Yes, Mom, money does sometimes grow on trees. The experts at the Appraisal Institute say that anything you do to better the appearance of the outside of the home will increase its value. In fact, updating the home’s landscaping alone may increase the value up to 11% according to a Michigan State University study.
This is, most likely, a direct result of another study’s findings (National Association of Landscape Professionals). This survey found that 84% of Americans feel that how a particular home is landscaped would impact their decision to buy it.
So, what do these professionals consider “good” landscaping?
Good landscaping is ‘sophisticated’
While the sophistication of a landscape design is something that is hard to put into words for most consumers, like art, they know it when they see it.
The study defines a sophisticated landscape as one that includes a balance of large deciduous trees, evergreen plants, annual color plants and colored hardscape. The latter includes all non-plant features, such as decorative brick, pavers and gravel.
The study found that a home with only a lawn in the landscape, valued at $150,000, can gain $8,250 to $19,050 more in value with an upgraded, sophisticated landscape.
By the way, The Michigan State University study’s respondents ranked a landscape’s sophistication as most important when considering the perceived value of a home.
Size does matter
For homes located in a region of the country where trees take significantly longer to grow tall, a large tree may add more to the home’s value than smaller trees. “A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000,” according to experts at the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.
Other studies, such as one conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation, claim that any trees on the property may add up to 15 percent additional value to a home.
As an added bonus, a young healthy tree offers the cooling equivalent of 10 room-size air conditioners running 20 hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mix it up a bit
Achieving diversity isn’t a worthy goal only for the human race, but for your home’s landscaping as well.
For the most bang from your landscaping buck, consider following the Michigan State University study findings by planting annual color plants and adding colored hardscape to the yard.
Annual plants are those that complete their lives in one season. They can be planted anywhere, but look especially striking in beds, borders and containers. Typically planted in the spring and summer, some annuals to consider include vinca (Vinca spp.), zinnia (Zinnia spp.) and sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus).
Plant shorter annuals toward the front of the beds and taller, or climbers, toward the middle and rear.
Whatever you do, don’t go minimalist
Minimalist landscape schemes that contain only small plants actually detract from a home’s value, according to the Michigan study. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford an entire landscape makeover, consider adding at least one of the more important aspects of a sophisticated landscape design.
Since plant size is second in value to sophisticated design, consider adding at least one tall tree and sprinkling the landscape with splashes of annual color. The Arbor Day Foundation offers a handy calculator on its website that allows users to choose a type and size of tree to determine how much value it will add to the home.