The most common question we get during the consultation process is about an appropriate landscape budget. This of course can vary based on yard size, design needs, slope of the ground plane, and material choices. Determining how much you want to spend on your landscape also depends on what you want to do out in your yard, including a consideration for how the spaces will perform and durability of materials.
Our firm acts as the designer, general contractor, and subcontractor, taking care of every detail of the project. Our landscape designs consist of features like decks, pergolas, steel work, fencing, concrete work, integrated furniture, grill spaces, water features, fire pits, lighting, irrigation, sod, gravel, and planting beds.
It's honestly very difficult to give ballpark numbers without seeing the project site, but at the consultation we can help you know what to expect for a high-end, professionally designed and custom-built landscape in Austin, TX. One rule of thumb for the Design Fee is that it can run about 10-15% of the overall budget. This allows us to build a 3D model, design the space (including 2 revisions), produce presentation documents, and create a quote.
Very roughly, most of our projects shown in our portfolio generally run between $40,000 and $120,000. If there are several specialized or upgraded built objects like fencing and shade structures with high-end materials, the budgets could go up from there. On the other hand, we also have projects with limited interventions (in a portion of a yard) that can run around $20,000. And even though I've mentioned caveats like "roughly," "generally," and "around," I must be clear that every project is different and an appropriate Design Fee would be determined after the consultation based on actual design scope; budgets can vary from initial ballpark numbers and are finalized on the last round of design. We can chat more about phasing, prioritizing design needs, or simply providing the design documents to help you find a comfortable budget during the design process.
We thought it would be helpful to write a post about landscape costs because there is either very little info available online, or the averages available are in our opinion misleading. Since so many people enjoy working in their garden, there can be a disconnect from gardener to landscaper, and then again from landscaper* to landscape designer/architect*. From our experience, that popular rule of thumb regarding the landscape budget matching a percentage of the value of the home in order to add the same value at resale just does not seem to be true. For example, a home that could sell for $250,000 in Austin, but $80,000 in Houston, would likely have the same design needs and cost of installation, regardless of the city. It’s more about activating the space and making it more usable and inviting to you and your family. In the end, determining an arbitrary budget number based on the current value of your house may or may not be in line with your overall design needs or material choices.
An added bonus is that improving your landscape does add a subjective value upon resale, but it really depends on location, market trends, and most of all, giving the right impression to potential buyers. Jon Chambers, a realtor with Realty Austin, confirmed that he has not seen a formulaic, sure-bet calculation in what specific percentage returns to expect. Chambers says, “In a hot market like Austin, landscaping and staging your home can make a huge difference on marketability and demand on the home. A home that shows well and sells in the first week would always get more money than if it sits on the market for several months. It’s more about packaging and presenting the home so that it seems turn-key, like a homebuyer won’t have to do anything to it.”
Most people are looking to improve their landscape for their own use and benefit from a yard that attracts native wildlife, so adding home value tends to be secondary. Over and over we hear that clients want to use their yard but don’t know where to start. That, or they’ve taken a stab at some projects or had a landscaper or contractor* do a job here and there without a master plan and now want to make their landscape feel cohesive. More often than not, they know that they want to grill, dine at a table, entertain guests on comfortable furniture, or give unprogrammed play space to their children and pets, etc., but aren't sure how to make all of the puzzle pieces fit together.
To schedule a consultation with the Open Envelope Studio design team, please click on the Contact page.
*Landscapers and contractors usually do not have formal education or advanced degrees in landscape architecture or architecture. For more information on the terminology, click on the ASLA Question and Answer page. To learn more about our designers, click on their profile pictures on the About page.