Landscaping Cost Breakdown
Landscaping prices are wide-ranging. So how do you divvy things up to give you a better idea of what to budget? Here’s a breakdown of the big-picture elements to help you draw up an overall estimate.
Depending on the extent of the work, landscaping costs generally range between $4 and $10 per square foot. However, if you’re tackling a tear-out and major remodel, you could have to budget up to $40 per square foot.
How much you spend on landscaping materials depends on how high-end you want to go and the type of project you're undertaking.
Check out the average costs of these common landscaping materials to give you an idea of what you might have to allocate.
|Landscaping Material||Average Cost|
|Sod||$0.35 – $0.85 per square foot|
|Turf||$2 – $6 per square foot|
|Grass seed||$3 – $10 per pound|
|Topsoil||$12 – $55 per cubic yard|
|Rocks or gravel||$40 – $100 per cubic yard|
|Mulch||$0.20 – $0.60 per square foot|
|Retaining wall blocks||$3 – $40 per square foot|
|Fencing||$11 – $90 per linear foot|
|Pavers||$1 – $25 per square foot|
|Border plants||$2 – $50 per plant|
|Pool installation materials||$20,000 – $65,000|
|Patio materials||$1 – $35 per square foot|
For small jobs, like reseeding a lawn or laying sod, your landscaper might charge between $50 to $100 per hour. When it comes to major makeovers, contractor landscaping prices are typically set by project. Your final landscaper costs could be anywhere from $1,000 to $40,000.
If you’re only updating the living features in your yard, like adding trees, border plants, or a new lawn, these softscaping elements won’t be as biting on your bank balance as the cost of hardscaping or xeriscaping.
Paving a patio, decks, driveways, fire pits, or pools is more labor intensive, and the materials are more expensive. Xeriscaping typically involves some hardscaping, so it increases costs.
Type of Landscape
As a rule, backyard landscaping costs are steeper than those for fixing up your front yard. A full backyard overhaul averages between $15,000 to $50,000 compared to $1,500 to $5,000 for the average front-yard project. Of course, installing a driveway, well-appointed walkways, or other high-price hardscaping means you’ll need to bump up your front-yard budget.
If you’re landscaping a new home, expect to boost your budget even more. Typically, you’ll pay around 10% of your property value for new landscaping, or more if you add fancy fixtures like a pool. For example, if you purchase a $400,000 home, you might pay around $40,000 for hardscaping and softscaping across your front and backyards.
Depending on the project and local authority regulations, the cost for a building permit ranges from less than $100 to over $2,000. When you’re tackling structural landscaping projects like installing an in-ground pool, building a high retaining wall, or removing large trees, you’ll likely need prior permission in the form of permits.
How Much Does Landscaping Cost by Project?
The more ambitious the project you're tackling, the more it will cost. Planting a pretty perennial flower bed and settling in some shrubs might cost $2,000, whereas an elaborate outdoor kitchen costs over $20,000. Here are the prices of some common landscaping projects to give you an idea of how to budget for them.
|Project Type||Average Cost|
|Tree removal costs||$200 – $2,000|
|Sod installation costs||$1,000 – $3,000|
|Patio installation costs||$2,000 – $5,500|
|Deck construction costs||$4,000 – $11,000|
|Fence installation costs||$1,500 – $4,000|
|Gazebo installation costs||$3,000 – $9,000|
Additional Costs to Consider
Don’t overlook ongoing maintenance costs and potential designer fees when earmarking funds for your next landscaping project.
Landscape Designers and Architects
Getting support with the design and structural aspects of your yard remodel can be a worthwhile payout, especially for major makeovers.
The average cost to hire a landscape designer is $4,500, with an hourly rate of $50 to $150. They’ll support you by establishing your space's artistic direction, the types of plants to use, and aspects of project management.
You’ll pay $70 to $150 per hour for the services of a local landscape architect. These are the pros to hire if you’re planning an ambitious hardscaping project or structural additions.
After spending a pretty penny to get your dream backyard, it would be a shame to let it get run down and overgrown. Whether you take care of it yourself or pay a pro, don’t forget to factor in ongoing maintenance fees.
You’ll need to set aside an annual budget to help with upkeep, including lawn-mowing costs of $30 to $80 per service and up to $1,000 for tree-trimming services. Your landscaper might charge a flat rate for maintenance, typically $50 to $100 per hour, or a price per task.
Cost to Landscape Yourself
If you're a weekend warrior with plenty of time and energy to devote to a landscaping project, DIY may be the best route. However, you'll want to consider a few major factors, like whether you have the skills and tools needed to handle the job.
When to Hire a Pro
Electrical or plumbing projects: These types of projects can be dangerous and costly to get wrong. Paying a pro with the proper training is always the best choice.
Digging with heavy machinery: If you don’t have the appropriate license and training, leave handling heavy machinery to the pros.
Permitted work that requires a professional: There are plenty of things you can figure out from YouTube, but anything requiring a permit is better completed by a pro.
Tree removal: Cutting down trees requires unique skills and machinery and can be dangerous to you and your property if done incorrectly.
Structural jobs: For complex pool or patio projects, it's often best to call a local professional landscaper.
When to DIY
Adding plants to your existing landscape: Adding a few small new plants to your garden is usually a safe DIY project, as long as you have a good shovel and a vehicle to transport them home from the nursery.
Adding mulch: While laying new mulch is a workout, if you have a wheelbarrow, a shovel, and a strong back, it’s something you can accomplish yourself.
Cost to Landscape Yourself vs. Hiring a Contractor
Labor costs can take up more than 50% of your overall landscape costs. You can bring down your budget by DIYing all or part of the work yourself, depending on the complexity of the task. Keep in mind that most professional landscapers charge between $50 to $100 per hour, depending on the type of project. So if you’re planning a complex job that takes several days or weeks, like hardscaping, you’d likely save a few thousand dollars by doing it yourself.
Tips to Reduce Costs While Landscaping
If you’re savvy, there are many ways to landscape your backyard on a budget. Some ideas include:
Have a realistic wish list: It’s easy to get carried away when you see all those pretty plants and fancy pavers at your local garden center. Carefully evaluate an affordable budget and try to stick to it to avoid disappointment.
Repurpose existing features: Recycling functional pavers and healthy plants saves money and is more sustainable.
Softscape not hardscape: Start a lawn from seed and plant perennial borders rather than using more expensive pavers.
Spread pea gravel instead of pavers: If you’re opting for low-maintenance hardscaping, select a less expensive ground cover like pea gravel over more pricey and tricky-to-install pavers.
Buy baby rather than mature plants: Young plants cost less. They might not make the same immediate statement, but with care and patience, they’ll grow with time.