Design3 Strategies for Budgeting Your Landscape Project

3 Strategies for Budgeting Your Landscape Project

While many individuals and organizations start to look at their 2023 goals and budgets, we decided to talk about budgets, money, and value in landscape architecture and architectural design! We’ll kick off by talking about how to create a financial plan in order to realize a successful project. Enjoy!


The biggest issues most people and organizations face in achieving their design objectives are money, funding, and budget. The old adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Well, this is especially true when it comes to your project’s budget. Many will just start designing only to get knocked off course when the bids come in, or even during construction! For this reason, Io LandArch has developed a project planning service as a preliminary design exercise for a smooth project. It combines programming (how a space is used), conceptual design (the big picture), and budgeting (how much it will cost). There are three strategies to consider during this process. The option you choose depends on how budget conscience you want to be and your overall time-horizon. The strategies are:

  1. Design First
  2. Budget First
  3. Hybrid


This is the most typical approach. You tell us all of your hopes and dreams and we work with you to develop an overall vision. The benefit of this approach is that you get to think about what you really want without budget constraints. After the big picture is established, you figure out how to raise and/or allocate the funds needed to complete the project. Sometimes this involves figuring out a way to implement the project in phases. Or in some cases, when it isn’t possible to find funding or phase the project, we work with you to modify the design to reduce construction costs. The Design First strategy is a good approach for people who really want the best design possible, or the right design regardless of cost. It’s also helpful if you’re “just trying to get some ideas” or if time isn’t an issue.


The Budget First approach is good for people or organizations who are working with a fixed budget, and who want to complete the project all at once. This is by far the most responsible method of design, but may not be nearly as exciting as Design First. Designing to a budget is simple. You have a set dollar amount up front, you provide your wish list, and then the designer tells you what you’re able to do with that budget. If your budget and goals aren’t aligned, your designer should let you know right away. They should then discuss phasing options or the need to increase your budget to achieve your vision.


In this model you establish a general range for your landscape project (think $, $$, $$$, or $$$$) and then give your designer your wish list. Your designer comes up with an amazing plan along with a more precise budget for the project. This method is really the best of both worlds. It allows some creative freedom without wasting time on unreasonable expectations.

Regardless of which strategy you choose, it’s important to clarify what you to achieve with your project and prioritize individual goals. We can help you get started with your project planning and budgeting. Just click here to begin!

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