Alternatives to Yardzen
For several years, there’s been a groundswell of interest for alternatives to traditional, and often costly, landscape architecture and installation. Location-specific plant information and alluring design inspiration are just a few keystrokes away from the inquisitive homeowner and have fostered quite a competition among online landscape design companies.
The term online landscape design describes landscape design services rendered entirely online, without in-person meetings or property visits by the designers, and thus can be performed without the constraints of geographical location. This key factor allows more options for the homeowner to select the right individual designers for their project as opposed to being relegated to firms close to home. Additionally, traditional landscape design services must account for costs that online design companies do not, such as in-person meeting time, “windshield” time and office overhead, so the savings are often passed along to the clients. These two key factors, affordability and landscape design service compatibility are important cornerstones and unique selling points of the online landscape design industry.
Yardzen began its virtual landscape design service in 2017 and remains a top-rated and leading organically-searched player in the industry. Yardzen pairs the homeowner with a landscape architect or designer to provide landscaping services, including:
- Planting plans
- Hardscaping plans (decks, arbors, kitchens, patios)
- Front yard plans
- Back yard plans
- Entire exterior plans (planting and hardscaping plans plus exterior paint, window, door, and roof designs)
- Outdoor styling and furniture.
For this analysis, we will examine both categories of Yardzen’s landscaping competitors: conventional and online. We’ll then further examine the top online landscape design competitors and how their offerings and services measure up against one another and Yardzen. The most popular online landscape design alternatives being Tilly Design, ShrubHub, and Bacqyard.
Top Online Alternatives
Yardzen vs. Leading Online Design Services
Yardzen, Tilly Design, ShrubHub, and Bacqyard are the most prominent online design companies. These four companies utilize technologies that allow their networks of landscape designers and landscape architects to ascertain homeowners’ style and usage preferences, employ measurements taken by the homeowner and conveyed through surveys, and determine site and climate conditions to provide a professional landscape plan, all without having ever stepped foot onto a property.
The four leading services provide the following deliverables:
- Phone, video, or email consultation with a landscape designer,
- 2D landscape design (full-color scaled plan of the project area with a planting plan and/or a hardscape plan),
- List of materials and plants,
- Detailed installation and care instructions,
- A minimum of one round of revisions,
- Optional 3D rendering of the landscape plan,
- Optional landscape lighting plan.
Yardzen and its online competitors are similar in many ways, but their offerings have some distinct differences. We’ll examine the key similarities and distinctions to help inform your decision on which online design service provider is best for your project.
Time Commitment—Yarden vs. Online Competitors
By the nature of online design services, the homeowner is at the helm of the timing of their project by and large. The flow of online design is dictated by the client and begins with input (project use goals, style preferences, climate and geographical details, photos and surveys), which the client can provide at will and take as much or as little time as they wish. This is the point where the online design providers diverge.
According to their websites, the turnaround times upon receipt of the client-provided information are as follows:
- Yardzen: 5-6 weeks
- Tilly Design: 2-3 weeks
- ShrubHub: 15-30 days
- Bacqyard: 3-3.5 weeks, with the caveat that design times may be longer during their busy season, which is not stated.
Cost Commitment— Yarden vs. Online Competitors
Yardzen offers seven different packages ranging from $895 to $3,295:
- Botanical: custom planting for your entire yard—starting at $895
- Front Yard: custom planting and hardscaping design for front yard—starting at $1,095
- Back Yard: custom planting and hardscaping design for your back yard—starting at $1,395
- Full Yard: custom planting and hardscaping design for your entire property—starting at $1,695
- Curb Appeal: custom planting, hardscaping and exterior design for your front yard—starting at $1,795
- Outdoor Transformation: custom planting, hardscaping and exterior design for your entire property—starting at $2,495
- Premium: everything in their classic packages plus a more hands-on process and extra revisions and reviews by their most senior designers—starting at $3,295.
The pricing above is for a standard lot (up to a 1/2 acre). If your lot is larger than a 1/2 acre, the Yardzen price will be slightly higher.
Tilly Design Pricing
Tilly Design is the most direct competitor to Yardzen and is priced more affordably. Tilly offers three main design packages ranging from $429 to $929:
- The Front: $429
- The Back: $629
- The Full: $929
Like Yardzen, pricing is ultimately determined by the size of the project. The Tilly pricing above is for a standard lot (less than 1/2 acre).
A La Carte Offerings Unique to Tilly:
- Plant Delivery Services: homeowners can request a quote from Tilly for the plants included in their design plan and have them delivered directly to their property. Tilly partners with local growers and wholesalers to provide discounts to customers.
- DIY Garden Bed: custom garden bed design including the layout of plants, trees, ground cover, rocks, etc. A plant list and installation instructions are included. Pricing starts at $199 for 150 sq ft.
- DIY Fire Pit: custom fire pit design with materials list and layout starting at $249.
- DIY Walkway: design layout, specs, materials list and installation instructions starting at $199.
- DIY Patio: design layout, specs, materials list and installation instructions starting at $249.
- 3D Images: 3D images start at $329 for the standard-sized front lot.
- Side Yard Plan: side yard plans are available for an additional $179 for the front and back yard packages.
- Lighting Plan: landscape lighting plans are available starting at $99.
- Contractor Connections: recommendations for three local installers to help install the design.
ShrubHub offers three main design packages ranging from $197 to $297:
- The Front: includes a 3D landscape and hardscape design, a phone consultation, a product legend and shopping list and a contractor installation quote starting at $197
- The Back: includes a 3D landscape and hardscape design, a phone consultation, a product legend and shopping list and a contractor installation quote starting at $227
- The Full: includes a 3D landscape and hardscape design, a phone consultation, a product legend and shopping list and a contractor installation quote starting at $297
Unlike Yardzen, Tilly Design and Bacqyard, the size of the project does not have an impact on pricing. Additionally, ShrubHub does not offer any auxiliary services not included in the initial price.
Bacqyard structures its offerings into three main packages ranging from $425 to $1,995:
- The Classic Package: includes a 30-minute phone/video call with a dedicated landscape designer, a 15-minute revision call, 1 round of revisions, a full-color CAD landscape design, a material palette and images, a detailed plant list with common and scientific names, and a landscape lighting plan starting at $425 for the front yard, $625 for the back yard and $925 for the entire yard.
- The Full Package: includes a 30-minute phone/video call with a dedicated landscape designer, a 15-minute revision call, 1 round of revisions, a full-color CAD landscape design, a 3D design, a material palette with images, a detailed plant list with common and scientific names, a 360-degree walking tour of the design, and a landscape lighting plan starting at $925 for the front yard, $1,085 for the back yard and $1,525 for the entire yard.
- The Luxe Package: includes unlimited phone/video calls with the most senior landscape designers, unlimited revisions, a full-color CAD landscape design, a 3D design, a material palette with images, a detailed plant list with common and scientific names, a 360-degree walking tour of the design, a landscape lighting plan, and exterior home design (new roof, paint, door, windows) starting at $1,995 for the front yard, $2,325 for the back yard and $2,750 for the entire yard. Starting prices for packages are based on a ½ acre property and increase at 1 acre. The homeowner is encouraged to call for quotes for properties over 1 acre in size.
Yardzen Vs. Traditional Landscape Design Services
Time Commitment—Online vs. Traditional
The time from the start of the project to installation varies greatly, depending on many factors such as the urgency of use of the space in anticipation of an event (i.e., parties, weddings, etc.), how stylistically informed or opinionated the client is, weather considerations, etc., and this holds true whether the client is online or conventional.
Time is also a consideration in terms of scheduling with the conventional designer and can vary seasonally and by region. For instance, once the first bud breaks in Texas, a homeowner can expect a longer wait to schedule a consultation and for the first design to be produced because the designer is likely working on several projects at different phases of completion all at once.
Another lesser-known example within which a region poses a time constraint is in locations where longer winters prevail. In some mountainous or far northern regions, landscape architecture firms will design exclusively in the dark, cold months and execute installation in a very short spurt to maximize the time it takes for plants to take root before winter descends again and plants go dormant. If timed incorrectly, the client might have to wait several weeks or months to start a project, even with the design phase.
Alternatively, online designers are more consistent because their sole focus is design year-round and they are not burdened with installation and other scheduling constraints. The only exception is with Bacqyard, who states that design times could be extended during their busy season, which we’ll discuss further in this article.
Cost Commitment—Online vs. Traditional
Traditional landscape architects and designers incur standard “brick and mortar” costs that do not translate to the online platform. Traditional firms must build in operational costs, such as office space and utilities, office equipment (including surprisingly expensive architectural printers and design software), design and administrative personnel, into design fees. The costs are much less for online services; thus, the savings are passed on to the customer.
Generally speaking, the average cost of a traditional landscape plan is about $4,500, according to data collected by Angi (formerly Angi’s List), and incidentally verified by Easy Landscape. Whereas, the average cost of an online landscape design is about $650, as culminated from data provided by Yardzen, Bacqyard, Tilly Design, and ShrubHub.
For the purposes of this article, the cost analysis is complete, but we’ll briefly discuss the overview of the costs to complete the project. Once the landscape design is completed and approved, the installation and/or construction is up to the homeowner for fulfillment. Traditional landscape designers will source materials and plants from local wholesalers with whom they have established relationships. They will likely charge a materials markup and will also charge for associated labor costs for installation. Conversely, the homeowner with an online design plan has two options. Option one is the do-it-yourself route, which entails sourcing and purchasing the materials and plants, then installing the landscape themselves. They will pay the premium retail prices, then need to do the labor themselves, which is a gratifying and attractive option for some. Option two is hiring a local landscaper just for the installation, which will likely only save the homeowner time and physical labor, as the installer will charge for the materials, plants and labor.
Yardzen vs. Tilly Design
- Yardzen costs more at every comparable level
- The turnaround time for Yardzen is twice as long
- Yardzen offers a marketplace on their website with outdoor offerings that the homeowner can purchase directly
- Both offer contractor and installer recommendations
- Yardzen offers exterior design options (rook colors, paint colors, eindows, doors, furniture) that Tilly does not offer
- Tilly offers plant and material deliveries and discounts that Yardzen does not offer
- Tilly offers additional packages, DIY fire pits, DIY walkways, DIY patios, DIY garden beds, that Yardzen does not.
Yardzen vs. ShrubHub
- ShrubHub costs less than Yardzen, but the deliverables are not comparable and are considerably thinner. With ShrubHub, the homeowner only receives a 3D landscape plan.
- ShrubHub does not offer any additional or auxiliary products or surfaces above the 3D rendering.
- The turnaround time of ShrubHub is considerably less than Yardzen.
Yardzen vs. Bacqyard
- Yardzen is approximately twice as expensive as Bacqyard for comparable products
- Bacqyard’s turnaround time is about half of Yardzen’s
- Both offer contractor/installer recommendations
- Yardzen offers add-on services and products, whereas Bacqyard offers only deliverables stated within the packages.
Yardzen vs. Traditional Landscape Design
Though they arrive at the same means to the end, the landscape plan, the approaches made by traditional landscape designers and online landscape designers are very different. The main differences are:
- Online design services are significantly less expensive than the traditional route
- No in-person interface is involved with online design
- Timing/pace is determined by the homeowner
- The homeowner is more involved and has more responsibility in the design project
- Deliverables and pricing vary dramatically from traditional landscape designer to traditional landscape designer
- The production/installation/construction of the project is completely the responsibility of the homeowner.