Landscaping Project Costs: Here Are the Key Factors That Affect Your Project’s Final Price

A pond with rocks and a waterfall.
“How much will this cost?”

This is perhaps the most asked question of any sales transaction, and rightly so. Landscaping is no different, from Petunias to Pine trees, the small landscape to the full property renovation. What will this project cost? While every project is unique, there are some essential factors to consider. So, let’s look at some of the contributors to a project cost.

Size
This is the most obvious factor and needs no explaining. Larger projects generally cost more, although this is not the most significant thing to consider.

​Plants
The plants your contractor uses will make a significant difference in the look of your final product. While you can purchase many plants from big box stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s) at lower prices, there is more to consider. Plants grown by Certified Grower will be raised to be disease and insect resistant. This can play a significant role in the health of your plants after they are planted on your property. The higher plant survival rates offset the extra cost to buy plants from reputable growers. A cheap plant isn’t worth much if it dies after only a few months.

Another variable in plant pricing is maturity. For example, a Mature Weeping White Pine like the one in the center of this picture will cost several hundred dollars. A small tree like this will only cost twenty to thirty dollars but will take over a decade to grow to a similar size. In areas where you want to give Immediate aesthetic appeal, it is always beneficial to pay more for mature plants that provide proper aspect ratio and maturity to your property. Different varieties of plants are more challenging to grow or grow more slowly, and this is reflected in their price. Rarer or slower-growing varieties can cost significantly more than some fast-growing, common types.

Area
Where is your property located in relation to your contractor? Even more importantly, what is the terrain like where your landscape will be installed?

Difficult access, narrow spaces, overhead lines, and other obstacles will complicate the project and drive up the cost. What is the soil like in the area you want to be landscaped? If the soil is poor or rocky, better soil will need to be hauled in. Your landscape may involve repairing lawn or replanting grass at completion. 

Machinery
Extra machinery may be useful or necessary, depending on the conditions of your project. If existing trees or plants need to be removed, this will require extra work or even the skills of a professional arborist. Reshaping flowerbeds and regrading lawns are jobs that require additional machinery. Some large trees and shrubs need heavy machinery to handle and place. A tree like the one shown in this picture requires two equipment operators and a third helper working together to plant it correctly. Any additional machinery needs should be identified at the beginning of the project.

Design
On some smaller projects, a design plan is not necessary, but as a project’s scope grows and becomes more complex, a design becomes crucial. A design doesn’t necessarily mean a scale drawing of your backyard. More importantly, the design is what your project will look like at completion.

Will the entire landscape be on flat ground?Will there be mounds, terraces, or slopes?Do you want lots of colors?Do you want it to be easy to maintain?Will your landscape be viewed throughout the season?​
A well-designed landscape should give you proper sizing and spacing of plants. Color harmony and four-season beauty should be considered in the design.

Expertise
Many contractors have been in the industry for decades. When you hire one of them, you are paying to have their expertise and years of experience working on your property. Your landscaper will know which plants will grow best in your area, and what varieties will best complement your home. This knowledge is not free, but expertise is invaluable in creating a beautiful landscape! Match the size and vision of your project to a professional who has the experience and ability to meet your expectations.

Now that you understand some of the contributors to a landscape’s price, let’s look at some examples of what’s possible and what it costs.

Small Project Feature
A small Landscape project is usually one that can be completed in one or two days, with minimal machinery needs. If a small project doesn’t have many complications, it can be a very effective way to add beauty to your home or give you a little slice of paradise you’ve been seeking. A small landscape project will usually cost between $2,000 to $5,000. The logistics of a crew traveling to your property with the necessary tools and materials will be a large part of this price.

A small landscape project along the front entrance to a house.
Medium Project Feature
A medium project feature will take several days to complete. This could be a Landscape renovation to the street side of your house, or a secluded area of your backyard. Medium sized landscapes are often paired with a sidewalk or patio; if this is also installed, it will add another dimension to the project. For simplicity we are focusing only on landscaping. If you’re considering adding a walkway or patio, visit our explanation of concrete versus pavers.

A medium project will usually involve some machinery. Extra materials (soil, boulders, etc.) may also be used. Consider adding lighting to your project to amplify the night beauty of your project. Medium-sized landscapes will usually cost $10,000-$20,000. These projects can involve large amounts of labor to complete. Having a design in place will help the project go smoothly. 

A medium landscape around a house with mature plants and trees.
Large Landscape Project
Consider these projects the full property makeover. If you’re ready to transform your property into an outdoor destination, then it may be time for a landscape transformation. These projects will take a minimum of five working days to complete and will require extensive machinery use. Most Large projects will involve reshaping the terrain and changing lawn and planting areas. Extra materials will be hauled in to create a masterpiece. Lighting should be added to best highlight your new realm at night. These projects cost between $25,000- $50,000. Design and composition are critical for large projects. Make sure the professionals creating your landscape have suitable experience and expertise to make your vision a reality.
A large landscape design, creating privacy and bringing beauty to the property.
Now that you understand some of the components of a beautiful landscape, its time to look at your backyard. Do you have a dream for your property? If you’re still evaluating your property, here are a few ideas for you.
Consider a water feature. Ecosystems ponds are popular, and are worth considering. If you want other ideas on ways water can be incorporated into your landscape, check out our water feature photo gallery.

A tasteful lighting package will highlight new dimensions of your outdoor space. Consider extending your landscape into the night with a low-maintenance lighting system.
Landscaping isn’t only for your enjoyment. A tasteful landscape can beautify your property for all who pass by. Use nature’s beauty to create a welcoming feel to all who visit your home.

Landscaping can offer function as well as beauty. Adding a walkway, patio, or steps will make your property more useable. When done correctly, landscape and hardscape can work together to add beauty and value to your home.

For more information  or to see more ideas, visit our Project Showcase articles.