Dear PoP – Recs for Renovating/Landscaping Small Outdoor Space

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoP,

We own a row house in Columbia Heights with the usual small front and back patio options that are common in the neighborhood. We’re looking to re-design and improve, but it seems like most of the companies you find in the usual Google/AngiesList/etc searching are Virginia/Maryland focused outfits that are more used to larger spaces. We’re not looking for anything specialized — a brick/stone patio and some landscaping will likely do. But we’re worried these larger companies may not meet our needs.

Wondering if any readers have used a local company that specializes in maximizing our smaller, unique spaces?”

Anyone have a small outdoor space redone? Who’d you use and roughly how much did it cost?

22 Comment

  • I’m looking forward to the answers on this post. We’re looking to redo our steps and walkway, but the job doesn’t meet the minimum budget that some companies require for them to even consider it…

  • Ditto! After WASA completes the replacement of our lead water supply line sometime in the indeterminate future, I think we’ll also be in the market for a mini-landscaping company to smooth over their work.

  • We just had GreenSweep ( do our back yard and were delighted with the results. Kyle is fantastic, strongly recommend.

  • We’re meeting with a landscape architect next week to go over options for our 15×15 postage stamp of a backyard. I don’t want to give his name yet, in case he’s not worth a recommendation, but he was highly recommended by the architect/builder who remodeled our house and whose opinion I respect.

    I’ll pass on the name when I know more about the guy.

    • Hmm. I’d love to know the name of the architect/builder you used and if you would recommend. What did they do for you?


      • Bruce Wentworth. We have a narrow row house and he gutted the poorly-designed first floor interior and rebuilt it as a much more functional (and attractive) space. The design process was fairly painless, and we had drawings in short order. The construction took about 4 months and we lived there the whole time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more meticulous contractor. His lead carpenter showed up at 6:55 each morning and at the end of each day the place was spotless.

        Oh, and they also custom-built three stories worth of stairs when the existing staircase came crashing down. This was definitely not their fault. I asked them to replace the treads and risers, not knowing that the stringers were held on to the rest of the house by about 50 finish nails. Once a few treads and risers were removed, the whole thing fell apart like a Jenga puzzle. We were away at the time, and they got the job done in about a week. I think a few of the guys must have slept there.

        His website is

        • They sound great. Will def include them in the bidding when we’re ready. We’re redoing the addition to our house, expanding it, etc.


  • I just wrote a long comment but it didn’t post — so the short version is that I highly recommend Capitol Hardscapes. They do a lot of big projects out in the ‘burbs but didn’t blink at being asked to do my tiny project, basically putting down paving stones in a 12′ x 20’ area. Good rates (I got three estimates), did all the work on time.

  • My advice is to start contacting contractors ASAP! I’ve had this done at a few of my properties and we’re approaching the busiest time of the year for this type of work. In fact, the more established companies are probably scheduled 1 – 2 months out at this point. You will also be getting the highest quotes at this time since their services are in demand. Prices and availability will get better at the end of the summer and fall. The most competitive pricing will be in the winter and scheduling will be substantially easier.

  • installed a fence and pavers in our tiny backyard. We didn’t think we’d go with them because they’re obviously more accustomed to mansions and commercial real estate, BUT of the three landscapers we considered, they were the most thoughtful and knowledgeable about our drainage issues. (If you’ve got a basement, make sure this is a major consideration in landscaping!!!!)

    I think we paid about $12K but they also built a deck for us, which is something they don’t normally do.

    And I wouldn’t worry about whether or not larger companies will do smaller jobs. The economy has changed the rules these last couple of years. Get three or four proposals/estimates from low-, medium, and high-end outfits. You might be surprised how far your dollar will go.

  • I just had my small backyard in Petworth landscaped by Cordt Gardens
    Kevin Cordt is based in U Street area and specializes in small dc spaces. he was great, helped me design and was incredibly prompt in giving me an estimate and getting back to me.

    Heartily recommend him.

    • Can you give us an idea of how much it cost? I also have a small front yard about 12×12 and would love to know how much this would cost.

  • I just had my very small front yard (~110 sq ft) landscaped with the RiverSmart Homes program. At this point, there’s little sense in applying since the line is long, but the landscapers from Meadows Farms did a great job with the design and install. (Then again, I wasn’t too picky since it was free.) Since they’re contacted to do a lot of the DC properties associated with the program, they’re very familiar with smaller spaces.

  • We’ve used Washington Home Services for several years. After a major redo of our small Park View front yard, they have continued to do weekly maintenance, plus remulching and leaf removal each spring/fall. Good-natured people, and not a lot of turnover in terms of workers. I highly recommend: Joe Coner, (301) 839-1724

  • mid city guy

    try Phil Holland at Kalorama Landscapes. He’s a Landscape Architect but also handles the instalation. Small company, in the neighborhood, very customer oriented.

  • I worked with Green Room (
    last year and was very satisfied with the work that they did. I had a small retaining wall and landscaping done for my front yard here in the city. It’s a small operation so the owner was very involved. We even went to the nursery together! I know he’s trying to solely work in DC on rowhome small outdoor spaces.

    • Bryan, the owner of Green Room, is great. He’s done a bunch of work in my front and back yards and I’ve been very happy. Going with him to the nursery is a great learning experience.

  • Day laborers from the Home Depot.

    We have employed them for exactly what you describe and received high quality work for a low price.

  • Cutting Edge in Alexandria, VA is great! They did a small backyard and front yard for us last year at a very reasonable price.

  • I’d definitely check out Urban Referrals: I used them for a kitchen renovation last summer and recommended them to another friend who was also happy with their referral.

    It’s free, they really check up on the companies they refer, and they’ll tailor the recommendation to the size job you have. And they have GREAT customer service.

  • notlawd

    Can anyone provide an price for how much this cost them? I see a few people have asked, but no one wants to share the price. Makes me wary that these are actually the companies posing as posters. Would love this done for my front yard in Petworth too, but dont want to take the time to take off work to have someone come out and give me an estimate if its going to be way out of my range.

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