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Need a Landscape Budget? What Will Your Landscape Cost?

Posted by Joseph Hanauer, ASLA on Mar 9, 2018 1:44:26 PM

Customers share there dream landscape with me all the time.  I usually ask what there budget is.  Most respond with "I don't know what it will cost." Or, "I have no idea what landscaping costs."  Truthfully this a difficult question to answer, especially without a full site survey and elevations.  I will do my best to explain some general pricing guidelines and what can contribute to the cost.

It may be helpful to compare buying landscape to the purchase of a new car.  I recently went online to see what a new Jeep would cost.  I was thinking of a Wrangler Unlimited.  I saw the base price was around $27,000 and thought that is not too bad.  Then, I started building the new Jeep online and said yes I want the premium sound, leather interior, and Bluetooth connectivity.  This is a Jeep Wrangler so you want to have the canvas top so it can be a convertible. I live in Wisconsin so a hard top is practical too. I own a landscape company, so yes I should have the trailer package.  The next thing you know the cost of the Jeep is over $42,000.  I recently did purchase my jeep.  Yes, I had to make some compromises.  But I love it and was able to get the upgrades that are important to me.  Like most Americans I spend a lot of time in my car.

jeep-soft-top-open-air.jpg

Like buying a vehicle and selecting options, there are many upgrades in landscape too.  I believe there is much value in exploring your options prior to purchasing landscape to insure the final product fits your needs and you love it for years to come.  When you work with Landscape Architecture, LLC we believe it is our job to make sure you understand your options.  I would feel I have not done my job if a customer ever said, "I wish I would have known I could have that 'name your product'...".  In the design phase of a landscape project it is our job to educate the customer on the possibilities.  Then as we work through the design and pricing, the customer needs to determine what is important to have and how much they are comfortable spending.  Many parts of a project that I think of as landscape, other may not, for example a driveway.  All elements are interconnected.  They all are part of your experience outside.  As a Landscape Architect and landscape contractor we get involved in everything outside. The most common upgrades are:

  • Patio, Driveway or Front Walk.
  • Brick, Stone or Concrete.
  • Retaining and seating walls.
  • Lighting.
  • Pergola.
  • Fence.
  • Swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Fire pit or fire place (gas or wood burning?).
  • Built-in grill or outdoor kitchen.
  • Front yard and back yard work?
  • Deck

 Each property we work on is unique and has it's own set of complications.  When Landscape Architecture, LLC provides a bid, we live it by it.  Very rarely something completely unforeseen happens that can add cost, like discovering buried concrete or old footings.  We analyze every property and take careful grade measurements with a GPS or a transit.  Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss your landscape project.  Some items that can contribute to cost are:

  • Is there access for machinery?
  • Is a retaining wall needed in order to have a flat space for a patio?
  • Does soil need to be added or removed?
  • What is the quality of existing soil?  Should the soils be amended?
  • Do plants need to be removed?
  • Is there any concrete removal?

We do small projects for a few hundred dollars and we do large projects in excess of $300,000.  We will work with our customers to make a project as affordable as possible.  We do offer design services for those of you that like to do it yourself.  Or, we are happy to do the hard work like the patio or the large trees while customers do some of the other work themselves.  Either way, we feel all successful projects start with great design. Our landscape designs are produced by a Licensed Landscape Architect.  Cost for a typical landscape design will vary from about $500-$3,000 or more depending on complexity and elements being incorporated. Some landscape contractors offer free design, but are you getting quality design for free?  Please read What is the Difference Between Landscape Architects, Landscape Designers and Landscape Contractors to learn more about the professions and what is best for you and your project.

If you hire Landscape Architecture, LLC to construct your project the cost of the landscape design is included as long as the design fees associated with the project are less than 10% of the construction cost.  In most cases the installation cost is enough that the design fee is waived.

Brick Patio, Japanese Maple, Green Lawn

The total cost of landscape will depend on the size of your home and property.  New homes often cost more since the entire yard needs to done while retaining walls and lawns need to be installed.  It is easy however to phase landscape projects.  We are happy to help you through a phasing plan.

A breakdown of some typical cost ranges are:

Front yard planting for most homes range from $2,000 to $10,000.  This will depend on the the size of plants and the size of your home/ property and other related work such as existing plant removal and regrading/ lawn repair.  Front yards are very important for the curb appeal of your property.  Click on the following link for a great example of how landscape can affect curb appeal.

Rear yard planting for most homes range from $2,000 to $20,000.  Again this will depend upon the size of plants and your home/ property.  Rear planting is more than hedges and plants along the house.  The plants can help with the heating and cooling your home. There are many items we consider with planting design as outlined in this link.

A new Front Walk could vary from $1,000 to $18,000 or more depending on if it is concrete, brick pavers or if you need any steps.

A patio will vary from a $3,000 to $50,000 or more depending on the size, materials and amenities such as a pergola, seat wall or fire pit. There are many considerations to patio design. A patio with a simple outdoor kitchen area, pergola, seating wall, lighting and a fire pit could range from $40,000 to $130,000 or more.

Fire pits have been one  of the most requested elements in the past 5 years.  If considering one, we follow these fire pit guidelines.  Building a standard size (42" exterior dimension) wood burning fire pit will cost $1,500-2,500.  A gas fire pit will add about $2,000-3,000 or more depending on how difficult it is to run a gas line.  Proper sizing of a gas line is essential as gas fire pits can use 65,000 BTU's or more.  These prices are for the fire pit only, any patio around the fire pit and associated repairs of the yard will add cost. 

Landscape lighting has also been very popular in the past 5-10 years.  Homeowners like to enjoy their yards into the evening hours.  Lighting helps create a mood, provides the ability to see and way find, and can add security to your home.   A simple lighting system will start at about $1,500.  Most of our lighting projects range from $3,000-$8,000.  We have done lighting projects exceeding $15,000.

As you see, prices for landscape have a tremendous range.  Much of this is dependent upon the uniqueness of your property but also upon your tastes and desires.  One great thing about landscaping is it is easy to phase work in.  You can build a patio one year and do planting the next.  Hopefully this information will help you with your next landscape project.

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Topics: Landscape Cost, landscape budget