Garden Makeover Sydney – Research & Advice

You have decided it is time to attack the garden with a complete makeover. Before you start, it is important to take note of the gardens other people are creating.

Are they reflective of your style, do they draw you in, relax you and enhance the overall appeal of the home

Your needs maybe similar but I doubt that you will want to “copy cat” the garden down the street. It is also important to think about how you want to live in your garden, what is necessary and what is not.


Gather some inspiration from magazines, your neighbourhood and on line sites such as Pinterest. You will soon appreciate the myriad of garden styles out there, and how people are utilising every aspect of their land, balcony or roof top to achieve the best value outcome.

For example, if you live in an apartment, compare the Balcony Garden Styles and collate those that appeal to you. You may like more than one style in the beginning, but that’s OK, as you will find that you refine your preferences as you progress.

When renovating, most of us are prepared to do the hard yards, resolving the smallest details viz tapware, door handles, door moulds etc, or leave it to the architect to present some options. The point is, none of us are prepared to invest in a new home or major renovation without firstly resolving the smallest detail.

That same focus now applies to our outside spaces. Why? Our lifestyles are focussed on a “life outside” to the extent that residential architecture is demanding equal focus between the outdoor and indoor living spaces.

The outdoor space is no longer the after thought, as it was in the days of a large green lawn and the Hills Hoist.

Too often, the budget is stretched by the needs of the house, and the outdoor space takes second place. To give equal attention to the outdoors, start collecting your ideas early.


Giving early attention to the outdoor space and facilitating something of a seamless approach to indoor and outdoor living may mean that you will spend more of your dollars outside, but at least it will reflect a coordinated and integrated approach to the entire home.

Whilst some of the home lifestyle shows on television are great for ideas, they can fuel low expectations of cost. Material items are always included in the budget, but labor seems to be omitted. In Australia, it is the cost of labor, both in demolition and construction that is the largest component. Cost of approvals, consultants fees etc are also not revealed on the TV shows.

Many clients are shocked at the cost of landscaping, probably because they have been influenced by the lifestyle shows. I can assure you that wherever a plumber, electrician or stone mason undertakes work, there is no reason why his or her rates should be cheaper just because their work is part of external landscaping project. Lighting, water features etc maybe small on size, but they are big on impact, and the qualified labor needed to provide them adds to the costs.

Australia is a highly regulated environment, and the costs of approvals, certifications etc apply equally to internal and external construction projects.

There is a rule of thumb that if the landscaping is to provide all the features of today’s outdoor living trends, a reasonable budget for landscaping should be 5% to 10% of the property’s value. Gone are the days where all you have to spend is $20,000 to fully landscape your home on a typical suburban block.

Obviously, when the outside space is limited to a balcony or a rooftop, the ratio of spend to property value is less, significantly less when the outside space represents only a smaller proportion of the overall property.


Whether you are undertaking a minor or total makeover, talk to the appropriately qualified professionals.

Having collected ideas, seeking the right professional advice will assist you form a realistic budget range and give you some guidance as to regulations and procedure etc.

You maybe tempted to go straight to a landscaper, or preferably approach a landscaper designer or landscape architect.

There is a difference in the services provided by a landscaper and a landscape designer or landscape architect – they are entirely different professions. The landscape designer or architect designs the outdoor space, whereas the landscaper undertakes the construction. Their training and qualifications are entirely different.

The landscape designer/architect is responsible for the creativity behind the design in collaboration with yourself. He or she will also prepare detailed drawings for a Development Application (or DA should it be needed), calling of tenders and finally the construction drawings. The advice provided is therefore broader and detailed.

The landscape designer/architect will listen to your ideas, and will enlighten you further on ways to achieve the look and feel you want whilst incorporating the principles of good design giving you a much better outcome.

Should you decide to engage a landscape designer or architect, their services will need to be included in the budget, but their involvement will give you better value for your money in the long run.

Good design is critical, even more so for the smaller spaces. A well designed space stands the test of time, and will not require costly alterations in the short to medium term.

Contact Brian, he would love to help.

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