Have you ever thought about how much it costs to maintain your garden? Most people never give it much thought - spending the odd day in the garden when they have time and impulse buying plants at the local nursery.
But if you're serious about saving money and adding value to one of you're most important assets it's worth thinking about the ongoing costs associated with garden maintenance and how this can be minimized. It's also worth spending time and money on your garden so your asset appreciates rather than depreciates.
For the average size garden you should budget on one full day of maintenance every two months. That's a total of 6 full days a year. Now if you like gardening, that's not a problem and it's probably something you enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction from.
But with today's busy lifestyles, many of us are time poor and might have other priorities than spending time in the garden. So if you can't make the regular commitment of a day every two months you need to allow for this in your budget.
Costs vary, but on average you would pay $20 an hour for a qualified gardener or horticulturist, so this will cost you $160 every two months or $960 a year. Now this is just for general maintenance and doesn't include more regular jobs such as mowing or pruning. It also doesn't include costs such as fertilizing or adding to or improving your garden.
Some of the larger companies have recognized this opportunity and are now providing
professional garden maintenance services.
Darrell Canns, General Manager for Yates Garden Care says the market is huge and the garden maintenance business is 10 years behind the franchised lawn mowing industry.
Yates are now entering the market with a full range of professional services including basic lawn mowing, weeding, pruning and fertilizing, small landscaping jobs and tree surgery work.
They are developing a professional horticultural franchise to help put people in the industry. To make money a franchise owner will need to meet professional standards set by Yates, undergo training by the company and use the Yates brand name.
The service has already been successfully established in the eastern states and is being launched in Western Australia soon. Each franchisee will have about 30 or 40 regular customers.
The cost to garden owners is varied and depends on the size of the garden and the time of year. Darrell Canns says this may vary from $50 or $60 a month to $300 a week.
He believes the difference with other operators is that their people are qualified and the work is guaranteed. He also says they will quote on the total job rather than offer an hourly rate. An example of a fixed price for a specialized service is $400 to redig a garden bed, weed it, fertilize, replant and mulch.
There's an increasing pride in gardens and for people who don't have a lot of time this is a service that's appealing because you know what you get and you know how much it will cost.
Mr Canns believes consumers trust the Yates brand and the company has the ongoing expertise in gardening and horticulture.
The company is also working on a garden valuation service, where Yates will give a written valuation of the replacement cost of the garden and an ongoing maintenance cost. Canns says this will be used by real estate agents to compare properties and provide a tangible and independent figure on what a garden is worth.
So in terms of advice what should one do? Here are eight tips:
1. Budget to maintain your garden. Most people underestimate the value of their garden and many people make costly mistakes by neglecting their garden. Plants and trees may die through lack of water, putting in bad stock, not planting properly, and incorrect fertilizing or pruning. Compared to the value of the plants, the maintenance cost is small.
2. Think about the big picture of your garden. What do you want your garden to look like and what sort of theme.
3. Keep your garden simple. Often simple themes work best and feel more spacious. Set one theme and stick to it. Differentiate between decorative elements. Do they relate to the theme of the garden?
4. Avoid too much maintenance. Low maintenance gardens will cost less over the long term. Think about how much time and money you want to put into your garden in terms of maintenance.
5. Understand what you want. For example a garden for a holiday house would be totally different for your normal home.
6. Plan your garden. Work out what works best for different areas. For example shade versus sun and the purpose for which the garden will be used.
7. Avoid big trees in small spaces. Many people put in totally inappropriate trees and plants in areas that are just too small and at a later date it is very expensive to remove those trees.
8. Avoid buying plants on impulse. Roses are often the worst for this. They look great in the nursery in full bloom but can be a disaster. Plan before you buy.
Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries.
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