You’ve perused all your favorite home and garden magazines and binge watched 3 seasons of makeover shows. You have looked around the neighborhood and made a list of trees, flowers, and shrubs you want planted in your front and backyard.You get giddy thinking about a rose trellis, flowering bushes, and a meticulously manicured lawn. But your dream project has a major setback…sticker shock! How could a project that only takes a half hour on TV cost that much? Why is landscaping so expensive? One reason…hardscape.
An ideal landscape is a balance of both hardscape and softscape. Hardscape refers to the solid, “hard” elements in landscape design such as walkways, retaining walls, paver patios, outdoor kitchens, water features, decks, and driveways. Softscape refers to the “soft” or living things in your design such as plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Most homeowners agree that it is important to have a well maintained yard and a professional landscaper can help in achieving this goal. But is it worth the cost?
Full Service vs. Maintenance Service Company
If you’re interested in having design or installation work at your home, you will need to hire a full service landscaping company. Many companies only specialize in lawn maintenance and don’t have the resources to design and implement a plan from scratch, they are considered a maintenance service company.
Recently, we brought in a full-service landscaping company to get advice on redoing our front and back landscaping .
Should We Have Plans Drawn Up?
So we made the decision to bring in a professional design landscaper, now we have to decide if we want to have plans drawn up (at $100 an hour). Depending on the size of the project, the plans could take 8-10 hours to prepare. We have a big job with approx. 100 feet of landscaping in the front yard alone, so I agreed to the plans.
Some companies will credit the cost of the time they spend on drawing up the plans to the job if you decide to choose them for your project. Our company does not… and somehow, I still agreed to the drawings 🙂
What To Expect From Your Initial Consultation
In addition to discussing drawing plans, the company will ask for the plat of your home. A plat is an officially drawn map of the land area that defines the boundaries between parcels of property. The map is drawn to scale and will be used by the landscaping company in preparing the design drawing for your project.
We discussed our project at length with the landscaping company and I mentioned we are also interested in building a pool within the next year. He said he would like to design the pool, and asked if I would like him to include the pool in the plan. I said sure…why not?
The reason to have plans drawn up is simple, if you want a detailed and designed landscaping plan of your project showing what trees, shrubs and flowers will go where, a drawing is the way to go. The sketch should also include detailed pricing of trees, plants and all the elements in the design.
The advantage to hiring a landscaper to design your entire project is that you will get a cohesive plan of all soft and hardscape that works together and looks like all the landscaping is meant to be on your property. The landscaping has the appearance of always being a part of your home. On the flip side, if you choose to do the work yourself, without enough forward thinking, your property can look piecemeal and fragmented over time.
Second Visit from the Landscaping Company
Three weeks after our initial meeting, the landscaping company came back out to our home to present the first draft of the landscape design plan.
I had not given the company a budget for the project, since this was a first draft, I gave the company free reign to come up with whatever plan they chose…(was this a mistake?) They presented the landscaping design piece, mostly the softscape with a bit of hardscape for the front and backyard.
How Much Should you Expect to Spend on Landscaping?
Remember when I mentioned sticker shock above? (Choke…gasp..I need air…someone please open a window!) Why the fuck is this so expensive!?
I didn’t say that out loud, but they knew I was beyond words as my eyes bulged out! I’m also NOT someone who sits there quietly when presented with an outrageous estimate, not batting an eyelash and pretending I am dripping with cash.
But it’s ok, I wanted to see what a free reign plan looked like and I did…and decided we can’t afford it!!! No sweat, back to the drawing board for a revised plan with a budget we can afford. One aspect of this landscaping company I really like? They said to me upfront, that they are willing to work within whatever budget we set. Not all companies would be willing to do that..and I respect them for it.
On average, the American Society of Landscape Architects suggests to start with spending 5 to 10 percent of your home’s worth on landscaping. The good news, is that a good landscape design can add as much as 15 percent to the value of your home compared to other houses on your street.
Is it Worth the Money To Hire a Landscaper?
So, is it worth the cost? It’s a bit too early in the process for me to give a definite answer but my initial thought is yes (I reserve the right to change my mind later)…but within certain constraints.
Obviously, the first one being if money is not an issue definitely do it! Second, moving into a newly constructed home, you may want a detailed design plan, an upgrade from what the builder installed. It would be worth it for a landscaper to research drainage fields, planning hardscape and making suggestions for improvements based on the style of your home. Third, for a big job that involves a large space where you want a designer to formulate a plan to make your yard aesthetically pleasing and designed to the way you will use the space, then yes a landscaper is a good option.
But for me, if I had a small job, especially if it didn’t involve any hardscape, then I would choose to DIY. I don’t feel it’s worth the cost for a small job, I would rather do the research and planting myself and save on labor costs.
What do you think about hiring a landscaper, do you recommend it? Let me know, I love hearing from my readers.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about our next landscape meeting and what we decide to do.
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