Boost the green in your pocket by maximizing the green in your yard.
If you’ve lived in and around the Denver area for longer than 5 minutes, you are probably familiar with its current booming economy. New developments are going up left and right, with high-rise cranes becoming hard to miss cornerstones of the ever-changing city skyline. People are pouring in from around the country (if you don’t believe me, try going anywhere on one of the major highways between the hours of 7 am and 8 pm), looking to take advantage of the thriving job opportunities or the active, outdoor lifestyle provided by living at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
With Denver’s desirable living factor on a constant rise, housing is at a premium. There just aren’t enough homes available to those interested in purchasing one. These conditions are what real estate experts refer to as a “seller’s market.” So, if you’re a metro area homeowner needing a change in domestic scenery, there’s no time like the present to SELL, SELL, SELL. And by including a well-executed landscape design in your presale plans, you can ensure that your home nets the most profit possible.
For those of you fortunate enough to have already snagged that dream home, you too can capitalize on this money making trend by adding long-term property value, as well as desirable curb appeal to your stately residence.
The science behind landscape design.
Often thought to add to potential home value by thousands of dollars, landscape design was put under the microscope during a survey conducted by the Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech University. Respondents in 7 different states were shown a photograph of a newly constructed suburban home with only a lawn and concrete pathway present. They were then shown 16 photographs of the same house with varying levels of landscape design sophistication, including a plethora of plants, perennials, shrubs, and trees, ranging in size from small to large.
The landscape layouts are represented in the figures below:
#1: foundation planting only
#2: foundation planting with one large, island planting and one or two single specimen trees in the lawn
#3: foundation planting with adjoining beds and two or three large island plantings, incorporating curved bed lines
Four categories of plant life were used in the survey:
evergreen and deciduous plants
evergreen and deciduous plants with 20 percent of the visual area of the landscape beds planted in annual or perennial color
evergreen and deciduous plants, 20 percent annual or perennial color, and the addition of a colored brick sidewalk entrance
Forty-two percent of respondents ranked design sophistication as the most important factor, with plant size coming in at a close second, 36% and plant diversity third, with 22%. The preferred landscape included a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen, and annual plants and a colored hardscape. The change in home values jumped anywhere from 5.5% to 11.4%, meaning a home valued at $150,000 with no landscape (lawn only) could be worth $8,250 to $19,050 more when utilizing a well-planned landscape layout, including large, vibrant plants.
So, now that the results are in, how do you turn a bunch of statistics into cold, hard cash?
Here are 5 tips:
Make it TREE-mendous. Many studies have been conducted simply on the correlation between living in neighborhoods full of leafy, mature tree-lined streets and an overall increase in property values. One such study even determined that large trees were the single most important indicator of attractiveness in a community. Why the wealth when wood is present? Trees are natural born filters, minimizing carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air. The shade helps to cool homes, cutting down on utility costs. Plus, they are just so dang pretty to look at.
Stay on the cutting edge. Nothing adds to the overall lush and luxurious feel of a well-maintained yard like a healthy lawn, especially if that lawn is neatly edged. By taming the borders, either through upkeep or with barriers of mulch or stone, your outdoor space will look easy to maintain, a huge selling point for prospective buyers.
Whack those weeds. Not only do plant beds free from unwanted creepers appear neater in general, they will also help to convey the sense that your garden – and your home – is in good working order.
Remember a reason for every season. While a garden full of blossoms is appealing in April, the same plants will be barren come the harsh days of early October. Think about a landscape plan that will reap beautiful benefits no matter what time of year it is. By creating a balance of spring bulbs, summertime annuals, bright fall foliage, and evergreens for winter, different aspects of your yard will be on display each and every day.
Keep it in the family. Take into consideration the style and character of your home and install a landscape design that adds, not distracts, from the overall impression. Do you own a quaint Victorian cottage? Avoid clean layouts and square planters, opting instead for the relaxed elegance of an English garden. Do you reside in a modern or industrial style abode? Then you’ll want to focus on sharper angles to complement the streamlined contours of your property.
No matter which way you slice the profit pie, landscaping improvements will garner you the biggest bang for your buck, with some homeowners seeing upwards of 109% return on every dollar spent. But while these projects sound enticing, those ready and willing to jump on the DIY bandwagon should head this warning. The biggest mistake a homeowner can make is beginning any project without a plan in place. The last thing you is your outdoor space becoming a catch-all for half completed endeavors, where good ideas (and countless Home Depot supplies) go to die. This will, actually, detract from your home’s value and more importantly, yours will become “that house” on the block and no one wants that.
Invest in an experienced landscape designer. It could be the smartest money you’ll ever spend.