There are multiple ways to build and design a new backyard in Southern California, some will produce disastrous results others are rather expensive. Explore your options...
Find the cost breakdown of the most popular backyard renovation in Los Angeles, California. Learn how to establish priorities for your landscaping project. Find how to compare landscape and general contractors near you, analyze estimates, and select the best quote. Uncover the hidden costs and sneaky tactics used by contractors.
- How Much Does Backyard Renovation Cost?
- Most Popular Backyard Renovation Items - Cost Breakdown
- How to Prioritize Your Investments During Backyard Renovation
- How to Compare Contractors
- What's the Difference Between General Contractors and Landscaping Contractors?
- Sneaky Tactics Contractors Use to Cut Corners and Costs
- Managing a Backyard Renovation Project
How Much Does Backyard Renovation Cost?
The cost of backyard remodeling differs greatly because it is dependent on the size of the area and what you intend to do with it. The materials used and the methods employed will also affect how much you have to pay for the project. Due to several variables affecting cost, the price of backyard makeovers can range from $10,000-$150,000.
To ensure that your vision is accurately reflected in your expenses, make sure you receive a written itemized quote from your contractor, broken down into work stages. When estimating the bill for a remodel of your outdoor living space, you should take into account not only labor costs but also supply and material fees. Additionally, applicable fees and sales tax must be included in your estimate.
Get ready for the unexpected before the renovation begins. Create contingency plans. Dig deep into the details and keep an eye on the delivery schedule. We will tell you a few hints at the end of this article.
For now, keep reading below to see a cost breakdown for each amenity! You can also play with a tool below to get a rough idea on backyard renovation costs without a pool.
Most popular backyard renovation items:
Drainage is huge! Without a proper drainage, your house is in danger and you cannot use your yard in rainy seasons. Plan drainage ahead of time. It is often too late to think about drainage when surfaces are finished. From there you are looking at the tear-down project. How about drainage? - is a proper way to begin your backyard renovation project.
It costs 0 to $20,000 to install proper drainage. If you are lucky and the grade of your backyard is getting rid of water naturally, then you are good. But when you are looking for open flat surfaces, then open air drains, french drains and grading might dig into your pocket. On average, for a 1,500 sq.ft. backayrd, we are looking at $10,000 investement in building a drain system that works reliably.
In-Ground Pool Installation
Adding a pool to your backyard is quickly becoming one of the most preferred ways to upgrade your outdoor space. Not only can it increase the value of your home, but it's also an excellent way to entertain family and friends, especially those with younger children. With that being said, water features are one of the most costly backyard amenities to install and maintain.
When it comes to installing a pool during lawn renovation, prices can vary greatly. On average, it will cost between $30,000-$60,000 depending on features desired. The cost of in-ground pool installation will become more expensive when you factor in all the bells and whistles such as hot tubs, pool heaters, waterfalls, and waterslides.
A large portion of this cost; typically 25-50%, is attributed to labor and excavation. Total expenses will also depend on size and material used for construction and should be discussed with your pool contractor before breaking ground.
The five most popular pool sizes are 12x24 feet, 14x28 feet, 16x32 feet, 18x36 feet, and 20x40 feet. You can find a general idea on the cost of pool installation below.
Patio / Deck
Revamping your outdoor space with a patio or deck can be the perfect way to create seating and lounging areas for you and your guests, as well as room for other outdoor furniture. You can also use this hardscape area as an activity space for young children.
Depending on what type of material you choose, there are different costs associated with the job. For instance, concrete installation in Los Angeles will cost between $10-$16 per square foot. Alternatively, pavers and flagstone materials will range from $18-28 per square foot. Cost for each material option will also vary depending on the size of your patio; typically smaller areas come at a higher price per sq. ft. due to fixed costs.
When it comes to building a deck in Southern California, there is an array of options. Pressure treated pine, redwood and composite materials are among those choices and each come with varying costs per square foot; ranging from $27 up to $55. Before making a decision, consult your outdoor contractor to discover which option will suit your yard best.
Artificial Turf Play Area
For families with young children, creating an at-home playground with artificial grass can be the perfect way to spend more time in your newly renovated backyard. Artificial grass offers a cushioned surface that is safer for play than some of the more abrasive playground surface alternatives. You can even place layers of padding beneath the surface for more shock absorption! This is ideal in spaces with play sets and other play equipment.
The cost to install a playground with artificial turf in Los Angeles starts at about $9/sq. ft. Additional padding layers range from $4-$7 per sq. ft. For added safety, you can also opt for nail-free installation for $14 per LF.
Planters and Vegetation
Planting trees, laying new grass seed, or even creating a small garden are all simple things that many homeowners can do to spruce up their space but keep overall costs down. Whether you have a small yard or more space, filling planters with shrubbery is always recommended during backyard makeovers.
When determining landscaping costs during backyard renovation, it is important to consider the type of shrubs, trees, and flowers you want as well as the size of your backyard. This will make a significant difference in pricing for your remodel project. Lower budget projects can rely on low cost plants, mulch, and gravel to fill their space. To avoid manually watering your native plants and other vegetation, make sure the area is supplied with proper irrigation.
Pergola / Gazebo
In order to maximize the comfort and convenience of an outdoor patio, it is important to factor in the cost for some kind of cover. Particularly in locations with hot sun like Los Angeles and Southern California, where protection from the elements is essential, allocating money in your budget for this expense will be greatly beneficial. This can come in the form of a pergola or any other type of patio cover.
The cost of pergolas vary greatly depending on size and material, with rates ranging from as little as $30 to as much as $60 per square foot. For homeowners planning on installing a 12'x12' pergola, the estimated price could be anywhere in the range of $4,300 to $8,600. However, it is possible to reduce these figures by choosing less expensive materials.
An outdoor kitchen is a popular choice for those who enjoy entertaining or spending time with family outdoors. This area can include a BBQ space, refrigerator, sink and many other features. Although the addition of an outdoor kitchen will add value to the home, it can be expensive - starting at around $15,000, outdoor kitchens can range up to $100,000 if pizza ovens, fireplaces, and other exotic elements are included.
To make sure your outdoor kitchen island will last through any weather conditions, it's best to use materials such as granite or concrete for the countertop.
Outdoor Fire Pit (Gas or Wood)
Adding a fire pit or fireplace to your backyard can significantly increase the amount of use you get out of it, especially in the evening or when temperatures start to drop. Nowadays, there are plenty of portable and pre-fabricated options available from retailers that won't break the bank - prices typically fall below $2,000. Designer fie pits will cost you around $4,000.
Typically, we recommend a removable fire pit to our clients during backyard remodeling. This is simply because not only is a portable fire pit much more cost effective, but installing permanent fixtures can sometimes be off putting to potential buyers in the future. A custom built-in fireplace fixture can cost from $4,000 to $8,000. Do not forget, that installing a gas line is aanother costly part of building a fire pit. On average it costs $2,000 - $4,000 to bring gas to the fire pit, depending on the length of the pipe.
When it comes to installing fencing during a backyard makeover, wood is usually a great choice for its affordability. However, over time and with exposure to various weather conditions, it will start to show signs of wear. To ensure your wood fence lasts longer, you can opt for harder woods like redwood or cedar or finish off with a coat of paint and sealant. In Los Angeles or Southern California, you may expect to pay around $35-55 per linear foot for a wooden fence.
An alternative to consider is a vinyl fence, which often has an attractive white hue. Vinyl is an ideal selection since it is durable and requires minimal upkeep. Also, its appearance tends to be more appealing than wood, but the cost is slightly higher at $45-65 per linear foot.
Far too often we see homeowners forgetting to plan for lighting and irrigation prior to breaking ground on construction. In order to be able to enjoy your renovated space day or night, low-voltage lighting is highly recommended along planters, walkways, and other areas. This small addition immediately enhances the look of your space and also adds a subtle nuance of elegance. Installing low voltage electrical conduits and lighting fixtures in a backyard will cost between $80-$120 per fixture, plus add about $600 for transformers and low voltage wires.
Create a paver walkway to allow for easy access to all your new backyard additions! The last thing you want after spending thousands of dollars on a backyard makeover is to have your guests walking through the grass to see your new space.
Building a walkway using paver tiles will cost between $18-$28/sq. ft. depending on desired size and paver pattern. Paver pathways with contour will also cost more than straight pathways. Contoured pathways can cost between $2-$5 more per sq. ft.
The great thing about gardening, is that most of the seeds are super cheap. A majority of the cost will go towards building your raised garden beds and maintaining the space. When it comes to taking on a garden installation yourself, the cost per square foot of space for wood raised beds is about $25 to $50. However, opting for stone, brick and steel creates an added expense.
If you have your landscaping contractor complete the job, a vegetable garden will cost...
Backyard Water features
For anyone who wants to bring the serenity of water to their backyard, but is limited on budget, there are more affordable options aside from pools, like ponds and waterfalls. The cost for these features can range from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on size and complexity. Generally speaking, these backyard elements can add value to your home in the long term - provided they are properly maintained. However, it's not unheard of for them to become forgotten or neglected after some time.
With an existing patio or deck, creating a seating area can be fairly affordable! Outdoor furniture sets can be found for as little as $800 and range to $5,000 for more elegant options. If you'll need some type of hardscape installed prior to creating an outdoor seating area, reference the cost of patios and decks in Los Angeles above.
Outdoor Play Set
Building a play set in addition to updating landscape/hardscape elements can really enhance a backyard update. This will not only keep your children active, but it gives the family yet another reason to spend more time in this space. Paired with artificial turf, play equipment and jungle gyms can be fun and safe in the comfort of your home. The average play set for young children will cost between $400-$700 to build, with more complex play sets reaching nearly $1,500.
Backyard Putting Green
Building your very own custom backyard putting green during backyard remodeling is the perfect way to be the envy of the neighborhood. With full creative freedom, you're able to draft the perfect shape and game play your skill level. Whether you're looking to create a challenging backyard green to improve your game, or a simple outdoor golf green to enjoy with the family, we've got you covered!
On average, putting green installation in Southern California costs $18-$23 per sq. ft., varying based on material selected. The price per sq. ft. may lower in larger areas, and higher for smaller greens. Save extra by completing this addition at the same time as other artificial turf landscaping projects!
How to prioritize your Investment During Backyard Renovation
Prevent Common Backyard Remodel Issues
One of the biggest mistakes made during outdoor renovation projects is not providing proper drainage beneath the new additions. Inadequate drainage can be a major headache as it leads to standing water and an overly saturated area. This will draw in a variety of bugs, such as mosquitoes and ants. Inadequate grading or soil that isn't properly drained are often the primary causes of this problem. To remove this issue, consider installing a French Drain system.
Another mistake we see landscape designers and contractors make is that they won't plan for privacy when sketching out the new design layout. Privacy can be a big issue with nosy neighbors, especially in Southern California where homes tend to spaced be closer together. When living in close proximity to your neighbors, it's very important to implement privacy features into your design and also be smart with how you're creating your space to avoid noise complaints. For example - you won't want to design a seating area next to your neighbors bedroom window.
Plan to Expand in the Future
A very big recommendation we have for any homeowner planning an outdoor makeover is to plan ahead for future projects! This simply means you should install utilities throughout the lawn, even if you don't plan to include those additions quite yet. This allows you to easily revisit other amenities later when your budget allows. Without installing electrical conduits, irrigation, and gas lines prior to beginning the construction, you'll be out of luck later.
Build Separate Areas
When drafting your plans for backyard remodel and creating sketches with your contractor, create separate areas within your space. Installing paver patios, play areas, putting greens, and water features will offer a multi-use lawn that's great for entertaining. Stepping stones or pathways can connect these areas to offer more depth to your design. The balance of hardscape and landscape will not only look better visually, but create a diverse space that can be used for several purposes.
Add Items as Your Budget Allows
Backyard renovation costs can be high when you start to add several amenities. Don't overwhelm yourself and your budget by taking it all on at once. By installing utilities as mentioned above, you can focus on larger projects. Hold off on smaller additions and implement them into your backyard design as needed to stay within budget. Features such as plants and shrubbery, lighting fixtures, fire pits, and outdoor furniture can be slowly incorporated to complete the look of your space.
How to compare contractors
For several years, homeowners have been using Yelp's platform to find trustworthy backyard contractors nearby. However, Yelp now prioritizes companies that are willing to pay their hefty advertising fees and will show you those companies first, regardless of customer satisfaction. When you search for landscapers in your area, the generated list will feature 8-10 ads before showing you smaller local companies. If you're using Yelp to find a contractor, be aware of this and scroll past sponsored posts to avoid these companies.
If used correctly, finding a reliable crew when searching for "backyard contractors near me" is possible through a Google Maps search. However, often you'll run into marketing agencies at the top of the list. These companies will advertise great deals and low prices, and then resell your job to a contractor in your area. More often than not, you won't receive quality work and you won't know who's actually completing the job. Expand your search zone and look for local contractors and family operated businesses in the area.
Google Website Listings
In our experience, Google search listings will yield the best results for trustworthy landscape contractors. But still - you'll need to scroll past ads, franchises, and aggregators to find the local companies in your area. Don't be scared to scroll through a few pages of results, this is where the hidden gems are found!
Websites like Angie's List, Houzz, and GreatBuildz featured paid and sponsored listings. Companies don't end up on these directories by positive customer feedback, but by paying out of pocket. However, these platforms are a good place to look at portfolios and gather inspiration for your upcoming outdoor renovation.
Regardless of how you scout for contractors to complete your backyard remodel project, the best thing to do is to ask them several questions about their expertise, their crew, and ask to see a portfolio of completed projects.
What is the difference between general contractor and landscaping contractor?
A general contractor will oversee all construction and remodeling for the entire property. Often, general contractors hires specialized subcontractors to perform portions of the work - that's where landscaping contractors come in.
A general contractor can be beneficial as a middle man between you and your landscaping contractor, offering added insurance and expertise on the crew. However, a landscaping contractor should be the go-to person for your backyard renovation. General contractors tend to me be more open minded and issue-aware, while landscaping contractors know their trade better, but can be limited to their window of knowledge.
If you know what you want and have planned your renovation thoroughly, a good landscaping contractor is a way to go. If you do not have the time or resources to do so, working with a general contractor may be more beneficial due to their knowledge in several categories.
Sneaky Tactics Contractors Use to Cut Corners and Costs
- Underestimating allowance for the materials
- Counting work per hour or cubic yard
- Excluding necessary items (such as electrical conduits, or a gas line for a fire pit)
- Not mentioning expenses (plants or soil backfill)
- Conducting renovation in a disorganized manner
- Stalling the job
- Not planning efficiently for the material delivery
- Creating several change orders throughout the renovation
Tips FOr managing backyard renovation project
Understand the Plan
Even with a general contractor, you as a homeowner should be fully aware of the execution plan and keep an eye on the job for the best results. Ask for a detailed plan from your landscaping contractor that breaks down the renovations by stage and days for completion to better understand the upcoming process. Asking for material lead times to keep your crew on track will set your project up for success from day one.
Be Prepared for Additional Costs
Oftentimes, during the course of an outdoor makeover there will be delays and unplanned issues popping up as the crew starts digging. This is typical, you do not know if the backyard renovation costs are final. To efficiently budget for surprises, brainstorm with your contractor the possibilities that may come up. Walk through your list of priorities and be prepared for what may be added to the overall cost.
Break the Project up Into Stages
Sometimes the safest way to ensure your renovations don't go way over budget is by breaking up the project in several stages. Prioritize the most important updates first, that way you can hold off on other additions until your budget allows you to move forward. As a typical rule of thumb, you should retain enough money to complete payment for the current stage +15%.
Be Ready to Find a New Contractor
It's no secret that there are sketchy contractors out there who prioritize cutting corners to save themselves extra cash. This is why it's so important to understand the stages of your project and keep an eye on your contractor. Be prepared to fire your contractor, and have a backup plan.
Ready to start getting an idea on the price of backyard renovation? Check out our backyard remodel cost calculator and design the perfect space for you and your budget! If you're eager to get your project started and want to receive custom pricing and speak with a professional landscaper nearby, request a custom quote below! You'll receive a detailed proposal within 24 hours.