Table of Contents
- The typical cost range to hire a professional landscape designer is between $1,944 and $7,213, with a national average cost of $4,571.
- There are numerous factors that can impact the overall cost, including the size and complexity of the project, the designer’s fee structure and experience level, the types of materials needed, and the time of year.
- The benefits of hiring a professional landscape designer include increased relaxation, improved drainage, environmental preservation, and enhanced curb appeal.
- Homeowners may be able to handle minor landscape design on their own, but a professional can help save time and money while creating the perfect landscape for the area.
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Coming home to an eye-catching yard requires quite a bit of planning and landscaping expertise. According to Rosemarie Miner, founding principal at Our Temenos, an ecological design studio based in the Northeast, “Small changes to staple design elements, such as plant selection, the overall layout and hardscaping materials, can have a humongous impact on the quality of life that your garden attracts and supports.” While this can be a DIY project, many homeowners choose to invest in professional landscaping design to help with both the softscaping (grass, flowers, plants, trees, gardens) and hardscaping (pathways, patios, pergolas, steps).
The best landscaping companies can offer design, installation, and even maintenance services. For just the design piece, both landscape architects and landscape designers can help turn a homeowner’s vision of an outdoor oasis into reality. The difference is that landscape architects must have a college degree and a state license, and they generally work on more complex residential projects, whereas landscape designers typically only need an associate degree and tend to work on small-scale residential projects.
According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, professional landscape design costs between $1,944 and $7,213, with a national average cost of $4,571. When a homeowner hires a professional, they will provide a plan that includes 2D drawings and/or dynamic 3D renderings of the new outdoor space. This will help the homeowner understand the materials to be used and their placement in the yard. A landscape designer or landscape architect costs between $50 and $150 per hour, and design plans can range anywhere from $300 to $15,000, with most being under $6,000.
Factors in Calculating Landscape Design Cost
Several key factors can influence the total cost of a landscape design project. While the national average cost of landscape design is nearly $5,000 for a complete landscape design, the final cost for each homeowner will depend on location, size and complexity of the project, project type, soil testing, and materials chosen. Plus, the homeowner’s selection of the designer can influence the price based on their level of experience, their availability during certain times of year, and the fee structure they use.
Project Size and Complexity
There’s no question that larger, more complex landscaping projects are going to have higher price tags. Yards with circular edges, odd-shaped lawns, and slopes or hills are more difficult to measure and will cost more. If regrading or leveling is required, homeowners can expect to pay an additional $1,000 to $3,000 for labor and equipment. The following are some ranges for landscaping costs based on project size.
|Project Size||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Basic||$4 to $6|
|Intermediate||$6 to $10|
|Complex||$10 to $40|
Depending on how the designer charges for services, the total cost of a project can fluctuate. Consultation hourly rates typically range from $50 to $200; this can include the initial consultation time as well as the time it takes to develop and revise design plans. Fees for designers who charge per design run between $300 and $15,000, with most averaging about $6,000.
However, other landscape designers might work using the following fee structures:
- Flat project rate: depends on the number of hours the project is estimated to take, based on complexity, location, and size.
- Percent rate: charged as a percentage of the home garden budget, such as 20 percent for small gardens and 15 percent for medium-size gardens.
- Rate by area: based on size, with materials, location, and season impacting the total fee.
- Fee by plan: based on a percentage of the overall cost of the project, usually between 5 percent and 15 percent of the total.
The specific landscaping material chosen for a home, which are in addition to design costs, can guide the final cost of the job. Experienced landscape designers recommend materials that best fit within the design concept, the look of the home, the homeowner’s budget, and the local area. Costs vary based on the location of the home, local vendor fees, inflation, and supply chain issues. If a homeowner wants some special features, the price is affected as well: A pond costs $1,300 to $5,000, a pergola or trellis is $2,000 to $5,000, and a deck ranges from $4,000 to $10,000. What follows are cost ranges for some common landscape design supplies.
|Sod||$0.30 to $0.80 per square foot|
|Brick||$10 to $14 per square foot|
|Stone||$8 to $15 per square foot|
|Crushed stone||$27 to $64 per ton|
|Paver||$3 to $15 per square foot|
|Pea gravel||$40 to $95 per ton|
Designer Experience Level
The cost of a landscape designer or architect can vary depending on the credentials and amount of experience they have. Typical landscape design fees per hour range from $50 to $150, but someone with years of project experience and an impressive portfolio can demand in the $200-per-hour range for their services. The cost of landscape architect services tends to be higher because of their education and certifications. For homeowners looking to save money, hiring a newer landscape designer may be the way to go. Just because they have fewer years in the field doesn’t mean lower-quality work.
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Time of Year
Because landscaping is a seasonal service in many regions, there is a higher demand for landscape design work in spring and summer. Therefore, prices may be higher when designers are busiest. One potential way for homeowners to save money is to start working with a landscape designer in their off-season, such as the middle of winter. Of course, this depends on the local climate; in areas like California and Florida, landscaping can be a year-round business.
The soil makeup of a yard is an important factor in the design and maintenance of landscaping. The type of soil, as well as pH levels, can influence which plants the designer chooses for the plan and the plants’ ability to thrive. Landscape designers often test the soil for acidity level, nutrients, and drainage during a site visit. This service can range between $10 and $200. Homeowners will want to check to see if this cost is included in the consultation fees.
Landscape Design Cost by Type of Project
Every type of garden requires different design methods and materials that can impact costs. The design of a small basic garden will vary greatly from the design of a larger, more complex project and even more so if xeriscaping (sustainable landscaping) is involved. Many factors play a role in the type of garden chosen, such as the local climate, available space, native plant options, and budget. The cost for each of these design projects varies, as evidenced by the chart below.
|Project Type||Cost Range|
|Residential garden||$0.05 to $0.15 per square foot|
|Small garden||$0.05 to $0.75 per square foot|
|Xeriscape and environmental garden||$200 per hour|
Residential Garden Design
A typical garden design for a residential home ranges from $0.05 to $0.15 per square foot. It does not matter what type of garden goes in; it can be a butterfly garden or vegetable garden for this same rate. These fees are generally lower than for the average landscape design project. However, more complex and challenging garden plans that require extensive knowledge, planning, and skills—such as a Japanese garden or authentic English garden—cost much more. The price for a complex residential landscape design can climb to as high as $15,000.
Small Garden Design
Small gardens with a simple design are on the lower end of the price scale. According to Miner, “A seasoned landscape designer has likely seen it all! If you are trying to garden on a patio, a rooftop or in a back alley, there is sure to be a professional who has overcome the challenges these smaller spaces present.”
To design a quarter-acre landscape with basic native plants and maybe a stone path, homeowners can expect to pay about $500. To plant some trees and install a patio, a backyard designer will probably charge $50 to $150 per hour for a 1- to 2-hour consultation during the design process. Although the price to design a small garden depends on location, complexity, and size, in general the cost per square foot plus installation ranges from $5 to $20, with design costs alone ranging from $0.05 to $0.75 per square foot.
Xeriscape and Environmental Garden Design
As one of the pricier landscape approaches, xeriscaping entails designing and planting an outdoor space in a sustainable manner. The goal is to use less water and avoid fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Native and water-efficient plants and structures are also chosen to reduce watering, fertilizing, and maintenance. While these design elements provide an aesthetically pleasing landscape and ultimately reduce costs in the long run, a landscape designer will typically charge about $200 per hour for the design work. For the entire yard, this can add up to between $10,000 and $30,000.
Benefits of Hiring for Landscape Design
A successful landscape design plan can be a costly and time-consuming project, but it can also make a property more aesthetically pleasing, calming, and valuable. Not only can improved landscaping increase a homeowner’s enjoyment of their outdoor space, but it can also enhance curb appeal (and home value), make the best use of the space, and provide environmental benefits.
Yards can end up looking empty and neglected, but a well-planned design can result in a haven for homeowners to be proud of. Thoughtful landscaping utilizes the open space in the best way possible, making it more attractive and functional. Optimizing outdoor areas with smart landscaping can breathe new life into a property, adding color, greenery, and more places to sit back and relax.
Landscape design is linked to environmental protection. Good plant choices can increase biodiversity to attract more birds and pollinators to a yard. Careful selection of plants can also lead to cleaner air and more nutrient-dense soil. Incorporating ground cover as an alternative to grass and flowers in parts of the yard can prevent erosion and deter weeds from growing. Finally, adding rain gardens and no-mow areas can help filter water. Figuring out these details can get overwhelming for homeowners, so hiring a landscape designer is beneficial, since they are familiar with the local ecosystem and can point to plants and materials that are gentler on the environment.
“If saving water is a concern and you have a lawn, consider removing all or a portion of it,” advises Miner. “That may sound extreme but in the land of lawns, so few Americans are outside using them. Instead create a special pollinator patch that you would enjoy watching from the porch or patio.”
Attentive landscaping can boost quality of life. Nature provides many health benefits like stress reduction, so a well-designed yard can provide a serene sanctuary without requiring a homeowner to leave the property. Just gazing at lush greenery and vivid flowers calms many people instantly. Also, by strategically placing plants and trees, a homeowner can create an oasis of privacy from neighbors and passersby.
If designed properly, landscaping can improve the drainage of a yard. This also helps protect the property from water damage, while also ensuring that the landscaping lasts throughout the seasons. Some attractive landscaping tricks to improve drainage include edging the yard with plants and small rocks to direct the water; using plants, mulch, and rocks to absorb rainwater; adding paving materials that incorporate small gaps for water drainage; and designing a water source to direct water away from the house.
Enhanced Curb Appeal
An attractive, professionally designed landscape can make a property more appealing to potential home buyers, which can result in increased value of the home. This is especially appealing if a homeowner is thinking about putting their home on the market, since the landscaping may encourage a potential buyer to make an offer. Even if they have no plans to move, coming home each day to a more aesthetically pleasing home can make a homeowner feel happier and proud of where they live.
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Landscape Design: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While some homeowners can handle their own gardening and landscaping projects, landscape design is a bit more complicated and often requires special training, design tools, and/or guidance from a professional. An experienced landscaping designer knows how to use design software to develop plans and has the knowledge and expertise regarding specific plants, irrigation requirements, sustainability, soil conditions, local climate, hardscaping, and other details. Many people are concerned about the investment required to hire someone for backyard landscape design, but working with an expert can ultimately help save time and money (and reduce stress) in the long run, since landscaping is much more complicated than most people realize.
If a homeowner searches for “design your own landscaping,” they will find several of the best landscape design software options available online. These tools can help homeowners visualize and lay out an outdoor space, including where to plant flowers, shrubbery, and trees, and ways to create walkways, decks, and other outdoor amenities. The best programs for novice DIYers include intuitive functions like click-and-drag features and a library of plants and other materials to help offer design inspiration. Both free and paid programs are available, but the free ones have limited features. Paid versions range from $40 to $200.
For those who want to take the project one step further, the best online landscape design courses are available for homeowners wanting to learn more about designing their backyard. There are even opportunities to earn certification. Classes range from free online landscape design courses to post-baccalaureate programs at the best landscape architecture schools; these courses can take years, so the prices vary significantly. A single course that takes a few hours typically costs around $50, while a multicourse program at an accredited university can cost as much as $25,000.
How to Save Money on Landscape Design Cost
With such a wide range of design possibilities and related costs depending on factors like size of the project, season, materials used, and location, homeowners will benefit from some tips for keeping costs down and getting the best deal possible. When choosing an outdoor designer and planning an affordable landscaping project, consider the following options for keeping costs under control.
- Buy materials in bulk if possible. Ask about volume discounts for soil, flowers, plants, and mulch. If you end up with extra, store it in a shed or garage to use in the future.
- Focus on hardscape. Greenery can get expensive, so be strategic about integrating hardscape into the design to cut costs but still create an eye-catching yard. Hardscaping involves using pavers, brick, decorative stone, and gravel to create garden paths, walkways, and patios, which require less maintenance.
- Buy native, low-maintenance plants. Save money and time and help the environment when designing your backyard by choosing native plants that thrive in your region. “They will be comfortable in your garden and require far less pampering from you,” explains Miner. Check for plants suited to your USDA hardiness zone. Perennials are also a better choice than annuals since they come back every year. Finally, opt for ornamental grass, since it comes in a variety of colors and textures and does not need as much mowing, watering, or pruning.
- Prioritize where you spend money. Another way to cut costs is to focus on the parts of the landscape that have the most curb appeal, such as the front yard. In other areas, less is more—use what you already have, spread out plants and flowers, and go for a minimalist design.
- Break your vision into smaller steps. “Start small if you have to, and work toward a grand vision piece by piece,” advises Miner. “For example, seeds are far cheaper than full grown perennials, shrubs and trees but do require patience and a little more care and protection. Stay focused on the big picture but complete your projects as your budget allows and remember, an amazing garden takes time, regardless of how it starts.”
Questions to Ask About Landscape Design
Having all the information about the project up front will help homeowners avoid any miscommunication and misdirection once the design process begins. They can refer to the following sample questions when they speak with local landscape designers about residential landscape plans and the cost of their services.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Can I review a portfolio of your work?
- Do you have any references I can contact?
- What was your training, and do you have any accreditations?
- Will you come to my house to provide a free estimate and share some ideas you have for the project?
- How long will the design and installation process take?
- What materials will I be purchasing, and what will they cost?
- Do you bill by the project, area, or hour?
- Is my budget realistic for this landscape design cost? What can I do to reduce the cost?
- Do you provide guidance regarding maintenance?
- Do you offer any warranties or guarantees?
When homeowners are deciding which type of landscape design approach to move forward with, it is important for them to ask the right questions and to understand what they will pay for their specific project. Fees will depend on size and complexity of the landscaping, materials used, type of garden, and local considerations like soil conditions, among other factors. Knowing how much it will cost on average and whether the price is negotiable will reduce the risk of homeowners getting a surprise bill. For those just beginning to think about landscape design, the following are a few questions that may come up.
Q. What should I consider before hiring a landscape designer?
Deciding which landscape designer to hire can be overwhelming. Before signing a contract, homeowners will want to find out the designer’s credentials and experience, their pricing structure, the exact services they provide, the amount of time the project will take, and the type of involvement the homeowner will have.
Q. Will a good landscape design increase my home value?
Yes. Experts suggest that good landscape design can increase home value between 5.5 percent and 12.7 percent compared to a property with no landscaping. That turns out to be a value of about $16,500 to $38,100 for a $300,000 home. The projects that offer the most financial reward include sophisticated design elements, mature trees and greenery, and xeriscaping.
Q. How much does it cost to landscape 2,000 square feet?
The complexity of the project will influence the total cost, but basic landscaping design typically costs about $4 to $6 per square foot, or $8,000 to $12,000 for an outdoor space totaling 2,000 square feet. The most complex landscape projects with a full tear-out and remodel range in price from $10 to $40 per square foot, which is $20,000 to $80,000 for 2,000 square feet. However, a very simple butterfly or vegetable garden costs from $0.03 to $0.10 per square foot, which is only $60 to $200 for a 2,000-square-foot area.
Q. Can I negotiate the prices for landscape design?
Most of the time there is some room for negotiation on the price of a landscape design project as long as the ask is reasonable. A designer might agree to reduce their fee by 2 percent to 3 percent, but not much more than that. Also, homeowners will want to be mindful of the time of year and the amount of business the landscape designer is likely to have. If they are backed up during a hectic time like the spring, they will be less open to negotiating the price; a homeowner might have more luck in the middle of the winter.
Q. Can I pay for a small part of my yard to be landscaped as opposed to the entire yard?
In order to save some money, a homeowner can choose to work on the design of part of their yard rather than the whole yard. Maybe they want to do the project in phases to fit their budget, such as paying the cost to install a new lawn in the front yard first, then the backyard, and finally the sides of the house. It’s worth remembering that cost per square foot varies depending on the complexity of the project and materials required.