Studies show that landscaping can add 12-15% to the value of your home. All you need is a green thumb to put a little more green in your pocket.
Landscaping is more than flowers and shrubs. Upgrades can involve things like patios and decks, flower beds, barbecues, sprinkler systems, and plants of all kinds. When embarking on a landscaping project, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to the types of improvements to make.
The trick is to make the improvements that potential buyers want. If you do, the value of your property will increase.
What are the experts saying?
While experts agree that landscaping improvements generally increase a property’s value, it can be difficult to predict exactly what kind of gains you’ll see in individual circumstances. Estimates vary by home and note that the lasting effect of landscaping requires ongoing maintenance.
Virginia Tech horticulturist Alex Niemiera concluded that landscaping can add 12.7% to a home’s value – in his research six years ago. This translates to an additional $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home. In extreme cases, property values can more than double and, conversely, they can actually decrease if the landscaping contains undesirable features that the local market does not support.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends homeowners invest 10% of home value in landscaping. Landscape architecture goes beyond plantings or landscaping, to include structural elements such as lighting, fences, garden paths, fire pits, swimming pools and ponds.
Outdoor rooms, patios, and decks are also high-yield structural or landscaping investments. A landscape architect can work with the client to generate a detailed plan. Typically, the homeowner then hires a general contractor, landscaper, or subcontractor to perform the installation.
Of course, it’s quite easy to spend more on installation and routine maintenance than the landscaping benefits the value of your home.
A professional landscaper may seem like an extravagance, but they can help you gain equity in your home and save money by recommending features and plantings that will appeal to buyers and are inexpensive to maintain.
For example, perennials and bulbs can add color and style to your property all year round. Other cost-effective improvements include aesthetic architectural upgrades, such as stone walkways and terraces that require little or no maintenance.
Another important factor to consider is the contractors doing your landscaping upgrades. Many businesses compete for this type of business, and choosing the right contractor can make a big difference.
Find a contractor you are comfortable with who is honest and patient and can show you a good track record. Finally, pay attention to detail. A small, subtle change, like curving the edges of your flower beds, can alone increase your home’s value by 1%.
How does curb appeal impact home value?
Attractive landscaping can measurably increase the appraised value of your property.
“If a landscaping change is positive, it can often increase the price and reduce a home’s time on the market,” says Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges.
“But if the change is negative, it can drive the price down and lengthen the time a house sits for sale.”
Curb appeal is key when selling a home, says Borges, noting that it’s the owner’s opportunity to make a great first impression. A home with lackluster landscaping or an exterior in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint will likely be unappealing to potential buyers and could ultimately affect the home’s potential resale value, he said.
Borges says homeowners should ask themselves the following questions when it comes to the quality of their home’s green space:
- Is the landscaping attractive enough for the potential buyer to walk through the front door? Keep the design contemporary and in line with comparable properties in the area.
- Could landscaping save money? Landscaping requiring little or no water for maintenance may be desirable depending on the geographic area.
- Is the landscaping energy efficient for the whole house? For example, it’s a good idea to plant trees in a place where they block the sun in places with a warm climate all year round.
- Are the trees planted a safe distance from the house and are they healthy and well maintained? Weak, old or damaged trees planted too close to a house or building could present structural hazards to the house and will need to be removed. Consumers should also ensure that mulch or beds do not come too close to the wood around the foundation to avoid wood-destroying organisms.
Home improvement guru Bob Vila advises that perhaps the biggest mistake homeowners make is a piecemeal approach to landscaping.
“Homeowners start projects, start clearing areas, put in a mix of plants and proceed without a plan. The result is a hodgepodge of plantings and gardens that give the property a disorganized feel. A professionally implemented landscape design provides a neat appearance. Following a plan prepared by a professional will lead the owner to a beautiful property while respecting a pre-established budget.
Vila warns owners to remember that not everything has to happen at once. Consider a five-year plan in which plantings mature at varying rates and add various features each year.
This way, you can stay on budget – in terms of time and cost – while making progress towards a full landscape makeover.