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Landscaping cost savings from the Pros

Updated: Apr 30

In order to design a landscape you’ll love, it’s all about investing your money in the right features—no matter your budget. That’s why it’s best to begin your landscape design project by thinking about how you’ll actually use your landscape. Do you want to relax by the fire pit every evening? Do you want a large vegetable or flower garden? Should you include space for the kids or dog to run around in?

What structures or hardscapes are you happy with that can stay or be refurbished? These questions, plus others, will help you clarify exactly which elements are must-have items on your landscape wish list.

Rooted In Nature starts every design project with a budget discussion so there are no surprises. We want to make sure the entire design team understands how to best maximize your budget and deliver a design that is personalized.

Cost-effective strategies for maximizing your budget

Choose permeable hardscapes: Installing materials such as gravel, beach pebbles and decomposed granite can go a long way in covering open spaces in your landscape without breaking your budget. These materials can also be mixed with large, precast pavers where walkways or patios are desired. Another benefit of permeable hardscapes is that you can move them if needed to accommodate a new path, water feature, or hot tub.

Be strategic with groundcover plantings: Groundcovers — small ornamental grasses and low-growing perennials — cover a lot of square footage without the expense of buying lots of plants. They provide a base layer of greenery, so your landscape will look lush quickly.

Save what you have: There are often parts of an existing landscape that can be saved and remodeled. If you can use what you have and not build new, you’ll save time and money. Inventory your space and discuss it with your designers. If you have a structurally-sound patio cover, consider painting it rather than replacing it. Then add shade cloth to it or grow vines up the side. If you have existing concrete, consider staining it or having a decorative overlay installed.

Save the trees: Large trees take years - even decades - to reach their mature size. If you have trees that can be preserved, keep them. Buying and planting large trees can be expensive.

Hardscape with precast pavers: Large precast pavers are often less expensive to install because they don’t require as much labor as pouring concrete or masonry work. Another benefit is that these types of pavers also provide a sense of permanence. Gaps between pavers can be filled with gravel, beach pebbles, or groundcovers.

Stick to prefabricated structures: Prefabricated patio covers, pergolas, fences, fire pits, outdoor seating, barbecue islands and other elements are typically more cost effective than custom-built structures. Whenever possible, consider where in your landscape a precast structure could be used. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t custom build elements in your landscape—it’s just important to be selective in order to maximize your budget.

Buy smaller plants and prepare your soil well: Smaller plants are generally less expensive to buy, but with proper soil preparation and appropriate watering they will grow in quickly. In many cases smaller plants (plugs and 1-gallon plants) in properly-prepared soil grow in faster than larger plants (5-gallon and 15-gallon).

Planning for significant landscape elements

The following elements will have the biggest impact on the final cost and overall design of your landscape. If you want to include any of these features in your landscape, discuss them with a designer in the initial design meeting to plan what features make the most sense for your family, landscape and budget. Below you’ll find a general cost range as well as the factors that affect the cost most.

Custom patio covers: $5,000 - $20,000. Steel patio covers typically cost the most, followed by natural hardwoods, aluminum, engineered wood and natural wood. Shade fabrics are often the least costly option.

Solid hardscape: $15 - $50 per square foot. The cost of concrete or stone patios, pool decks, walkways or driveways depends largely on the finish of the concrete or the type of stone used.

Retaining walls: $50 - $150 per square foot. There are a variety of materials options from interlocking concrete blocks to softwood (cedar or redwood) at the lower end of the cost range, to hardwood (ipe or teak), concrete, and stone at the higher end of the cost range. Access to the site, drainage, and the size of the wall can all affect the final cost.

Built-in gas fire pits: $5,000 - $15,000. Running a gas line increases the cost of built-in fire pits. The materials chosen can also affect the overall cost. Precast pavers are less expensive than poured concrete and natural stone.

Built-in barbecues: $10,000 - $30,000. The costs of built-in barbecues can be affected by the length of the gas line as well as the choices of materials, type and number of grills and whether you decide to run plumbing and power to the unit.

Pools & Spas: $40,000 - more than $100,000. Pool and spa costs can change dramatically based on the size of the pool, the materials, pool equipment, the amount and material of the decking, and the inclusion of other pool features (fountains, lighting, Baja shelf, etc.).

Permanent landscape lighting: $2,500 - $10,000. There are certain conditions such as the length of wire runs, the quality of fixtures, and when the wiring is installed that affect the final cost, too. Keep in mind that if your soil is frozen when the wiring is installed, more labor will be needed to trench for electrical lines—this can increase the final cost.

Demolition of structures & hardscape: $2,000 - $12,000. Basic removal of patio covers, plants, and hardscaping can be straightforward but it’s still a cost to factor in. On the other end of the spectrum if you have a driveway, large concrete patio, deck, or pool that needs to be removed, the cost can increase to well over $10,000.

Built-in seating: $3,000 to $15,000. Typically, concrete or stone built-ins will cost more than wood seating.

Decks: $40 - $100 per square foot. The cost of building a deck can vary based on factors such as the slope of your property, the type of wood you use, and how big your deck is. If you select a hardwood such as ipe or teak, the cost will be higher than a softwood such as cedar or redwood. Also, if the slope of your property is steep, then more engineering and shoring will be needed which can add to the overall cost.

Specimen trees & extensive planting: $2,500 - $15,000. One specimen tree can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars but can have a dramatic impact on the look of a new landscape—making it look mature from the beginning. Your plant budget will be affected most by the size of the plants you choose to install and how large your planting space is. Soil preparation and irrigation should also be considered.

Planning a landscaping budget can be difficult and intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! Our design team is happy to help you discuss your wants, needs, and create a budget and project plan to fit you. Just contact the landscaping specialists at Rooted In Nature for more help at 443-846-0199 or

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