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Landscaping Cost Calculator

by Jack Grover
brown and white concrete house
Reading time: 19 min Prefer to listen?

Are you dreaming of a beautifully manicured lawn, flourishing flower beds, and a backyard oasis that beckons you to relax after a long day? You’re not alone. Many homeowners share this aspiration, envisioning their outdoor space as a stunning landscape that reflects their personal style and creates a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Transforming your yard into such a place can indeed be a rewarding experience. However, let’s be honest — the costs can add up quickly. From design and materials to labor and ongoing maintenance, landscaping projects often require significant investments. This is where our landscaping cost calculator comes in handy!

Below, we delve into the factors that influence landscaping costs and break down the expenses you may encounter in your quest for an eye-catching yard. Understanding each element contributing to the overall price tag, you’ll be better equipped to create a budget-friendly plan that brings your outdoor dreams to life.

So, without further ado, let’s explore these factors and help you embark on your landscaping journey with confidence!

Landscaping Calculator

Total Cost: $0

Prices (estimated averages for 2023):

  • Plant trees with a height of up to 10 feet = $200 per tree
  • Plant trees with a height greater than 10 feet = $800 per tree
  • Build a wall: concrete = $45 per 1 square foot
  • Build a wall: timber = $25 per square foot
  • Build a wall: stone = $35 per square foot
  • Build a walkway: concrete = $10 per square foot
  • Build a walkway: brick = $15 per square foot
  • Build a walkway: stone = $25 per square foot
  • Lay sod = $1.5 per square foot
  • Build flower bed = $35 per square foot
  • Spread mulch = $2.59 per square foot
  • Installing an underground sprinkler system (yards to be irrigated) = $1.25 per square foot

Factors Affecting Landscaping Costs

As with any home improvement project, several variables come into play when estimating landscaping costs. The size of your property, the complexity of your design, and the region where you live all contribute to the final price tag. Labor rates, materials, and equipment rental also impact your bottom line.

Let’s explore these factors further to help you grasp what goes into calculating landscaping costs.

First, consider the size of your property.

It goes without saying that larger yards require more materials and labor than smaller ones, resulting in a higher overall cost. The extent of the landscaped area dictates the number of plants, mulch, and other materials needed, as well as the time and effort required to bring your vision to life.

In essence, the bigger the canvas you’re working with, the heftier the investment you’ll need to make.

Another vital aspect to consider is the complexity of your desired landscape design.

Projects that involve intricate patterns, elaborate hardscape installations, or challenging terrain demand specialized skills and expertise from professionals, driving up labor expenses.

For instance, incorporating water features, retaining walls, or multi-level gardens into your landscape requires additional materials and experienced tradespeople capable of executing these complex tasks.

Lastly, regional differences in pricing for materials and labor can also impact how much you’ll need to pay for comparable services.

Factors such as local climate conditions, availability of resources, and economic influences can affect the cost of plants, hardscaping elements, and labor rates. Because of that, homeowners living in pricier areas or regions with unique landscaping challenges may find themselves shelling out more for their dream outdoor space.

Initial Consultation & Design

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of landscaping costs, it’s crucial to factor in the initial consultation and design phase. This process typically involves meeting with a landscape designer or architect who will assess your property, discuss your vision, and create a detailed plan that outlines your project’s scope and required materials.

The price for this service varies depending on the professional’s experience and expertise. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour for their time.

Remember that investing in a well-thought-out design plan can save you money in the long run by preventing costly mistakes and ensuring your project stays on track.

Hardscaping vs Softscaping

When estimating landscaping costs, it’s vital to differentiate between hardscaping and softscaping elements.

Hardscaping refers to the installation of non-living, structural components like patios, walkways, retaining walls, and water features. These projects often require more labor-intensive work and expensive materials, resulting in higher costs.

a pond with lily pads and a statue in the middle

On the other hand, softscaping encompasses all the living aspects of your landscape, such as planting trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass. Although softscaping materials tend to be less expensive than hardscaping items, ongoing maintenance costs should also be considered when calculating total expenses.

Materials & Equipment Costs

From pavers and concrete to mulch and topsoil, the list of materials required for a landscaping project can seem endless. Prices vary depending on quality, quantity, and regional availability. For instance, homeowners in drought-prone areas may pay more for water-efficient plants or synthetic turf.

Don’t forget to account for equipment rental fees or purchases if you plan on tackling some landscaping tasks yourself. Renting a tiller, sod cutter, or excavator may be necessary to complete certain projects efficiently.

Labor Costs & DIY Options

Professional landscaping services range from general laborers to specialized tradespeople like masons and irrigation experts. Hourly rates fluctuate depending on experience level and regional labor costs. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $75 per hour for basic labor.

If you’re looking to save on labor costs or have a green thumb itching for some action, consider taking on some DIY landscaping tasks. Just remember that while DIY can save money initially, improperly completed work may necessitate costly repairs down the line.

a man in a green shirt holding a pair of gardening tools

Typical Costs for Common Landscaping Jobs

Now, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details of the standard landscaping jobs — from planting trees and shrubs to laying sod and spreading mulch.

Here’s how much each of these tasks will cost you during your landscaping project.

Tree Planting

It’s no secret that planting trees can be an arduous task. From selecting the perfect species to considering the ideal location, there’s a lot to think about when embarking on this green endeavor.

Depending on the type of tree you choose, the price tag for planting a single, small tree (measuring between 5 and 10 feet) can range anywhere from $150 to $300.

Now, you might wonder why such a seemingly simple task comes with such a hefty price. It all boils down to the factors involved in ensuring your tree thrives in its new environment.

Professional landscapers must take into account soil conditions, sunlight exposure, and the specific needs of each individual tree species. This level of precision and care guarantees the longevity and health of your newly planted tree and justifies the expense.

Luckily, many landscapers offer generous discounts for customers who opt for planting more than one tree during a single project. It means you won’t necessarily have to cough up a small fortune just to add some greenery to your property.

Shrub Planting

The versatility and relatively low maintenance of shrubs make them an attractive option for homeowners. The good news is that shrub planting tends to be more affordable than tree planting.

On average, you can expect to pay between $25 and $50 per shrub. It’s a small investment that can make a significant impact on your outdoor space, transforming it into a lush, vibrant haven.

Of course, there are additional costs to consider when calculating your overall budget. Many professional landscapers offer expertise in selecting and planting shrubs for optimal growth and visual appeal. As with any service, this comes at a price, which is often determined by an hourly rate.

In general, you can anticipate being charged anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour for their skilled labor.

hands holding a green box

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls can serve several purposes in your landscape design, from redirecting drainage from precipitation and watering to creating stunning planting beds.

The cost of retaining walls varies significantly depending on factors such as their height, total area covered, materials used, and labor costs.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around $5,000 for a three-foot-high wall. However, this figure can fluctuate depending on the other factors mentioned above. For example, stone walls will cost you more than those made of brick or wood.

It’s also important to remember the higher and larger the wall, the more expensive it will be — not just in terms of materials but also labor costs.

Professional retaining wall installers charge either by the hour or by the square footage of the completed project. Hourly rates can hover around $50, while per-square-foot charges typically start at $25.

Keep in mind that these rates may vary depending on your location and the complexity of your project. For instance, if your retaining wall requires intricate designs or additional features like built-in seating or lighting, you can expect the labor costs to be higher.

Laying Sod

When it comes to laying sod, costs are generally determined by square footage. The actual sod itself can range anywhere between $0.30 and $0.80 per square foot. Nevertheless, unless you plan on getting down and dirty with the installation yourself, there’s more to consider than just the price of the sod.

Landscapers often charge an overall fee for their services, which can fall somewhere between $0.85 and $1.90 per square foot. This fee accounts for not only the labor involved in laying the sod but also any additional landscaping work they might do in conjunction with the project.

Think about it — a beautifully laid lawn is just one part of your outdoor oasis. You may also want flower beds, shrubs, or other features that enhance the space and make it truly your own.

Building a Flower Bed

Speaking of which, a well-designed flower bed can transform any garden, adding charm and character to the surroundings. But as enchanting as they may be, creating these picturesque landscapes is no small feat.

The hard work that goes into crafting a flower bed often goes unnoticed. From selecting the perfect combination of plants to meticulously tending to their needs, it’s a labor of love. And what about the foundation bed? If you don’t have one yet, the task becomes even more daunting.

As you might expect, the overall cost of building a flower bed varies greatly depending on its size and complexity. If you’re looking to plant flowers in an existing bed, you may spend anywhere from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. This price range accounts for factors such as plant variety, quality, and quantity.

If your vision requires constructing a new flower bed from scratch, brace yourself for a more substantial investment. Professional landscapers could charge upwards of $3,000 for large projects that demand considerable time and resources.

white and purple flowers in tilt shift lens

Spreading Mulch

Despite being a seemingly simple task, spreading mulch can be deceptively troublesome. Recognizing the effort required, landscapers usually charge an hourly rate between $30 and $45 in addition to the square footage cost.

But why does this seemingly mundane chore demand such a premium?

Mulch is commonly measured in cubic feet, and purchasing it may not necessarily break the bank — large bags usually hover around a modest $4 price tag. Still, appearances can be deceptive.

Each bag weighs heavily on the scale, and as many garden enthusiasts have discovered, lugging them around is no easy feat. So, adding the delivery cost to your calculations might be necessary.

Worse, weight isn’t the only factor that makes mulching such a challenging task.

Spreading mulch evenly across a landscape requires skill and precision. A keen eye is needed to ensure the layer is thick enough to provide adequate insulation and moisture retention yet not so dense as to smother plants or create a breeding ground for pests.

Achieving this balance can be tedious and time-consuming — qualities that most homeowners would happily pay to avoid.

If you’re caught unprepared to meet this expense, you may find yourself between a rock and a hard place, either struggling to do the work on your own or finding the additional funds to cover this expenditure.

The Bottom Line

Landscaping is quite an intricate process. With an array of factors influencing the final cost, it’s essential to delve deep into your project’s scope and desired outcome.

To help you navigate these complexities, our landscaping cost calculator is an invaluable budgeting and planning tool.

Before diving headfirst into landscaping, consider the importance of design consultations. More often than not, ambitious designs come with a steeper price tag.

Additionally, take a moment to evaluate the cost of materials, equipment, and labor. Doing so, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions that align with both your aesthetic preferences and budgetary constraints.

Happy landscaping!

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