Landscape designer cost guide

It is landscaping that differentiates between beautiful and shabby looking homes in the neighborhood. Caring homeowners always pay great attention to their landscape design to improve the curb appeal of their home and stand out from the crowd. In case of reselling, landscape design can either raise the price of the property by almost a quarter or, on the contrary, cut your prospective profits. Landscaping is not just a project, it’s an investment in the visual beauty and inner comfort of your home.

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Landscaping services include everything from the mere planning of your yard renovation to the implementation of this plan. Experts of this trade help to plan a new appearance of your backyard, then choose the best plants and materials and finally reconstruct the whole yard. The average landscape designer cost is $2,200-$5,100 with the higher end reaching $36,000 for bigger and more complex landscaping renovations.

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Cost-related questions

How do landscape designers charge?

Landscape designers have three kinds of rates, namely hourly, per project, and by area. The kind of payment required is chosen either based on the project or the personal preferences of a designer.

  • Hourly rate

    In this case, the range of prices lies between $50/hour and $150/hour, while the average charge is $50-$75/hour. Hourly rates are favorable if you’re looking for only a consultation instead of a designer for the whole project. Be ready, that on-place consultation with hands-on approach can cost even $200/hour for the on-site management of landscapers, gardeners, and arborists.

  • Per-project (flat) rate

    Flat rates depend on the number of hours that your project is calculated to take. Flat rates vary tremendously because of the scope and complexity of landscaping design you need and the existing soil and location of your home. Be ready that per-project rates may not include the cost of the onsite works; in this case, you’re paying for a project on paper only.

  • Rate by area

    Area rates are less common, yet they do exist. If your back and front yards are uniforms, landscaping experts may charge you based on the square footage of the area. The charge by area varies from $2,000/acre to $350/quarter of an acre.

What is the price for a design plan?

Landscaping design plan is a document that includes calculations of your project, precise scheme of the upcoming changes, schedules, and a tentative list of plants, and a colorful image of the project. The plan may cost anywhere from $300 to $15,000, where the average cost is about $6,000. Some landscape experts charge by a percentage of the total project cost making it 5%-15% of the total.

Who pays for the supplementary materials?

Make a note that materials for your project are calculated in the plan but their cost is not included in the estimate!

Who buys the supplementary materials is usually a point of negotiation but you are the one who pays for them. You can look for the materials yourself or cooperate with a designer to buy exactly what’s required. Here’s a list of the most common landscape design materials with costs:

Material Cost
Brick $10-$14/square foot
Crushed stone $27-$65/ton
Pavers $3-$15/square foot
Pea gravel $38-$95/ton
Sod $0.3-$0.8/square foot
Stone tiles $8-$15/square foot
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What is the price for the most common landscaping projects?

There are landscaping projects that people most often order from their service providers. Here is the list of them with the average costs:

  • Deck $4,000-$12,000
  • Fence $1,400-$4,600
  • Fountain $1,000-$4,800
  • Gazebo $3,200-$11,700
  • Outdoor kitchen $3,300-$19,900
  • Patio $1,400-$5,000
  • Pergola $2,200-$5,100
  • Pool $10,600-$36,000
  • Pond $1,300-$5,700

Landscape designer vs. architect

The price for all landscaping experts is almost equal, whereas architects require a little higher payment. The difference between these two professionals is in their main specialties: a designer focuses on the feeling of your yard and the best plants that fit in your area and location, while an architect deals with structuring the whole project and plans for the stability.

What is a landscape architect?

Landscaping architects are professionals with formal education, a degree, and a legally binding license. Most often, landscaping architects work on large projects that require scrupulous analysis of the soil and underground waters to build something; they plan what materials to use for a project and mostly work with landscaping features. They don’t plant anything, they can only advise on the structure of large scope projects.

How is a landscape designer different from an architect?

Landscape designers don’t need any formal education or any licensing. As a rule, these are people with horticulture, nursery, or design background. Designers are exactly the people who with the help of landscapers turn your backyard into Eden. In a landscaping project, designers are responsible for choosing native plants for your region and ensuring that the garden co-exists in a harmony both visually and physically. Besides that, designers also choose materials that are perfect for your climate.

Other frequently asked questions

Do I need to obtain any permits?

Sometimes, complex landscapes and large projects may require a particular permit to begin works. If you’re planning to build a gazebo, then even a building permit might be needed. Make sure that you discuss permits with your landscape professional and that you are ready to pay $390-$1,600 for the permits.

Who is better: a firm or an individual landscape specialist?

Freelance landscape architects and designers tend to charge less, so if you’re on a tight budget, you can go this way. In case money is not an issue for you, then you can opt for a design firm because they usually can offer more perspectives on your project and know how to avoid the most common planning mistakes. Companies offer more comprehensive services at higher rates.

What should I ask a specialist before hiring?

  • How do you bill? (per hour, per project, per area)
  • How long will the project take?
  • What is included in the estimate?
  • What additional costs can I expect?
  • Do you provide any further consultations and guarantees of your work?
  • Can I see your portfolio and receive references from the former clients?

Bottom line

Landscape professionals can help you turn a shabby and haunted backyard into a flourishing garden with a pond and a gazebo. Depending on the complexity of your landscape and project, you can expect to spend anywhere between $2,200 and $5,100 per project with more complex ideas costing up to $36,000.

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