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Add Curb Appeal: Investing in Landscaping


home with curb appeal

The first impression homebuyers get as they come up to your house is from your yard and landscaping. The consensus amongst garners and landscapers is that the more attention you put into the landscape, the higher the value potential buyers place on your home. But, it’s essential to know which improvements will boost your home’s value and which may not.

A recent study shows that $268 of lawn care services adds about $1,200 in value to your home— a 352% ROI. Additionally, plant size and “the landscape design sophistication” that goes beyond hedges and flower beds, incorporating islands of plants and shade trees, or a focal point, also impact the home’s perceived value.

Generally, the more expensive your home and property, the more attention and money should be invested into your landscape. The more curb appeal your property has, the more attractive the property and the better the chances of getting your asking price.

Landscaping shouldn’t cost you a small fortune; with a bit of planning and a well-thought-out design, you can create striking curb appeal well within your budget!

Landscape maintenance costs

Based on square footage, the average cost for mowing ranges from about $30-$80/visit. Edging incurs extra fees. With a mower and edger, you can DIY. Make sure you don’t cut your grass too short or too often—only mow when the grass to avoid clumping; leave the clippings on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil.

Trees

If you’re looking to add trees, opt for a 15-gallon pot—this typically holds an 8′ tall tree and costs $50-$150, depending on the variety.

If there are trees that need trimming, hire a professional landscaper to prune them. They not only have the skills and the tools, but they can also haul it off and finish the job much more quickly. Depending on how much trimming they do, the average cost runs $750-$1,000, depending on height).

Irrigation system

Today’s homebuyers tend to love landscaping, but either don’t have the time or inclination to maintain it. For a fully automated irrigation system, expect to pay at least $3,000–but buyers will love it! Today’s sprinkler systems can be equipped with sensors that monitor the water level and air in your landscape and water as needed.

Lighting

Outdoor lighting options are available within any homeowner’s budget. They can showcase your flower gardens and silhouette your trees at night, keep passages well-lit and even discourage would-be burglars. Buyers appreciate yards that provide additional security. Solar-powered and LED lighting products offer even greater appeal for those trying to “go green.”

Freshen up the mulch

A simple trick to giving your beds a fresh look is to mulch them generously; this also helps retain moisture and reduces weeds. By spending $340 on mulch recoups about 126% upon closing. To help you calculate how much you’ll need, Lowes and Home Depot have an online calculator.

Choose your mulch color carefully—brown is an excellent universal color making plants appear more vibrant; opt for black in colder regions–it retains sunlight and heat better. If you like red, make sure the color scheme of the house matches. However, red mulch decomposes the quickest.

Use flower groupings

For less than $100, buy potted flowers or plants that will intrigue buyers with color—use them around the front porch area to make the entry ‘pop’ with color, setting the stage. Try grouping clusters of specific types or colors of plants together to create a “drift” of plants, adding flow to your landscape and making a more substantial impact.

Power wash the exterior

For added curb appeal that takes minimal time yet maximizes your return, sweep off any cobwebs, especially around the entry and under the eaves. Power wash your brick, siding, garage door, and walkways for a clean, crisp, well-maintained appearance. You can rent a power washer for about $39 per day.

Your backyard—an outdoor paradise

Buyers fall in love with features that backyards have to offer—backyard landscaping has taken on new importance for buyers over the last year; highlight this prime area as an oasis. 

The gardens

When designing your backyard gardens, try landscaping with varying height and depth; planters with multiple tiers and plants of varying sizes add visual interest, and the landscape won’t appear flat.

Vertical gardens create an excellent focal point in any garden.

  • Build a terra cotta planter wall on your fence 
  • Use wrought iron flower pot rings to elevate planters

 Repurposing items in a garden is excellent to give new life to old objects. These items add an eclectic touch, from teapots to cracked birdbaths, old rakes, old china, colored bottles, crystal plates, and so much more. A popular color that creates a calming effect is cobalt blue. Be sure to include delphinium, grape hyacinth, globe thistle, hydrangea, and blue fortune for sparks of color.

The deck

Nature wreaks havoc on decks and patios, causing them to look old and faded. You can rent a power washer (which costs about $39 per day) or buy one, to clean and brighten your deck—apply at least two new coats of stain (about $25 to $30 per gallon) to freshen up the deck’s look and integrity. Or you can hire a professional handyman service (about $2 per square foot) to power wash it for you.

The patio

If you have a patio, you can also power wash it as well as any seating to remove dirt and cobwebs. 

Consider redoing or installing a walkway with pavers (about $1,700 depending on size and materials), or use concrete stain to paint a pattern on the existing walkway or patio.

Add privacy–reduce noise

If buyers think they’ll hear road noise from a high-traffic road or on a corner lot—enhance the oasis feeling by placing garden containers strategically around your deck or patio. If you don’t have many established trees and bushes to act as noise barriers and don’t want to invest in plants that won’t move with you, place some junipers ($19) or Japanese maples ($20) in containers along the walkway, deck, and patio.

Water features

Fountains and other water features provide “white noise” and help mask traffic and different annoying sounds. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Smartphone apps that control these features add additional appeal. A small backyard water feature can cost as little as $50 if you DIY. Professional design and construction will naturally cost more depending on size, materials, and complexity.

 High appeal, low maintenance

Buyers appreciate a low-maintenance landscape, especially if they:

  • don’t have a green thumb
  • interested in water conservation
  • worried about upkeep 

Low-maintenance landscapes include a combination of hardscaping, i.e., walkways, retaining walls or xeriscaping (“ZEH-ri-skaping”). This concept relies on drought-friendly plants typical for your area that reduce the need for frequent watering.

Landscaping projects pitfalls

Before you start browsing the local landscape or hardware stores, be careful not to get ahead of yourself. First, consider that projects that don’t provide a good ROI, or appeal to a narrow audience, or that you won’t get to enjoy may not be something you want to invest in when trying to sell your home. Take, for example:

Outdoor kitchens

A full-blown kitchen on the patio costs about $12,000 to $20,000 to install: estimated ROI 71%.

Fire features

Installing an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit will cost around $6,000: estimated ROI 67%.

Pools

Pools are hefty investments–an 18×36-foot in-ground pool 3-7′ feet deep costs about $58,000: estimated ROI 43%. You may be eliminating buyers who don’t want the maintenance.

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