Dear PoPville – Anyone Know a Good Landscaper/Hardscaper?

Photo by PoPville flickr user hellomarkers!

Dear PoPville,

Wondering if anyone knows of a good landscaper (or, more accurately, a “hardscaper”). We’re looking to put a patio in our backyard (flagstone or pavers) and possibly some type of screened-in porch/gazebo. We’ve talked to a couple of companies but they all want over $15,000 (and one wanted $25,000!). We’re totally fine with trying some DIY – though neither one of us really know how to do it – we are willing to learn!

Any suggestions from folks who have used companies with fair pricing or suggestions of how to DIY would be really appreciated!

21 Comment

  • Great question, we want to do the same thing in our yard. Simple patio with probably a prefab pergola. Holy cow, I can’t believe those quotes. Is that for real or just “minimum” they charge for a job. It can be really frustrating to find contractors for small projects. Makes me wonder if a recession is real when so many folks can turn down projects under 5k….

  • Highly recommend Kevin Schmauder from Cutting Edge Landscaping — pricing was extremely fair and significantly lower than the three other bids we received for our backyard flagstone patio. Very easy to communicate with Kevin and his team, and the work was done efficiently and effectively.

  • I have done the same sort of patios in several of my backyards… Are you using sand or concrete? You just need the stones, a level, and some sand! Happy to tell you more if you’re interested…

  • We just had Bryan from GreenroomDC do an entire hardscape/landscape for our back yard, and he and his crew were great. Probably one of the best construction experiences I have ever had. Highly recommended

    • I also used Bryan at Greenroom. He did an amazing job with my patio/parking pad. I did a total reno of my backyard with fencing, patio and walkways, and full landscaping for around $15K. I can send pics if you’d like to see. I also have almost a whole pallet of leftover pavers if you’d like a good price!

      • pics would be great, thanks! (though not totally sure how you’d get them to me – can PoP give you my email address? i’d rather not publish it here if i can avoid it.)

        and we will def keep your leftover paver offer in mind 🙂

  • The stones can be heavy! See if you are physically up for the job. Hurting your back is false economy.

  • It’s hard to say whether or not those quotes are off-base because I don’t know if you just toss up soil, lay down pavers or if it requires blasting out concrete in order to lay down the foundation for the patio. Although not in DC (in a part of the country where cost is cheaper), the cost to put in a patio (pavers) and do light landscaping runs between 6 and 12 thousand. Tack on extra cost for DC area and you might be coming close to 15 thousand. Especially if you want to toss in a screened-in porch or gazebo.

  • Kyle at Greensweep was great for us.

  • I put in a travertine (limestone) 350 sq ft patio myself. It’s hard work, but the end result was worth it. I used Saunders Landscaping for the sand and stone, and Travertine Mart (a Florida wholesaler) for the pavers. If you are willing to put in sweat equity, you can find instructions free online. You can rent equipment. My cost was about $2K plus a little over 2 days labor, plus another $1K for 28 landscaping plants/mulch and 1 day of labor.

  • We used Diversified Contractors for patio installation (brick pavers) and landscaping for a row home and they did a great job. I got five or so estimates from Angies List and they were the most reasonable in terms of price and very easy to work with (in terms of working with me to keep costs down with various alternatives). I’m sure people do this type of work themselves but after watching Diversified do the work, I’m very glad we did not attempt to undertake that project…

    • I used Diversified Contractors for a new patio and 5′ fence in my yard. The space is tiny and required removing an old tree stump and the existing concrete that covered the entire area. I picked out the flagstone that I wanted (met with Mike at the supply yard) and the project went smoothly. The only thing I didn’t like was that he charged my credit card for the final payment without checking with me or to see if there were any punchlist items. I think my project was around or under $5K.

  • One more thing…if you have existing concrete, you can just put an inch or two of sand and lay stone that way.

    • That could produce serious runoff problems. Better to have a porous surface under the sand, for drainage.

  • Would recommend doing the patio yourself if it isn’t that big. The most labor intensive part is digging the hole for the gravel and sand base (about 8″ deep total). The hardest part is making sure the patio is level (and if near your house a slight gradient would be good to send water away from the house). You can do both by reading up a bit and recruiting some friends to help — it can be fun time. You would have to rent a tamper, could have the gravel, sand and pavers delivered and would only then need a couple shovels.

    • Every patio should slope away from the house, unless you want water in your basement.

      A good measure is 1/8 to 1/4 inch per 1 foot of patio. In other words, a patio 10 feet deep should be 1.25″ lower on the end farthest from the house.

  • Another rec for Brian at Green Room DC. Spends quality time on the design process and very competitive quotes. Plus a lovely guy.

  • ah

    I would separate the two projects – People who do good stonework aren’t necessarily good at building gazebos, and vice-versa. The pricing may reflect that they are planning to get subcontractors for the work they don’t do as much of.

    Also, if you are doing a porch, I would strongly consider you not to DIY because there are a lot of things that could go wrong. Well, really one, which is a porch collapse. But it’s a bad one.

  • thanks so much to everyone – your advice and recommendations are very helpful!!!

  • I highly recommend John Yori of VetForce (a company helping employ recent veterans). He did an awesome job on our front and back yards. Design, plant selection and installation were great. He still stops over to check in. You’ll be very happy. John’s number is 2029059366.

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