It can be easy to assume that the factors impacting home value are mainly external and out of your control.
I was intrigued to learn about how some of the things you can do to your home can increase the value. There are some interesting studies to back this up.
A friend of mine was selling a house recently and didn’t bother to spruce it up beforehand until I convinced them. I didn’t like the thought of them leaving money on the table. So, I explored whether landscaping could help increase home value.
Table of Content
Landscaping and Increased Value: Exploring the Proof
When doing the research on this topic, I was surprised to see exactly how unanimous the opinion is: Home value is increased by landscaping. More specifically, it is increased by good quality landscaping with a certain character.
Virginia Cooperative Extension Study
A study carried out by the Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia State University tested the perceived values based with a set of sixteen photos with different styles of landscaping in their garden.
The changes in this perception varied from 5% to an incredible 12%.
Though this doesn’t necessarily mean that the right landscaping will increase your home’s value by 12%, it does put you in a better position for negotiating and attracting potential buyers.
This study shows that the main aspect which had an impact on home value was a design sophistication. A design with large plants and features which look ‘sophisticated’ are more likely to appear expensive and appealing.
Clemson University Study
Another study focusing on Greenville, South Carolina, had an intriguing finding.
It was done by Mark S. Henry for the University Center for Economic Development of Clemson University. This study focused more on the quality of the landscaping and the difference between average, good and excellent landscaping quality.
The price difference between ‘average’ landscaping to good landscaping was 4% to 5%, but selling prices could be up to 7% higher if the quality was seen as excellent.
This sample was not just based on perception, but actual sales of homes in this area over a two year period.
Some would argue that looking at the actual sales, and spotting a pattern of better landscaping improving the sale price, is more valuable research than just peoples perception. This is a case of people putting their money where their mouth is!
Journal of Environmental Horticulture Research Article
Mark S. Henry’s research for the Clemson university from above was explored further by research carried out for the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.
This took an even more scientific approach and worked out an equation to establish the increase in value. The findings again concluded that improved curb appeal (which can include landscaping) the property value can improve an incredible 16%.
The National Association Of Realtors Report
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is yet another authoritative organization to back up the claims that house landscaping can increase the value of your home.
Their studies have focused in on remodeling and the impact this can have, including whether people are likely to recoup the money they spend.
The report looked at which types of landscaping features could have the most impact on the value of your house.
Their findings included:
Landscape Economics LLC Expert Backs It Up, Too
A real expert on the topic is John A. Harris.
He is the Principal of Landscape Economics LLC and President of Earth Advisors, Inc.
Harris has claimed that up to 28% increases can be achieved with the right house landscaping. This sounds like a very bold claim, but his achievements back up his expertise in the area.
Trees In Your Landscape
It may seem like one of the simplest ways you could possibly start to improve your home, but trees can have a huge impact and have been scientifically proven to increase the value.
This study based in Portland, Oregon and conducted by U.S. Forest Service showed that a tree in the front yard such as a maple tree could increase the perceived value of a home by an incredible $9,000 on average.
Another U.S. Forest Service study has made even bolder claims. Real estate appraisers have estimated that trees impact the value of land by 27%. A study for the University of Tennessee agrees that trees can impact real estate value by 20%.
This $9,000 or 27% increase sounds like an outlandish claim, but other studies have shown similar results.
Purdue University Department of Forestry & Natural Resources has drawn conclusions in their Tree Appraisal that the trees within the grounds of a house can account for up to 20% of the value of a home overall.
Even a governmental study commissioned in Canada drew the conclusion that the price of a property was increased by the presence of trees.
So, there are plenty of authoritative sources that confirm that.
Trees have plenty of benefits to the environment around your home, too. There is even a tree calculator to work out the benefits of a specific type of tree in your own home.
Whether these figures are totally accurate or not, planting a seedling or a tree in your yard is a relatively small investment.
As you can see from the studies above, there is virtually unanimous agreement that you will get a considerable return on this tree investment when the time comes to sell your home.
Read more about trees in your backyard:
- Selecting Trees for Your Yard
- 8 OF THE BEST TREES FOR YOUR SMALL BACKYARD
- 10 Trees For Fast Growing Privacy
DIY or Professionals?
Generally, the consensus is that homes with professional landscaping are more likely to fetch higher values on the market.
Homes that have been professionally landscaped can fetch 15 percent to 20 percent more at the time of resale than homes with less attractive landscapes, The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has found.
Whether the cost is worth it for the value added can be hard to work out, and could even be a bit of a gamble. This landscaping cost calculator will help you to get a rough figure and even give you a benchmark for negotiation when getting a quote.
Improvements you carry out yourself may not be as effective.
However, they are still not to be ignored and can give an excellent solution if you have a smaller backyard or smaller problems to fix.
For example, things like pruning and simple maintenance are projects that you can do yourself if you don’t want to outlay money for a professional. You can easily buy a pair of garden shears online and do small trimming all by yourself.
More ambitious installations such as patios and complex fire installations are probably best left to the pros.
Saving on Landscaping Upgrades to Maximize Profits
Once you’ve understood all of the benefits of landscaping for increasing the value of a home, the potential upside will usually encourage you to make some improvements.
Even if you’re not selling your home imminently, sowing the seeds now (perhaps even literally) can mean more profit down the line.
The tips below will help you to work out the exact steps that might be appropriate for your own home and garden. Also, you will find out how to do so without spending a huge amount of money.
These upgrades will probably pay for themselves in the long run. However, it makes sense to minimize your outlay to start with.
Value-Boosting Landscaping and Maintenance Tips
Here's how you can keep your outdoors looking appealing while also being a bit frugal.
As well as helping the soil around planters and trees, mulch can create a much neater look to your garden.
It is easy to sculpt and move to where you need it and to fill in gaps in the backyard easily. Mulch may seem like a subtle difference but for keeping a garden neat and tidy in appearance there isn’t much better.
To buy mulch from the store, you’re looking at spending $30-50 per square yard. This can quickly start to add up, especially if you have a large area to cover.
There are ways to get much for a cheap price, or even for free (or just the cost to transport).
The Small Town Homestead’s tips include contacting tree trimming companies. These may have unneeded trimmings you can have for free.
There is even a directory for contacting these companies.
Your local county highway department may have access to mulch which they are happy to share (which your tax has effectively already paid for). Even just collecting leaves and grass clippings when you are mowing can be a good way to get free mulch.
Living on a dime have offered similar tips on free mulch.
Their inventive methods include making use of old paper shreddings and asking neighbors to keep their grass offcuts for you. Their top tip though is to keep a tarp in your car at all times, which means you can be opportunistic if you happen to find something you can use as mulch while on your travels.
Read more about mulch:
More Plants (But Not Necessarily More Varieties)
Plants are often the first thing you notice when looking at any garden, whether you’re visiting someone’s home or just walking past.
Plants are vital for making a garden look as good as possible. In addition, as we’ve already established, the right level of plants can have a huge impact and ROI on the value of a home.
It can be easy to fall in love with lots of different varieties of plants, but this isn’t necessarily the most effective way of doing things, cost-wise.
Buying a few different types in bulk can be far cheaper, even if you are just purchasing from a nursery or garden center.
Deals and discounts are often available when buying 6 or 12 of the same plant. Expect to save 20-30% on the overall cost if you can stick to just a few types of plants.
This doesn’t have a negative effect on the garden itself, either.
Survey respondents ranked design sophistication as most important and diversity of plant type as least important.
This means that as long as the varieties selected look good, your yard doesn’t have to look like a botanical garden. For example, patches of violets or pansies in the same color look attractive and unusual.
Harvest Your Own Seeds
For annual flowers, you don't have to buy seeds each year. You can collect seeds at the end of the year and use them for the next year.
As an example of how to collect the seeds, check out this post about how to harvest coneflower seeds.
The Upcycling Revolution
There’s no denying that upcycling is in vogue at the moment. You don’t have to look far to find some excellent tutorials, either.
Buying a brand new Rattan furniture set can easily set you back between $500-1000. This is a big outlay for anyone and let's not forget that over the years it might start to see some signs of wear. With upcycled furniture, this isn’t such a big deal as the rustic look is part of the charm.
If you manage to get your furniture from salvage yards, flea markets, and other clever sources then you can end up with just the cost of the upcycling itself, which is often pretty small.
Instead of dropping $500 on furniture you may be able to spend around $150. A massive difference.
The results can be charming, too.
This is proof you can make something look great with a small outlay.
Read more of awesome tips about upcycled outdoor furniture:
- Patio Furniture Upcycle
- HOW TO PAINT OUTDOOR METAL FURNITURE THE EASY WAY
- Protecting & Restoring Outdoor Wood Furniture & Crafts
Walkways and Driveways
These are among the more functional aspects of our landscaping.
Driveways are essential for many of us. Driveways can become infested with weeds or become run down over time. This isn’t a good look.
Arguably, stone looks better anyway, and as explained in the text, the cost was just $600 for a gravel driveway instead of $4,000 for asphalt and a huge $6,000 for concrete.
Literally a fraction of the cost.
Here's an example of a beautiful Southern estate home designed by satergroup.com to be reminiscent of northern Italian villas. The walkways are paved with stones and for the driveway, the designers opted for crushed stone.
There may be some work involved here. Doing it might be easier if you are happy to take on some of your garden and landscaping tasks yourself.
However, for such a huge saving it is easy to see why we are recommending taking this route to sprucing up your driveways and walkways.
Here's a great video by Ron Hazelton who shows how to DIY a crushed rock pathway:
If you are worrying about how a gravel driveway holds up after many years of usage, check out this video by Tom Pug:
Check out more inexpensive front yard walkway ideas to get inspired!
Make Use of Free Consultations
If you do plan to go down the route of having someone undertake the work for you, it makes sense to get a few different quotes and consultations.
While it may seem a bit cheeky, even if you do not end up using the services they offer, a consultation can be a good way to pick up some ideas for your landscaping projects.
If you are on a tight budget, don’t be afraid to say so in your consultation as this may impact the suggestions which the professionals make for your home.
There are likely to be plenty of examples of free consultations offered by garden centers, nurseries you order plants from, and even community projects which may offer consultations on sustainability in landscape design.
The old saying “knowledge is power” is true of landscaping, too. Thus, the fact that you can usually get some sort of consultation without paying a dime means that you should invest the time gathering information and advice.
A Google search or a visit to some local garden centers can help you to work out exactly what is available in your local area.
For comparison, according to HomeAdvisor, it may cost you between $2,021 and $6,797 to hire a professional landscape designer.
Here, we prepared a list of nurseries, garden centers, and landscaping companies that offer free consultations.
Keep in mind that some of them offer this service free only during a certain period of the year. Also, many of the companies have multiple locations in different states - check their Contact Us or About page for more details.
Click to see The List of Companies And organizations Offering Free Landscaping Services
Building Garden Structures to Build Value
One way you can increase the perceived value of a home through garden improvements is to build a structure.
There aren’t many specific studies out there or detailed research on the topic.
However, a number of sources in the gardening and real estate industries show that pergolas, gazebos, and pavilions can be some of the top ways to increase home value.
What American Society of Landscape Architects Says
An ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) survey discusses residential landscapes and active living elements. In it, pergolas ranked number two on the list of most desirable outdoor structures with 48.3% of respondents voting for them.
Apart from pergolas, decking and fencing also made it to the list along with pavilions, sheds, and gazebos. These got less percentage of the votes, but all of these features can be considered desirable.
Another article on the ASLA site, entitled “Best Investment for Increasing Home Value" discussed the benefits of trellises with vines and pergolas.
The benefits included organizing an outdoor room for cooking and relaxing, which could cut costs on air conditioning. Also, the beautiful look these structures could create was also mentioned. We know how this can impact perceived value and increase your home’s sale price.
In terms of the value, a hardtop gazebo offers better benefits given that it is sturdier than a soft-top one.
It isn’t just the ASLA in favor of outdoor structures.
Canadian Government Supports It, Too
In a publication called the Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes, the Canadian Government talks in some detail about pergolas. An example of a homeowner installing one in their outdoor space to complete the look. The article also talks about fencing and creating another outdoor space to spend time in.
Delving into specifics on certain structures can tell you if they are likely to offer an ROI.
Pergola Return on Investment
This article goes into detail on the ROI of specific outdoor landscaping projects and whether they are worthwhile. It also makes the valid point of the location being important.
Outdoor living can be more desirable in hot climates, and investing in a pergola or decking can have a bigger impact in hotter parts of the world.
Spending a lot of money on outdoor structures can be counterproductive if your goal is to increase value.
How To Make Outdoor Structures Cheaper
You will want good quality but at the lowest price point possible. This is where it comes in very handy if you are good at gardening and DIY. According to Charlene at My Frugal Adventures, if you know what you are doing, the materials can be bought for around $400 to build your own pergola.
If you need a little more help, you can use a contractor or buy a pre-made pergola kit. The cost can be around $700-2,000. However, it is best to do the work yourself or rope in the help of relatives or friends with craft skills if you can.
Why not try to show people more of what they can do with a pergola, and use it as a selling point for potential buyers? Charlene even installed a television, to show just what was possible with outdoor living spaces.
You can find DIY guides for outdoor pergolas online pretty easily.
This article shows those which can be constructed in just one weekend.
Carrying out the work yourself is a good way to boost the return on investment.
However, if you don’t feel confident, think about if you know anyone who might be able to lend a hand. If your main aim is to increase the value then every extra dollar you spend cuts into the profit.
On the video below, DIY GUY Danny Jose shows how he built a pergola in only 3 days! You can also convert your pergola into an outdoor room by installing a shade over it.
These are not permanent but they may create a similar outdoor room feel, much like a gazebo or pergola.
Looking after your lawn is a big aspect of the curb appeal of your property.
Dead patches and overgrown areas can look terrible, and send out the message that the rest of the home hasn’t been properly maintained over the years.
Meanwhile, lawn care doesn’t have to cost the earth. We’ve collected some wonderful tips on how to keep the cost of lawn care down.
- Living in Florida? Check out what is the best grass to grow in Florida!
If you think about it, many of the products made for lawns which we purchase from our local garden center are in place for convenience.
However, there are ways around using expensive products. Plenty of the most impressive gardens and landscaping projects ever were implemented long before we had chemical weed killers, for instance.
Here are some great ways to save money on your lawn care.
Fertilizing the lawn is basically just about providing it with the nutrients it needs, and these can sometimes come from some unusual sources.
This incredible post from Gardening Knowhow shows four different recipes for fertilizers which can be made out of substances you may already have around the home. You can even use leftover soda that has gone flat to beer that has gone past its best before date.
Fertilizer can cost around $20 for 10lb of concentrate.
The recipes above can make the costs just a few dollars, or even free if you are able to use items you already have around the house.
As well as being cheaper, making your own fertilizer can be a way to avoid waste by using up leftovers. Also it is considered to be far more natural and earth friendly than some of the store-bought options.
Here are a few more recipes for you:
Homemade Weed Killers
There is every chance you don’t feel too great about using weed killers you bought from the store, either.
They often have chemicals within and some have claimed the regulations on these need reviewing. Plus, they certainly aren’t cheap. There is a school of thought that chemical weed killers should be totally done away with.
Store bought solutions cost around $25 per gallon, but making your own can come in at well under $5 per gallon.
Whatever you think of the store options, homemade weed killers can certainly be cheaper, and this post has recipes for making vinegar-based alternatives.
Though there are a few different variations (and a handy table within the post to view what different people recommend) the main aspect of each is vinegar, which can be mixed with soap, oils, salt, and even Gin to kill off the weeds in question.
If you live in an area with alkaline soil, the added benefit of reducing the pH of the soil can also be achieved by adding vinegar.
If you don’t want to make your own, there are some commercially available weed killers which are made from vinegar and natural ingredients. However, this is probably another expensive way of doing things, especially when you consider how cheap vinegar can be.
Here are a few more recipes for you:
There are some really inventive techniques some people use when it comes to using household items in the garden and avoiding having to spend a lot of money on your landscaping.
An aerator will cost up to $50 when purchased online or from a garden center.
This clever little homemade aerator can alleviate the need for hiring or buying an aerator, and you may have the items around your home. If not, they should cost under $20.
Lawn Care: An Allowance Job?
Lots of aspects of lawn care such as weeding and mowing aren’t particularly complicated.
If you have time to do these yourself then you will make more of a saving. However, if you don’t, rather than go to a professional lawn care company, you could see if you know anyone willing to do the job.
This is perfect for reliable and responsible teenagers who want to make a few bucks. If you have kids of your own, this can be a chore to help them earn their allowance.
Just make sure the kid has its own lawn mower and their parents do not mind them doing it. Read about other useful tips and potential caveats on this forum.
There is no denying that planting trees will have already had an impact on the value of your home as well as being good for the environment.
The National Tree Benefit Calculator can help you to work out the exact benefits of planting a tree, but they do require some maintenance which you can make easier with a little foresight.
Reducing The Cost of Trees and their Maintenance
How can you keep the cost of planting and maintaining trees to a minimum? While ensuring that you’re not wasting the financial benefits of having trees in your yard?
Homemade Tree Fertilizers
Just like homemade fertilizers for the lawn, you can make your own solutions for trees.
These require micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients in order to thrive, and though this might sound scientific and difficult to get right, it doesn’t have to be.
This guide from eHow shows how eggshells can be one of the most effective and helpful substances for your trees and is free assuming you use eggs.
While some work is required to grind these up into powder, it is far cheaper than many store-bought options for fertilizing trees, which can be $30 or more per 20lb bag.
Here are a few more recipes for you:
Protect Your Investment: Keeping Your Trees Safe Through Winter
Your trees can easily die over the winter if they are not properly maintained.
There are numerous types of guards which you can buy, but these are often $20 or more each. The fact is, they are nothing which cannot be achieved by creating your own protection for your trees.
Using soda bottles can make it totally free.
Alternatively, you can buy burlap for $10-12 per roll and this will cover five or six small trees. Keep it in place with bamboo stakes which should cost around $1 each.
This excellent guide to keeping trees away from the frost and dipping temperatures by creating DIY protectors is especially good for tropical trees.
You can read about different types of tree guards here.
It will allow you to establish which is best for the trees in your yard. It even has some tips for creating guards out of soda bottles, which can be a way to keep your trees in good shape all year round just using household waste.
Here are a few more tips about how to protect your trees (and shrubs) in winter:
Stick to Similar Trees
This is similar to our advice about plants.
If you are going to plant a few different trees around your property, getting the same variety of tree can make sure you get the best price possible. That's because you may well be able to get a deal when purchasing the young trees.
A 25% saving on bulk buying the type of tree is often realistic.
On top of this, it means that all of the maintenance can be done at the same times.
Rather than having three different types of trees, all of which need to be pruned at different times in the year, the cycles of these trees will be exactly the same.
If you are employing landscaping services to carry out this maintenance then you can potentially half the price of their visits as they will have to come less often to maintain the trees.
What to do with a big amount of the same trees? For example, you can use them to make a privacy fence.
Prune Trees Early
One simple piece of advice you can take for ensuring you don’t end up with extra maintenance required further down the line is to prune your trees as early as is appropriate.
This will prevent them from overgrowing or becoming a nuisance. As a result, it can mean they are more expensive and difficult to correct if they have started to overgrow in certain directions.
This guide can help you to work out when it is ideal to prune your trees.
Here's a short re-cap for you.
Light it Up: Landscape Lighting Options
If you are going to be selling your house any time soon then it is undeniable that there will be plenty of people dropping by to have a look, even before arranging a formal viewing.
People love to have a look from the curbside and see if the neighborhood and home could be suitable for them. This is a big part of the reasoning behind getting your landscaping in top condition before selling.
If you aren’t embracing lighting then you are losing a lot of the benefits of having such a great looking property.
All the people passing at night and seeing a “for sale” sign will probably not be able to clearly see the landscaping efforts you have gone to.
A dark and dingy outdoor space is also more likely to put people off as many people look for a welcoming yard (even at night) as part of their property wish list.
All of this talk of lights may have you instantly thinking of the cost on the electric bill.
Well, this doesn’t need to be expensive.
This guide is all about adding value and not spending a lot of money to do so, and solar lights can be a savior when it comes to landscaping.
Solar lights don’t have to be expensive to buy initially, as they do not need to connect to a solar grid.
Many of these lights have the charging mechanism within the light itself.
After the initial outlay, you won’t have to spend money running the lights at all. An incandescent light used at night can end up costing around $30 a year. So, by the time you have eight or more of these around your yard, you can see how expensive this is.
The savings made on solar lighting can more than justify the cost.
What Not to Invest In
It may seem that almost anything you can add to your landscaping and increase the value of your property.
However, it is possible to make bad investments as well as good.
One type of improvement which simply isn’t worth it is water features and pools.
This study shows that only 43% of the cost of a new pool is likely to be recouped when selling.
It simply doesn’t boost the value enough to be a worthwhile pursuit, even if a pool may be a lovely thing to have (especially if you add a pool shade over it). It might even practical if you live in a state with hot climate.
Consider that their estimated cost of adding this type of feature is around $57,500 and you will see how your money can be better spent elsewhere.
Similarly, water features can be expensive to install and simply do not have the same level of benefit to outweigh the cost.
There is no denying that they can look wonderful!
Just remember that there are many cheaper ways of boosting the perceived value of your home using landscaping.
Does House Landscaping Increase Home Value? Conclusion
Have you enjoyed our list of ways to increase home value by landscaping?
Reading through the huge amount of studies regarding curb appeal, landscaping and perceived value should show you just how vital it is that you present your outdoor space perfectly.
You shouldn’t just throw money at it, however.
There are ways to be smart about landscaping and to maximize the return on investment you make. Some very simple changes can lead to high returns and increase the likelihood of selling your house quickly. To get more inspiration, check out these frugal landscaping ideas.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feel free to share our article with anyone looking to increase their home value ready to make a sale in the near future.
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