant 


With a bit more to spend, think about delineating the lawn, beds and paths. A timber or brick edge will really square up and define your garden. Tired old concrete paths can be given a lift with a layer of stone chip over the top, which will give the garden a bit more pizzazz, says Newman. If you have the space, macrocarpa sleepers can create lovely raised planters for herbs, vegetables or flowers – these are a popular addition to any garden. 

In your planted areas, assess your existing greenery. How can you create a layered look with the taller plants at the back, smaller shrubs in the front and ground cover at the bottom? If you can plant strategically, as layered plants grow in they’ll create low-maintenance beds that naturally keep weeds to a minimum. Newman recommends heuchera, star jasmine or small grasses to fill in gaps where weeds would potentially grow in.  


$50,000: Design, plan, build 


Trying to renovate an entire garden requires some designing – or at the very least a plan set down on paper: “Get some drawings done by a landscape designer. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune: some will do a concept sketch for a few hundred dollars, through to detailed drawings for a few thousand dollars. Then you can think about where to put garden beds, water features and timber screens for privacy. 

Once you have the design in place, you can create a game plan and figure out a realistic budget, tweaking it if you need to. The first jobs to undertake – and the costliest – are the hard landscaping features. These are retaining walls, concrete, paving, and decks. Some of these may require council consent, which you’ll need to incorporate into the budget. 

Once the hard surfaces are done, the lawns and planting work around them. But don’t rush into any major changes without a plan, says Newman: It’s worth it to get some professional help with a plan, because designers can give you a fresh perspective on all your outdoor spaces. Once you have a good plan, you can get a great result even on a limited budget.”  


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