The ultimate cost of landscaping depends on how much you're willing to spend, the types of materials you use, and whether or not you do the work yourself. You can spend anywhere from a couple hundred dollars for a small project you do yourself to $20,000 or more if you involve a landscape architect or designer. The more you control yourself, the less you'll spend no matter what the project. However, that can result in a costly mistake if you place an expensive element of your landscape in the wrong place and have to redo it.
A compromise may be to have a professional design a plan for you. This may cost anywhere from $300 to $2,500, but it might be worth it if you're a serious about having a beautiful landscape. You can also get computer software programs to help you with landscape design. These cost between $50 and $500. Another compromise might be to have a professional come in and do the heavy labor for you, and you do all the planting.
In addition to design and labor costs, you'll have the cost of buying materials and equipment. Plants, stones, pavers, fencing, concrete, mulch, lumber, bricks all cost money. Plants, for example, take up about 25% of the total landscape budget. That's a hefty amount if you're planning an elaborate waterfall too.
The final cost of materials will depend entirely on your vision. There are free resources. Sometimes cities give away trees, mulch and compost. Demolition sites may want you to take bricks and stones, just be sure to get permission. Gardeners are often eager to get rid of some of their plants because they've run out of room. The National Arbor Day Foundation will send you 10 free trees when you join for $10.
The best thing you can do to control the cost of landscaping is to get a vision in your mind about what you want your landscape to look like. Pay a professional to go over your plan if there appear to be trouble spots. Then, decide what you can afford and start digging in.