A nicely designed landscape with ample shade trees can boost the sale price of a home as much as $12,000 higher than identical homes on similarly sized lots that have poor landscaping, the American Association of Nurserymen reports.
If you already have nice shade trees in place — leave them alone. If you are planning to put your house on the market, it is best to prune trees as little as possible. Large fresh cuts signal the prospective buyer that there was deferred maintenance. If you let your trees get out of hand, what else have you neglected to maintain?If you have no shade trees, the best time to plant them was 20 years ago. What is your next best strategy at this point? Go for a nicely designed landscape and skip the trees. A sapling with stakes will indicate a lack of care to the prospective buyers, plus it detracts from curb appeal.Improve curb appeal with a well laid-out selection of plants that look healthy and add the suggestion of a pleasant place to live. Not too many, or too lush, which might suggest future maintenance issues to the buyer.As for which plants? There are over 7,000 drought-tolerant shrubs, perennials, succulents, and ground covers that do well in our area. Add greenery and life to the landscape with enough plants so that it looks ample but not overcrowded. Select both short and tall shrubs so your landscape has layers. If the eye has to take several steps upward, it suggests maturity to the landscape.Keep it simple. Do not overdo any landscape with too many different kinds of plants. A busy landscape is unsettling to the eye, and will leave the prospective buyer uneasy, without them actually knowing why.
Color always helps sell, according to another AAN survey. Even quicker than planting shrubs and groundcovers in the landscape is planting one or more large decorative pots with brightly blooming annual flowers. But only do this if you are still living in the home and can water them as needed. If you will not be in the home, consider adding pots of green succulents — ones without spines to harm your buyers.
Keep your colors simple. Blend two or three related colors for a nice effect. Try to match or enhance house trim color, gate color, or some other aspect of your home. Repeat the same color motif in each pot. Too many colors can be unsettling. Remember you want to relax the buyers.
In pots, simple arrangements of flowers and plants are best. Select a single tall plant for the center and enough shorter ones to fill in around the sides. If the pots are not opposite one another you can vary the plants used, but again, the simpler the better.
How much money should you spend? Money Magazine reports that money spent on upgrading the landscaping has a 100 to 200 percent recovery value. They conclude that dollar for dollar, it is better to spend the money on landscaping than an average kitchen remodel or an average bathroom remodel. (Upgrading areas that are substandard is a different story; that falls under deferred maintenance.)
That said, the amount to spend depends on how soon you might be putting your home on the market. The American Association of Realtors has some good guidelines for that. If your home is for sale now, go for the pots of color. In the next six months, spend no more than five percent of the home value. If you are thinking of selling in three to five years, consider spending up to 10 percent of home market value. Remember, you may get 100 percent or more of this money back when you sell. A landscape designer can help you with a well-planned and quick-growing landscape of low water use plants that will help your home look very appealing from the curb. Who knows, you may like the look so much you will decide to stay!
Jacqueline Soule, Ph.D.,is an award-winning garden writer, the author of nine books about gardening in our unique region. She will be speaking on landscaping for curb appeal at the Oro Valley Library on Sept. 27. More at www.gardeningwithsoule.com or at Gardening With Soule on Facebook.