efore hiring the project, the client always asks: how much will the garden cost? The answer is not simple, because it will depend on many variables. The size of the area, the complexity of the work, the pattern and types of plants, the place or technical aspects, such as the availability of materials and supplies near the site. A 50 m² garden on a roof will not have the same cost as another 10,000 m² on a farm. We must always calculate the price per m² and not let ourselves be influenced by the total price. That’s because when we talk about total prices for different gardens, we end up generating misunderstandings and distorting the concept of value and price.
The civil construction sector uses the CUB (Basic Unit Cost) as a price and cost reference, and it is important to understand this concept. The client knows that the price of his work will be the result of multiplying the number of square meters by the value of the CUB. You can also calculate some adjustments according to the construction standard, but you will have a calculation basis to be able to budget accurately before starting construction.
In landscaping this does not always happen. Imagine a flowerpot on a roof, where all materials have to go up the elevator. Many residential condominiums set strict times for entering materials and carrying out maintenance work, which greatly reduces working time. The result is that the work ends up costing more. The same flowerpot, if it was located on the floor plan of the same building, could cost up to 40% less, using the same plants and materials. The same is true with the type of garden. A flower bed with bromeliads, orchids, or plants of high unit value will cost more per m² than a garden with grass or coverings. The size and quality of the plants have an important weight when calculating the final cost of the garden. We can specify trees of 2,
We once had two interesting situations. In an industry project, the client informed us that we would have a budget of R $ 150 thousand for the project and the execution. The client was telling us that we could design a good project and that there would be enough resources to make a good garden. Looking at the plan and in a quick calculation, I commented that the total area to be worked would be over 100,000 m² and that even with large areas of lawn, as predicted, the cost would not be less than R $ 1 million and that it would probably be more close to R $ 1.5 million. At first he was surprised. I thought I had budgeted enough for the landscaping project and the garden. We did some calculations and immediately realized that with the estimated budget, we wouldn’t even be able to put grass in the whole area, without considering any other additional investment.
This example is not an isolated case. For a residential condominium project, the budget was just over R $ 60,000 for approximately 2,000 m² of garden. The venture’s investment was over R $ 15 million and for landscaping the total represents less than 0.5% of the total investment. Another situation is that we encounter when designing or executing a small garden. Sometimes the size of a flower pot. In these cases, the basic costs of visits, office work and follow-up represent a significant value for small work in the area, but complex and involving. In this case the cost per m² of garden can reach thousands of reais.
These are part of the dilemmas we face when it comes to answering the question: how much does the garden cost? With more than 30 years of experience and almost a thousand projects executed, we have shared with our customers the logic of CUP (Landscaping Unit Cost). It allows us to inform when the project is hired what the approximate cost of execution will be. We have developed three levels of cost, according to the variables that must be considered and, of course, these values change from region to region, but maintain their logic and proportion.
Level A – Simpler gardens
Use of smaller plants, lower planting density and more rustic species. They are gardens with larger extensions of grass or ground cover. With smaller trees, up to 2 m in height and less flower beds. Basically they are gardens with perennial plants and low maintenance cost. It is the standard for large areas, for more economical real estate projects. They include some benches and floor areas, but preferably use permeable floors of crushed gravel or gravel for the paths and circulations.
Level B – Medium standard gardens
Use of medium-sized trees, with flower beds and flowering shrubs. Higher planting density and use of plants and flowers of higher quality and price. Trees up to 4 meters high, palm trees from 3 to 4 meters and shrubs over 1 meter high. Plants well developed and with a higher standard. Using chips, slow release fertilizers and different finishing materials. They incorporate basic equipment such as benches and playgrounds of low complexity.
Level C – Are the gardens of high standard
Use of exemplary plants. Trees over 5 meters high, which require heavy equipment such as cranes and excavators for construction, with complex works such as lakes, streams, pergolas, leisure areas and playgrounds.
What are the values for each level?
A garden level A will cost between R $ 60 and R $ 80 per square meter. A level B garden would cost between R $ 90 and R $ 120 per m² and for level C the cost per m² is between R $ 120 and R $ 250 also per m². Understanding that in the latter case the sky is the limit. A vertical garden with orchids can cost up to 10 times this price. The objective is not to define a price “table”, but to share the prices practiced by the market in the northern region of Santa Catarina.
Be wary of very low prices. Prices below costs mean problems either in the quality of the plants, or in the exchange of the specified plants for others of a lower price and size. Too low prices mean savings in soil preparation, fertilizer quantities, depth of preparation, or working with unregistered employees, without proper safety equipment and training. There are no miracles. Investing in a project and then saving cents at the time of execution is a very common mistake. A mistake made most of the time out of ignorance. When a lot of money is not available, it is preferable to invest in soil preparation and buy smaller seedlings, which will then grow. Soil preparation is the foundation of every good garden. A good project specifies the quantities, sizes, packages and planting densities.
Shall we fertilize the garden?
We always want the garden to be beautiful, flowery and with lush plants, but we forget that a beautiful garden needs, in addition to care and attention, to be fertilized regularly.
Don’t we eat every day? Plants also need to receive fertilizer regularly. When was the last time you fertilized the garden? When I ask this question, I usually receive an answer “I don’t remember” and an expression of surprise, accompanied by the question: Do you need to fertilize?
The answer is clear, we need to fertilize yes. If we want to have a beautiful garden, we need to fertilize it frequently. We not only need to fertilize, but to know which fertilizer is the most recommended, how much and how often. It looks complicated, but it isn’t.
Let’s go to some tips that will help to have a more beautiful garden, with more intense blooms and healthier plants.
We can fertilize both with chemical fertilizer and with organic fertilizer.
It is better to periodically fertilize with smaller quantities than to add a lot of fertilizer once.
We must not forget to put limestone in the soil once a year. Neutral soils allow a better absorption of fertilizer by plants and avoid waste of fertilizer and money.
On looser sandy soils, a good part of the fertilizer can be lost by rain, in this case it is better to use organic fertilizer that has a better permanence and washes less. In more clayey soils, organic fertilizers are also beneficial because they help to increase soil porosity.
A composition between chemical fertilizer and organic fertilizer will give better results and will also improve the soil structure.
Among the organic fertilizers available on the market, the best known are earthworm humus, poultry manure and turkey among them is especially recommended. Organic fertilizers such as castor cake, bone meal or wood ash are also available. The important thing to remember is that organic fertilizer in addition to macronutrients such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) are also rich in micronutrients.
Chemical fertilizers or compounds are usually known by the initials of their main nutrients NPK. There is a wide variety of formulations on the market suitable for each stage of plant development, the purpose of cultivation or the type of climate, soil or need. In a very simple way we must consider that for green plants and plants in the growth phase it is better to use fertilizers with the proportion of NPK 3-1-2, for general maintenance the proportion 1-1-1 is the most suitable.
But the best tip is FERTILIZER. At least every 3 months, fertilize your garden and your beds. The result will be visible. A well-fertilized garden grows better, has more color and healthier plants are less prone to attack by pests and diseases.
And don’t forget: spring is when plants need the most fertilization.