Home Landscaping Tips: Simple Home Improvements That Add Value

If you want to add value to your home, skip the family room addition or the vinyl siding. Try some simple home landscaping instead.

| August/September 1999

  • Lawn chairs
    Some people want a perfect lawn. Our lawn is green all summer and requires no care other than mowing when needed. That's good enough for us. The tree in the foreground is the poplar, which in this late August shot is shading the house from the afternoon sun. The garden is on the left in this picture; its windbreak can be seen to the right of the chairs.
  • Landscaping two
    The Path we walk daily to and from our vehicles and the mailbox.
  • Home Landscaping
    Basic home landscaping additions, such as a large shade tree and natural ground cover, can go a long way toward improving your property.
  • Landscaping fourth
    The house we bought in 1969 with three dead elms in front and one in back.
  • Landscaping fifth
    The poplar towers over the house. You can see the maples on the food, which is being "pruned" around the utility wires.
  • Landscaping third
    A walk around the house: This is the back of the house where the the lawn is only four feet wide. The branches framing the top of the picture are from a tree we planted almost 30 years ago. It is shading the south and west facing windows and the skylight.

  • Lawn chairs
  • Landscaping two
  • Home Landscaping
  • Landscaping fourth
  • Landscaping fifth
  • Landscaping third

I confess that I was being cruel when I asked the local businessman if his insurance would cover the $10,000 loss he had just incurred. "What loss?" he quickly asked. "Why the loss of those beautiful old trees that fronted your property," I replied.

He had purchased a lovely old house that sat on a slight rise about 100 feet back from a busy road. The maples he'd cut down had arched over the road and over his front lawn. They'd shaded the house from the afternoon sun in the summer and let the rays shine through in the winter. They'd provided a visual screen, as well as a sound barrier from the road for the second story rooms in the summer when the road was busiest. These great features of home landscaping had probably improved the air quality, too. Plus, they'd made the whole property more attractive.

His view of these trees was somewhat different. He was turning the house into a business. He wanted people to see the business. And from a business point of view, maybe he was right.

What's certain is that removing those trees changed the look of the road and buildings in the vicinity for a long, long time. Even if the trees are replanted, the chance they will be allowed to grow to the same majesty are slim. Their foliage rose above the utility wires, where it was allowed to branch out naturally. Young trees reaching wire height will be trimmed in unattractive shapes to accommodate power and phone lines.

Why Add Home Landscaping?

There are plenty of good reasons — aesthetic, economical and ecological — to manipulate, or landscape, the grounds around our home or business:

  • To raise the value of our property.
  • To make our home more environmentally sound, thereby decreasing annual heating and cooling costs.
  • To provide a good living environment.
  • To make our home or business attractive both to us and to others.

Chances are you will not strike oil, find gold or dig up a pirate's treasure on your property. Still, a little digging and a small investment can bring great returns. If you spend $50 on a savings bond today, it will be worth less than $150 in 20 years. If you plant a $50 tree on your property today, it will likely add $3,000 to the value of your property over the same period of time. Just like other investments, it must be done wisely and there is no guarantee that past performance will indicate future return, but home landscaping will certainly increase the aesthetics and ultimate value of your property.

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