Our articles address client questions we’ve received over the years. We hope you find this information helpful.
The value of landscaping:
It all adds up.
Making your home more attractive is reason enough to invest in outdoor improvements, but great landscaping yields many benefits that go far beyond aesthetics:
Improved home value. If your home is on the market, this is a huge reason to landscape. It’s clear that landscaping can bring value to your home whether you do some quick fixes, plant a few trees, or completely transform your property. According to the Gallup Organization, landscaping can add between 7 and 15 percent to a home’s value. The USDA Forest Service says healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value. Money magazine states that landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100 to 200 percent at selling time, while kitchen remodeling brings a 75 to 125 percent recovery rate.
Energy savings. What if your landscaping improvement began to pay for itself? Another finding by the USDA Forest Service is that “trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent in energy used for heating.” Planning for shade in the right areas is a great way to naturally cut costs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that “the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” (Another way to save is to plan early. Construction material costs increase constantly, and postponed projects tend to rise in cost as time passes.)
Environmental benefits. While reducing energy use is a good thing, the environmental benefits of landscaping do not stop there. Landscaping prevents erosion and runoff, supports wildlife, and improves air quality. Plants native to your area will thrive while using less water. The importance of trees cannot be underestimated. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.”
Health and wellness. Perhaps the most important reason for landscaping is for enjoyment! As you’ve heard us say before, some of the best memories are made outdoors. Creating a backyard sanctuary, a gathering place, an outdoor kitchen, or another outdoor project for family and friends is the most common desire among those planning improvements. While we’ve all experienced the relaxing effect of a comfortable outdoor setting, this benefit of landscaping is also a topic of study. Various studies show that experiencing nature not only restores the mind, but can also positively affect physical well-being. Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M University studies the effects of healthcare facilities and nature on medical outcomes. “In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension,” he found. Dr. Ulrich is one of many who study the behavioral effects of nature who believe that “green is good for you”
Investing in your landscape means spending, so it’s helpful to know what to budget and how it could pay off. The most common recommendation is to budget 10 percent of a new home purchase price toward landscaping. That being said, what you spend should also reflect the end result you seek. For any significant improvement, count on at least 5 percent. While 10 percent is more average, keep in mind that large demolitions or adding elaborate hardscapes or pools can add cost. A good landscape professional will work with you to find the best solution that fits your budget. If you’d like more information on the benefits of investing in landscape improvements, contact us today.
Focusing on your landscape:
Leading the eye by design.
well-designed landscape contains elements that draw attention and hold
interest. These focal points will direct the eye through different
features of your landscape.
Focal points are a great way to personalize your landscape—they add character to your garden, making it totally unique. When thinking about what focal points would work well in your landscape, consider the following points:
Creating a single or multiple focal points can be achieved in several ways: by using a specimen plant like a Japanese maple; by grouping plants like a mix of flowering perennials or a row of ornamental grasses; or by including a hardscape element like a sculpture, structure, or water feature.
Focal points will create impact, but they also should fit in with the overall style of your property. For example, planting seasonal color around seating areas or pathways helps your home, landscape, and hardscape features appear integrated and natural.
Focal points can change with the seasons or with different trends. A blooming group of gardenias may be the hero of the landscape in summer, while the shape and beautiful peeling bark of a birch tree will attract attention in the winter months. You can also create focal points after the sun goes down with simple or dramatic lighting.
What do you want people to see first? Where do you want to direct the eye? These are good questions to answer with your landscape professional. If you would like more information on creating a landscape with focus and impact, contact us today.
Originally published in the January 2009 Cultivating Ideas.
Increase your appeal:
Shape up your winter landscape.
Your landscape frames your home. Small changes can easily improve curb appeal, whether you’re planning to sell or just want to make your home more inviting.
Touching up and adding mulch can instantly neaten your landscape. Use pine straw for larger areas and bark nuggets to define bedding areas. Not only will your landscape look better, but mulch also helps reduce erosion, save water, and insulate the soil. It protects your plants and will also prevent weed growth as the weather gets warmer.
Curb appeal is most important when your home is on the market. Lynn Barlow of Prudential Georgia Realty says, “Landscaping is the first thing that sells a home. Most clients like to drive by on their own before they meet with me. They can tell from the outside whether they want to take the time to go inside. If a house doesn’t have great curb appeal, the buyers will just move on to the next house.”
Although it’s not an ideal time to plant seasonal color, trees and shrubs can be planted as long as the ground is not frozen. If your home is for sale or you want immediate impact, choose mature plantings to give the landscape an established look.
Contact Outdoor Expressions if you’d like help improving your curb appeal!
Originally published in the February 2008 Cultivating Ideas.
Less water more green:
Simple ways to deal with a drought.
Respecting the environment and our natural resources has always been part of our job as landscape professionals. Many of our clients are happy to learn that a responsible, drought-tolerant landscape plan in Georgia does not consist of rocks and cacti! Here are some ways to make your outdoor space more drought tolerant and to maintain it during the current drought:
- Always keep your landscape mulched well to help retain soil moisture and insulate plant roots.
- Maintain a proper grass height so your lawn will use available moisture efficiently.
- Use native plants when possible. Limit your turf areas to less than 50 percent of your total landscape.
- Properly amend your soil when planting so water can easily penetrate the ground.
- If it rains one inch, skip watering for one week. “The more water, the better” is not true. During times without watering restrictions, we see more plants die from overwatering than anything else.
Originally published in the March 2008 Cultivating Ideas.