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A professional landscaping service can help spruce up outdoor spaces, install hardscaping or water features. Professionals work with clients to plan, purchase and plant to create a new look and feel for the yard. Landscaping costs range from $500–$700 for a small project up to $20,000 and more for larger, more complex projects. The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests that homeowners budget the cost of a major landscaping project at 5 percent or 10 percent of their home’s worth.

Landscape design

Designing an outdoor space may be as straightforward as blocking out areas bordered by beds of decorative plans. For a more elaborate yard, it makes sense to hire a landscape designer for $50–$75 per hour to draw plans, select plants and purchase hardscape materials. Landscape designers create the design for an outdoor space, but they don’t necessarily plant the plants or install the hardscape or water features. Typically a landscape contractor does the physical work of preparing an area, procuring plants and materials, and planting and installing everything. Stone, Soils & Shrubs, based in Durham, North Carolina, can do the design, planting and installation of hardscape features as walls, paths, patios, driveways, fire pits and so on. Quiet Elegance Landscape is a full-service landscaping company in Santa Rosa, California, specializing in creative outdoor designs, hardscapes and water features.

Plants

Plants generally make up about one-third to one-half of a landscaping project’s budget. These typically include grass lawn, border plants, shrubs and trees. Costs vary, of course, depending on the of plants chosen and the size of the area to be planted. Lawns from sod rolls cost anywhere from 8 cents to 30 cents per square foot. Landscapers charge 24 cents to 60 cents per square foot for sod installation. So, for 1,000 square feet of lawn, the cost would be $320–$900. Plants for a 5,000-square-foot yard could cost as much as $8,500–$20,000.

Irrigation

Depending on the local climate, a property may need a sprinkler system to maintain the lawn and other plants. Sprinkler system installation usually costs 75 cents to $1 per square foot.

Leveling

As with any building project, if a yard slopes at all, it may need to be leveled to accommodate the landscape design and to ensure proper drainage. Leveling can cost an additional $500–$1,000.

Hardscapes

Hardscapes include patios, pathways, retaining walls and other built features. If these are part of the landscape plan, costs will increase accordingly. A patio can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 (or more), depending on the size, materials and extra features, such as a pergola, seat wall or fire pit.

Water features

Water features add interest to a landscape. Here are a few different types of water features:

  • Basic bird bath: $150–$300

  • Freestanding wall fountains: $600 and up

  • Fish ponds: $1,500–$9,000

If a water feature requires new plumbing to be dug, it will cost more.

Lighting

Professionals can install landscape lighting not only to be able to see after dark but also to highlight the natural beauty and create a certain mood. Simple lighting systems start around $1,500 and can go up to $8,000 or more.

Pro tip

  • If you are redoing your entire yard or undertaking a large outdoor project such as adding an outdoor kitchen, get at least three estimates and be sure the company you choose is licensed and insured.
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