Building a hardscape is one way to make a property beautiful and appealing. Whether it may or may not increase your property value, it gives you the relaxation and enjoyment you need. A hardscape can make the overall look of the landscape of your property carved right into your dream.
A hardscape project can cost from $2,500 to over $100,000. Factors such as the location of your property, the size of your backyard, the hardscape elements you want to build, and the cost of the materials to be used for these can affect your budget plan.
In this article, we will discuss one of the categories of landscaping, hardscaping. We will also talk about the different types of hardscapes you can build and the factors to consider when building them. Finally, we will provide you with the cost range for some of the hardscape elements that can help you when planning a budget.
What Are Hardscapes?
Hardscapes are decorative and practical structures in a landscape, from fences and driveways to benches. They are integral parts of your landscaping design, giving the definition and perception of organization to the features and natural areas.
The term hardscape refers to all non-living elements in landscaping, such as stone walls, brick patios, and wooden arbors. It is one of the two categories of landscaping, the other one being softscape. Softscape refers to all living and organic elements in a garden or backyard, such as trees, flowers, and grass.
Some factors greatly impact the cost of hardscape elements, including:
- The size of your backyard
- The elements you desire
- The materials and plants you choose
- Where the materials are from and their costs
- The location of your property
- The local labor cost
If you want to improve the overall look and functionality of your garden or yard, you should consider landscaping. One thing that you should know about this process, though, is that it can be extremely pricy. Why is landscaping so expensive? Read our article to find out.
The Different Types of Hardscapes
There are so many ways to use hardscape elements to enhance your property. Here are some examples of hardscape elements you can have in your backyard.
Driveways are some of the perfect hardscapes you can have on your property. Due to their sizes and locations, they can have a significant impact on the curb appeal. To make a driveway, you can use materials such as stained concrete, cobblestones, or pavers that blend well with the overall design.
Although concrete pavers are more expensive than asphalt or poured concrete, they are easy to maintain and permeable, which means they allow water to pass through them. In some states, driveways must be permeable by law.
Walkways are another great choice of hardscapes that include many options, which include bricks, stones, pavers, pavers that look like stones and bricks, concrete (poured, slab, colored, or textured), gravel, terrazzo, and glass pebbles.
Walkways come in different patterns and colors. Pavers can be made resembling bricks, cobblestones, and stone images. An interlocking paver system is a great choice for areas that experience extreme freezing-and-thaw patterns that cause the concrete to heave and crack.
When building walkways, consider your property’s topography and drainage systems, as well as the local climate.
3. Pergolas and Pavilions
Pergolas and pavilions are perfect hardscape elements to escape the summer’s sun and heat. Pergolas have an open roof structure that reduces sun exposure, which can be improved by adding a cloth or lattice roof between the beams. They can cost around $6,000 and are traditionally constructed using cedar or pine wood. Although, some pergolas can also be built using vinyl, even though it can be expensive.
Pavilions are quite similar but have a solid roof. Their price starts at $10,000. They can be made of vinyl or wood, which can both be upgraded for privacy walls and roof options. You can also add fans, lighting, and sound system to them.
4. Gravel Paths
Gravel paths are the easiest and least expensive DIY hardscape projects. To install gravel paths, you’ll need to dig and level them. Dig the path 4 inches deep and pour a layer of crushed stones, followed by a layer of fabric to prevent weeds. Lastly, install a 3-inch firm edging on both sides to hold a 3-inch-deep layer of gravel.
Gravel paths provide you with flexibility in terms of shapes and can be used for courtyards or in between pavers. However, gravel tends to spread out onto the grass and surrounding beds, so keep a rake to recollect the gravel.
Fences can provide privacy and security depending on their heights, designs, and transparency. They are some of the most common hardscapes you can see in backyards. You can add effect on your fences with vines, trellises, shrubs, a lattice topper, or a dip.
Fences can be made of metal, wood, or vinyl. Vinyl is more expensive than wood and quite reflective but requires less maintenance. Meanwhile, metal fences look more formal than wood and need minimal maintenance but give less privacy.
Fences are also perfect as swimming pool enclosures since they can be equipped with self-locking gates. Although, fences should be your background and not be a focal point.
Walls are perfect hardscapes that provide security and are often made from materials such as adobe, concrete, stones, wood, or bricks. A mortared stone or a brick wall must align with your property’s other hardscapes’ designs, colors, and textures.
Walls must be carefully planned and constructed, whether they are erected for privacy, stability, or function since they are a long-term design statement.
Countertops are expensive hardscape elements that you can add to your backyard. Your kitchen countertops aren’t suitable for outdoor use since they will get exposed to natural elements. But, you have multiple options for outdoor countertops, from granite to marble, natural stone, or pre-manufactured concrete.
Granite can cost $50 or more per square foot and comes in different colors. Meanwhile, natural stone countertops can cost $50 or more per square foot and have a wonderful stone finish but fewer color choices . Finally, pre-manufactured concrete countertops can start at $27 per square foot and be customized based on your preferred size and design.
Many hardscape elements are commonly built, such as patios, stairs, built-in furniture, decks, arbors, pergolas, and gazebos. All these elements vary in size, design, layout, and construction. However, they are commonly seen in a property as adding beauty and value.
How Much Will My Backyard Hardscape Project Cost?
It is important to create a budget plan when constructing a backyard hardscape. You have to focus on the functions of your elements and where they will be used when building a hardscape that can add to the overall beauty of your property’s landscape.
Before knowing how much it will cost to achieve your desired hardscape, here are some helpful budget tips.
Make an Inventory
The first thing to do when completing a backyard hardscape project is to make a list of what you’ll be needing and what you already have, and then, conduct an analysis. You might have some things in your yard that would allow you to save money. For instance, you can repurpose hard-scape materials like bricks for pathways or walkways.
Hire a Professional
To avoid expensive mistakes, hire a professional to layout and design a master plan for you. Having a professional opinion helps visualize the possibilities and map out the steps to achieve. Besides, a master plan will help you understand where your money will go.
This will prevent you from getting shocked after having spent a fortune on something you didn’t see coming. Also, ignoring possibilities can wind up making you spend more to fix it.
Know All the Costs
When building a hardscape project, it’s recommended to plan how much you are willing to spend on the project and discuss your budget with a professional landscaper. It’s better to know the costs or get at least three estimates of the materials needed if you’re unsure of what to consider for your budget.
Be hands-on in knowing the costs of the materials needed for your hardscape project. From stones to plants and lighting, it can cost you more or less than your budget. That is also when you will decide whether to spend or save.
The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests, to begin with, 5 to 10% of your property’s worth. A good landscape design can add 15% or more to the value of your property compared to the other houses in your neighborhood.
When estimating the cost of your backyard hardscape elements, you must be committed and hands-on to it. You must know what elements you want to install and plan the materials, plants, design, furniture, and labor cost to achieve the perfect backyard landscape.
If you want to improve the overall appearance of your yard, you should consider landscaping. While this process typically costs a lot of money, there are some things that you can do to lessen your expenses. Read our article to find out how to cut down the cost of landscaping.
Cost Range of Backyard Hardscape Elements
Below is the cost range of hardscape elements that could affect your budget. Review the information below and adjust your budget accordingly.
1. Custom Patio Covers – $5,000 to $20,000
Metal and steel patios are the most expensive, followed by those made of natural hardwood, aluminum, and natural and engineered wood. Shade fabric patios often cost less than these other options.
2. Solid Hardscapes – $15 to $50 per square foot
The cost of stone or concrete patios, stone walls, pool decks, driveways, and walkways varies based on the finish of the concrete or the type of stone used.
3. Retaining Walls – $50 to $150 per square foot
There are different material options for retaining walls, from interlocking concrete blocks to softwood (redwood or cedar). If you’re aiming for a lower cost, you can either use hardwood made of teak or ipe, while for a higher one and high-end materials, you can turn to stone or concrete. The drainage, height, and size of the retaining walls can affect the final cost.
4. Built-in Gas Fire Pits – $5,000 to $15,000
Running a gas fire pit can increase its cost depending on the chosen materials. If you want an inexpensive fire pit, then the best option is precast pavers. Natural stones and poured concrete are quite expensive materials for fire pits.
5. Built-in Barbecues – $10,000 to $30,000
The price range for built-in barbecues varies based on the length of the gas line, the materials used, the type of barbecue, and the number of grills.
6. Built-in Seating – $3,000 to 15,000
Built-in seat costs vary depending on the material used and the seating’s size. Wood seatings are cheaper than stone built-ins or poured concrete ones.
7. Pools and Spas – $40,000 to $100,000 and more
Pools and spas are some of the best hardscape elements you can have at home. However, their cost can change strikingly based on the size, materials, pool equipment, amount and material of the decking, and the other pools feature inclusions, from fountains to lightings.
8. Decks – $40 to $100 per square foot
The cost for building decks for your landscape can vary based on the inclination of your property, the type of wood used, and its size. If you want it to be built with softwood, it can be inexpensive, whether it is redwood or cedar. However, if you prefer hardwood such as teak or ipe, it will be more costly.
The inclination of your property is a determining factor when building decks. If the slope of your property is steep, then it needs more engineering and shoring that can sum up to the overall cost.
9. Permanent Landscape Lighting – $2,500 to $10,000
Landscape lighting costs vary based on several conditions, such as the wire length, quality of fixtures, and when the wiring has been installed. For example, if you live somewhere cold and your soil is frozen when the wiring gets installed, more labor will be needed to trench for electrical lines. This also can increase the final cost of the permanent landscape lighting.
Out of all the hardscape elements, landscape lighting is a must. Many landscape lightings are now set up with a controller to turn the light on and off automatically.
10. Demolition of Structures and Hardscape – $2,000 to $12,000
When building a hardscape, you have to keep in mind that labor can be costly depending on the weight of work. From the basic removal of patio covers to plants, labor can be a determining factor in your budget plan. If you have a driveway, large concrete patio, pool, or deck that needs to be removed, the cost can sum up to over $10,000.
11. Specimen Trees and Extensive Planning – $2,500 to 15,000
The budget for your plants will be affected by their sizes and the planting space available on your property. A single tree specimen can have a striking cost, from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Also, soil preparation and irrigation must be considered in the extensive planning budget.
Learning how to plan and maximize your budget when building a backyard hardscape is important for you to achieve your landscape dream.
There are a lot of elements to consider when building a backyard. Aside from plants and outdoor furniture, you will also need to install hardscape elements such as fences, walkways, and patios. The prices of these features will vary depending on factors such as the size of your yard and the material that you want to use. Plan ahead of time so that you will be able to include the cost of hardscapes in the budget for your backyard.
Now that you have an idea of the cost range of certain hardscape elements, you can carefully plan the budget for your backyard project. It is important to consider the factors discussed in this article to be able to achieve your dream landscape. We also recommend investing in hiring a professional landscaping company that will guide and help you understand what’s achievable with your budget.