Part 2 : Executing Your Landscape Budget

Did you read Part 1: Landscaping is a long term investment worth including in your annual budget?
If so, you’re ready for…

Part 2: Executing Your Landscape Budget

Making a landscaping budget is an important element of sound property management. However, creating a budget is only half the battle, actually 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 budgetary worst case 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. Careful assessment and pruning since the storm has been a critical element in helping trees recover, and will continue to be an important element in landscape budgets for years to come as the canopy across Ontario recovers.

2. Weather the Storm

Some weather events, like Ontario’s 2013 ice storm 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 impact on any sound landscape budget.

To weather the storm, first, ensure your landscape strategy is ideal for your climate. 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 that are capable of surviving harsh Ontario winter conditions (and the wet spring, and hot summer that follows). Planting the wrong type of plants initially 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 when it comes to landscape budgeting. When reviewing last year’s budget, if you over estimated 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 that you should be aware of that you haven’t already budgeted for? Examples of factors to consider include:

  • Insect infestations
  • Disease
  • Use (people walking through your property can wear down paths, grass, and plants)
  • Abuse (a busy location may lead to pollution, vandalism, and litter).

4. Results

How do you know if your landscaping budget and execution is 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 the value, quality, and appearance of your property. 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 take this into account, and incorporate the cost of replacing plants, and trimming trees into your budget.


Written by David Lammers

David Lammers is the president of Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. David may be contacted at or 1-866-996-1099.