Estimating Landscape Costs

by Reginald Durant, BTN Executive Director

Folks ask us all the time what it would cost to landscape their yard with natives. Landscape costs are difficult to estimate. EVERY project is different. The variations are not necessarily a visual, as irrigation and Landscape drainage, the most expensive part of any project (besides grading) are all buried and unseen once completed.

There are many things to consider before you even begin thinking about costs. Irrigation, most times, cannot even be designed until the landscape has been designed and watering needs are known. If you already have irrigation, then it is quite easy to provide list item prices you could then add together to at least know that cost. But until the landscape design is completed, a full estimate of installation is almost impossible.

You must take into consideration the number of plants, if you want trails, or paths. What type of paths? I.e brick, gravel, DG, pavers, cement, boardwalk, Etc. Is their a site drainage issue? Where do areas need to be drained from and to? Can we build on site impoundment to prevent non point source pollution such as a dry creek bed, French drain, catch basin or something else?

Do you need a trellis for vines? We use all steel aviation cabling with steel lags into walls or fencing, or connected to aviation grade aluminum piping for stand alone structures. Are fences or gates needed or desired? Are there sight line limitations? Power line height restrictions for plantings? East, West, South, North exposure? What type of soils ( which accurately determines the plant community we will select from so that the plants will be successful)? What type of grading? Can we build topography? Native plants, while successful in flat ground, really prefer sloping grounds and topography to really excel.

How much of the above work will the client be doing themselves? Are there other contractors, such as roofing/gutter, paving, general contractors involved, that our project would depend on our revolve around?

There are no cookie cutter SUCCESSFUL native gardens. Every one of these questions, and many more, need to be addressed during the consult and design process before we create an installation estimate and plan, based on the already completed design.

We have had projects we estimated at less than $7,000 installed​. We have had some that have come out as three stage projects, with each stage estimated at over $40,000. The size of the area has only a small impact on the cost, much of the cost is in the ground itself. A large area may have addressed all of the previous large cost Items previously, while a small garden may need extensive drainage and an entire irrigation system installed.

I hope this better explains costs, and what you should be looking at in your project before you proceed.