I tried Yardzen’s new Outdoor Transformation package to get a full yard and home exterior e-design. Here’s my honest review of how the process worked and if it’s worth the money.
We moved into our Forever Home a year and a half ago, and it came with a lot more yard than we are used to having. And since the house was built in 1979, the driveway, sidewalks, and stone are totally showing their age. The people who sold us the house had already replaced the windows and siding, but they aren’t really our style and we knew we’d want to swap them out for an all-black exterior later on down the road. But trying to figure out if all that black would look right was a little hard to envision. Pair that uncertainty with no clue how to handle the hard-to-mow slopes and lack of landscaping, and we were completely clueless.
I have had great experiences with E-Design companies in the past, so when I found out about Yardzen, I was excited to give it a try. Yardzen does the same thing interior E-Design companies do, except it’s for your yard and home’s exterior. I went with the new Outdoor Transformation package which re-designs the entire exterior along with our whole property. Here’s how the process went from sign-up to sign-off, and my honest opinions of whether Yardzen is worth the hefty price tag.
Starting A Project With Yardzen
Right off the bat, as soon as you sign up, you get an email with how the process works and gives you the first steps. Your dashboard is immediately available and you can start at any time. I like that you don’t have to wait and you can jump right in. Great for someone
impatient excited like me.
There are 9 steps in the project planning phase. First you’ll upload photos and videos. This step takes a while because you have to go outside and take photos from different angles and record slow-pan videos, then wait for them to upload into the dashboard. Plan on making some popcorn and turning on a movie while you’re uploading, and make sure you do it on your computer instead of your phone because their site isn’t set up for mobile usage yet (found out the hard way!).
Steps two and three outline your wishlist and exterior inspiration. These are fun little quizzes and are really helpful for someone like me who has no idea what I really want or need. In step four, you share your specific goals. This is the part where I stated my need for a wheelchair ramp, no-mow slopes, and that all-black exterior I’d been dreaming of since we bought the house.
In step five and six, you can upload inspiration photos, plans, and drawings you have. These are optional but helpful to the designers to see what you’ve been swooning over on Pinterest. Step seven and eight are more fun quizzes to help you find your landscaping design style and preferred plants. I found out that I prefer natural plantings in a cozy cottage style.
And finally, step nine is submitting all this info and kicking back while pros design your yard and you finish your movie. Overall, the setup process took us about three hours. Between taking photos and videos, waiting for uploads, finding inspiration photos, and thoughtfully going through the quizzes together as a couple, it was a bit of a lengthy process. But I highly recommend taking your time to make sure you get it right. You can also save your progress and come back to it later if you don’t have time to do it all at once.
Receiving Your House Model
In the Outdoor Transformation package, your entire property is redesigned, so the first thing you get back from Yardzen is a rough draft of your house model. Yardzen later creates a full 3D model of your house, so making sure your first draft is correct is really important. It was super cool to see how they turned my photos and videos into a perfect sketch of my entire property. It was spot on the first time so I didn’t need any revisions at all.
Reviewing Your Concept
Within a week or two, you’ll receive your final concept. This is a fully 3D model of your completed design from all different angles. Oh. My. Gosh, this was SO exciting to see! It didn’t even look like my house! As I looked through each slide, I tagged the areas I really liked, flagged spots I had questions about, and marked spaces that I wanted to change. The interactive review process was super easy and I was able to leave comments and get answers easily.
Finalizing The Design
Once you’ve gone through any revisions you requested and are completely happy with your design, you can finalize the process in the dashboard. Once you’ve finalized, you can download a full PDF of all the 3D renderings, planting plans, shopping lists, budget breakdown, and prioritized action plans if you chose to complete your project in phases.
The designs are exactly like ones you would get if you hired a landscaper to come out and draw them up, so you can hand them off to any contractor and he or she will be able to bring them to life easily. The final PDF even has the exact products they incorporated like siding, windows, door knobs, and even paint colors. It really makes turning the project into a reality a no-brainer.
After you finalize, you will start receiving emails from your Yardzen account manager who will initiate pairing you with local contractors if you’d like. I didn’t do this because I’m not quite ready to start on my project yet, but this service doesn’t expire so I can request contractor pairing next spring. I really like that you can get the designs now and make it happen later. Plus, I plan on doing a lot of the work myself so having the planting guide allows me to do a little at a time and still know what goes where.
Yardzen Before And Afters
Here are a few before and after photos from my Yardzen Outdoor Transformation package. I had the following items on my must-have list, and clearly they nailed them all:
- Wheelchair ramp to front door
- No-mow ground cover in place of grass
- Better utilization of sloped back yard
- All-black modern exterior
- Fence between our house and our neighbor’s
- Native low-maintenance plantings
- Hot tub, fire pit, and outdoor entertaining space
- Raised garden beds
Would I Recommend Yardzen
I promised you an honest review, so let’s get down to it. I’ll break up my opinions by category so you are aware of each component individually, then I’ll tell you my final thoughts as a whole.
COST: I chose the Outdoor Transformation package which is the most expensive one they offer. At the time of writing this, the cost is $2395. That may seem like a lot, but when I really break down all that I got from this package, it’s kind of a steal of a deal. If you were to hire a contractor, landscape designer, architect, and horticulturist on your own, you’d be out at least $8,000 just in design work. Yardzen does offer landscaping-only packages starting at $649 if you don’t plan on making changes to your house. Overall, I would say the cost is a pro if you have the funds available and are serious about starting a project soon.
SITE ACCESSIBILITY: The Yardzen desktop site is very user-friendly and I love the fun interactive quizzes and pin-drops for comments in the concept phase. The setup process is really easy, although photo and video uploads do take a while. That’s not a con for me, because I understand that video uploads aren’t a quick thing to do. What was a con for me though was the lack of a mobile-friendly site. I took the photos and videos on my phone, and after two failed attempts at uploading via the mobile site, I had to transfer them all to my computer and redo it. I hope Yardzen adds an app soon, because I think the mobile incapability might hold them back a bit.
TIMELINE FROM START TO FINISH: From clicking the checkout button to downloading my final PDF plans, it took about three weeks total. It would have been even faster than that, but I really took my time choosing my inspiration photos, adding my goals, and reviewing the designs. If you know exactly what you want, you could get it done in two weeks.
DESIGN/3D MODEL: Ok, no joke, I’m still gushing over my design plans. The 3D model is so gorgeous, and I still can’t believe the potential my house has. The amount of angles and images you get from your design plan is above and beyond, and they even give you nighttime views! I’m so impressed at the software they use to create the designs, and it really helps me envision my yard before digging one single hole.
PLANT VARIETIES: This one is a huge pro for me as well. I’m not exactly a green thumb, and I have no idea what plants should go where and which plant buddies they should live next to. I was really blown away at the varieties the Yardzen Horticulturist included in my design. It was even more impressive that all the plants, shrubs, and trees she recommended are native to my area so I know they’ll thrive without a ton of maintenance. I owe her a coffee gift card for being awesome.
ADA ACCESSIBILITY: If you’ve been to my blog or Instagram before, you know I’m a huge proponent of ADA accessibility. I know it’s not something all companies think about until it’s brought to their attention, so this definitely isn’t a ding to my overall opinion, but it is more of a suggestion. When going through the setup phase, it asks for priorities about entertaining, lounging, gardening, and play space for kids and pets, but there isn’t a mention of accessibility or mobility alterations.
I was able to ask for a wheelchair ramp in the notes, but couldn’t list it as a main priority in the checklist. Again, this wasn’t a problem and I still got the wheelchair ramp included, but I do hope Yardzen adds more disability inclusion to their site soon. Helping those with mobility needs get into their home and enjoy their outdoor space is such a huge factor in their independence, and was the only thing I found that Yardzen lacked.
Want To Try Yardzen For Your Own Home?
Overall, there were tons of pros and only two very tiny cons, so I can honestly say that I definitely recommend Yardzen. I have never been good at grouping plants together, planning a landscape, or designing outdoor spaces, so the fact that I could hand this off to a pro and receive a perfect plan was incredible. If Yardzen is something you’ve been considering, I hope I was able to answer some of your questions and give you peek into how the process works. If you’re still not sure, their customer service team has been really awesome with me, so I recommend reaching out to them directly.
What’s Next For My Exterior Makeover
I have a few interior remodels going on right now so the exterior projects are on hold until Spring of 2022. But the top of our priority list is to add the wheelchair ramp in the front of the house exactly like it is in the Yardzen plan. We will add the concrete parking pad to connect to the ramp and the fence between our neighbor’s house and our driveway around the same time.
I’ll also be stalking Home Depot for plant sales and stocking up a little at a time. Now that I have a planting map, I’ll be able to add some here and there based on availability. I’ll definitely keep you updated on the progress!