The Pennsylvania State University ©1997

Good Landscaping Enhances Home Value

3 January 2000
Severe weather conditions can often alter the quality of our landscape. Such is the case with heavy snow and ice conditions when several feet of snow breaks major limbs and branches from plants. Such storm damage destroys the aesthetic quality of larger plants, and may completely crush smaller plants to the ground. Stem breakage at ground level essentially removes that plant from the landscape.

If you have suffered significant damage to your landscape from past storms, this may be a good time to evaluate the plants and consider replacement or landscape improvement. Don't overlook the commercial value of keeping plants in your landscape in top condition.

Your landscape enhances the resale value of your home as much as 15% according to the American Association of Nurserymen. Similar information is presented by Money Magazine research in that landscaping has a 100-200% recovery value at sale time. This compares to a 75-125% recovery rate for kitchen remodeling, 20-120% for bathroom remodeling, and 20-50% for the addition of a swimming pool.

One study of landscaping found that, to some individuals, well-designed and maintained lawns and gardens have distinct connotations of success.

Some analysts advise their clients to invest in trees as readily as they invest in stocks and bonds. According to these experts, trees hold their value as well, if not better, than financial instruments, and they will pay off when it comes time to sell.

To help you develop the best landscaping plan for your home, keep these basic guidelines in mind when you consider changes or improvements:

• Real estate appraisers judge your landscape on its appearance, condition, and maintenance. They also compare your home to other homes in the neighborhood and look at the functional use of the landscape items you have incorporated into your plan. The landscape should blend your home into the surroundings to create a natural setting for the house on the property. The nature of the development should fit in with the surrounding homes, but should be unique enough to stand out on its own merits.

• This would also be a good time to evaluate the maintenance needs of your property. Make sure you don't create a landscape plan that will be overly difficult to maintain, either for yourself or for future buyers of your home. As interests and values change you may want to either reduce or eliminate certain aspects of the landscape that call for extra maintenance. Large lawn areas for example might be incorporated into a mulched bed, or planted to low-growing shrubs or ground covers to reduce mowing.

Just as a well-designed landscape contributes to the "curb appeal" of your home and draws buyers inside, a poorly maintained or cluttered landscape can discourage buyers if the view it as an upkeep problem.

• A landscape that enhances your resale value does not have to be elaborate. One study demonstrated that a lot with trees will sell for 7-14% more than a lot without trees. While trees do require some maintenance, they can be a relatively simple addition to your yard.

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**Dr. Robert Nuss is a horticulturist at Penn State. He coordinates all extension horticulture programs. He has bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in ornamental horticulture and has been on the Penn State faculty since 1966.