The Average Cost of Landscaping – Our Landscaping Price Guide
How to Budget for Your Landscape Revitalization Project
When creating a budget for your Landscape Revitalization project, having a general understanding of the average cost of landscaping is a great place to start. Given that most homeowners have very little or zero experience landscaping a yard, I elected to write this article in order to offer some insight with respect to things that should be considered before and during the Landscape Design process.
Landscaping can often be thought of as a simple task of replacing Sod, Trees or Shrubs and spreading some fresh ground cover such as Mulch, Wood Bark or Decorative Rock. In some cases, it can be that simple but the reality is… Most Landscape Revitalization projects typically involve or require a LOT more than that!
How to Move Forward from Here.
The first step in the process is to decide on how you intend on utilizing your outdoor space. This is a critical question because it will assist the Landscaping Contractor and/or Designer with the information they need in order to create an outdoor space design that is going to work and be functional for you and your family.
The second step in the process is to create a realistic budget that includes all of the features you would like incorporated into the design. Once you have done that you should then place them in order of priority. This is really important! Why? Because if you find that your budget is unable to support everything on your “Wants and Needs” list, you can at least incorporate the most important features. If you find yourself in this position (and don’t feel bad because many of our clients do), we have a suggestion for you. You could always consider the idea of “Staging” your outdoor space project.
So what do we mean by that you may ask? Incorporate the most important features and absolute “Must Haves” TODAY, and phase-in the other (would like to have but just can’t afford or justify) TOMORROW. The good thing about this approach… the initial OutdoorSpace Design can be created with the plan of phasing in the other features sometime down the road.
For instance, you would like a Patio, but you just can’t work it into your budget. In a way to reduce the initial cost of the project, but to make sure this particular feature is incorporated into the overall Landscape Design, you could ask the Landscaping Contractor to construct and prepare the Patio base during the first phase of the project. When you are ready to take the next step, all that needs to be done is to re-level the base and install the Patio. We do this for our clients all the time.
Fact is… A well designed and constructed OutdoorSpace can provide the homeowner with a great return on their investment, similar to any (interior) kitchen or bathroom renovation project. Plus… they get to benefit from the “enjoyment” factor they will experience between now and when they are ready to sell.
Before we take a closer look at some budget numbers, it is important to know that there are many things that come into play with each individual Landscape Revitalization project.
Location of the property is one consideration. If the property is located out of town then it will cost more to transport materials, equipment and labour to and from the project.
Another consideration is gaining access to where the work is being performed. Difficult or restricted access can easily impact the cost of a project because certain tasks may have to be performed by hand instead of utilizing a machine.
Another impact would be the size of the yard. If the yard is relatively small in size it may very well limit the size or type of equipment used and or the number of people that can work on the project at any given time. All of which impact the contractor’s ability to execute the project as easily and quickly as possible.
Did you know… a professional landscaping crew of 4 people will cost upwards of $1,000 per day? Most front and backyard Landscape Revitalization projects take somewhere in the range of 6-12 days to complete. With those numbers in mind, the labor costs alone can easily amount to $12,000+ and this does not include for the cost of “Materials” or “Specialty Equipment” that may be required to construct the project. Tasks that cannot be completed by a General Landscape Laborer and need to be performed by a tradesman such as a Stone Mason, Electrician or Finishing Carpenter will also increase and add to the overall cost of the project.
Another consideration and one that is constantly overlooked or not truly appreciated… most professional landscaping contractors carry sufficient “Liability Insurance” and their workers are covered by WCB (Workers Compensation Board) coverage in case they become injured and are unable to work. Did you know… if you hire a contractor to work on your property and someone on their crew gets hurt, if they don’t have WCB coverage YOU the homeowner are liable as YOU are deemed as the employer. Most homeowners are NOT aware of that… but they should be!
Fact is… contractors that carry sufficient insurance and operate a safe work site have higher operating costs, so these costs obviously need to be factored into their landscaping quotations. Contractors that don’t operate this way can operate for less, so while they may appear to be more competitive with their landscaping quotations… are they really? As a homeowner you need to be aware of this and especially if you don’t want to take on the liability and potentially pay a higher price later!
So as you can see, there are a number of factors that all play a role when you solicit a quotation from a professional landscaping contractor.
In order to provide you with a better understanding and appreciation of the costs associated with the revitalization of a yard, we have provided you with some examples of pricing for a variety of tasks that typically form part of a landscape revitalization project.
Please note: all of the budgeted costs are based on “averages” and do not necessarily reflect costs that may be associated with the complexity of a specific project or materials that may not be readily available from local suppliers.
Demolition and Removal of Existing Structures
This is the first step in the Landscape Revitalization process and often the most overlooked in terms of budgeting. Unfortunately, there is no average or general rule of thumb on this one, as every project is unique unto itself. With that said, think about the amount of time it might take you to demolish, remove, and transport materials and then add the cost of dumping fees, which are NOT cheap!
Did you know… the average cost of a 30 Yard Dumpster ranges between $400 – $500 and that does not include any overweight or (special) environmental surcharges, or even the labour costs to fill the Dumpster?
Stripping existing sod, soil and clay and re-grading with fresh topsoil is an important part of any landscape revitalization project. Once the existing ground cover had been stripped, it will then need to be loaded into a truck, hauled away and disposed of at the city landfill. The cost to load, transport and dump (uncontaminated) excavated material is approximately $300 per (12 yard) load, and even more if you live outside of the city. Spreading, grading and compaction of fresh topsoil (based on a city property and a 2500 sq-ft yard) will cost you approximately $1,750.
Given Our geographic location it is often overlooked or not thought of as necessary, but a feature that will definitely make your life easier.
Fact is… A well designed and installed Irrigation System will provide you with the “Insurance” and “Peace of Mind” knowing that your newly Landscaped or Revitalized Yard will not turn into another “Landscape Revitalization” project, no matter whether you are home or away on vacation for a month.
Did you know… a Fully Automated (Quality) Irrigation System will adjust itself (depending on local weather conditions) or it can be monitored and manually adjusted (using Wi-Fi technology) from anywhere in the world? And it can do all of that for much less than what most people think!
An average size yard will require 4-6 zones. With the average (per zone) cost being in the range of $900-$1,000, the total cost for the supply and installation of a Fully Automated (Quality) Irrigation System would be somewhere in the range of $3,600 – $6,000.
Patios and Walkways
This is where landscaping costs really start to add up, but they look amazing and add value to your property.
Why are they so expensive you may ask? It’s not just what’s on the surface and what you see that counts, it’s what’s below the surface and what you don’t see that is equally as important! In order to construct a Patio or Walkway correctly, the existing base material (Sod, Soil & Clay) needs to be excavated, hauled away and disposed of. A Granular Base then needs to be constructed and compacted before the Patio Stone can be installed. So as you can see, there is a lot of work that goes into the construction of a Patio or Walkway.
Pricing for Patios and Walkways typically fall somewhere in the following range:
- Low End – $15-20 per square foot.
- Mid-Range – $20-40 per square foot.
- High End – $40+ per square foot.
Please note: these price ranges are based on hiring a Landscaping Contractor that actually knows what they are doing. There is always someone that will work for cheap, but as the old saying goes… You Get What You Pay for.
Examples of materials that fall into the specific price ranges would be as follows:
- Low End – Cast-in-place concrete or Simple Pavers.
- Mid-Range – Standard Pavers or Natural Stone (flagstone) constructed on a sand or granular bed.
- High End – Pavers set in a bed of Mortar and Specialty (exotic/import) Pavers or Slabs.
Artificial Turf is a MUST if you don’t like or just hate the idea of having to cut grass when you could be on your favorite golf course.
With that said, it is not cheap! The good thing about Artificial Turf… once it’s installed it will require very little in the way of ongoing maintenance and it will save you dollars because it doesn’t need watering, plus… it stays GREEN all year long!
Just like Patios and Walkways… it’s not just what’s on the surface and what you see that counts, it’s what’s below the surface and what you don’t see that is equally as important! So hiring a landscaping contractor that actually knows what they are doing is VITALLY important!
Artificial Turf has come a long way since it was originally invented and introduced to the marketplace as Astro Turf back in 1965. There are now many different manufacturers and types of Turf to choose from. There are a number of factors that influence the overall price per (installed) square foot, but the main factors that need to be considered are:
Quality of Turf – Similar to carpet, Artificial Turf is measured by the “Total Weight” of the Turf. A low end Turf will have a Total Weight down in the 70 oz. / sq. yd. range, while a higher quality Turf will be upwards of 100 oz. / sq. yd.
Type of Infill – The Infill material is brushed into the fibers and thatch after the Turf has been installed at the rate of (approximately) 1.5lbs – 2lbs per square foot. It adds weight (ballast) to the Turf to hold it down and help maintain the form of the Fibers. There are a variety of Infill products that can be used. Silica Sand or Zeolite.
While Silica Sand is the cheaper of the two products, Zeolite is the preferred Infill product for homeowners that have children and pets. It is “100% Natural & Organic” and is “Child & Pet Friendly”. It also eliminates any nasty odors and will help to keep the Turf cooler in the summer.
Access to the Work Area – If the work area is not easily accessible by equipment for the excavation of existing (Sod, Soil & Clay) ground cover and the importation of (base) materials, then the additional labour costs will further impact and add to the overall cost of the installation.
So as you can see, there are many factors that influence the cost per square foot but for budgeting purposes you should budget between $13 – $16 per square foot for the supply and installation of the Turf.
Fire Pits are a great way to stay warm and cozy during those cooler summer or fall evenings and they really add character to your outdoor space!
The cost to install a stone Fire Pit typically ranges between $1500 – $2,500+ for wood burning and $2,500 – $4,000+ for natural gas.
Wooden Structures & Decks
Wooden Structures & Decks are key (hardscape) features that enhance and will provide functionality to any outdoor space!
For smaller structures such as an “Arbor” you should start the budget around $2,000.
Pricing will ultimately be influenced by the size of the structure, but it is also influenced by the material used to construct the feature. For example, Pressure Treated Lumber is more expensive than Spruce. Cedar is more expensive than Pressure Treated Lumber and Composite (manmade low-maintenance) is more expensive than Cedar.
If you are looking to build a larger structure such as a “Pergola”, you should start your budget around $5,000. Once again, it is also influenced by size and the type of material used to construct it.
For a small Deck you can expect to start your budget at $2,500 and go from there. Once again the same (pricing) parameters apply as they did for previous structures.
The cost of “Handrail Systems” vary depending on whether you chose to use “Wood” or elect for a more “Custom and Modern” look that “Aluminum and Glass” will offer.
Water Features add character and will improve the overall ambience and tranquility of any outdoor space!
Simple “Bubbler” type water features typically start around $2,500 and go up from there. Factors that influence cost is the size of the Natural Stone or Boulder as it will dictate the size of the Sump and Pump/Filter required to operate the water feature.
Large Waterfalls, Ponds and Streams are significantly more expensive to build and are ultimately influenced by the overall size of the feature being constructed. Some Waterfall/Pond features can easily range upwards of $25,000+
Low Voltage Lighting
Low Voltage Lighting is a great way to bring your outdoor space to life after the sun goes down!
Unlike previous (halogen bulb) models, LED Low Voltage Lighting Fixtures have an amazing lifespan and relatively low operating costs. The initial investment per installed fixture with a transformer is approximately $150+ per fixture. The cost to supply and install a system will be dependent upon the number and type of fixtures being installed and the distance away from the transformer. In some cases, more than one transformer will need to be installed to run the system.
Trees, Shrubs & Plants
Trees, Shrubs & Plants will add colour and life to your outdoor space!
In general, the more Trees, Shrubs and Plants being introduced, the higher the planting budget should be. The quality of the Tree, Shrub or Plant is also a factor. Like most things you buy… “you get what you pay for”. Lower cost and poorly cared for plant material typically has a higher risk of needing replacement after the first year. On the flip side, good quality Trees, Shrubs and Plants sourced from reputable nurseries that are free of pests and diseases and grown under controlled conditions will provide you with plant materials that you can enjoy for many years to come.
For budgeting purposes, the “Planting Cost” is typically equal to that of the Retail Purchase Price of the Tree, Shrub or Plant purchased. For example, if you Pay $350 for an Ivory Silk Lilac Tree (with a caliper trunk measurement of approximately 2.5”), you should expect to pay $350 for the transportation and planting of the Tree. The planting cost should include for the Fertilization and Staking/Tie-Back of the Tree.
One FINAL and VERY IMPORTANT Note…
It is much more likely that your landscaping revitalization project will come in on budget if you invest your time and money in the preparation of a detailed Landscape Design Plan.
Would you build a house without first engaging the services of a Professional Architect? Absolutely Not! So why would you not engage the services of a Professional Landscape Designer before you head down the path of Revitalizing your outdoor space?
Fact is… the investment you will make in creating a detailed Landscape Design Plan is a relatively mall price to pay, as it will provide you with a visual rendering of the end product and it will help to clearly define the scope of work and associated costs.
Once a Landscape Design Plan has been finalized, you are then in a great position to solicit a firm or “fixed price” from the Landscaping Contractor you have chosen to work with. The ONLY time a firm or fixed price should ever change, is if you make any significant changes to the original design.
One last and VERY IMPORTANT fact… landscaping projects that are executed WITHOUT a detailed Landscape Design Plan run a VERY HIGH RISK of experiencing unnecessary and unwanted surprises. These surprises typically ALWAYS result in a flawed design and cost impacts that are passed on to the unsuspecting homeowner!
We hope you found this article helpful? Should you have any questions, or if you would like some help kick-starting your own Edmonton landscape revitalization project, we are only a phone call or a mouse click away.
I hope you found this article to be both educational and informative!