Preparing to put your home on the market takes a lot of work. You may have to do serious de-cluttering, spotless cleaning, fresh painting or home staging. But what about outside? Nice landscaping isn’t just icing on the cake – it’s an investment that pays off. Several studies have shown that landscaping can add anywhere from 4% to 15% to the value to your home, and speed up its sale by as much as six weeks.
’Tis the season
The housing market is hottest in the spring and summer. This means that your property is on full display and that outdoor living is more top-of-mind for buyers. They want to envision themselves enjoying the home inside and out for all four seasons.
Many people don’t realize that landscaping is a three-prong effort. It includes greenscaping (trees, shrubs, flowers, lawn), hardscaping (walkways, patios, decks, fences) and accents that make the space more comfortable or interesting (art, water feature, furniture, lighting). Even if you just have a balcony, you’re not off the hook! There are still plenty of ways to improve the space – skip ahead to tips #5 and #6.
Six Essential Landscaping Tips
1. Clean up
First impressions are everything. At minimum, your property should look healthy and well-maintained. Cut the grass, gather the clippings and seed or fertilize to make the lawn lush and green. Prune overgrown shrubs and branches, and remove anything that has died or is diseased. Stash toys and lawn and garden equipment in the garage. If you have a dog, clean up after him. And don’t forget to water! Nothing says neglect like dried, wilting plants.
2. Make an entrance
A dedicated walkway is a small feature that adds major curb appeal. People coming for an open house or private viewing should immediately know where to go and feel welcomed. If you have a stone or paved path, fill in any cracks and pull out all the weeds. If you have a wooden porch, re-stain or paint. Make sure all steps and railings are safe. Accentuate with a boxwood hedge, focal point tree or colourful containers (see tip #5).
3. Be a tree hugger
Trees and shrubs give your property dimension – they frame your home, balance the elements and guide the eye. An appropriately placed tree could enhance your property value anywhere from five to 20 per cent. The more mature they are, the better. Choose a variety of species that reach different heights and thrive in different seasons. For instance, an eastern red bud tree or lilac bush will flower in spring, while pines and berry shrubs carry you through winter. Consider that where you plant can yield substantial energy savings. Deciduous trees provide summer shade, evergreens break winter winds, and shrubs placed against exterior walls offer insulation.
4. Go to bed
If you have garden beds, define the borders and keep them low-maintenance – otherwise you’ll turn off buyers. Mulch is an absolute lifesaver. It looks great, prevents weeds and reduces the need to water. Another solid option is groundcover plants, like ivy, vinca, pachysandra or sweet woodruff. Steadfast perennials such as hosta for shade and Shasta daisy for sun will serve you (and your successors) well for years to come. Bulbs are yet another alternative, but most are planted in spring or fall.
5. Contain excitement
One of the simplest ways to spruce up your property is with containers. These include terracotta pots, cast iron urns, window boxes and hanging baskets. The key thing is to select containers that complement your home’s style. As for what you put in them, you can’t go wrong with a combination of tall drama (fountain grass), bright flowers (impatiens) and cascading (potato vine). Switch up the arrangements each season.
6. Easy living
An attractive feature to buyers is a large outdoor ‘living room.’ A well-designed furnished deck or patio adds an instant wow factor. You can achieve a similar feel for less with a decorative arbour, awning or pergola. Bring in an outdoor rug, lanterns and lounges, and buyers will want to move in right away.
The finishing touch
Even if you don’t have much time or money to spend on landscaping, do something! Prioritize the front of the house, as this is what most people see. It’s amazing what a difference a few pots on the porch make. People appreciate the effort.
Good luck landscaping! Have any landscaping tips for us? Let us know in the comments below.