How to Estimate Backyard Renovation Costs—and Stretch Your Budget

Here's how much you can expect to spend on creating your outdoor dream space, including firepits, patios, and outdoor kitchens.

There's nothing like being cooped up at home during winter to inspire daydreams of the ultimate entertaining spot. And as summer approaches, those visions likely include building an inviting outdoor oasis. But unfortunately, when it comes to home renovation work of any kind, it can be challenging to align starry-eyed visions with budget realities.

The good news is that the price tag of an outdoor renovation project is, in many ways, in your hands. It will be based mainly on what you set out to create and how you decide to accomplish the work. Options range from embarking on a DIY effort that costs a few thousand dollars to hiring professionals to create something with luxury-style glam on a much larger budget.

Outdoor pergola and brick kitchen with a dining table
Ed Gohlich

"You can spend $500 to $2,000 for simple DIY improvements like fixing the lawn, planting shrubs, or building a pea gravel or concrete paver patio. You could also place a premade metal firepit in this price range," says Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer for Trendey. "For homeowners who are looking to do a complete overhaul, expect to spend $10,000 or more."

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So just how much will it cost to realize your outdoor renovation? Here's a breakdown of some of the most popular outdoor projects and the price you can expect to pay.

garden firepit outside backyard irrigation
Marion Brenner

Cost of Firepits

Firepit installation tops many to-do lists this year, and for good reason. This type of outdoor improvement is relatively straightforward and budget-friendly. Firepits also provide a great place for social gatherings.

"People want to be able to spend time with friends and family, but...additional and outdoor spacing might be needed. Firepits offer a safe way to still spend time with your loved ones while staying warm and cozy around a fire," says Thomas Jepsen, CEO of Passion Plans. This homebuilding platform provides consumers with everything from blueprints to construction advice.

Cost guide Fixr says the average cost nationally for a firepit project is about $850, ranging from $300 to $1,400 on the low end and $5,000 to $10,000 on the high end. In Jepsen's experience, the starting price is closer to about $1,000 for such projects. That backyard renovation cost estimate doesn't include the cost of laying pavers around the firepit or the prep work that must be done to create an attractive outdoor space overall.

"In a lot of instances, the firepit itself can be constructed by someone wishing to do it themselves, although using a pro will ensure that it's done better and that there aren't any problematic materials being used that shouldn't come in close contact with a heat source as significant as a fire," says Jepsen. "However, when it comes to laying a tile floor, or a paved one around it, it's generally best to hire a contractor so that the foundational work can be done properly."

Jepsen estimates that when you add in hiring a professional to do at least some of the work, you can expect your backyard renovation cost to be around $2,000 for a firepit project.

outdoor kitchen with stone patio and picnic table
Kathyrn Gamble

Outdoor Kitchen Cost

Why limit your outdoor entertainment possibilities to a firepit if you have the space (and the funds) for something more, such as an outdoor kitchen? This remains an incredibly popular project that was hot in summer 2022. "Many homeowners want an outdoor space they can show off and entertain guests with," says Russell Lee, owner of Texas-based Lee Brothers Construction.

A typical outdoor kitchen includes cabinetry with granite or concrete countertops, a barbecue grill, a sink, an outdoor refrigerator, and a prep area, says Lee. The entry-level price tag for an outdoor kitchen is about $7,500 to $15,000, depending on your selected appliances. (Fixr says the national average cost is about $13,000).

Luxury outdoor kitchens can easily set you back $65,000 to $100,000, depending on the size.

To construct an outdoor kitchen on a budget, consider connecting it to your home so that running electricity, gas, and water hookups will be less expensive, says Lee. You can also minimize costs by not constructing any sort of canopy over the outdoor kitchen.

Front yard landscape
Philip Harvey

Cost of Landscaping

Creating an inviting outdoor oasis should, at a minimum, involve making the landscaping visually appealing, says DelMonico. Landscaping details and prices vary wildly depending on the project's scope and the size of your yard. Still, DelMonico says that for between $1,000 to $5,000, you can buy plants, grass seed, and trim trees.

For between $5,000 and $15,000, your landscaping project could include laying sod, trimming trees, and purchasing various plants. The price ticks up to anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 if you add hardscaping to the list of items already mentioned.

While that might sound like a lot of money, landscaping is a project that pays off. "Landscaping upgrades can net an 83% return, making it a smart investment," says DelMonico.

rectangular white stone hot tub and pool
Werner Straube

Price for In-Ground Pools

Installing an in-ground pool is not going to be cheap. Justin Goldman is the co-founder and CEO of RenoFi, a platform that connects homeowners with renovation loans for remodeling projects. He says it's often the most expensive item on outdoor to-do lists. "The minimum cost of an in-ground pool is $45,000 to $50,000, not including basic maintenance costs," says Goldman.

Numerous variables contribute to that price tag, including two expenses few people consider: topographic survey work and stormwater management. "Accounting for these things can add anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to your total cost," notes Goldman.

Kevin Dalzell of Dalzell Group says pools have become the most popular request for the community of Encinitas, California. Installation prices are now as high as $80,000 to $100,000 for a 20-foot by 40-foot pool with a spa.

The price you'll pay is impacted by the depth of the pool, accessibility to the area, and length of plumbing and gas lines that need to be run, says Dalzell. Additional considerations include plaster finish versus pebble tech finish and whether the pool requires a deepened footing because of proximity to a slope or bank. And if you have your heart set on a sleek, stylish, infinity edge pool, plan to tack another $35,000 onto the price tag.

deck with seating and greenery
Keller and Keller

Patio and Deck Prices

Patio and deck projects are flexible backyard renovation costs, making them accessible to many homeowners, according to Goldman. For example, a simple, small concrete patio can be less than $5,000, while a more complex, unique, or stone patio project may cost from $10,000 to $35,000. "Materials can drive up the price as well—with concrete being the cheapest and fancier tiling being more expensive," says Goldman.

The upshot is that you'll get an estimated 69.1% return when selling the home, at least regarding deck projects. "Plus, a deck gives you an outdoor living space to increase [the] enjoyment of your property," says DelMonico.

Getting Started on Your Outdoor Renovation

Renovations can seem overwhelming, from backyard renovation costs to deciding what to include. Tessa Isett of Neil Kelly Company, one of the largest remodeling firms in the Pacific Northwest, suggests the best place to start is thinking about your pain points. "What's not working currently? What would you like to improve?" says Isett. "And then make your dream list; what would you ideally love to do?" Don't be afraid to present your entire wish list to a designer, as you'd be surprised what a professional can make happen.

You'll also want to think carefully about the look and feel you want your outdoor space to exude and about what you're looking for personally. Finally, keep your home value in mind as you ponder backyard renovation costs. "Don't overinvest in the backyard if the home's size and value can't support it," says DelMonico.

As part of this consideration, think carefully about the project scale. In other words, large backyards can support a full outdoor kitchen, but a small yard might only have space for a grill. Similarly, a large backyard can likely accommodate a complete outdoor living room with couches and a coffee table, while a small patio might do better with a cafe table and chairs.

Timing Your Outdoor Renovation

Finally, the timing of your outdoor project matters when it comes to cost, says Goldman. Prices for labor and materials historically increase over time, so the improvements you're eyeing this year aren't likely to get any cheaper next year or the year after.

"If you talk to anyone in the general contracting world, they'll tell you prices only go up, they don't go down," says Goldman. "If you're going to do it, now is the time."

If you see yourself staying in a home for 20 years and put off investing in major outdoor upgrades until year 10 or 15, when you have more of a nest egg or home equity, you'll have less time to enjoy your investment. Plus, waiting years to make improvements means you'll have higher backyard renovation costs.

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