When I talk to people considering a landscaping project, they often limit their expectations due to concerns about cost. They eliminate things they really want because they assume they can’t afford it.

That’s a big mistake. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years. Time and time again, I’ve seen people discover they can accomplish far more with their budget than they dreamed.

The key: Choose materials carefully. You can save big money on your patio — without reducing the size — by using less expensive materials. You can save big money on your landscaping by using less mature plantings. Your new lawn will cost way less if you plant seed, rather than lay sod.

When we develop backyard plans, we encourage you to dream. Imagine everything you want. Then set your budget. Often, we can fit that dream into your budget by selecting less expensive materials.

When you see projects on TV or in magazines, you’re probably looking at gold-plated amenities with the most lavish materials they can find.

For example, your favorite HGTV program might be making that fancy patio out of mortared stone costing around $25 per square foot. On the other hand, that same patio can be made out of any number of materials. Maybe a $15 per square foot paver patio fits you budget, or a $6 per square foot concrete patio.

Will it look exactly the same as on TV? Maybe not, but you don’t have to sacrifice functionality for your budget.

The concrete patio will have the same capacity to entertain friends or family, and you’ll still have a much-needed space to decompress after work… And that’s just the patio.

So, what’s the cost of your dream project? In reality, the answer is largely up to you.