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Starting a Garden Makeover
When you envision your ideal garden you probably don’t ponder the cost. Why would you? It sucks all the fun out of planning what will be an idyllic and useful space. But when it is time to get the work done it is all too important to think about cost.
And there can be a lot of costs. If your yard is a blank slate, such as with a new build, then it will be easier for landscapers to come in and do their work. But if you have existing landscaping there may be a need for some plant or hardscape removal. A few bushes might not be a big deal but cutting down large trees can get costly.
Materials and plants also vary greatly in price. Where I live in Oregon, a few native azalea plants are going to cost far less than an exotic ornamental from the tropics (which will probably die anyway in our climate).
But the biggest cost for any home project is usually labor. From the designer who comes up with the plan to the person who puts the plants in the hole, you have to pay the people doing the work. If you plan to do some or all off of the work yourself then you can significantly cut the cost of a garden makeover.
With all these factors in mind let’s now take a look at some general price ranges.
While these numbers are by no means set in stone, they will give you a general idea of how much people are paying for their garden makeovers. Homeadvisor crunched the numbers and published the average cost for a variety of garden and landscape services.
In general, people spent between $1,500 to $5,000 to redo their front yards. For backyard makeovers people spent anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000.
The wide cost difference is usually accounted for by some specialty features such as an outdoor kitchen or extra large deck. Below is a chart of some typical large garden costs.
This chart doesn’t even cover things like a pool or tennis court which will add substantial cost to your total. If a pool is on your dream list then set aside $14,000 to $42,000.
Maybe you live in a hot, dry state like Arizona and an outdoor misting system would make that summer heat more bearable. Then set aside roughly $2,500 just for that.
Even just removing a tree stump can get spendy at about $300.
Your choice of materials can also have a big impact on the price. A stone paver walkway can cost about $4,000. But if you use gravel or bark chips for paths then they could be only a couple hundred dollars.
Maybe you don’t need a deck or swimming pool. All you need is a landscape refresh with new plants and mulch. If that is the case then you could do a cost per square foot calculation to get an idea of what you might need to spend.
The average home in the United States has a yard of about 10,000 square feet. But not every inch of that would need to be redone since that usually includes the driveway. So let’s estimate 9,000 square feet. Then the cost could be anywhere from $36,000 to $90,000.
But you probably don’t need every square foot of your garden redone. And most landscapers don’t actually charge per square foot but this calculation can give you an idea of what you might need to pay for a garden makeover.
Now that you have a general idea what others are spending it is time to get a quote for what you want.
Get Quotes for Service
Most professionals suggest you get quotes from at least three different companies when planning a garden makeover. This is so that you can get an idea of the price but also meet the people doing the work and see if their design aesthetic fits your own.
Most landscape design companies offer free estimates and a few design ideas. When I had my garden redone a few years ago, the manager/designer of the company walked our property, listened to what we wanted and then asked what our budget was. Based off of our budget he told us what he would be able to do.
Can I Do It For Less?
Yes. Probably. If you plan to do all or most of the work yourself then you can cut the cost significantly. Maybe you shell out for a landscape designer and then source the materials and do the work yourself. But the average hourly rate for landscape laborers is $13 to $16, so if you make more than that per hour it might not be worth your time to do the work. Unless you enjoy doing it, of course.
Or you could pick up some garden design software and create your own plan. Sourcing used materials for some projects or even unwanted plants on craigslist could keep money in your pocket. So if you are a creative DIYer, you might be able revamp your entire garden for $1,000 or less.
My Personal Garden Makeover Story
About three years ago my family and I moved into a new house. It had some existing landscaping but it was very lackluster. We knew we could have something better so we decided on a budget of $16,000. We had no idea how much we could actually get done for that amount but we had lots of ideas.
I called a local Design and Build Landscaping company. If you don’t know what that is you should read my article about hiring a landscape designer. A great guy named Phil came to our house, asked our budget, looked at the yard, listened to our wildest dreams and then told us what he could do.
We did not get everything we wanted for our $16,000 budget but we did get 3 raised garden beds measuring 2’ by 6’, 3 custom metal privacy screens, 3 fruit and nut trees, fresh bark chips and plants as well as new front yard landscaping with a rain garden and blueberry bushes.
About a year later we decided to spend another $10,000 to finish the yard with a stone paver patio and custom wall mounted trellis for our kiwi vines. Add in about $1,000 for some irrigation work that needed to be done and we had a completely new front and back yard for $27,000.
When I see the final numbers of how much we spent on our garden makeover I am a little shocked. But then I remember how much we love our yard. How much we use it because it is beautiful and functional. And how much it increased our home value. I then think how it was a very wise investment.
Front yard Before and After
Backyard before and after