How Much Does a Backyard Renovation Cost—and What Can You Get for Your Money?
How much does a backyard renovation cost? It’s a question that many homeowners ponder if they’re on the verge of upgrading their yard from an overgrown thicket to a beautifully landscaped oasis. But how much money should you budget for this project?
According to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, the average cost (including labor) to put down a new lawn with modest plantings and trees on a quarter-acre of land runs $7,500 to $10,000.
Looking for a more detailed breakdown? Here’s what you can expect to pay, how far your dollar will go, and tips to help you save.
How much does a backyard renovation cost?
Several factors go into the cost, including the size of the lot, the quality of the soil, and how extensive you plan to be with new plantings and irrigation. But some of the most common line items on an average backyard renovation bill are sod installation, a deck or patio, and landscape design.
Here is what you can expect to get in three ranges of renovation costs:
$1,000 to $5,000: In this price range, you’ll be able to buy plants, plant grass seed, and cut back trees.
“Plants usually make up about one-half of the landscaping,” says Robert Himmaugh, manager of Acadian Windows and Siding, a Gulf Coast outdoor renovation company. “The costs will vary on the type of plant that you use.”
A small tree can set you back $100, while a hardy Leyland cypress hedge costs $34.
$5,000 to $15,000: For this much money, you’ll be able to do the same sort of landscape upgrades highlighted above, and you can replace the lawn with new sod.
“Lawns that come from sod rolls can be anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per square foot,” says Himmaugh.
You’ll also likely meet with a landscape designer who will lay out your backyard and charge you $2,000 to $6,000 for a detailed plan.
“The price also jumps if you do anything with masonry work, because you have to hire a professional, and permits are mandatory,” says Triple Kocurek of Trine Agricultural Services, in Buffalo, TX.
$15,000 to $50,000: This price range includes the same renovations mentioned earlier, plus hardscaping: any human-made features such as a patio, gazebo, path, or pond.
“A new patio can cost anywhere from $3,000 up to $50,000, depending on size and materials,” says Himmaugh.
Another popular backyard renovation is an outdoor kitchen. According to Home Advisor, the average cost to build an outdoor kitchen is $10,670, with some projects reaching $50,000. This is mostly due to installation costs of electric, gas, and water lines.
Keep in mind that additional costs can crop up quickly.
“If the yard has poor drainage, laying underground pipes to address the issue will add hundreds, if not thousands, to the bottom line,” says HomeAdvisor’s home expert, Dan DiClerico.
Or you may discover that you need to regrade the lawn—to direct water away from the foundation walls—to the tune of $2,000 on average.
How to save on the cost of a backyard upgrade
The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests that homeowners budget the cost of a major landscaping project at 5% to 10% of their home’s value. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your smarts and DIY skills to save more than a couple of dollars on the cost of remodeling a backyard.
Here are some tips to keep your bottom line down:
Go native: “Look for plants that are native to your region, as these will cost less and also be easier to maintain,” says Himmaugh. Native plants are also more likely to be naturally hardy, meaning you won’t have to replace them down the road.
Use crushed stone: Using crushed stone or garden rocks is one of the most budget-friendly backyard renovation tricks. Instead of paying for sod or plants, simply use crushed stone to fill spaces.
Bonus: You’ll save a ton on watering costs.
Do as much as you can yourself: “There are thousands of videos on YouTube to teach you just about any backyard improvement you might want to do,” says Kocurek.
Think twice before adding pricey amenities: And if you’re tempted to splurge on a fun but expensive amenity for your backyard, weigh the pros, cons, and return on investment before breaking ground. Swimming pools, for example, have one of the worst returns on investment out there.
According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, for every dollar you spend on a pool, you’ll probably recoup only 39 cents when you sell your home.
What’s the best return on investment on a backyard remodel?
You’ll feel the pinch of any remodel, of course. But you will get some of that money back if you ever decide to sell your home, because curb appeal is real. According to landscape economist John Harris, landscaping can contribute to 28% of your home’s overall value.
You’ll see even more if you add a deck, according to the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine. A decking project that costs $19,150 in 2019 will deliver a 69.1% return (or $13,232) when you sell.
Bottom line: If you have a few extra dollars, it makes sense to spend money on beautifying your house now in order to make money later.