Knowing how much does a backyard makeover cost is key to running a smooth project. Let’s explore hardscape options, their benefits and their overall costs.
The cost of landscaping your backyard can run from $4 to $40 per square foot. For a high-end makeover that includes luxury hardscapes, such as an outdoor kitchen, swimming pool, fence installation or sprinkler system, expect to pay between $50,000 to $100,000. Resloping will cost $1,000 to $3,000.
Today, I want to discuss some options for giving your backyard a makeover. We’ll cover topics like professional landscaping costs for homes, landscape architects and DIY backyard landscaping expenses. I’ll also share some ideas for creating your own private retreat in your yard.
I was an instrumental part of my next-door neighbor’s backyard makeover. We spent weeks deciding on hardscapes and softscapes that would mesh perfectly in his landscape. The following is information I gathered to help him come up with the best landscaping plan for his family.
Cost of Landscaping Per Square Foot
- Basic Landscaping Services – About $4 to $6 per square foot
- Medium-Sized Job – About $6 to $10 per square foot
- Full-Service Gut and Remodel – About $10 to $40 per square foot
Basic Landscaping Services
These types of services include minor landscaping tasks, such as:
- Sowing Grass Seeds
- Planting Flowers
- Other Basic Annual Services
Includes basic services with much more attention to detail, such as:
- Installing Raised Beds
- Remodeling Flower Beds
- Installing Curbing for Landscape
Full-Service Gut and Remodel
Generally, involves tearing out every aspect of the yard and replacing or adding more hardscapes. Some services in this category include:
- Demolishing structures, trees and lawn
- Adding shrubs, trees, plants and flowers
- Installing new sod
- Installing fencing
- Complete exterior redesign
Annual Landscaping Services Costs
Some owners schedule annual landscaping services to keep their backyards looking pristine. Most of these services will cost you $50 to $1,000 to maintain trees, plants, lawns and overall landscapes annually. Some of these tasks include:
- Aerating Lawn - $75 to $200 – one to two times per year
- Sprinkler Winterizing - $50 to $125 – one time per year
- Detaching Yard - $100 to $700 – at least one time annually
- Lawn Fertilizing - $75 to $400 – one time per year
- Planting Annuals - $300 to $3,000 – one to two times per year
Backyard Makeover Costs
In many cases, backyard remodeling costs can be much higher than landscaping a front yard. Many homeowners tend to add more hardscapes to their back yards than in the front. Pricing can start as low as $1,000. And depending on how many amenities you want, the pricing could be endless.
A modest backyard remodel will cost about $5,000. This includes extra services such as:
- Installing plants
- Installing bushes
- Installing new sod
For a complete backyard renovation can on the high-end, this could run you between $50,000 to $100,000 if you install an outdoor kitchen or other major hardscapes.
Here are the costs of some of the most popular types of outdoor entertainment areas to help you enjoy your backyard to the fullest:
- Deck Installation - $4,000 to $12,000
- Outdoor Kitchen - $5,500 to $22,000
- Pool Installation - $16,000 to $45,000
- Patio Installation - $2,000 to $5,500
- Soil Testing - $900 to $2,200
- Fence Construction - $1,600 to $3,500
- Sprinkler System - $1,500 to $3,500
- Walkway Installation - $8 to $20 per square foot
Resloping or Grading
If your backyard lawn needs resloping, expect this to cost between $1,000 to $3,000. Grading is a great way to create an aesthetically pleasing, fully functional landscape with very effective drainage.
Why is this important? Well, if water doesn’t drain away from the foundation of your home properly, this could lead to water damage. It could also cause issues with moisture, such as mildew and mold, in crawlspaces and the basement. So, be sure to have your backyard graded away from the house’s foundation.
How Much Do Landscapers Charge?
The cost of hiring a professional landscaper is anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the nature of the backyard makeover. This doesn’t include basic lawn maintenance.
When searching for a landscaping professional, be sure to get an estimate in writing. It should include the cost of the entire project, as well as any guarantees and a timeline. For the best results, get no less than three different quotes before deciding on the best landscaper to hire.
Professional Landscaping Costs per Hour
Hiring a professional for your backyard makeover will run you about $50 to $150 per hour. This includes a crew of two landscapers.
Keep in mind that most large companies prefer pricing per project over pricing per hour. A general laborer, entrepreneur or small business may provide you with hourly rates for smaller projects and weekly, bi-weekly or monthly maintenance.
Professional Landscape Architects Costs per Hour
Hiring a landscape architect will cost you about $75 to $150 per hour. Unlike regular landscapers, these professionals actually help you choose the best plants for your landscape.
The goal is to choose companion plants that work well together. For example, you may install a plant that deters insects to keep it off of nearby vegetable plants. These professionals are charged with creating gorgeous and fascinating landscape designs and within your budget.
Professional Landscape Designers Costs per Hour
To hire a professional landscape designer, expect to pay about $50 to $150 per hour. They help owners decide on the plant types to purchase and where to install hardscapes, such as ponds and water features. However, they don’t generally do actual hardscape installations.
Professional Land Surveyor Costs per Hour
The cost of getting your land surveyed by a professional will run you about $400 to $1,000. Here are some of the reasons you might need to hire a land surveyor:
- Building a Fence
- Transferring Ownership
- Land Divisions
- Boundary Changes
- Erecting Structures That Effect Property Boundary
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Landscaper
You don’t have to hire a professional to complete your entire backyard makeover project. It’s absolutely okay to DIY some of the projects to cut costs or simply just to get your hands a little dirty.
Leave These Tasks to the Pros
Here are some backyard landscaping tasks that you probably should let the professionals handle:
- Trimming or Removing Trees – In most cases, a permit is required to perform this task. It’s a dangerous job that could cause major damage to your property and the property around you.
- Yard Resloping – Requires heavy equipment to get the job done right. Professionals own and use this equipment every day.
- Constructing Major Hardscapes – Things like outdoor kitchens, patios, decks and swimming pools should be installed by the pros.
- Installing Drainage – Bad drainage leads to mildew and mold. Make sure it’s done right or you could seriously damage your property.
DIY Landscaping Projects
The following are some DIY projects you can tackle yourself to save time and money. If you make a few unrepairable mistakes, there’s not much to stress about except replacing the materials:
- Installing Sod
- Thatching and Aerations
- Planting Shrubs and Trees
5 Backyard Retreat Ideas and Their Costs
When planning a backyard makeover, the most important considerations are:
- What’s your budget?
- How do you plan to use your backyard?
These days, most people want more from their backyards than just a lawn and a couple of flowerbeds. They want outdoor living spaces that bring more function to the landscape. If you’re looking for ideas for creating a space that’s more like a hideaway than just a yard, you’ve come to the right place.
Check out these five awesome ideas for backyard hideaways and the costs of installing them:
1. Culinary Lifestyle Retreat
One of the most magnificent things about summer is that the weather allows you to dine outdoors. If you enjoy cooking, think about installing an outdoor kitchen and semi-separate dining area. For a luxurious setup, you’re looking at costs up to $20,000 or more.
Keep in mind that temperatures can become scorching when cooking outdoors under the summer heat. If you live in an area that gets temperatures past the 90s, make sure your design includes something that can provide shade.
Here are some ideas:
- Install it under a tree for afternoon shade
- Construct something with a cover, such as a pergola or a gazebo
Don’t forget to install a grill. Charcoal works fine. However, gas grills are simpler to clean and maintain.
And make sure the countertops and flooring are made of heat-resistant, durable stone. Natural stone will withstand the elements better than manufactured stone, stucco or other cheaper choices. Installing it will cost you about $25 to $45 per square foot.
There are other amenities you can add to your backyard culinary retreat, such as:
- Sink with Plumbing
- Built-In BBQ Grill
- Pizza Oven
2. From Shed to Shelter Retreat
Do you have an old shed in your backyard that no one ever uses or is full of junk you don’t even care about anymore? Why not transform it into a landscape retreat?
Toss out the junk and turn that shed into something much more useful, like an outdoor:
- Guest Room
- Reading Lounge
- Art Studio
- Music Studio
You can also purchase a brand-new shed. Just make sure it has at least one window. Letting in the natural light is important for outdoor living. Most big box stores and home improvement centers sell them starting at about $2,000.
The biggest costs when transforming a shed into valuable backyard real estate are in insulating the structure and running electricity. Both are important if you want to use the structure all year long. Here are the average costs:
- Insulation - $.50 to $1.25 per square foot
- Professional Electrician - $50 to $100 per hour
3. From Tiny to Powerful Retreat
Even if you have limited space in your backyard, it’s still possible to create a multi-functional space. You need to design your landscape so that it maximizes space. Here are some ideas:
- Construct built-in seating for hanging out and dining
- Replace outdoor stairs with a small deck that functions as both
- Install patio pavers or pea gravel to create pathways to break up the area
- Add native plants and others that will flourish in the yard’s current conditions
4. DIY Home Spa Retreat
Why not start a new project and build your own DIY backyard spa haven? Compared to installing an outdoor kitchen or other major landscaping hardscapes, this is a pretty affordable option. These are the general costs:
- 4-Seater Prefabricated Sauna - $3,000
- Basic Hot Tub - $3,500
Create some privacy and cool vibes around your hot tub or sauna by adding a pergola with blinds or curtains. This will make your outdoor space feel like a truly secluded hideaway. Install grasses, ground covers and native plants to add more function to the environment.
Here are a few other things you can add to inspire spa vibes in your outdoor retreat:
- Fire Pit
- Water Feature
5. DIY Low-Maintenance Retreat
Looking for a way to create a backyard getaway space that’s simple to maintain? In that case, your outdoor space design should include mostly, if not all, hardscapes instead of softscapes.
No, your yard doesn’t have to be a blank canvass surrounded by concrete. But for a low-maintenance touch, you want to avoid installing a bunch of flower beds and grass, which require constant maintaining. Instead, install a pathway and patio with some low-maintenance shrubs and ground covers.
You can purchase the materials you need to install either one from a big box or home improvement store for just under $1,000. Or you can purchase the materials and hire a professional to construct the hardscape for an additional $5 to $15 per square foot.
The costs may increase, depending on the materials you choose. For the most cost-efficient materials, go with pea gravel or something close to it. Crushed granite is another good choice. It’s also inexpensive and acts as a crisp background for your outdoor furniture.
Another tip for avoiding mowing and maintaining a lawn is to install artificial turf. This is a bit more expensive than installing sod and will cost you about $5 to $20 per square foot.
About THE AUTHOR
Kiesha Joseph is an avid gardener dedicated to simple urban gardening on a budget. She enjoys sharing her Zone 9B Inland Empire, California experiences, as well as inexpensive DIY landscaping techniques. She loves experimenting in the garden, even if the project seems to be a failure. According to her, she does not learn from her successes. She learns from her failures. And that’s why she is determined to keep experimenting.Read more about Kiesha Joseph