Did you read Part 1: Landscape Planning is a Long Term Investment Worth Including in Your Annual Budget? If so, you’re ready for…
Part 2: Executing Your Landscape Budget Planning
Making a landscaping budget is an important element of sound property management. However, creating a budget is only half the battle; sticking to your budget is an entirely different challenge. Follow these contingency tips to deal with the unexpected so that you stay on budget while meeting your landscape goals.
1. Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst should become your new mantra. When nature is involved, you should always expect the unexpected. No matter how carefully you plan, you can’t account for every possible contingency. As discussed in part one of this series, if you’ve properly budgeted, you’ve held funds in reserve in a rainy day (or ‘drought’) fund, as the case may be.
The Ontario ice storm of 2013 is a prime example of dealing with a worst-case budgetary scenario. Thirty-two municipalities across the province appealed to Ontario for financial aid to help recoup the cost of the emergency response and clean-up after the storm. Although cities across Ontario were pleased to receive an estimated 190-million in funds to help pay for damages, according to the Globe and Mail, the province did “not pick up the tab for planting new trees.”
With approximately 20% of Toronto’s urban canopy lost as a result of the storm, new planting has been a focus, but it hasn’t been the only solution. Since the storm, careful assessment and pruning have been critical in helping trees recover and will continue to be an essential element in landscape budgets for years to come as the canopy across Ontario recovers.
2. Weather the Storm
Like Ontario’s 2013 ice storm, some weather events are simply unpredictable. This storm had a hugely damaging impact on trees, shrubs, and plants of all sizes. No amount of planning or smart planting can prevent bad weather, which always has an unwelcome effect on any sound landscape budget.
First, ensure your landscape strategy is ideal for your climate to weather the storm. Canadians need to accept that freezing temperatures and heavy snow are a fact of life. This means that any landscape plan should focus on plants capable of surviving harsh Ontario winter conditions (and the wet spring and hot summer that follows). Initially, planting the wrong type of plants will mean that you’ll have to replace them in the spring.
Secondly, ensure that an adequate emergency fund is saved for future events. The “use it or lose it” mentality doesn’t work well in landscape budgeting. When reviewing last year’s budget, if you overestimated the costs of snow removal, de-icing, or storm clean-up, that doesn’t necessarily mean those areas should be cut moving forward. Instead, move the unused funds into a reserve and continue to save for the day when the storm hits. When it does, you’ll be in good shape to deal with the fallout.
3. Location, Location, Location
Your location can make a big difference. Your budget should take into consideration your location, especially if you are located:
- Next to a body of water that causes spring flooding
- In a flood area
- In an urban location that is deprived of sunlight by tall buildings
- In an open space that may be hit by strong winds
When you review last year’s landscape budget and results, talk to your landscape team about any location-specific elements that may have impacted your strategy. Is there anything specific you should be aware of that you haven’t already budgeted for? Examples of factors to consider include:
- Insect infestations
- Use (people walking through your property can wear down paths, grass, and plants)
- Abuse (a busy location may lead to pollution, vandalism, and litter)
How do you know if your landscaping budget and execution are effective? Just look at the green! If your balance sheet is in the red, then you know that your planning and execution have been subpar (barring some pretty sizeable considerations). Of course, landscaping is about more than just dollars and cents. It is about increasing your property’s value, quality, and appearance. To determine whether your planning has been successful, you need to look beyond the balance sheet.
Landscape planning should take a multi-year approach. Your property should look and function better one, three, five, and ten years down the road than it did on day one. Shrubs and flowers die, trees grow, but multi-year planning should consider and incorporate the cost of replacing plants and trimming trees into your budget.
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