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Charlie Albone talks budgeting for your outdoor living space


Charlie Albone is more than experienced with producing an amazing garden on a budget. Every home he worked on for Selling Houses Australia had tight budgets, and Better Homes and Gardens is all about producing great results with minimal spend. Here are some of Charlie’s premiere tips and tricks on getting more bang for your buck when creating or refurbishing your outdoor living areas.

Charlie’s top tips for saving money

A coat of paint

We’ve written in the past about how a coat of paint can refresh your interiors, but it’s also true for exteriors too. Giving your fences, shed, outdoor furniture and other outdoor décor pieces a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your outdoor area. Charlie says “Painting is a great thing as well because you can change it as much as you like. It’s really easy to put a coat of paint on a wall or another feature.”

Get it right from the get-go

Moving items around your yard can be costly – especially if you need specialists to come in and move fittings or fixtures for you. Charlie says before you begin your project, you really need to get the layout right and understand how you want to use the space.

“Everyone uses their garden in a different way, and you have to work out how you want to use yours. There’s nothing worse than for example, putting in a beautiful pool or pergola and then realising it’s in the wrong spot.”

Learn more about designing the perfect pool here.

Use treated pine

When you’re building a deck, it might be tempting to purchase some really beautiful timber – but Charlie says it’s not necessary if you’re on a budget. His recommendation – just use treated pine. It’s a sturdy and long-lasting material when it’s looked after properly, and you can easily achieve the colour or look you wanted by applying a paint or a stain. Check out our guide for keeping your deck in tip-top shape.

Invest in plants

Charlie’s passion and enthusiasm for plants is palpable. We cover his guide to planting in another post – where you’ll find the following quote: “a garden is not a gardenuntil you start putting plants in it – it’s the most important thing that you can do”.

It should come as no surprise that even when trying to create an outdoor living space on a budget, plants are high on his list. While they might seem expensive, Charlie said plants are absolutely worth the investment.

For instant results, buy the most mature plants you can afford on your budget. The more mature the plant, the more space it will fill in your yard as you don’t have to wait for it to grow and establish.

On a retainer

Charlie comments that retaining walls can be incredibly costly and explains the difference between function and aesthetics.

“If you’re retaining just for the sake of retaining, you can do something in timber that’s going to last for 25 years and hide it with some planting or paint it a dark colour.”

If your retaining wall is a feature , you might look at forking out a bit more money on it so it looks good – but if you just need to keep some soil in place, you don’t have to spend big, and if you’re handy with an electric drill and shovel, it’s a great DIY project.

Crushed rocks over concrete

Concrete is an expensive material to use in your yard. Charlie says that there are better options that work just as well when you’re creating a paved area. When building a pathway, consider paving on top of road base (crushed rocks) rather than tiling onto concrete to save some money.

Think about the long term

Charlie finished with some vital advice for anyone looking to landscape their garden – don’t buy the cheap stuff just to save some money today, as you’ll pay for it down the line.

“It’s like a building, but everything has to put up with the sun or the weather,’ Charlie said, ‘You must buy good quality fixtures and fittings. You forget about the budget and look at the quality.”

It might seem like strange advice when giving money saving tips – but it will save you in the long term. If you buy a cheap irrigation system, poor quality timber and bargain décor items, they won’t last anywhere near as long as high-quality items. Eventually, you’ll be out of pocket more when you try to replace everything that is broken or malfunctioning.

In particular, Charlie says that one of the more important investments is your paving finishes. “Paving has to put up with a lot of a lot of weather and a lot of water flowing over it – this is one area where I say the best quality you can afford is the only way to go.”

If you want to hear more landscaping and gardening tips from Charlie, check out our other two posts:

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Please note that Metricon Homes does not offer any landscaping services. Charlie Albone does not work for Metricon. If you want to find out more about his work or request a quote, click through to his website, Inspired Exteriors.