Just starting to kick the tires on a landscape project? A landscape design, whether penciled on a napkin over dinner or fully plotted and drawn by a professional, will become the first step to creating that outdoor space of your dreams. It also results in your first out-of-pocket cost. The price of a professional landscape design will be a fraction of the total project, and ultimately depends on three factors: the experience and skill of the design professional, the services offered, and the amount of drawing detail necessary to depict the installation work to be done.
First meetings with designers and landscape architects allow the client and designer to get to know each other, discuss the scope of work to be done, look at portfolios, and walk the site. This meeting usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour or more.
As designer, I can then assess the scope of the project, decide what kind of documents will be necessary to accurately depict the project on paper, decide how it will take to complete the project, and arrive at a price. With this information, I draw up a proposal that states what work will be done, the documents included, and the overall costs. If the client agrees, then we are in business together.
How do designers and architects arrive at the exact price? Most charge by the hour and add on whatever printing charges will occur. Some simply charge by the hour with no fixed total and then bill the client as those hours accumulate. I have found most people are uncomfortable with this arrangement, so I figure my hours in advance so that I can offer a set amount for the design. This way, my clients know how much they will ultimately pay before they sign the proposal.
Ultimately designs cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars if they are uncomplicated, to several thousand for complex plans that will take many hours of work. As mentioned, the price is ultimately determined by the number of hours at the drawing board. The average design takes about 15 hours to complete, counting site meetings. At minimum, a small, uncomplicated design takes 7 to 8 hours, while complex designs on large properties may take a week or more of dedicated work to complete.