Prep your yard for home-buying season
Your yard plays a vital role in attracting prospective homebuyers. Here are six tips for making sure your yard doesn't sabotage any sales.
Last year, 30% of all U.S. households did some kind of landscaping project themselves, with the average annual bill coming in at $356, according to the National Gardening Association. Many of these projects can be a disaster, says Sacramento landscape architect John Nicolaus, especially if buyers go to their local big-box garden center and just start grabbing attractive plants and pavers.
Go to a local nursery that has a knowledgeable staff that can tell you which plants will work best in your area. Do some planning first, then talk to these pros about what you want to achieve, how much you have to spend and how much time you're willing to put into watering, pruning and fertilizing. You can even take pictures of your yard and bring them along to help visualize specific plantings.
Here our panel of experts shares six landscaping tips to boost the value of your house without breaking the bank.
1. Lay the groundwork for successful landscaping. Make sure your property has proper drainage so water doesn't slosh back to the house and make the foundation unstable or conversely, erode backyard slopes. Make sure sprinklers aren't hitting the house. Water lines or mold on the bottom of your property can signal a bigger problem with the structure itself and point out expensive grading projects ahead, says Nicolaus.
2. Create a focal point. The yard doesn’t have to be filled with amazing beds of color. But it's nice if you can create a focal point with flowers or unusual shrubs along a porch or an area of architectural interest. Lacking that, Nicolaus recommends grouping bigger items to the left of the house and checking your placement of big shrubs and trees from inside the windows to make sure it enhances the view.
3. Create an atmosphere and then take it with you. Joe Stoffregen, owner of Homewood Nursery & Garden Center in Raleigh, N.C., suggests planting some of your flowers, shrubs, herbs and vegetables in beautiful containers. They can lend charm to your backyard when you're showing it, but then you don't have to leave your investment behind.
4. Plant for privacy and shade. Some of the biggest payoffs in landscaping are those that provide a sense of distance from your neighbors. Tall shrubs planted to screen a bank of windows on the side of your neighbor's house almost always pay off, landscape architects say. And borders that block the sights and muffle the sounds of busy streets are equally valuable. In the backyard, different plantings can create the feel of separate "rooms," such as a shady meditation garden or outdoor dining area.
5. Phase out undesirable or sick trees gradually. Instead of ripping out a centerpiece tree and leaving a front yard bare, Bee will plant another tree 15 to 20 yards away with some nice smaller shrubs underneath. When the new tree gets a little bigger and the two come in conflict, she takes the bigger one out.
6. Choose a wide array of plants that look good even when they're not blooming and in cold weather. "I rely a great deal on shrubs with interesting foliage that has good color or texture. They are a lot lower-maintenance than flowers," says Cynthia Bee, of Solscapes Landscape Design in Salt Lake City. She tends to put flowers in only one focal area and mixes shrub plantings up, so owners won't get stuck with a huge gap if one in a row of the same type of plant dies.