Landscaping costs?

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bstewie
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Landscaping costs?

Post by bstewie » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:10 pm

How much should landscaping cost for a small yard? Our back yard is approx 900 sq ft, and is effectively a dirt lot. There’s only so much you can do with 900 sq ft and we aren’t shooting for the stars with expectations. I’ve received multiple quotes, all in the range of $15-19/ft. I feel these quotes are quite high. Am I crazy? One contractor was remarkably professional, but their quote came in at $17/ft. Are the quotes we are receiving just reflecting economies of scale (e.g. you pay more per ft for a small project since there’s still a lowest common denominator of effort)?

Work to be done:
- retaining wall (36 ft x 2.5 ft), including proper irrigation (drains, drip lines)
- small patch of grass
- stained, stamped, sealed concrete (480ft)
- 3 separate, small sections for plants (including plants)
- electrical work to bring outlets to concrete section.
- water: 100 ft of 3” drainline, sprinklers, 3 valve system
- primary drain hookup needs to be relocated to accommodate layout
- 3-4 tons of rock for fill in certain areas

barnaclebob
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:20 pm

Thats a lot of work spread across a few different disciplines, your quotes don't surprise me but I haven't ever gotten landscaping done.

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Kenkat
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by Kenkat » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:28 pm

The only things I’d really consider “landscaping” is the grass and the plants. Maybe the retaining wall and rock fill if you are dealing with a significant slope. You are packing a lot of other stuff into 900 sq. ft. Good stuff that will probably make for a nice space, but if you've gotten several quotes all in the same range, that’s probably what it’s going to run you. Landscaping in general is not cheap. Adding extra concrete, plumbing and electrical work is going to be expensive.

When we built our house - now many years ago - I had a landscaper do the heavy work such as grading, seed and sod and creating landscaping beds. I bought and planted my own plants, spread mulch, etc. I think the only way to get your cost down is likely to cut a few things out or do some of it yourself.

corysold
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by corysold » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:36 pm

Those don't seem to bad. I do some sidework in landscaping and that wall alone would be $3,000ish, depending on what type of brick and what else will go into it. Figure $10-15/foot for the patio depending on what type of style you do.

Just with the hardscape you are at $8-12,000.

$500-1000 for the rock fill.

$2,000ish for the sprinkler.

I don't do electric, but I'd guess you'd be looking at at least $500+.

Then just some labor and materials for the other jobs, but count on around $100/hr all in for those other projects, so that starts to add up.

You are probably getting a discount to do it all with one company, but your quotes don't seem out of line. Especially if you have multiple quotes in the same ball park.

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snackdog
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by snackdog » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:14 pm

Fairly reasonable based on what I have seen.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:41 pm

That’s the market rate. As others have said, you’re having a lot of work done. The retaining wall is $3-4K right there. The electrical work is another $750. Rock can cost depending on what kind you buy, had a landscape place quote me $230 a ton for some real nice river stone, we opted for something more economical. Clean rock is about $35 a ton not including delivery and labor. Grass is $250. Sprinkler is $2000-$2,250. This stuff adds up, quickly.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

bstewie
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by bstewie » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:25 pm

Thanks for the input everyone

adamthesmythe
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:33 pm

Retaining wall and concrete are the big ticket items. You might try bidding those separately, but good concrete work costs. Bad concrete work will cost more in the long run.

bstewie
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by bstewie » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:45 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:33 pm
Retaining wall and concrete are the big ticket items. You might try bidding those separately, but good concrete work costs. Bad concrete work will cost more in the long run.
Agreed. I’m slowly coming to terms with the price tag due to BH feedback. Had some variable input from friends and family about their yard costs, but materials and quality of work is all over the map. I have no reservations about the quality of concrete work from the bid I would like to go with. Some neighbors have shared their price tags, it’s all over the map. In reality the price tags I would like to pay are much simpler: all grass or low end hardscape. Our neighbor filled half his yard with rock and poured a little concrete pad himself. I would like to have it done right and last as I will spend most of my time in the back yard during non working hours. Lots of friends and family nearby and we are the cooks in the group.

Zonian59
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Location: California

Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by Zonian59 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:24 am

I've been thinking about redoing my front and backyard too. I've gotten them to the point where it is barren.
Need grass, shrubs, plants, some small trees and some sprinkler rework.
I noticed some community colleges or universities offer landscaping programs.
Is it possible to contract with the school as a project as described?
Would that save any money?

likegarden
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by likegarden » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:50 am

I do all my landscaping work myself, but would never touch a concrete retaining wall. Though I have done 1 ft+ retaining walls using pressure treated landscape timbers, but they will last only 20 years. I consider DIY landscape work regular exercise in the fresh air.

Lynette
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by Lynette » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:52 am

likegarden wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:50 am
I do all my landscaping work myself, but would never touch a concrete retaining wall. Though I have done 1 ft+ retaining walls using pressure treated landscape timbers, but they will last only 20 years. I consider DIY landscape work regular exercise in the fresh air.
The price sounds reasonable as there is a lot of work beyond the traditional landscaping.

I have spent about $25,000 on drains due to water in my basement. A plumbing company did this and I am pleased with their work. However, the ground has sunk where the drains are. I got an informal quote of $11,000 just to regrade the back yard so that the water would flow to the catch basins. So I am doing it myself - hauling in soil and mulch from Home Depot. I have likely spent about $6,000 on trees and shrubs most of which I planted myself. Yesterday I moved some shrubs around and reseeded patches of lawn. It is great exercise and I have learnt a great deal about plants in the process. I find it a wonderful escape to go and visit my favorite nurseries. Of course, I should leave my credit card behind. I'm 74.
Last edited by Lynette on Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

stupidkid
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by stupidkid » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:10 pm

This is both a very helpful and depressing discussion. We recently hired a landscape architect to prepare plans for our very small yard, about .1 acre total plat, maybe 1000 sq ft front, same in back, and 600 sq ft side. I have attempted xeriscape design but dw would like more intentional than my haphazard dry stone walled raised beds and plantings "it looks like weeds". The architect didn't deliver what we expected plans wise but he quoted around $45k then revised to $37k. We still thought this was crazy. It includes a mix of concrete removal, pour, other hardscape, plants, etc. We did not engage his services for the work because we thought the price was sky high but based on these comments maybe that's just what it is....

corysold
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by corysold » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:48 pm

stupidkid wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:10 pm
This is both a very helpful and depressing discussion. We recently hired a landscape architect to prepare plans for our very small yard, about .1 acre total plat, maybe 1000 sq ft front, same in back, and 600 sq ft side. I have attempted xeriscape design but dw would like more intentional than my haphazard dry stone walled raised beds and plantings "it looks like weeds". The architect didn't deliver what we expected plans wise but he quoted around $45k then revised to $37k. We still thought this was crazy. It includes a mix of concrete removal, pour, other hardscape, plants, etc. We did not engage his services for the work because we thought the price was sky high but based on these comments maybe that's just what it is....
A lot of people balk at landscape prices at first. One issue is the material typically costs more than they realize. A paver patio has a lot of brick/stone in it, even if they aren't that much each. Then you have the base layers, the snap edge, the polysand, etc. It all adds up.

But more than material is the overhead. There is a lot of cost to have the right tools/equipment to do the job. Trailers, skidsters, trucks, saws, blowers, mowers, etc. None of that is cheap, so the overhead can add up more than you'd think, especially when you have to pay to store it.

That is why you can sometimes get a better deal using a Craiglist/on the side type of contractor, who isn't carrying all of the overhead. But the work you get, while not always, sometimes matches the price.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by sunny_socal » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:59 am

Shop around. I just had a lot of work done, I'll give you an idea of quotes I received:

- Clear 20 trees: Low bid $1900, high $5200
- Add 2500 sq ft of sod grass: Low $4000, high $15000
- Stone/Brick patio: Low $6000, high $15000
- 500ft fence: Low $9500, high $11500

Also got quotes for a couple "package deals" where multiple items were combined, they turned out to be much, much higher (eg. 45k) Ended up mostly going with the low bidder in each case and did them all separately.

Rule of thumb:
1. Find out cost of materials
2. Double it (this is what you will be charged)
3. Double it again (this is what you'll end up paying with labor)

Landscaping is not terribly difficult but it takes a lot of labor. These days no one picks up a shovel, it's all done with small multi-purpose machines made by companies like Ditchwitch and Bobcat. The same machine can cut trees, grade your yard, dig ditches, spread mulch, lift pallets. It's pretty cool!

tev9876
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Re: Landscaping costs?

Post by tev9876 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:03 am

Agree the quotes look reasonable. My driveway is being torn out as I type this and will be poured Monday with a patio added. Tear out of 800 sf and pouring of 1600 sf with the patio added ranged from $9500 to $12,000 on my quotes. This is for plain white concrete, so stamping and staining add considerable costs. The electrical line to the garage had to be buried deeper for this and I decided to move the generator inlet to the garage, so I did that myself for about $200 in conduit and wire. I will also be replacing the 18' wood fence myself - four steel posts = $100, new pressure treated framing and cedar pickets = $200, double gate kit = $200. I've probably got another $200+ in brackets and hardware to still buy. It all adds up quickly.

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