Phased Landscape Installation: Managing the cost of your outdoor renovation

July 18, 2019 8:50 pm patio design


Redoing your outdoor areas, whether you are starting from scratch, updating parts of an existing landscape or completely renovating your current landscaping, can be a lengthy and expensive process. Phased landscape design and installation can help you adjust your time, labor, and budget to create your dream landscape in easy-to-manage steps.

How Phased Landscape Installation Works

Instead of doing an entire large project at one time from start to finish, phased landscape installation breaks the project into more manageable pieces. It may take several weeks, months or years to complete the installation in phases, depending on the size of the project and what resources are available to complete it.

Phased landscape installation can be beneficial in several ways. Not only does it make a large project more manageable, but it also allows for tweaks and refinements throughout the process as needs, preferences and living styles may change over time. Installing a landscape in phases can also better accommodate a limited budget or limited time with shorter seasons, while still allowing for the yard and garden to be used and enjoyed before the full project is complete.

Designing a Master Landscaping Plan

Creating a master plan is a critical first step in phased landscape installation. A master plan is necessary to keep the end result in mind, and that plan can be adjusted as needed throughout the different phases. When the full project can be envisioned, it is also easier to plan the order of phases to be installed with the greatest efficiency so there is less disruption to established parts of the yard or garden when a new phase is begun.

The first part of a master plan should involve a comprehensive evaluation of the site and its landscaping needs. This should include soil condition and quality, drainage concerns, sunlight levels, potential erosion problems and more. This evaluation can help direct the installation to correct difficulties with each step. After the overall evaluation, the first phases of landscape installation need to be sufficiently detailed for the project to get underway. Later phases and finishing touches may change by the time the final phase of installation is ready to begin, and so those phases may not necessarily be as firm when the plan is first developed.

It is important to keep the master plan accessible, especially when it may take several years to fully install a larger, more elaborate landscape. Keeping notes, changes, suggestions, and updates documented will help ensure that future phases of the installation run smoothly.

Landscape Phases to Plan

The order of projects in phased installation will vary depending on the overall master plan for the landscape, as well as how each phase is integrated into the overall process. Needs and preferences can also influence which phases are implemented first to ensure the space is usable and enjoyable from the very first phase. Typical phases may include…

  • Surfaces – Sod, seeding, groundcovers, or mulching for erosion control and visual appeal.
  • Hardscapes – Borders and edging, terraces, retaining walls, etc.
  • Gas and Electrical Lines – Support for water feature pumps, lighting, outdoor kitchens, etc.
  • Irrigation – Sprinkler systems and drip plans as well as drainage adjustments.
  • Shade – Large trees and plants to provide shade for outdoor living spaces as well as structures.
  • Entertaining Space – Patios, decks, spa or pool surrounds and similar high use spaces.
  • Structures – Pergolas, trellises, arbors, sheds, play structures, etc.
  • Waterscapes – Ponds or pondless waterfalls, creeks, streams, fountains, pools, and hot tubs.
  • Garden Space – Raised beds or dedicated growing areas for practical harvests, fruit trees, etc.
  • Pathways – Connections between parts of the landscape or around the entire home.
  • Plantings – Shrubbery and flowerbeds, specimen plants, etc.

While the order of phased installation can vary greatly, many plans prioritize surfaces, hardscapes, and shade in the early phases of the master plan. Surfaces are often used right away and help a landscape look attractive even as the plan is being implemented, while hardscapes establish the borders that will gradually frame the entire landscape. Shade is also important to implement early, as larger trees have slower growth cycles and will take longer to mature and provide their full benefits, so the sooner they are planted the sooner they will be providing that shade. Of course, depending on the exact budget and master landscaping plan, several phases may be implemented at once, or smaller phases may be spread out over a greater period.

In addition to these potential phases, it is important to consider the final phase of installation – care and maintenance. Particularly when plants are young and the ground may still be settling, extra care may be needed to nurture plants and ensure they adjust to their new environment. Proper care, including pruning, fertilization, and pest control, will help keep the landscape looking just as attractive and inviting as it is from the first moment of installation.

It’s hard to believe this sea of underused grass became the multi-level masterpiece shown at the top of this post!

Are you considering phased landscape installation? The team of experts at Drake’s 7 Dees can help develop your master landscaping plan and recommend the best phases to create your dream landscape!

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