Quality landscaping is an essential part of any luxury home project. The area around your house sets the tone for where you live. Many of us spend a lot of time outside of our homes—whether it involves entertaining on the patio, lounging by the pool, or the kids playing in the yard. On top of that, the area around your home is the first thing you and your guests see when approaching your home. And because new luxury home designs increasingly make use of larger windows, the views from inside the house are increasingly important.
Despite those things, landscaping is often one of the most overlooked aspects of building a new home. It’s a part of the building process that many homeowners simply don’t take into account when building a new home. So how much should you budget for landscaping—and what should you spend your money on?
As is often the case with building custom homes, one answer won’t necessarily be right for every homeowner. It can be helpful to think in terms of a range, however. Better Homes & Gardens suggests spending 5-10 percent of the value of your home on landscaping. While that may sound like a lot of money, it’s an investment that can instantly increase the value of your property by the same amount.
Admittedly, 5-10 percent is a sizeable range. Why the disparity? The size and condition of your property both play a significant factor in what you’ll spend. If you begin with a lot that is rough and barren and requires a lot of landscaping features you’ll have to plan to spend more. And of course the larger the lot, the more you may need to spend—if you plan to landscape all of it. But even if you want to keep the majority of your property “natural” (and a lot of homeowners in the Hill Country prefer that), you’re going to need to think that through. You’ll probably want some kind of transition between your house and the natural look on the rest of your property.
Regardless of whether you do a lot or a little to the area around your new home, there are two critical things that you must consider when planning, designing and installing any landscape/hardscape in the Texas Hill Country: water and maintenance.
Planning the landscaping around your home involves more than simply selecting foliage that you think will look great. You’ll also want to make sure you plant native plants, bushes, trees, and shrubs that adapt well to the soils and annual rainfall amounts in our area.
We live in an area that has limited groundwater resources that have to be preserved. Species that require excessive amounts of water can unduly stress the water resources we have. Beyond that, there are the monetary consequences to consider. A large fully landscaped and irrigated custom home lot can easily cost you $750-1000 a month if you’re watering with municipal water.
Having your own well may be an option, but during a drought, it’s relatively easy to run it dry. If you don’t pay attention to the vegetation you install you can easily watch your money burn up in the Texas heat. If you’re not familiar with the water restrictions in the area you should know that watering whenever you want isn’t permitted. And if you haven’t chosen native plants or drought-tolerant varieties, you’ll be struggling to keep them alive.
You’ll also want to give the maintenance of your landscaping consideration. Caring for your yard can be very time consuming—particularly if you have a lot of area to care for. If you’re an avid gardener or if caring for your landscaping is something you enjoy doing then there’s no problem. But if you don’t want to spend a lot of time working in or on your yard, you’ll want to consider whether you will be hiring someone to take care of your yard. That’s a cost you’ll incur in either time or money.
Landscaping is something it’s wise to discuss with your builder early in the design stage of your home. If you’re dealing with an experienced builder, he or she can advise you about which solutions may be best for your area. Chances are that your builder has a network of landscape professionals that can help you with the design and installation.
There’s an additional advantage to working with an experienced professional landscaper. Professionals who have been around for a while know that there’s a big difference between how a home’s landscaping looks when it’s first installed—and what it will look like in 10 or 20 years. You don’t want landscaping that looks great now and then obscures your views in a few years.
Here’s another helpful resource. Boerne has its own chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas and they can help you become more informed about the types of plants that will thrive in our area. It’s a great place to start even before you meet with a landscaper to plan out your property.
Your home is more than simply the walls that surround you, so make sure you plan and budget for landscaping that you’ll enjoy—and that won’t consume more time and money than you’re willing to spend.
Adapted and updated from the original February 15, 2016, post