How Much Does A Landscape Architect Cost?

landscape design plan for backyard with greenhouse and guest house

You probably have some good ideas for how to design your backyard.  You know the rough concepts you’d like to bring to life.  Maybe you know you want a pool, some patio space and a pergola, but you don’t quite know how to orient them.  Add to that the need for planting and the project starts to feel overwhelming.  At times like this you may find yourself considering a landscape architect.  But how much does a landscape architect cost?

Landscape Architect Design Vs. Design and Build Costs

Like many questions related to backyard design and construction, the answer to how much does a landscape architect cost depends on a few factors.  First of all there’s the firm itself. Is it strictly a landscape architectural firm or is it a design / build firm?  Sometimes with a design / build firm the fees for landscape architecture will be a little lower than with a strictly design firm, but not always.  

How Much Does A Landscape Architect Cost?

How much does a landscape architect cost depends on how much of the outline of services below are completed.  For complete landscape architectural services, expect to pay between 10-15% of the total project costs.  So for a $500,000 landscape expect the portion of the budget to be set aside for the landscape architectural services to be $50,000 to $75,000.  There is no rule that the services must be in this range.  There are prima donna architects out there who will charge far more, and there are those who will do the work for less.  

Factors That Influence How Much Does A Landscape Architect Cost

Next it’s helpful to consider how much of the services offered by the landscape architect you want and need to pay for.  Before you get too far into determining whether a landscape architect is for you, let’s break down the way it typically will work and the steps in design that will take place.

Step 1: Site Visit

The first step is usually a site visit to walk the site and discuss your project.  There may or may not be a fee for this first meeting.

Step 2: Schematic Design Contract

Then, a schematic design contract is usually written up.  This will be either a fixed fee or an estimated fee for service, with the deliverable being sketches, character images, and possibly a conceptual rendering of the proposed backyard design.  As a part of the schematic design process there is often a preliminary pricing exercise which takes place to determine the rough budget for the project.

Step 3: Design Development Package

Once the schematic design is approved, it’s time to create the design development package.  Design development roughs out the construction documents set.  The design development phase will start to solve the materials, layout dimensions, and details of the project.  The design development set can be used to further solidify project pricing and is the first step towards the construction documents package.

How Much Does A Landscape Architect Cost Explained Step By Step

Step 4: Construction Document Production

Once the design development is complete, the construction documents are produced.  These are the plans and images which will be used by the contractor to build the landscape.  

Step 5: Construction Oversight

Construction oversight by the landscape architect is required in most cases.  This ensures the construction documents are adhered to, and any additional details which are required to be solved due to unknown site conditions can be handled in the field.  Additionally, there is an artistry to things like boulder placement, tree selection and rotation.  Having the architect on site for these steps of construction can make the difference between good and great.

How To Find Out How Much Does A Landscape Architect Cost

There are two things you can do as a homeowner to determine the cost of a landscape architect. First, come to an understanding related to the scope of work expected by the landscape architect. Then, speak to previous clients of the architect. This will help create an understanding of what to expect, and how much to expect to pay. 

Most times, the architect will only provide an estimate for fees, and will bill you monthly for actual hours spent.  It is imperative that you as the client communicate clearly and openly, as best you can, so you can get what you want as efficiently as you possibly can.  Doing so will help clarify the question how much does a landscape architect cost, and bring your project to completion quicker.

Landscape Architect Alternatives

If hiring a landscape architect sounds too costly, it’s good to consider a landscape designer. These professionals also design backyard spaces. The main difference is that they have not pursued the formal education and testing required to deemed an architect. Landscape designers cost far less than landscape architects. In fact, in some parts of the country, landscape architects will only accept commercial projects. Therefore, a landscape designer is your best option.