What's the Cost to Hire a Landscaper? Exploring Pricing for Pro Help in Bozeman, MT

Written By: Andrew Blanchford

Dec 27, 2023 8:18:00 AM

If you’re like a lot of homeowners who are just starting the process of adding an outdoor living space, you might have no idea about the cost of landscaping. You know that landscaping adds a lot of value, but you don’t know what kind of investment you’re looking at to get the process started.

Determining a landscaping budget is an important first step and the linked article will help walk you through some expectations to keep in mind.

One important consideration is that there is also typically a design fee associated with the process. Obviously, the cost of your project includes both the cost of the materials and the labor. But there’s also the landscape design cost to consider. 

The design is such an essential first step that should not be overlooked. But you’ll find that different companies handle landscape design pricing differently. In this article, we’ll explain some of the ways that landscape design pricing can be handled and also what you can expect to pay.

How Do I Pay for Landscape Design?

Most landscape companies that charge for design either do so by charging an hourly rate or a flat fee. Both are valid methods for landscape design pricing and certain circumstances warrant different options. 

Let’s look at both.

Landscape Design Pricing by Hour

An hourly rate is probably the most common way that landscape companies charge for their design services. It factors in all of the hours that went into the design process. 

Generally speaking, an hourly rate takes into account the landscape designer’s level of experience, training, and certifications. 

large patio with natural stone and stepsThat means that a company with more experienced landscape designers is naturally going to charge more. But the caliber of your design will be better. 

It’s important to remember that as with anything in life, you get what you pay for and when you’re investing a substantial amount of money into a landscape project, you want to be certain that it’s going to be exactly what you wanted.

Flat Rate Landscape Design Pricing

Sometimes landscape design cost is factored as a flat fee. But many times, if you are given a flat fee for your landscape design, it’s because the designer has already calculated how many hours it is going to take to complete your design. If it’s a relatively straightforward project, this is easier to do.

Free Landscape Design

Since we are talking about landscape design costs, we want to take a moment to discuss the fact that some landscaping companies do not charge for design work. While this might sound like that’s helping to save you money, in reality, it could be a red flag. A company that does not charge for design might not be all that invested in the details of your project. 

Use This Worksheet to Plan Out Your Landscape Design

You will not get high-quality, professional design work for free.

In fact, when a company does not charge for design, it might not even be creating a design! At the most, perhaps they’re sketching something up quickly. This is troublesome as you can’t possibly know what you’re going to end up with if you don’t have a design.

What is the Average Cost for Landscape Design?

Looking nationally, the average cost for landscape design (according to Angi, formerly Angie’s List) is $1,935 to $7,223. That’s going to be impacted by many factors, including the size of the project and even where you live.

At Blanchford Landscape Group, our landscape design hourly fee is between $100 to $120 per hour. Design projects take approximately 25 hours for smaller projects and up to 50 hours for larger projects.

flagstone patio with firepit and hot tubThe total landscape design cost is typically in the $2,500 to $6,000 range (or more) for very large projects.

The time invested in those hours is not just spent in front of a computer crafting the design. The total time also factors in time on site, product sourcing, and more. There is a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into the landscape design to ensure that it’s exactly what you want.

What is the Average Cost for Landscape Design from a Landscape Architect?

When thinking about a landscape design, you might also be weighing your options of a landscape design/build firm vs. a landscape architect.  

When you choose to work with a design/build firm, like Blanchford Landscape Group, the company that is creating your design is also building your project. There’s a lot of benefit to that as the process will flow smoothly from the design phase to the construction phase.

When you work with an architecture firm, they’re just handling the design. Then, a different company would build it. Sometimes, this leaves room for some disconnects as you’re not taking the project from start to finish with the same company.

patio with pool and plantingsAnother potential downside is that a landscape architect is going to charge more for their landscape design pricing. On average, landscape architecture firms typically charge upwards of $150 per hour. They also create plans that are incredibly detailed and complex. 

For comparison, our finished landscape design might be 2 pages compared to a landscape architect’s plan being 10. While we are all about a thorough design, you don’t really need a 10-page plan. 

There is also quite a bit of value that comes from a design/build firm handling all aspects of your project. The design and paper documents that are developed by a landscape architect will include every single detail that the construction company needs to do. But this isn’t necessary when the same company handling the design is handling the construction.

pergola on patio with outdoor fireplaceThat means we can put a little less time into the design and save you some money while still giving you the same high-caliber finished project. 

At Blanchford Landscape Group we have an advantage in that we perform both design and build really well (many landscaping companies in Bozeman and Big Sky, MT tend to excel at one or the other). That gives us the unique opportunity to see a project from design all the way through construction and into maintenance, as we offer that too. We’re really committed to building lifelong relationships.

The Value of Investing in Landscape Design

While not every company charges for landscape design or even takes the process so seriously, it’s truly a critical step of the entire project. There’s so much more to it than a quick sketch-up.

While it’s true that the landscape design cost is an investment, it’s also providing tremendous value to your results.

For one, it allows you to get that fully customized project that includes all of the details that are important to you. It’s not just throwing materials in. Everything is decided on and signed off on before being added to that Master Plan.

flagstone patio with view of mountainsThere is continuity and a sense of belonging for each detail that goes into the finished project. In other words, there is a direct link between the caliber of your design and the caliber of your finished project.

When everything is well-planned, it can even save you money on construction expenses. As with anything in life, when you plan ahead, you ultimately make smarter decisions. 

This is true when it comes to potentially phasing your project as well. 

family eats outside on flagstone patio While you might have long-term plans for your backyard, you don’t necessarily want to have everything built at one time. You might want to “phase” the project out over several years in order to pay for it in chunks at a time. A “Master Plan” will allow you to do that and will ensure that the finished project doesn’t ultimately look “pieced together” because it wasn’t planned well from the start.

There’s also an infrastructure component with design and phasing in that certain elements must be installed at certain phases. For instance, if you have plans for a future pergola or pavilion, the footings should be installed during the first phase of construction on the patio. If they aren’t, you’ll have to dig up your patio at a later date in order to install those footings down the road.

It will actually cost you more money down the road if you don’t plan well from the start! That’s on top of the hassles associated with extra construction or having to tear up and re-finish projects that could have been otherwise left alone if there was a plan in place.

Investing in Landscape Design Cost is Investing in Your Custom Space

At the end of the day, a great design equates to a great finished space. 

When you’re investing in an outdoor living project, you want to know that the space will be fully tailored to your wants and needs—not only aesthetically but functionally, as well. The last thing that you want is to invest in a project that is uncomfortable, doesn’t function well, or reflects who you are.

But great design helps bring everything together, just as you wish. That means seeing the project you’ve been envisioning be brought to life…perhaps even better than you ever thought it could be!

Are you ready to get the process of bringing your outdoor dreams at your Bozeman or Big Sky, MT home to life? Let’s connect and talk about your project. Then, we can meet and begin talking about your ideas. We can’t wait for you to enjoy a beautiful outdoor living space.

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Topics: Landscape Design

Posted by Andrew Blanchford

Andy grew up in southeast Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree from Pennsylvania State University in Landscape Contracting. He is a Certified Plant Professional and is the only Certified Landscape Industry Manager in Montana. When not at work he has fun with his family. He also enjoys travel, trail running, skiing, and the great Montana outdoors.