• Mon - Sat 8:00 - 6:30, Sunday - CLOSED

Backyard Renovation Cost: This Is How to Calculate It | Architectural Digest | Architectural Digest Menu Chevron Search Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram YouTube

Backyard Renovation Cost: This Is How to Calculate It | Architectural Digest | Architectural Digest Menu Chevron Search Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram YouTube

Messner says that working with hills or slopes instead of leveling them can save cash, as can shopping for native plants. “Using aggregate materials, like gravel or decomposed granite, is a great way to save on paving costs too,” he adds.

Determining different “rooms” in your yard should help you to figure out where to spend the most money. “You may have a costly drainage issue that is a top priority, as an example, so to compensate you can play with medium price points for the hardscape,” Anne says. “Design with less expensive materials where possible, and intersperse more expensive accents throughout. This allows for a budget-conscious design without appearing that way.”

You need a design phase

As much as you might want to immediately put a shovel to work, every expert suggests following a thorough plan first. “It doesn’t cost much to edit a blueprint, compared with editing a construction site after something goes wrong,” Anne says. “With proper design, planning, and engineering, a construction project can be quite exciting, predictable, and enjoyable.” This plan will also help you narrow down what your yard can actually accommodate.

“The biggest cost drivers for outdoor renovations are pools, retaining walls, slopes, and demolition,” Lenhart notes. “It’s useful to account for the most expensive features first, and then work your way down to more cost-effective design elements. Understanding the rough cost of big ticket items like decks, retaining walls, or kitchens helps you to figure out which features will deliver the most value to you. Ideally, you want to spend your budget on features that will have the greatest impact on your design.” Yardzen makes this process a cinch with an online quiz, but an in-person pro will run you through the costs before ever breaking ground. It’s also possible to complete this project in more than one phase, which would account for seasonality and provide more time to save.

Backyard Renovation Cost: This Is How to Calculate It | Architectural Digest | Architectural Digest Menu Chevron Search Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram YouTube

“Phasing is key,” Anne says. “For example, if the pergola you want needs to be done in phase two, then make sure you install the footings needed now under phase one.”

Spaces should have more than one use

Your design should capitalize on flexibility, particularly if you’re short on space and budget. “Design spaces that can adapt to multiple uses: Entertaining, relaxation, dining, play,” Lenhart says. “Keeping boundaries between spaces broad and open, minimizing barriers within spaces, and leaning on movable furnishings goes a long way toward achieving this.”

Don’t be shocked by the cost of nixing rocks

Removing things that don’t fit your vision can be expensive. “Clients are most often surprised by the cost of demolition, including concrete, stumps, rocks, and boulders,” Messner says. “Access to the yard and grading can also add unexpected expenses.” To help ensure that costs are accounted for as much as possible, keep a checklist. “Our firm has a series of checklists during the design, estimating, and construction phases,” Anne says. The checklist encompasses the scope of each construction bid and all of the possibilities inherent to that scope.

Anne also says that working with one design firm lessens the chance of potential miscommunications, which can lead to costly mistakes. But on the bright side, issues can often be spotted immediately. “Most aspects of landscaping projects are visible to the eye, rather than an interior wall that may contain old electrical, plumbing, or mold,” she notes.

If you invest in one thing, make it trees

Lenhart recommends investing in trees—particularly ones that are native to your area—to get the best return on your investment. “They offer a ton of functional benefits, like habitat provision, improved infiltration and soil health, and even reduced home energy expenditure,” he says. “From a design experience perspective, they’re just as valuable. Trees make key focal points, can help lengthen sight lines, define outdoor rooms, and lend purpose to awkward nooks.” They can also supply more privacy and shade in years to come.

But you don’t have to be as enthusiastic about investing in plants. “Installing fewer plants is fine,” Anne says. “If you work in enough layers, varying heights, contrast of foliage colors, and plants that will grow over time, then I would embrace the sparseness.”