It’s April and For Sale signs are popping up like tulips on front lawns around the country. Sure, you’ve been told that that landscaping makes a difference, but just how much?
“Yes, charm sells,” says Brian McKiernan, a broker at RE/MAX in Glenview, Ill. “Landscaping makes the whole house and surroundings go together.” Looking at houses without landscaping, McKiernan adds, you definitely notice a drop-off in price.
In HGTV.com’s “20 Ways to Add Value to your Home,” “Liven up Landscaping” is No. 15. Real-estate professionals credit professional landscaping with adding anywhere from 10% to 20% to the value of your home.
Curb appeal can’t be over-estimated. If you’re getting ready to sell your house, now or in the next few years, here are a few landscaping tips:
- You’re showing your house this spring and your showiest flowers aren’t out yet, what do you do? Framed photos can help prospective buyers envision a barren garden’s potential. When I recently put my home up for sale, I prepared a computer slideshow of my perennial gardens in different seasons of bloom.
- I also showed photos of the view from the house of the lawn, which gets its bright green hue from Milorganite, organic fertilizer from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District.
- Don’t underestimate the value of your trees. McKiernan says once when some of his clients were doing a final house walk-through they noticed that a 40-foot tree was missing. At the closing the sellers acknowledged they took the tree with them for sentimental reasons, and ended up having to credit the buyers several thousand dollars. Replacing a 30-year-old semi-mature tree through a specialist nursery could cost $10,000 or more. If you’re lucky enough to have a special tree, such as a healthy American elm, which you’ve cared for with fungicide injections to ward off Dutch Elm disease, be sure to tell the prospective buyer, and have the records on its care.
- Trim and tidy. When we purchased our home 16 years ago, bushes reached over the power lines and gnarly, over-grown junipers flanked the front door. Since it was autumn, we trimmed the deciduous shrubs (except for the varieties that had set spring-bloom buds), and waited for spring to properly identify them. We also replaced the junipers with three dwarf yews, which are now mature but kept trimmed in the shape of neat hockey pucks.
- Repair garden walls and walkways. Over time stone retaining walls settle and sag; replace any cracked stones and rebuild if necessary. Also repair any walkways with buckled bricks or cement slabs. A house inspector could flag any of these as a hazard.
- Nothing scares away a prospective buyer faster than the idea of a flooded basement. If you have drainage issues, especially anything close to the house, fix them, and seriously consider hiring a professional landscaper to address the issue. If you have water pooling farther away from the house, think about planting bog-loving plants such as Tropicanna cannas or irises.
Obviously there are many factors that go into a home sale, but in the end, a cared-for garden and yard will reap returns; the right buyers will appreciate the love and care you’ve put into your yard.
Do you have any tips on landscape projects that have increased your home’s curb appeal? If so, we’d love to hear about them!