Landscaping can have a big impact on the impression of a home. The lawn leading to your door is usually what a visitor notices first; the view at the back can enhance the aura of interior rooms. The question is, how vital is investing in curb appeal to improving the value of your home? Is it worth prioritizing part of your home maintenance budget on your outdoor spaces?
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) says professional landscaping can increase the price of a home”15 to 20% more at the time of resale. Bryan Mackenzie, landscape designer and co-founder of gardening advice site bumpercroptimes.com, says, “High-quality landscaping designs typically have a return on investment of 20-30% of the overall home value.”
However, not all projects live up to their promises and some can potentially reduce the value of the property. Where you see beauty, others may see burden, even danger.
Let’s take a closer look at when landscaping decreases or increases home value – and which projects may offer the best opportunity to get more out of your investment.
Does Landscaping Improve Home Value?
First, a quick reminder of what landscaping actually means. Basically, it encompasses the outdoor area around a residence – both the overall design and the individual elements. Softscaping refers to living things: flowers and plants, trees, gardens and flooring and natural formations (grass, hills, rough stones). Landscaping refers to non-living ornamental or architectural elements such as structures, steps, and formal paving.
As with interior designs, landscaping trends can and do change over time. Nowadays, “outdoors living space upgrades are very popular upgrades – including expanding decks and patios, adding fireplaces or fire pits, dining areas and covered gazebos or pergolas,” said Britt Wood, CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
However, the popularity of a project does not mean that it adds the kind of value that the next owner is willing to pay a premium for. Pagodas may not appeal to everyone, for example. Or that elaborate water garden may need too much maintenance (who’s going to feed the fish?).
Still, “research 2018 by Alex X. Niemiera, a horticulturist at Virginia Tech, found that a well-landscaped home had a 5.5% to 12.7% price advantage over a home without landscaping,” note Chase and Patti Michels of the real estate agency of Chicago Michels Group. “That translates to an additional $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home.”
The most cost-effective landscaping projects increase living space and add low-maintenance beauty to a property.
What landscaping projects improve the value of a home?
Whether landscaping or landscaping, the following landscaping projects are more likely to increase home value when done well.
Decks are the only landscaping project to make Remodeling.com’s annual list Cost vs value study, which analyzes which home improvements offer the best return on investment. A wooden deck costs an average of $16,766, bringing in 65.8% on resale; more durable composite decking costs an average of $22,426, recovering 63.2%. The return on investment for wood decking has been reduced over the past two years, due to rising lumber prices; The return on investment for composite decking has remained more stable. But the two have consistently performed well in the study over the past decade.
Niemera’s study indicates that the number one thing buyers look for in landscaping is sophisticated design. “The size and maturity of the plant is right behind,” notes Michels. Thus, you may want to invest in taller trees and mature greenery that seems more established for your landscaping project.
The cost of planting a tree versus a shrub may be higher, but so are the benefits. According to Fixr.com, planting a shrub costs on average between $25 and $50, while a tree costs on average $150 to $300. However, you may need fewer trees than shrubs. Additionally, trees are less likely to require maintenance than a shrub (once established) and provide shade, a windbreak, curb appeal, and a safe habitat for birds and squirrels.
Xeriscaping, landscaping in a style that requires little or no irrigation, can be one of the costliest landscaping projects up front – but as climate change rocks the country with droughts and warmer temperatures, it is becoming increasingly popular. ASLA reported that members saw a 10% growth in customer demand for drought-resistant landscaping.
Fixr.com says an average xeriscaping project costs between $16,000 and $18,000. However, moving away from water-intensive landscaping towards xeriscaping or low-water landscaping may be the wisest decision now and in the long run, simply because you eliminate many of the costs of maintenance associated with traditional landscape designs. Might be worth an extra 10 percent to 12 percent in land value.
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, a site that connects consumers and lawn professionals, sees a growing preference for water landscaping. He advises clients to “save money on landscape maintenance by installing river rock in their gardens and landscaped beds.” While the rock garden might seem like a project better suited to desert landscapes, Clayton says he sees customers dwindling even in cooler areas. “People are just tired of wasting money year after year on mulch, straw or other organic material to put in gardens,” he explains.
Other ways to incorporate the waterwise concept include:
- Incorporate more low water flow plants into the garden
- Automated watering programmed to run early in the morning or in the evening
- More landscaping using stone or pavers to reduce the square footage of a lawn
- Replace mulch with rock or gravel alternatives
Which landscaping projects diminish the value?
In general, “too niche” landscaping projects can turn off a large portion of buyers. Ideas such as an Asian Zen garden or a cactus garden anywhere outside of the Southwest may not appeal to everyone. Additionally, the Michels explain that “major renovations tend to have significantly lower returns than smaller projects.” Investing in small exterior upgrades would be money better spent.
Upgrades can backfire in other ways. For example, some landscaping projects may be considered high maintenance or too expensive to maintain. A lush green lawn can be attractive in many areas, but is impractical in drought areas due to their high water requirements. In addition, lawns require constant care: mowing, seeding and aeration.
Other landscaping projects that may end up losing value due to complexity or maintenance costs include:
- Pools: They can be considered a safety hazard and require additional fencing and safety measures in many municipalities
- Ponds, waterfalls and other water features: Similar to swimming pools, they can present a safety concern for young children and pets. They may also require constant maintenance.
- Fancy Features: Elaborate constructions such as an outdoor kitchen or tennis court can be counterproductive, if the cost of the addition is significant enough to push the value of the home above that of neighborhood components.
The ASLA recommends keeping your spending on exterior and landscape improvements within the range of 10 percent to 20 percent the current value of your home. However, you could spend less and still earn a nice return. When deciding which type of external upgrades would provide the most value, consider the following tips:
- KISS. Sometimes the most effective landscaping ideas are the simplest, like a clean, clutter-free garden or a low-cost trellis with a flowering vine. A few annuals can add color anywhere.
- Less is more. Keep the landscaping plan generic enough that most people can appreciate it. Don’t step on your style, but you should avoid design ideas that may be too personal (and usually too expensive) or trendy.
- Add lighting. You can find inexpensive landscape lights at most home improvement stores that you can install yourself. Solar powered versions do not require special wiring. Even the small touch of adding spotlights to add drama to your landscape can create a big impact.
- Do your due diligence. Always examine the cost of landscaping and compare different materials and service providers to find the best price.
- Work with your local nursery. Although a professional landscaper can provide a well-designed plan, their fees can take up a significant portion of your budget. Many nurseries offer free or low-cost landscaping design ideas when you purchase plants and supplies from them.
The Last Word on Landscaping and Home Value
Landscaping trends may change over time, but the most financially rewarding projects tend to be the same: they’re low-maintenance, attractive, and increase your enjoyment and use of the land. home.
As with all home improvement efforts, some landscaping projects increase in value and some do not. It may be best to avoid expensive or overly personalized projects and keep the overall beautification – and low maintenance – so that a large number of people enjoy it. As with all home improvement projects, doing your research to make the wisest decision can help you maximize the return on your investment.