Landscape Renovations

Landscape Renovation for Rochester NY homes

need a Landscape Makeover?

The Good news is that it can pay for itself.......

This page will focuses on Landscape Renovation. Jump ahead to sections on this page for information that is the most useful …. Including:

Page Index

About this website

The pages on this site cover information you might find helpful to begin planning your new landscape project. Below are a few links:

The information on this entire site is based on my formal education in Landscape Architecture combined with over 25 years of professional experience, designing Front yard Landscaping, inground pools and backyard living environments in Rochester, NY and Hilton Head, SC.

“……As a landscape matures, it will either grow to contribute or subtract from a homes perceived value…..”

Create Design

Landscape Renovation pays.......

A Study done by Michigan State University shows that attractive landscaping can make a Major contribution to a home’s value.

The return on investment…… Averages around 100%,

National Association of Realtors impact studies as well as separate studies by Clemson university found that curb appeal improvements have the highest Return On Investment, out of all interior & exterior home improvement projects.

Why you need a good design

Landscaping Adds Value....But it has to be done right

A well-planned yard will look…..well… planned. A well planned landscape should continue to add curb appeal, not maintenance and frustration. It all starts with a good plan.

When your Plantings and hardscapes are properly designed and integrated with your home’s overall architecture, your landscape grows and becomes an asset, adding Real Value to your home.

Take the time to plan......Otherwise you're wasting money

A majority of Landscape Renovations are for landscapes that have been installed within the last 10-15 years. The reason these projects did not hold up is almost always because of a poor underlying design. Make sure to spend time or money on a design in order to ensure it gets done right this time around.

If you want more specifics here is a link to Virginia Tech study on Landscaping impact on Home Value

Michigan State studies found that….”…....Overall, participants valued the landscape design sophistication most.”……

Design quality Matters.....

Be aware..........Finding a good design not easy

Studies done by several universities have summarized that the actual  design is the most important factor impacting aesthetics and cost recovery of a landscape project.

Let’s say you do decide to leave the design up to a traditional landscape company. You typically get a landscape plan that costs little, if anything.

But, chances are, that you are dealing with someone who understands horticulture & plants, but not composition. They can tell you which plant goes where, and typically all those plants will survive and probably thrive.

The big problem with that “limited design” approach can be seen in most housing tracts. There are a shockingly high number of bland, unattractive landscapes that are virtually indistinguishable from one another.

"........Why are there so many unattractive landscapes, in most modern housing tracts......"

Everyone can “design” but not everyone is a designer.

Why don’t these landscapes hold up over the long haul composition – wise”, even when most of these projects started with a landscape plan?

What’s missing on these landscapes, is an underlying framework that organizes a project into an aesthetically pleasing composition…...which is what it means to “Design”.

Usually, when your design is handled by someone with plant knowledge (Horticulture), but limited “design” knowledge, it almost always ends up visually falling apart. You will start to notice it about 6-7 years down the road, and it slowly becomes worse.

Not only does it lose value, but it becomes high maintenance which leads to frustration, because it never “looks right” no matter how much time you put in.

The typical landscape starts out like above. It’s better than what was originally there, which was nothing……so it seems like an improvement.


The typical landscape starts out like above. It’s better than what was originally there, which was nothing……so it seems like an improvement.

In 5-7 years…..It starts to visually fall apart. Adding no home value….only home maintenance.


Most landscapes that lack an underlying design composition will turn into some version of this. No value added, only maintenance. Will only get worse with age.

The fallacy of landscape Design

It's much more than choosing which plant goes where

Sources of information regarding landscape design, including most online sources, have a very thin definition of what landscape design really is. A typical definition would lead you to believe that landscape design is mostly Horticulture. The interpretation is…….

“……Choose some colorful shrubs which can survive your site conditions and you’ll have a great landscape…..”


But, if you drive into any modern housing tract, you see house after house with unattractive landscaping.

  • For the most part, all the plants are growing & living…so from a Horticulture perspective, these jobs are pretty successful.
  • Many, if not Most of these projects started with a plan.
  • If that choosing plants which live was all there was to it, every home would have attractive landscaping that improves with age.
  • Choosing plants to survive your site’s conditions is fairly easy and straight forward.

Design Matters.......Make sure you use a good plan

To create a landscape that will continue to look good and add ‘Real Value’ over time…… you need to have a good grasp of core design principles.

“…….These front landscapes will never look right no matter how much time or money is spent. There just isn’t an underlying design framework to visually hold it together……”

“…….Designing a yard or project, without an understanding of Design almost never works… doesn’t even sound right….”

Typical track home overgrown Landscape example of poor Design
Typical track home overgrown Landscape

“……..A majority of Landscape Renovations are for landscapes that have been installed within the last 10-15 years. The reason these projects did not hold up is almost always because of a poor underlying design……..”

Landscape Renovation Frontyard Rochester NY
Landscape installed in 2007. Continues to add Curb Appeal & Home Value.

Finding a quality Design

Reviewing projects.......What to look for.

A quality landscape design is vital to ensuring you are not wasting time and money on your project. A poor design isn’t obvious right away. It takes a few years before you’ll notice that your landscape is ‘not coming together‘ composition-wise.

Take time and review project pictures before committing to a landscape design. Hopefully, mature projects so you get a true sense of ‘Design Skill’…..A few things you’ll notice:

  • Most designers & Landscape professionals do a better job, composition-wise, when it comes to Hardscapes, than with plantings……. Hardscape design is more straight forward, so it’s easier to grasp.
  • The Horticulture aspect of planting design is fairly easy and straight forward….( choosing & installing plants so that they live ).
  • The composition aspect of Planting Design is much more involved. It requires a clear understanding of core design principles, which most landscapers and many designers lack.
  • You can see the results of poor composition in any 10 year old housing tract. You’ll find that most landscapes don’t enhance curb appeal, even though all the plants are living & doing well.

If you want more specifics on planting design, here is an overview of basic landscape design principles from the Department of Landscape Architecture at North Carolina State University. Warning….It’s a little dry.

The Design Matters......Finding a good plan

For more specifics, Jump to hiring a designer, what are the options. It has more information on how to find a good quality plan & what to look for in more detail, including:

  • The 3 most common options are for finding a designer 
  • What I recommend as the “safest bet”.
  •  Average cost of a Landscape Designer

The cost for Landscape Design will vary

 The cost for a Landscape Design varies by quite a bit. Typically, these are the factors that influence what you’ll pay:

  • The type of company you hire to do the design. There are 3 types….Designers, Contractor/Garden centers, Landscape Design/Build companies.
  • The experience, expertise and education of the Landscape designer.
  •  The size of the property.

To learn more about us, check out the rest of this website. You can jump to this page To see our pictures/portfolio of pool projects in the Rochester, NY area.

Or You can Jump here to see what the costs are for our Landscape and Design Service for Rochester, NY homeowners.

“If you think that good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

  • Ralf Speth. CEO Land Rover


“….In most housing tracts over 10 yrs. old, the landscaping is pretty much the same….( its not good ). The plants are growing, so that really isn’t the problem….But why do most of them look so bad and almost cookie cutter….?

Example of Poor landscape Design leading to overgrown Front Yard landscaping
The above Landscape detracts from the curb appeal & Homes Value
Front After installing new landscaping
This landscape in Rochester NY was installed in 2007 and will continue to add curb appeal & Home Value

“….A good Design Ensures that you are not throwing money away on a Landscape that is never going to look right, no matter how much time or money you spend trying to maintain it…”

Bad expensive

The cost of poor design….. is REAL, it’s just that the the bill doesn’t come due until the job starts to really mature. Drive into any housing tract that is over 5-10 years old, and you can see this for yourself.

Often, the fast, cheap drawing you got ends up costing you the most money. The biggest cost comes from the reduced return on investment you get once you sell the house. But it’s even more than that.

The real cost of bad design

  • Opportunity cost: If your project doesn’t add home value….but it could have…it’s called opportunity cost. Research shows that this can be 5%-10% of home value…even a 1% difference would have justified paying more for a quality designer or architect.
  • Renovation Cost: Landscape renovations are popular and most of the jobs haven’t been in longer than 10-15 years. If you decide to renovate, get a quality plan this time around. It will ensure that your not wasting more time or money.
  • Higher Maintenance: Bad design typically causes a lot of extra maintenance. Not to mention the frustration of spending time or money on something that is never going to look ‘right’.

“If you think that good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design…..”

  • Ralf Speth. CEO Land Rover
Landscape Renovation Frontyard Rochester NY

Landscape Quality

impacts home value

An exact Return on investment for Landscaping ?

Several University studies have done research on the relationship of landscape quality to perceived home value. As well as looking at a landscape’s factors/qualities that had the biggest impact on perceived Home Value and selling price. The conclusions are revealing.

I will have some abstracts of these studies on our front yard page soon. For now, the links to the studies are below in case you want more specifics. In a nutshell, the studies conclude that :

  • The quality of a Landscape Design had the biggest impact on overall Landscape Quality.
  • The quality of the overall landscape had a very high impact on a Home’s Curb Appeal.
  • And finally….Curb appeal has a big impact on perceived home value & selling price.

Landscape quality determines curb appeal......

And.........curb appeal impacts perceived home value

How much does a landscape renovation cost ?

cost for an average front makeover

Depending on current condition of your landscape, you can expect to invest $3,000 – $5,000 to make over your front landscape planting. With roughly an immediate 100% cost recovery.

A less is more approach is typically used along the front façade. Planting beds are more impactful when used toward the perimeter of your property. This layout puts the focus on your house and gives the perception of a more expansive property.

If you have to completely redo your front hardscapes you can expect another $2,000-$4,000. However the cost recovery is lower than for planting.

When possible, I try to minimize the front hardscapes, saving that investment for your backyard hardscapes where the cost recovery is much higher.


“……..The quality of the finished project is highly dependent on the design. Make sure you’re getting a plan from someone who has solid ‘Design skills’……..”


5 keys to a Front Landscaping Makeover

adding value by design

  1. Start with a quality design concept which blends with the homes architecture.
  2. Simplify the planting. Create visual ‘strength’ so the landscape properly balances with your home.
  3. Reshape the foundation beds properly. Push beds or islands towards the perimeter where they can create depth of field.
  4. Use lower maintenance plant selections. (Don’t use Spireas)
  5. Not only do strong and simple plantings combine well with building architecture, they will result in less maintenance.

"See how we use Boulders to add impact to landscape projects"

Learn about Boulders / natural stone

thinking about a landscape Makeover?

Maybe you're not sure where to begin.

Home renovations, such as landscaping and hardscaping, can increase the value of your property. But to get the most out of your investment, it’s important that you understand how much to spend and what features provide the most value.

A good Design Ensures that you are not throwing money away on a Landscape that is never going to look right, no matter how much time or money you spend maintaining it.

Hopefully this webpage has helped you learn what to consider before tackling yourlandscape project. Even if you don’t consider us in the project, you hopefully will avoid the costly mistakes that too many other homeowners end up making.

If you are interested in going with us however, we make it easy to get started here, or you can fill out the contact form down below. Best of luck in designing your new backyard!

Landscape Design

2D Plan view

This is the classic architectural “floor plan view” layout. A 2D plan is like a floor plan for an outdoor area. A landscape design creates a visual representation of a site using scaled dimensions.

It allows for “take offs” when estimating the materials during cost estimation, ensuring accuracy in bidding. It is also important for laying out site features during the installation phase of your project.

I provide accurate linear and square foot measurements for Hardscapes which is better than relying on “take offs” from a third party. It helps eliminate uncertainty, which can cause bids to be “padded”. Just by having me do that, it usually more than covers the cost of a plan and you are assure of getting what you paid for.

Cost for 2D Plans

  • Backyard Landscape Design is usually $295 for an average Rochester, NY home site.
  • Inground Pool Design: Backyards that include an inground Pool are a little more. Usually $395 for an average Rochester, NY home site.
  • Front yard Landscape Design is $250 for an average Rochester homesite.
Custom Pool Design Example Rochester NY

A couple Notes for 2D Plans

  • Note: Some Renovation Plans for existing homes can be a little more. It depends on the amount of existing trees & site features.
  • Note: Sites with larger than normal grade changes can cost more to design if hardscapes or pools are being implemented.
3D design rendering for an inground pool installation in Buffalo NY
3D design rendering for an inground pool installation in Buffalo NY
3D design rendering for a Backyard in Greece NY
3D design rendering for a Backyard in Greece NY

Landscape Design

3D Renderings

One of biggest challenges when looking at a traditional landscape design is to get a real “feel” for what a complex design would look like in the actual space where the project would be installed.

3D renderings can be used in the design stage of a project to help visualize the overall layout. They are not used for project layout so you can consider them as optional.

A 3-D design can give an “in the landscape viewpoint” that helps give you a sense of ‘scale; and ‘proportion’ because it shows you the actual height of plants, walls or pergolas & other elements.

It is a worthwhile investment that is not meant to merely wow you with technology, but to aid you in truly envisioning the landscape.

A 2D plan is needed before a 3D Rendering can be accurately put together. A 3D plan is not needed to layout your project, therefore you can consider it as optional/add on.

Cost for 3D Plan/Rendering

  • Backyard 3D plan/Renderings are usually $250 for an average Rochester, NY home site.
  • Inground Pool 3D plan/Renderings: Backyards that include an inground Pool are $300 for an average Rochester, NY home site.
  • Front yard 3D plan/Renderings: are $250 for an average Rochester, NY home site.

we can help you design your space

Why are our projects always so different? Partially it’s the quality of the materials we use and the care we take in our installations, but mostly it is about creative and thoughtful design.

The right design will maximize the overall function and appeal of your entire property. It helps clarify your expectations, establish your budget and helps you to visualize and prioritize multi-phase enhancements.

Extensive time and detail is put into these plans so that your landscape will continue to add curb appeal, function & increased Home Value, Not maintenance and frustration.

It is for this reason we charge a fee for design work, which is around $200-$400 for a traditional 2D architectural plan for most front or backyard landscape Projects.

Backyards that include a Pool run about $395 Total due to the extra time involved, such as measuring and laying out grades, drainage, setbacks etc.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Reach out.
  • (585) 202-0623

Frequently Asked Questions

Around $295 for a traditional 2D architectural plan for most backyard landscape Projects. We do offer 3D renderings for about $250 extra.

$395 for a traditional 2D architectural plan which is what is used for planning and layout of the pool and surrounding spaces for your project. 3D Renderings are usually $300.

Around $250 for a traditional 2D architectural plan for most Frontyard landscape Projects. We do offer 3D renderings for about $250, but it’s more for visualization and not critical for planning and layout of the project.

We do Planting, Landscaping & Hardscapes installs, (other than concrete).  We will provide estimates for any of that work. We don’t accept every install inquiry. It mostly depends on our backlog, distance, type of work.

Not at this time. Since we don’t accept every installation project we’re offered, ( even though we might have done the drawing ) we instead opt to keep the design fee reasonable across the board, in order to keep it “Fair”.

You choose the pool builder. They will install the pool, including backfill, rough grading and fence.

On projects where we are doing some of the installation work (like landscaping)….. we lay out fencing and concrete so it gets done according to plan.

We actually will be working for you. We manage a project with your best interests in mind. With that said, we work with whoever you choose as your pool builder.

No problem! As long as we are doing some of the other work (like Landscaping) I will layout the design for the mason to ensure it gets put in according to the plan.

Sometimes, yes. But it depends. More so in winter. Just shoot me an email. The fees will usually be a little higher because there is no installation aspect. I’m pretty familiar with plants in the East down to about zone 8. I worked in Hilton Head, SC. for 7 years.

Woodstream Design & Landscape

Over 25 Years Designing and Building Unique outdoor spaces

Woodstream Landscape

(585) 202-0623

Let's Talk.......We can get you started on your ideal landscape Project

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