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Review of all things real estate: Landscaping ideas can enhance your home's value

Let’s say that your home is in the perfect location, you've already updated the interiors to raise your property's value and painted your doors and interiors in popular, sought-after colors. What else can you do to squeeze out an even bigger payday once you decide to sell? It's time to turn your attention to landscaping.

But landscaping can be very expensive. Several years ago, when I investigated doing a backyard makeover, I interviewed a landscape engineer who came highly recommended. I gave him a retainer and in return he presented a plan and a layout.

I have since read that "A budget of at least 25% of your property's worth should be invested in your landscape in order to retain the value of your home." Wait, what??!

The landscape architect laughed when he gave me the estimate which shocked me and said he couldn’t hire anyone to do his yard makeover either so, in return for the retainer, he gave me the plan and the layout. I subsequently contacted my real estate property handyman to see if he had these kinds of service providers in his rolodex (yes, I am old to reference a rolodex).

Before you go all-out with a yard redesign, let's focus on the changes and modifications that will increase your property's value.

Landscaping is essential to creating that crucial first impression; it enhances your curb appeal. Remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression. One author opined that "An artfully landscaped garden is the x-factor that significantly uplifts your property's value." My guess is that the author is in the landscaping design business because while I agree with the value of a favorable first impression, I might take umbrage with the adjective “significantly.”

But yes, a manicured yard enhances the property’s value. However, many potential buyers aren't going to want to put in too much effort to care for the garden or grounds, so low-maintenance features like irrigation systems can help boost your home's value.

By implementing water-efficient irrigation systems, using native plantings, and opting for organic fertilizers, you demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. This appeals to environmentally conscious buyers and adds an extra layer of value.

Indoor-outdoor living is a desirable selling point of a property, even in four-season environs, so you'll want to build outdoor living space for day-to-day use. I strongly recommend though to not go overboard, keep it simple.

As you're designing for enjoyment now and Return On Investment (ROI) later, think of adaptable functional elements. Focus on features like a fire pit area or flexible space like a patio, deck, or outdoor dining area that’s adaptable to many potential buyers versus very personalized features like a putting green, elaborate water feature, or built-in pizza oven (my daughter has a propane powered portable pizza oven that does a nice job but it’s not permanent).

Pavers can add a nice contrast in color, various sizes and shapes to create attractive wandering paths and/ or sitting areas. But don’t make it too specific to your own tastes (chartreuse Tinker Bell stepping stones); it’s best to keep it more generic. Perhaps best of all is that pavers can create great effect without breaking your budget.

I lucked into a large stack of 12 inch square pavers that my listing client was going to take to the dump. I borrowed my son-in-law’s car hauler trailer and we scored enough pavers to create my 12 feet by 12 feet sitting area with portable firepit and had enough for my family to make a trailer parking area, all for the price of hauling the pavers away; win-win-win. If you need pavers, you might try social media or perhaps Craig’s List.

If you have a hilly property (very endemic to Fallbrook/Bonsall), go the extra effort to add retaining walls to create usable outdoor space. This happened at my house. They created a super attractive retaining wall of about 48” high after digging into the dirt bank; net effect was a larger useable backyard, artistic retaining wall and an “up top” planting area full of transplanted drought resistant color spots and garden herbs. Put in plants to attract pollinators which will help your garden and your blooming fruit trees thrive.

The last thought on landscaping is stay up with the maintenance. This may sound obvious, but when you're ready to list your home, be sure all your landscaping is impeccably maintained. Remember, curb appeal is key to creating a favorable first impression.

It's all too easy to let landscaping get away from you as you prepare your home for sale. Proper landscape maintenance is essential. Well-maintained lawns, trimmed hedges, and weed-free gardens contribute to a polished and cared-for appearance; and that will help sell your home.


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