Digging for dollars: Landscaping as an investment

Beautify your backyard and reap a bonanza

Landscaping to increase your property value makes sense, says Dean Hill, who offers guidance to host Jackie Taylor on DIY Network’s “Grounds For Improvement.”

“Everything I do from a design standpoint is based on lifestyle,” says Hill, a landscape designer. “I approach design from the point of view that every element has something the client can use, needs or has to have. That translates into an increased property value.”

According to the American Nursery & Landscape Association, an improved landscape can increase the value of a homeowner’s property value by 7 percent to 14 percent. The association’s study also revealed that such improvements could accelerate the sale of a home by five to six weeks.

Hill, who has more than 14 years experience in landscape construction and more than 10 years designing quality residential projects, says the number-one problem he sees when it comes to improving property values is homeowners who do not consistently do maintenance on their property.

“That means doing the little things — weeding, applying the proper amount of mulch, proper pruning,” Hill says. “It goes a long way in terms of curb appeal.”

Water features are definitely a trend in improving property values — especially in the last 10 years, Hill says. In his work, he usually includes a water feature based on the client. A small, carefully positioned waterfall may be more suitable than a fishpond if the client has dogs or small children, for example.

Hill says property values can also be improved by increasing the outdoor usable areas. “From a design standpoint, it gives people a chance to use the outside of their homes to define their sense of self in their lifestyles,” he says. “I’m designing outdoor entertainment areas.”

Outdoor grills are becoming outdoor kitchens. There are outdoor bar areas, dining rooms and places for a refrigerator.

“It’s become an explosion,” Hill says. “Some clients grill all the time. They do more cooking there than inside.”

Interestingly enough, however, he says with all of the landscaping done in the backyard, people still view property values in the front yard in a more conservative light.

“They want to respect the character of the neighborhood,” he says. “That’s still public property. You do what you want to do where it’s not on the street side. That’s your place to play.”

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