The Italian Gardener

Own a home? Thinking of buying a home? So, what does the research say about Landscaping and Home Values? I’m not a realtor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but I have read a great deal of the research on this topic, in order to reassure customers that their new investment is worth the effort.

People remodel for many reasons, not just resale value, so let’s not put all our eggs in the ‘resale basket.’ But it is indeed one of those areas that truly pays you back. Most remodeling is done to improve owner convenience, and from a feeling that the status quo looks a bit tired. Makes sense, so let’s apply that to your outdoor rooms.

Always start with your trees, which are a major asset and something that has real value to a property. If you are lucky enough to live in (or are looking at) an older home with large trees, you know how important this is. Imagine if just one big shade tree disappeared tomorrow, the difference that would make. Have those trees looked at every ten years or so, preferably before the limb falls on your roof or patio.

If there are no big shade trees, start there. Where would a tree provide needed/welcome shade a few years from now? Have it done. Do trees first, since this will indeed take some time to develop to the fullest. According to the U.S Forest Service study, well-placed trees can increase the property value by 3-7 percent, and can reduce heating/cooling costs by as much as 20 percent. WOW! That’s a pay-back!

In a University Of Florida study, it was determined that a good landscape plan was the key to improving curb appeal and quickness of sale, even if the actual planting was done by the owner. It was the selection of plants, the choice of plant combinations, the scale of plants to house and the balance and overall effect that made the changes appealing.

In that same study, while color and flowers affected immediate resale, the long-term value to a homeowner comes from a well-balanced addition/replacement of trees and shrubs that are appropriate in size and will not be seen as someday being overgrown.

So, with this in mind, as you evaluate your property, or evaluate a potential property, ask yourself these questions:

1.How will I use my space? Is my front yard just an entry point, or is it how people judge the beauty and stateliness of my home? Do I live in my backyard, or just look out the windows?

2. Do I have the shade to enjoy those summer afternoons and evenings, and how can I spend a few dollars now to keep later payments to the utility companies lower?

3. Do I honestly know what I am doing, or should I call someone to help me? Do I know enough to create what I want/need?

When you put in a new bathroom, it should look the same in 5 years as it does when new, with proper care. But a landscape is one of those home improvements that should indeed look better in five years, as the plants mature and grow together in harmony. Do you know what they will look like in 5 years? It’s like interior decoration outdoors. A good design, done well, will show you that.

So, yes, you can (and do) reap the benefits of a good landscape effort, both on the overall value of your home, and in the energy savings that goes with prudent use of trees and shrubs. And the research also shows that your outdoor renovations should be just as planned and well-thought-out as your kitchen renovations. Can you imagine starting to renovate the kitchen without a plan? But I’ll bet your work outside has no master sheet of paper associated with it, right? That’s likely why it doesn’t knock your socks off. Think of the money you are wasting. Hmmm!!  See you next time.