If you’ve read about our landscape maintenance services, you know that we assert that “It has been estimated that 80% of the total cost of a garden over a 20-year lifespan is for maintenance. That means 20% for design and construction. Sustainable maintenance practices help to greatly reduce maintenance costs.”

Some folks are surprised by that number. Here’s how we break it down.

Obviously, the cost of maintenance is different for every property, based on the scopes of the landscape, the type of tasks involved, and the level of detail for the work. Add the variable cost of labor and any renovations and other changes needed over the 20-year lifespan and you have a complicated equation.

The 80% number we use (20/80 ratio) comes specifically from the popular DIY book, “Sustainable Landscaping For Dummies,” by visionary landscape architect, Owen Dell. Despite the goofy series title, it is an excellent source of information on sustainable landscape issues and solutions.

Although that book was published in 2009, the 20% construction vs. 80% maintenance figure has been used at least since the early 1990s when our owner and founder, Rick Mathews, first heard it. Is the ratio still valid? Roughly/generally/approximately, yes. Based on our experience and using numbers from landscape projects we constructed as well as maintain, we found that the 20/80 ratio was the low end of the maintenance cost range.

What should be stressed is that landscapes that use a sustainable approach are, by definition, less expensive over time. Whether it’s less gas (and noise!) for power garden equipment and less polluting chemicals for fertilizing and pest control, a sustainable approach reduces those costs and environmental impacts. Sustainability is a major goal of good landscape design and construction, and hopefully means less time is spent tending to more needy garden elements like large lawns, high-maintenance and low-durability hardscape elements, and poorly chosen and out-of-scale trees, shrubs, and ground covers.

Want to learn more about sustainable landscape maintenance? Give us a call! (805) 466-6263