Your home is your castle — enjoy it, customize it, make it reflect your taste and values. But, there’s one area where being too individualistic carries risk: landscaping for curb appeal.
Landscaping is the first thing that potential buyers see, and it reflects well — or poorly — on other homes in the neighborhood. That’s why homeowners associations often have exacting rules for it.
Here are the essentials for great landscaping.
Essential #1: Trees
Maybe only Mother Nature can make a tree, but the National Tree Benefit Calculator can tell you what it’s worth.
The calculator examines how a tree species in a particular ZIP code affects:
- Property values.
- Storm water runoff. Trees block and suck up water running off your property, preventing pollutants from entering community waterways.
- Carbon dioxide reduction. CO2 contributes to climate change.
- Energy savings: Shade trees cool homes in summer; windbreaks help warm them in winter.
Essential #2: Native Plants
If you introduce trees, plants, or shrubs, go native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra TLC (read: time and money) you’ll devote to anything that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat.
A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass.
Rain gardens with native plants and trees also are becoming a plus for properties increasingly plagued by extreme weather. These gardens filter and distribute runoff underground, preventing storm water from seeping into basements and overwhelming municipal sewers.
Essential #3: Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting consistently tops the NAHB’s list of most wanted outdoor features in its annual “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey: 41% rate it “essential;” 49% say it’s “desirable.”
But that’s not the only reason it’s one of our landscape essentials.
- Tasteful lighting paints your home at night, highlighting your other great landscaping choices and directing guests to your home’s focal point — the front door.
- It protects against slips and falls.
- It makes a property a more difficult target for intruders. That added security can reduce burglaries, and therefore claims. Some insurance companies give 5% to 15% discounts to homeowners with reduced or zero claims.
- It makes your home feel homier. Soft lighting on a wrap-around porch or just a front stoop feels warm and inviting.
Other fab curb appeal projects that recover a good percentage of their initial cost, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®:
- A steel entry door replacement returns 75% of its national median project cost of $2,000.
- A garage door replacement returns about 87% of its $2,300 project cost.
- New vinyl siding returns 83% of your $12,000 investment.