You wouldn't dream of going to a party wearing a leisure suit or dress from the 1970s. So why host a backyard barbecue in an outdated yard? Improving your landscaping has a lot of benefits. It demonstrates pride of ownership and is one of the best ways to increase your home value should you want to sell it. After all, if buyers see that you take care of the outside of your house, they’ll assume you’ve taken good care of the inside. Landscaping improvements can boost your home’s value by up to 15%. That translates into a whopping $45,000 more for a $300,000 home.
You don’t have to rip out everything and start over. It’s easy enough to make some simple enhancements. A general rule of thumb is to spend 5% to 10% of the value of your home on landscaping improvements. You can reduce these costs by doing some of the work yourself.
Here are five landscaping trends sure to increase the value of your home.
1. Clean It Up
Over the years, our yards get overgrown. Like us, they need regular haircuts. The first task? Remove any dead or wilted trees and bushes and replace them with drought-resistant, native plants, or create a mulch bed in their place. Be sure to prune overgrown trees and shrubs, and cut away low branches. Remove old rusted metal edging and install new metal or plastic edging around areas where the grass meets rocks or mulch. Be sure to use rounded edging to keep pet paws safe.
2. Keep It Low Maintenance
You want a yard that works for you, not one you’ll have to spend hours working on. A few simple tips can make your yard easy to maintain.
• Plant perennial flowers that will return every year.
• Install a sprinkler system or automated soaker hoses.
• Cover more areas with pavers or hardscape to cut down on mowing time.
• Avoid messy trees that drop leaves, needles, and berries. Consider arborvitae trees that can grow up to 50 feet tall, need little pruning, and stay green year-round.
3. Grow a Privacy Fence
Watching your neighbors parade around their backyard in their pajamas on a Saturday morning is less than ideal. Create some privacy by planting trees or shrubs that keep your views inside your yard. Choose native plants within your plant hardiness zone that are easier to maintain and need less water. Buy bigger plants rather than waiting for the smaller ones to mature enough to create a privacy fence. This way you’ll need fewer plants and save time digging in the yard. Pro tip: Vary the types of plants to avoid losing them all to the same type of disease or pest. Stagger different kinds of plantings, such as deciduous shrubs, evergreens, and perennial grasses, in small groupings to create a natural privacy fence. For the prospective buyer, variety offers attractive sightlines and a greater variety of heights and colors.
4. Bring Your Indoors Outside
Once you’ve established some privacy, you’re ready to create an outdoor oasis. If your budget allows, install an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, refrigerator, and a TV to help keep the party going into the backyard. Add comfortable seating with fluffy cushions for cozying up to a good book on a warm, sunny day. Close in your outdoor space in a gazebo or pergola, which serves to frame the open-air room while offering shade. Adding outdoor-rated carpet and throw pillows will create an inviting “indoor” feeling outside, perfect for entertaining on a Saturday evening or for sipping coffee on a Sunday morning.
5. Create a Focal Point
Your yard is like any room inside your home. Consider a focal point that immediately draws the eye. A koi pond, Zen garden, fountain, or an outdoor fireplace are also great gathering places for guests.
Fashioning your backyard and lawn into an appealing and well-kept retreat expands the "liveable" space in your home. Think of it as an investment. You're adding an extra room to your home, without adding additional walls. Creating a greener, more trendy landscape will pay off when it's time to sell, by putting more green in your pocket.
Rose Stanford is a former real estate agent who enjoys fixing up and staging older homes. Her specialty is renovating backyards and patios.