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How is landscape design services priced?



Landscape design can be a costly investment but very much a justifiable investment with very reasonable Return On Investment (ROI). There are a few models that are used for cost of landcape design such as

  • Price Per Sqft Developed: Where the price is highly depended on sqft that is being developed for the project.

  • Percentage Of Construction Cost/Budget: Where the design process is based on total budget for construction.


In this blog, On average, the cost of landscape design in California ranges from $5 to $18 per square foot. This price range includes the cost of design, materials selection, architectural plan development, visualization/rendering ..etc. However, it is important to note that this is just an estimate and the final cost may vary depending on the specific details of the project for example, designing a simple garden is priced differently than designing a complete backyard on a hill side with structures.


For simple projects such as a small garden or patio, the cost may be on the lower end of the scale at around $5 per square foot. However, for more complex projects such as a full yard remodel, the cost can be much higher and may reach up to $18 per square foot. Lets use an example, if your property is a 10,000 sqft lot and you like to develop a 3000 sqft area of the back yard. Your design cost could range from $15K for simple design all the way up to over $50K. More than likely your design will be somewhere in between pending your requirments


While many would look at this and say, how can this be? my entire budget for the project is not more than $100K and I have to pay $15K of it for design? As outlined, there are two different pricing models used, in Northern California (Bay Area), a $100K construction budget is more relative to an smaller area for development such as 1500 sqft or less where using the price per sqft model, the price would be closer to $7500. With Percentage Of Construction Cost/Budget usually a % is applied to the total cost and that ranges between 5% to 12% of the construction budget pending complexity of the project. A simple design with total construction budget of $100K could cost $5K for mostly gardening elements such as planting, irrigation plan, lighting plan and around $12K if design includes structures such as retaining walls, pergolas, swimming pools ..etc


Questions we get asked all the time is why so expensive, we can get online design done for less than $2000. All online design services including (www.YardZen.com, www.TillyDesign.com) and others use mostly out of state and at times out of the country design resources. They never visit your site which in pandemic days was a plus but how would a true architect and designer get a design done when they have not been to the site? Also one of the key part of the construction cost is the sqft or lnft of all the elements that are being constructed and most online services use satellites for property measurement with various % of error upwards of 20% error if there are a lot of trees on the property blocking satellites view. A 10% error in measurement for a 500 sqft travertine patio, is a 50 sqft error. which means the other elements around the patio would probably need to be adjusted for additional cost and headache and there is at min a $6K change order to get that patio done. As they say you get what you pay for.


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