For many of us, our homes are not only our biggest investment they are also our greatest expense. Proper home maintenance is necessary if we expect to preserve and (hopefully) grow our home’s value. Unfortunately, everything eventually wears out and requires either repair or replacement and, equally as unfortunate, there always more things that need to be done than there is time or money to accomplish. Prioritizing these on-going tasks will obviously be based on costs but there are many other factors to consider including what will have the most positive affect on your home’s value.
Landscaping can immediately add tremendous value to your home and, in fact, is one of the only home improvements that will actually increase in value as time goes by. Compare this with interior décor elements that go out of style or mechanical systems that wear down over time.
This commonly realized information is often misused by homeowners thinking that $1000 worth of plants/plantings will realize an appreciated home value when this isn’t necessarily the case. One hundred $10 plants from the hardware store do not necessarily have a value equal to ten $100 plants purchased from a local nursery. Larger, more established plants are not only more likely to succeed but also provide proportion and scale to the home creating the well-tended garden we all desire. A clean looking, mature and low maintenance landscape is not only aesthetically pleasing but can also be a very strong indication that the remainder of the home is also well cared for. No matter what your time frame for resale may be, this should be taken into account when investing in landscape plantings.
The most important element in your landscape investment is a cohesive plan that addresses all the various requirements that will enhance your home’s appeal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need an expensive landscape plan but depending on the scope of your project some professional assistance will be well worth the expense. In the end, a well-designed and executed landscape can add between 5 to 15% to a home’s value. That translates into $12,500- $37,500 for a $250,000 home. Again, your landscape investment will only grow with time. Planting a shade tree now will not only add to the beauty of your home but can mean significant savings on energy costs in the future cutting summer cooling costs by as much as 40%.
So we know that landscaping is important and needs to be done correctly. Let’s look at some of the most important factors to consider in making the most of your next landscape investment:
1. Get the right plant in the right spot. The fact is that there are way too many plants to choose from and most homeowners don’t really know one from another. Plant information can be very specific to a local region and these facts are not easily researched on-line and are not always accurately addressed on plant tags.
2. Don’t make plant decisions based on price alone. Plants that grow fast are less expensive than others that grow more slowly. Unfortunately, fast growing plants can also out-grow their space, creating more maintenance and greatly diminish the longevity of your landscape investment. It is most often a good investment to spend a bit more on slower growing and/or fewer plants and enjoy double or triple the lifespan of your plantings. Plants are not like widgets… they are living things and their relative quality depends on many factors that are not always easily discernible.
3. Proper bed preparation is hard work. (And is often skipped altogether). Just this week we were re-doing a landscape (recently done by another “professional” company) and there was absolutely no soil preparation evident… thick, blue clay was found 2” below the bed surface. The degree of soil preparation necessary can vary widely depending on existing soil conditions and the type of plants considered for the area but remains the most vital step to insure an environment suitable for healthy plant development.
4. Proper site evaluation. Is your planting area sunny or shady, wet or dry, well-drained, dry or saturated? There are many environmental factors that will affect the growth of plants and knowing what to look for and, more importantly, what may change with time, are important steps to help select the proper plants and planting locations.
So, who can you trust and how do you make sure you are getting the most from our landscape investment? Similar to any significant investment it begins with gathering information and doing your homework. Finding knowledgeable assistance and asking lots of questions is a great way to start. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, why would you buy a landscape full of unseen plants? If you are seeking landscape design assistance you should hear from a prospective designer that they are considering future plant growth, ongoing maintenance concerns, your particular environment/s and that they are asking you specific questions that lead you to believe they are taking into account all the factors relating to your lifestyle, wants and needs.
It doesn’t matter if your landscape investment is $500 or $50,000… it should provide appeal, enjoyment and value making you smile when you come up the drive each day. By knowing some of the factors that are necessary for success and the common pitfalls that can occur I hope you will reap tremendous returns from your future landscape investments.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!