A Guide to Planning and Budgeting for Your Outdoor Project

Table of Contents

    How do you budget when you’re not sure what things cost? Why does a budget matter?

    At High Prairie Outdoors, we work diligently to bring valuable information to our clients because we feel that an educated client can make sound decisions. With any project, it’s important to establish goals and parameters before a design or bid is created. Why? As you’ll see below, projects have wide ranges of investment levels and if a designer has no idea of your goals and budget, they can’t customize a design to fit YOUR needs. It wastes your valuable time and the designer’s time making revisions because their plans don’t meet your financial needs.

    The best way to ensure a client gets exactly what they need is to set budget goals. Nobody wins when a designer arrives with a $50,000 proposal and the client had a $10,000 budget. The following information is provided based on industry averages for high-quality work. The low-ball businesses that go out of business every few years are not considered in these pricing averages. (For good reason!)

    Please note this information is intended to be an educational tool to help you understand how to align your dreams with realistic goals. This is no way constitutes a formal bid since every site is unique.

    This useful guide will allow you to plan phases if needed as well as understand that contractors and clients work better together when we can help you maximize your budget.


    What you won’t see in the pricing guide for driveways:

    • Paver drives on an aggregate/gravel base: These driveways do NOT last with vehicular traffic and are not considered a wise investment if not installed on concrete.
    • Driveways with natural stone such as flagstone: The natural stone is not engineered, so isn’t as likely to handle traffic. It also doesn’t tolerate salt on tires like a high-grade paver would.

    Things that will increase your investment beyond the average price per foot are: demolition of existing elements, building up a sloped area, walls to level area, and extra excavation.

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    Patios and Walkways

    Things that will increase your investment beyond the average price per foot are: demolition of existing elements, building up a sloped area, walls to level area, drainage work, poor access to use machinery.

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    Retaining Walls

    If demolition of existing elements or rough grading are needed, additional investments should be planned depending upon the scope. This would be in addition to the average construction price listed above. This level of investment is unique to each property.

    Walls over 3’ or terraced walls require reverse engineering with a geo-textile product that reinforces the walls to prevent future failing. This additional investment can be $2-5 more per square foot.

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    Fire Features

    Some cities require permits for fire features and also have design standards about proximity to lot lines and structures. Ensure you know your codes before investing. Permits can be expensive.

    Ensure the fire feature is installed where prevailing winds won’t blow out the fire or blow smoke towards your usable space.

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    Outdoor Kitchens

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    Pools almost always require a permit and must meet zoning rules. Check with your city before investing.

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    Lighting and Accessories

    Ensure your electrical system will support your lighting system.

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    Irrigation and Drainage

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    The following pricing includes the selection of plan, soil amending, fertilizing, edging, and mulching.

    Removal of existing landscape elements, stripping of sod, downspout burying, and irrigation adjustments are extra investment that must be considered when planning your project.

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    Some cities require permits for fences and don’t allow certain heights on certain lots. Check with your local codes before investing.

    Alternately, fences are often required around pools.

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    Decks, Pergola’s and Arbors

    Please note that second and third story decks and steps are typically more of an investment per square foot. This is dependent upon size, access, and scale.

    Also note, that every municipality is unique in relation to permits and zoning. Ensure your project is legal before investing.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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