Landscaping Pays Off Big

Money spent sprucing up the yard with trees, shrubs, lighting, and patios is well worth it — especially when it comes time to sell the home, a new study says. The report, by Arbor National Mortgage, found that 84 percent of real estate professionals believe a house on a treed lot would fetch at least 20 percent more than one on a lot without trees.

Another of the company’s surveys suggested that while shelling out for top-of-the line landscaping may only bring in an additional 4 percent to 5 percent, spending minimal amounts has a penalty. Homes swith average landscaping sell for 20 percent more than homes with just fair landscaping.

The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests budgeting 5 percent to 10 percent of a home’s value for its initial landscaping.Before launching into a landscaping project, keep these pointers in mind:

1. If you can’t afford to hire a landscape architect, check out the services offered by nurseries and big-box home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot. Many offer design services — sometimes without charge — if you are buy plants there.

2. You can save about half the cost of landscaping if you do the work yourself. But keep in mind that large trees are often killed when carried uncovered in the back of the buyer’s SUV from the nursery to the house, not because they are planted poorly. Also, most nurseries won’t guarantee plants they don’t install.

3. If you’re trying to stick to a tight budget, remember that a few larger plants will have a greater visual impact than many small ones.

4. Before planting trees, determine how large they will become and what leaf pattern will develop. If you plant a big tree too close to the house, the growing roots could cause the foundation to crack. And if you place it too near a sidewalk or driveway, root expansion could cause the pavement to buckle.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, Lew Sichelman (6/11/06)
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