Backyard Ideas on a Budget For Your Pool & Backyard Project

Are you ready to start your pool & backyard project, but when it comes to determining your budget, you’re a bit lost? Tackling backyard ideas on a budget can seem intimidating at first but taking it on one step at a time will make it less overwhelming. Setting your budget is the best way to start planning your project and we are here to help. Because design options are unlimited, the worst thing that you can do is fall in love with a design that you can’t afford. This is why establishing a budget prior to meeting with a pool company is extremely important.

At California Pools & Landscape, we’ve been creating dream backyards in the valley of the sun for over 36 years. We realize that every project is unique and that every customer will have their own unique budget to go along with that.

We’re going to help break down the different aspects that can affect your budget, and give you an idea of the costs of common features that people typically add to their backyard. This will help establish a general idea of where you want to be budget-wise which will save you time and help you get into an affordable pool that you love. Having a good grasp on what features fit into your projects budget will also give designers a jump start on creating your dream backyard.

Designing your project is a lot of fun and is probably the most exciting thing that you will do during this process. But it’s important to work within the confines of what you can afford and not let the fun of designing put you in a bad financial decision.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to set a general budget for your backyard project!

Backyard Ideas on a Budget For Your Pool & Backyard Project

Part 1 – What Site Conditions Affect Your Budget?

There are a lot of factors that can change the cost of your project, and some of them aren’t fun. To start the process of setting your budget, you need to consider the current state of your backyard as a job site. If there is work to be done before new construction can begin, you need to factor that into your project’s budget.

What kind of access is available to your yard?

How will crews get into your backyard? Does a wall need to be taken down? Is small equipment needed to dig your pool or to do work in the backyard? Limited access can add to the budget of your project if walls need to be knocked down in order to get the necessary equipment into your yard. Do you have an RV gate that provides access? If so, that will save you from adding access into your budget.

Do you need utilities installed for the features you choose?

Are you looking to add a new barbecue grill? Do you need a gas line trenched and run to that grill? Do you need electricity to operate your pool equipment? Do you need water lines trenched and run for your pool or spa? The products that you choose for your backyard will determine what utilities you need in order to operate them. Each of these utilities will have a corresponding cost that will add to your budget.

What is the elevation of your backyard?

When you look at your backyard does the yard slope away from the patio? Does it slope up? Are there a lot of elevation changes? Do you live on the side of a mountain? All of these things can have an effect on how much your pool or the process is going to cost. If dirt or materials need to be brought on site to level out your elevation, this will add to the time and cost of your project.

Do you need demolition of existing features?

Do you have anything currently in your backyard? Do you have existing grass, pavers, trees, or plants that need to be taken out in order to start your project? Demolition work is a critical aspect and can be an added cost as well.

What city jurisdiction are you in?

Every city has different rules and regulations around jurisdiction. The jurisdiction dictates permitting and what you can or cannot do with your project. Not only does it affect project scope but your project cost as well. Taxes for the project vary from differing jurisdictions and the cost of the permit. Your designer should be able to break these costs down for you and inform you of the effect on your project’s budget.

What is the size and scope of your project?

Some options that are a bit more intuitive that impact your budget are the size and scope of your project. Obviously the bigger you go, the more expensive it gets. The type of materials you choose can also add to your budget. As we mentioned earlier, design options are endless and they can affect your budget. For example; if you choose to have travertine as your pool decking, that will add more to your budget than concrete with an acrylic laced topping.

Backyard Ideas on a Budget For Your Geometric Pool

Part 2 – What Are Starting Costs On Common Backyard Features?

Now that we’ve established the conditions that are inherent to your yard, it’s time to give you a general idea of the starting cost on common features like spas, fire features, and water features. It’s important to note that these are just starting costs, but it should give you a good idea of how different elements can come together to help form your budget. Your site conditions can potentially affect this if you need demolition or multiple utilities run. As you add more of these common features together, you will have to expand your budget number as well.

Backyard FeatureEstimated Starting Cost
Entry Level Pool $36,000 - $55,000
Spa$22,000 - $30,000
In-floor Cleaning System$3,600 +
Barbecues$8,000 +
Fire Pit$6,400 +
Fire Bowls$6,800 +
Fireplaces$16,900 +
Water Features (small)$3,200 +
Water Features (large)$15,700 +
Aluminum Shade Structure$6,500 +
Tiled Roof Structure$25,000 +
Landscaping$7,000 +

What are the starting costs of pools?

Most swimming pools start at around $40,000. Depending on the size, scope and materials used in your pool, the price can increase or decrease from there. For example, our play pools start at $40,000. Play pools are a 75 foot perimeter inground, shotcrete pool featuring our Sea Glass Pebble interior and include an automatic vacuum.

Our CPL Standard Pool starts at $55,000 and features additional components like 350 sq ft of acrylic pool deck, a WaveForce circulation system, the best LED pool light in the industry and an automated control system.

Backyard Ideas on a Budget Sharp Edge Pool

What are the starting costs of spas?

Adding a spa to a pool typically starts in the $22,000 – $30,000 range. When adding a spa it’s not only the structure, but also jets, blowers, a heater, and gas lines.

What are the starting costs of barbecues?

A popular item to add in the backyard is a barbecue. Barbecue features are made out of masonry, including an actual barbecue grill, access doors, a travertine top, with some stucco and paint. Adding a barbeque like this will start at $8,000. If you increase the size or scope, this will increase your cost.

What are the starting costs of fire features?

Fire features are popular items to add that can provide heat and ambiance to your backyard. This can include fire pits, fire bowls, and fireplaces.  Fire pits are a great option for your backyard. Typically a fire pit would finish above the ground and be a conversational area. Fire pits start around $6,400 and go up from there. Fire Bowls can add an architectural element to the backyard and provide a nice accent to your outdoor environment. Fire bowls usually start at $6,800. Fireplaces are larger masonry structures that require more construction. They start around $16,900 and can go up from there depending on the size. If you are adding a barbecue or fire features, you might need to include utility options as well. If you add electric or gas to any of these items, that can make all of those budget numbers increase significantly.

Backyard Ideas on a budget Beautiful Deep Blue Geometric Sharp Edge Pool

What are the starting costs of water features?

Water features are an incredible option that you can add to your backyard. Not only do they add aesthetic value, but they can also add an acoustical value for your environment with the pleasant sounds they generate. Water features do range greatly in size and budget. You can have small water features that are in the $3,200 plus range like deck jets, scuppers, or water pillars. Larger water features are also popular and can dramatically change the scope of your project. Items like negative edges, zero edges and grotto slides can run in the $15,700 plus range.

What are the starting costs of aluminum shade structures?

Aluminum shade structures are extremely popular. The slatted or solid roof structures all add another element in the sunny weather of Arizona. Aluminum shade structures typically add about $6,500 to your budget and go up from there based on size. Again, you can add elements to these structures like utilities or TV walls that will obviously raise the price.

Backyard Ideas on a Budget For Your Backyard Project

What are the starting costs of tiled roof structures?

A tiled roof structure is another option that can transform your yard into an ultimate backyard, but requires more materials and construction. The structure would match the tile of your house, with stucco and columns. Tiled roof structures typically start around $25,000+. Again adding utilities, TVs, gas & appliances can all add to that number and go up from there.

What are the starting costs of landscaping?

The last big option that we can discuss is landscaping. Landscaping is also determined by your yard. The more square footage, the more it’s going to cost. If you put in a timer, drip lines, valves, granite, some plants and some trees that would typically be around $7,000. These guidelines should give you a good idea of what your project might cost. However, keep in mind as you add more of these features together, your price will increase by a 10% – 20% margin.

PART 3 – How Much Should I Spend On My Backyard Project?

Now that you’ve established your budget, there are a couple of other factors to consider. You need to look at the value of your home and what you’d like your monthly payment to be if you’re financing the project.

If you’re planning on being in your home for five years or less, a good investment guideline is to spend 10% – 15% of your home’s value on the project. However, if you’re planning on being in the home for five years or more, you can consider using 15% – 20% of your home’s value on your backyard project.

If you’re planning on financing the project, sometimes it’s easiest to work backwards. What we mean is figuring out what you can afford for a monthly payment and then determining your backyard budget from there.

Backyard Ideas on a Budget

As you can see, establishing a budget is very difficult. There are a multitude of factors to consider; from elements in your backyard, design options, financing, the amount of time you’re going to spend in the house and all of the overall options you want in the backyard project. We know that budgets change as you go through the process, but having a good accurate budget before you meet with a pool company will make it a lot more enjoyable experience for you and your family.

At California Pools and Landscape, we’ve helped over 35,000 customers get into a new pool. Every budget is different and we are here to help you throughout the entire process. If you’re ready to start your dream pool and backyard project, click here to schedule an appointment with one of our talented designers.


*Please note that this article reflects 2024 pricing.

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