How Much Does Landscape Design Cost?

Modern landscape design of a circular rock and mulch garden in front of house

You’re working on your yard and realize you’re in over your head. You need some professional guidance to complete the design of your landscape. So what do you do? Who do you reach out to? There are landscape architects, landscape designers, and landscapers out there who all want your business. What’s the best approach and who do you contact first? Ultimately, how much does landscape design cost anyhow?

What Affects How Much Does Landscape Design Cost?

The first step is to consider what you really need. Perhaps you have your hardscape installed already, and you have a need for a small area of planting only. In this case, you may want to consider hiring a landscaper directly. Often landscapers will provide design services as a part of what they do for little to no cost in order to get the project. This is fine for a small planting plan or to put in some screening plants at your side yard. However, when it comes to overall landscape design including the whole property, it’s best to seek out design professionals.

Landscape Architect Vs. Landscape Designer

By definition, landscape architects are people who have passed a rigorous testing regimen after years of education to become licensed landscape architects. They will typically have “LA” after their names, and are proud of their certification. In some parts of the country, like the northeast, it’s common to find landscape architects working on residential properties.

As you move to the southwest, residential landscape architecture becomes less common. Only the highest of the high end projects to use a licensed landscape architect for a residential project. Landscape architects in these areas are usually working in the public or commercial sectors only.

The majority of the residential design work in the south western markets and much of the design everywhere else is done by landscape designers. Landscape designers are informally trained or trained on the job designers, or those who went to landscape architecture school but never took the examinations to become landscape architects.

How Much Does Landscape Design Cost With Landscapers/Landscape Designers?

The lowest price you will find for landscape design will be with landscapers and landscape designers. If your designer is a ‘design-build’ firm, the price is usually lower for design than it is at a design only firm. The reason being they design with the intent of getting the construction contract. Designs range in cost from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars depending on the scope of services and the overall project budget itself.

How Much Does Landscape Design Cost With Landscape Architects?

When you need more than just plants, like hardscape, irrigation, a pool, outdoor kitchen, outdoor living structures, etc. it becomes a much more expensive design to complete. These are the type of projects that you should consider a landscape architect. There is far more work on the design end, so don’t be surprised if your design costs $5,000 – $10,000 for the schematic phase alone.

There is a lot to consider and thoughtful design equals hours of work on the designer’s end to both create the design and to create a visual representation to communicate to you what the design is. If you have a large property you are developing from scratch the design can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars.

How Much Does Landscape Design Cost Guide

Cost Of Not Having Landscape Design

All this may seem like overkill. How can you spend so much on design, when you still have the installation itself? The main reason you spend money on design is to take advantage of the experience of the designer to create a space which flows and the programming of the spaces work together to achieve your goals. For example, they’ll know the design-minded answer to questions such as how much space you need for a pool.

As professional landscape designers and pool builders, we highly discourage winging your project with a landscaper without any design. From experience, there’s a good chance something will not work out. There will be some programmatic errors which cause frustration. Here are a few examples of bad design. A pool that is set too low and attracts rainwater, constantly overfilling the pool. A pathway that mulch flows over whenever it rains. Stepping stones to nowhere because you ran out of space.

How Much Does Landscape Design Cost Summary

In the long run, landscape design will cost you anywhere between nothing and tens of thousands of dollars. Ultimately, you will get what you pay for, as with most things in life. Expect to pay somewhere in the 5%-10% of your budget on the landscape design aspect. Budgeting for this will prepare you for a properly executed landscape design.