As the snow starts to melt away, and the brown, lifeless vegetation that’s been hibernating underneath is exposed, even the most dedicated gardeners can feel overwhelmed. Even if you aren’t motivated yet to start your spring gardening, you should consider that landscaping could actually increase the value of your home and can even help you sell your home faster. What’s more, unlike other investments in your home, landscaping has a recovery value of 100%-200%.
“Studies in Canada and the U.S. show that landscaping can add anywhere from 4% – 15% to the value of your home,” says Denis Flanagan, landscaping extraordinaire and Director of Public Relations for Landscape Ontario. “Improving your home’s curb appeal also increases the likelihood that potential buyers will come take a look at your property. People judge a home from the curb. Professional landscaping helps create a good first impression of your property, and it may even give you a (h)edge over the Joneses’.”
So good landscaping can add up to the overall value of a house and cut its time on the market 10% to 15%.
Designing with Plants
Select greenery that is hardy and adapted to your growing conditions. Check local public gardens, nurseries, and your neighbors’ yards to see what grows well in your region. When designing your landscape, keep it simple. Balance the design with a mix of trees, shrubs, and flowers, and repeat themes throughout the landscape to keep the whole yard unified.
Think of the immediate and long-term impact of your plant selections. Choose trees and shrubs that will look good when installed yet that won’t outgrow their location in three to five years. A plant that’s too large can block a window or crowd out others, giving an impression of neglect that may translate into a lower price for your home. Choose plants that provide a natural transition from the surrounding area. For instance, if you have a wooded lot nearby, select some native plants that would naturally grow in those woods and still look good in your yard.
When selecting plants for color, choose trees, shrubs, and flowers that will be attractive in more than one season. Such plants can help make a home more attractive to homebuyers who are shopping in those seasons when the surrounding landscape is drab and colorless.
If you have a small urban yard, try growing plants in containers — even small trees and shrubs. Use them to create privacy and proved a garden getaway from the noise of the city. If you introduce trees, plants, or shrubs, go native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra time and money you’ll devote to anything that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat. Not only can native plantings save money, they can make you money, too. Some plants can boost a home’s value immensely.
Native plantings help wildlife, too. Some homeowners create a natural backyard habitats for birds, butterflies, and other animals looking for places to roost or feed. There’s a slow but steady increase in buyers seeking these wildlife certified properties.
Trees are essential
Trees can increase the value of your property. They block and suck up water running off your property, preventing pollutants from entering community waterways. They reduce carbon dioxide. CO2 contributes to climate change. Trees can save energy. Shade trees cool homes in summer; windbreaks help warm them in winter. Just three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs. Planting windbreaks and shade trees can reduce winter heating bills by 15% and air conditioning needs by 75%. Multiply those benefits by the number of trees on a property, and the value and savings can climb.
Your trees can even add value to your neighbor’s property. Of course, to add value, the trees must be healthy, mature but not elderly, native to the area, and appropriate to the neighborhood.
If you’re growing a forest and the rest of the neighborhood looks like a prairie, you’ll have a hard time recovering the trees’ value at sale. Conversely, if your neighbors manicure their lawns and yours is a jumble of weeds or worse, their great landscaping will make yours look even shabbier and hurt the value of your home.
Last but not least, trees help you de-stress. Just looking at trees produces “significant recovery from stress” within five minutes, according to a Texas A&M University study.
When you look at your yard you should notice not only the type and health of the “greenscape” (trees, shrubs, lawn, flowers), but also the hardscape — the more permanent, nonliving sections of your yard such as walkways, paths, decks, walls, fences, and buildings. Just as the plants in your yard need maintenance and attention, so do the hardscape features. A new or properly maintained hardscape tells a potential buyer that the yard and house are well cared for.
Besides the normal painting and repair of structures and buildings, look at what you need to do to maintain your walkways and stairs. If they are permanent walkways made from brick or concrete, keep them clean and fix any broken steps. While permanent walkways are great for the main routes around the house, more rustic paths work better elsewhere in the yard and are less expensive to build and maintain. Use shredded bark mulch, bark chips, pine straw, or stone to create these more decorative and functional paths. Design them to curve and meander, creating the illusion of more space and a sense of surprise in your garden.
Stone walls, arbors, and decorative fences made from local materials blend in nicely with the natural environment. Use them to block unsightly views and provide an interesting visual contrast to the house and landscape. They also provide a beautiful backdrop for climbing vines, flowers, edible plants, and shrubs. You can even use these structures to create warmer microclimates for plants and people to enjoy. The outdoor “rooms” they define give the sense that the home is larger, extending beyond the house’s walls.
Outdoor lighting is said to be one of the most wanted outdoor features for potential home buyers. But that’s not the only reason it’s one of our landscape essentials. Tasteful lighting paints your home at night, highlighting your other great landscaping choices and directing guests to your home’s focal point — the front door. It protects against slips and falls. It makes a property a more difficult target for intruders. That added security can reduce burglaries, and therefore claims. It makes your home feel homier. Soft lighting on a wrap-around porch or just a front stoop feels warm and inviting.
Fencing has many indisputable qualities: It keeps pets in and intruders out; it creates privacy and sets boundaries. But when it comes to boosting property values, the value of fencing becomes murky. Since most privacy fencing is installed in backyards, it doesn’t pack the curb appeal punch of, say, a spreading chestnut tree shading your house. And if everyone in the neighborhood has the same nice fence, yours won’t earn any extra points on an appraisal sheet. But nice fences (not chain link) do have value.
Retaining walls and terracing reclaim heavily sloped yards that are only good for grass (hard to mow) or ground covers (hard to tame). They control erosion and surface runoff by slowing the flow of water down a slope, and add color and texture to wide stretches of green. Useless slopes can be turned into flat areas for garden beds and walkways. Done correctly, walls and terracing look beautiful and boost curb appeal. But walls can be pricey, depending on materials used.
Walkways welcome guests to your home. So, you can let visitors trudge through wet grass to your front door, or you can lay down an attractive path. You can go whole hog and install a solid stone walkway or use pavers. To save money, lay stepping stones with grass between. Walkways are another keep-up-with-the-Joneses upgrade. If you get too fancy, you won’t see a return on your investment; if you don’t meet the standards of the neighborhood, appraisers will punish you.
Think of your yard as a room. Furniture and attractive walls define the room, and accents express your personal style. You might personalize the garden with water elements (fountains, waterfalls, and small ponds) and garden art that provide a sense of drama or whimsy. Or, have some fun and put pink flamingoes and plastic alligators on your lawn! This is your yard. Even though one of the goals is to landscape to increase your home value, it’s your place to live and enjoy right now, too.
Generally, more expensive homes have greater potential to increase in value from a well-designed and well-installed landscape. Remember that hardscape features – which can cost big bucks – such as pavers, stone walls, decks, and patios are part of the landscape investment.
Most trees and shrubs will increase in value over time. A few flowers and shrubs to spruce up the front yard may not add much value to your home. But if you’re thinking of selling, the first impression you create with colorful flowers and tidy shrubs could make the difference between an interested buyer and a drive-by missed sale.
Our homes are among the most important financial investments we’ll ever make. While we often spend time and money upgrading appliances, painting the exterior, fixing roofs, and remodeling kitchens and baths, we often end up neglecting our landscapes.
There’s a close association between the yard and the home. People associate a beautiful garden with a warm and inviting home. A well-maintained yard also reflects well on the owner’s values. It gives the impression the inside of the home is as well cared for as the outside.
Most homeowners believe a well-designed and maintained landscape adds 10 to 19 percent to their home’s value. With housing values dropping in many areas of the country, having a beautiful landscape could make the difference between breaking even and making some money on the sale of your home.
Your home is your castle — enjoy it, customize it, make it reflect your taste and values.
See HGTV’s 25 Backyard Landscaping Ideas
If you are interested in buying or selling a house in Durham Region, Ontario, contact me today. With 22 years of full-time local experience, I can provide insights and skills that will make the buying and selling process rewarding and worry-free.