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Average Cost of Landscape Contractors

When most of us think of home improvement, we think of spending money to improve individual rooms in our home, maybe adding in a ‘man cave’ in the basement, or generally turning parts of our house into more usable space. However, one area that often gets overlooked is the yard. A yard is often seen as a fairly limited piece of real estate – you can use it to create an area for kids to play, or to dine outdoors, maybe a fire pit if you’re planning on hosting friends and family. However, in many respects, the yard is one of the best ways to improve the overall ambiance and atmosphere of your house. It can be the difference between a house and a home.

For some green-thumbed homeowners, working in the yard is an enjoyable hobby. However, if you have a large or even medium-sized yard, it can be overwhelming to maintain a large yard. This is where landscapers come in. Landscapers may seem like a luxury only the wealthy can afford, but actually they can be far more affordable than you may think – as this guide will show you.

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Not only will they remove some of the burdens of maintenance from you, freeing your time up to do other projects, but – let’s be honest – as professionals, they can usually do a better job than you. They know exactly what it takes to keep a yard looking fresh all year round, and can consult on future improvements. Having a professional in your corner is well worth the investment.

PROJECT SCOPE

Landscape constructors are able to conceive of both large and small-scale projects for your property. This can range in scope from every step of the project (including creating and suggesting design ideas, drawing up plans for your approval, completing the work, as well as providing ongoing maintenance after the job). If you live in a shared community, such as an apartment complex, then getting the homeowners’ association (HOA) to engage with a landscaping company is a great way to avoid any tension between different individuals as to who is responsible for yard upkeep. Essentially, if you have a yard-based problem, a contractor can solve it. 

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This guide is designed to walk through the costs involved in hiring landscape contractors. As is perhaps to be expected, there is a wide range of costs you can incur when working with a contractor, depending greatly on the scope of the project, the size of your yard, the difficulty of your vision, as well as your overall budget. In general, however, a key takeaway is that there are landscaping options that fit almost every budget.

As mentioned above, one of the universal themes of working with landscapers is that they remove any stress or hardship from lawn care, meaning that you don’t have to lift a finger to guarantee a professional, beautiful yard. Although that can be hard to quantify when you’re developing a budget, you should bear it in mind when deciding what you want, and what you can afford. The guide below will show you what is possible.

LANDSCAPING COSTS

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OVERALL COST

Overall, for landscaping, you can expect to pay somewhere around $10,000. The average range is $8,000 to $15,000. You are unlikely to pay less than $3,000 and very unlikely to spend more than $20,000 (unless you have particularly expensive tastes and/or a grandiose vision). If you are starting from scratch, and you have never had landscaping work done before, you can expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $15,950 for landscaping.

The annual maintenance cost for a yard can be anywhere from $50 to $700; this involves the maintenance of landscape, lawns, plants, and trees. Generally, a landscaper will charge somewhere between $50 and $100 per hour. Designers (i.e. those who draw up the plans) will charge around $200 per hour. 

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ADDITIONAL COSTS

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In addition to the general costs listed above, it is possible for you to fit your landscaping requirements into your budget. Whatever service you are looking for, you can get. Below are some of the following costs for add-on services that you may choose depending on your own personal circumstances.

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Maintenance

Maintenance is the most common add-on expense when it comes to landscaping. Maintenance refers to a landscaping contractor returning to your home at regular intervals to ensure that your yard looks as good as it did on the first day you had work done. The costs for this include the following (again, there are some caveats here based on the cost of living and yard size):

SERVICE

COST

Weed Control

$65 to $150

Tree Trimming

$80 to $350

Lawn Aeration

$218 to $872

Yard Clean Up

$300 to $700

Sprinkler Installation

$2,000 to $4,000

Lawn Fertilization

$40 to $150

Stump Removal

$200 to $700

Stump Grinding

$275 to $600

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Softscaping

Softscaping refers to changing the landscape through the use of plants, trees, and bushes. As the seasons change or your yard needs to change, you may find it necessary to do some softscaping in your yard. If you do, then you will need to pay an additional amount (this is separate from any maintenance costs or the like). Although the range of possibilities is wide, below are some of the most common costs.

SERVICE

COST

Flower Planting

$300 to $3,000

Shrub Planting

$25 to $50

Tree Planting

$150 to $300

Tree Pruning

$350 to $650

Sod Installation

$2,000 to $5,000

Artificial Grass Installation

$3,000 to $6,000

This includes the cost of materials as well, which explains some of the variances in costs. It’s worth getting a couple of quotes before you proceed with any work. Other options to consider are mulch delivery and soil delivery

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Hardscaping

In comparison to softscaping, hardscaping refers to structural changes to your yard, such as the installation of a new feature or the change of layout. Again, the cost of this is limited only by your imagination. However, some of the most typical costs (and taken as an average) are listed below. If you want a gold-plated statue of yourself installed on your lawn, you’ll need to get custom quotes for that! The below is a list of the most frequent requests:

SERVICE

COST

Fire Pit

$300 to $1,400

Walkway

$500 to $900

Kids' Playground

$500 to $5,000

Landscape Curbing

$1,200 to $2,000

Fountain

$1,250 to $3,750

Fencing

$2,000 to $10,000

Patio/Decking

$3,000 to $7,000

There is some economy of scale to all of the above, so if you’re planning a major hardscaping of your yard, then you may be able to bundle some of the above together in order to reduce the overall cost. In addition, you should do some shopping around for materials, since that will ensure that you are not paying above the odds. Again, it depends on your appetite for doing some of the work yourself, and your appetite for spending money. Another option to consider is gravel delivery.

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Irrigation

In order for a yard to continue to grow and be healthy, it’s likely that a landscaper will recommend installing some form of irrigation system – particularly if you live in a more arid area. Generally, the costs for the below are as follows:

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A drip irrigation system will cost between $500 and $1,200

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An outdoor misting system will cost between $1,500 and $3,500

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A sprinkler system will cost between $4,000 and $7,000

While these costs may seem high, they will actually reduce the need for ongoing landscaping and will ensure that your yard stays healthy year-round. You will, however, need to factor in increased water usage and higher water bills.

Ultimately,

as this guide has shown, it’s possible to get landscape costs that vary from very little, all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars. To put it another way – whatever your budget, you’ll be able to get landscaping contractors that can work within it. Indeed, from a purely financial perspective, you should consider the relative savings in terms of time as well. If you value your time at $20/hour, then you should calculate this when considering the cost of landscaping contractors. Then you can use this time to either earn that money by taking on additional work or simply by enjoying leisure time. Either way, whenever you hire a service professional, you have to try and quantify the time saved.

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In addition to this, there are other calculations at play. A home with a well-landscaped yard is likely to be worth more than one without. According to some calculations, this advantage ranges from a 5.5% to 12.7% increase in value. For a typical $300,000 home, this represents an increase of between $16,500 and $38,100 increase in value – which should put the annual cost of landscaping into perspective.

The final calculation to make is one that simply cannot be quantified - your enjoyment of your home and the space around it.

After a stressful day, a yard is an invaluable source of serenity and joy. For those with children, having a safe and pleasant space to play vastly improves their quality of life. All in all, a yard has plenty of benefits for mental health and overall happiness, and while that is difficult to put a price on, it should not be ignored. Therefore, from both a financial and an emotional perspective, landscape contractors are well worth the investment.