Creating a budget is an importing part of planning your landscaping  project. “Everyone has a budget so it’s important to figure out what is  important,” says Risa Edelstein, president of the Ecological  Landscaping Association. “Focus on the functions or areas you’re going  to use the most or which are driving you crazy and need to fix  immediately.”


Try these tips when developing a landscaping budget:


Take an Inventory. The first step of any landscaping project is to make a list of what you already have and do a site analysis.  You might be surprised at how many gems are hiding around your  yard—plants that have gotten lost in the overgrowth and need only to be  relocated, pruned, thinned, weeded, grouped or divided to regain their  former glory. You can also repurpose hardscape materials such as bricks  for a walkway or a rusty railing for a garden trellis.


“A lot of people have no idea what they have—or what they have that  they shouldn’t, meaning that a lot of mid-century gardens contain old  plants such as ivy and burning bush that are now considered invasive,”  Edelstein says.


Hire a Professional.: One of the best ways to  avoid costly mistakes is to hire a professional to design a master plan,  which not only helps you visualize the possibilities and but also maps  out the steps to achieve them—and get it right the first time.


A master plan also helps you understand where the money goes, which  isn’t always where you can see it. For example, many towns now require  drainage systems to catch stormwater run-off if you install a certain  amount of impervious paving. “It comes as a surprise to have money spent  on something you don’t see because it’s underground,” says Robert  Schucker, president of R&S Landscaping in Midland Park, N.J.  “But  if you ignore things like drainage issues, it can wind up costing you a  lot more to fix after the fact.”


Don’t Be Coy About Costs. Know what you want to  spend and talk budget up front with your landscape professional.   Understand what things cost by getting at least three estimates and If  you’re unsure what to budget, the American Society of Landscape  Architects suggests to start with 5 percent to 10 percent of your home’s  worth. The good news: a good landscape design can add as much as 15  percent to the value of your home compared to other houses on your  street.


Splurge on the “Maximum Value” Features. Consider  which features will get the most use or provide the most enjoyment to  you. For example, it might be an outdoor kitchen or living room patio  that serves as an extension of your indoor living space for a good  portion of the year. Or it could be a beautiful backyard vista to be  enjoyed primarily from inside your house.


Consider the Return on Investment. When  prioritizing your needs and wants, ask yourself these questions: How  long do you plan to live in the home? What will be the long-term  maintenance costs? Does it make financial sense to do everything at once  or in phases over several years?