The general rule of thumb is that the right landscaping can improve a home's value by 15%. But how do we know if this is true and what constitutes "good" landscaping.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension conducted a survey in 2019 to determine how consumers viewed landscape with regard to a home's value by showing them a series of photos of homes with varying degrees of landscaping. The results were not surprising, and emphasize the need to carefully landscape your home for curb appeal.
How the Survey Was Conducted
The survey, conducted by a group of Cooperative Extensions throughout the country, presented participants with a photo of a newly built, suburban house with only a lawn and concrete path. They were then shown sixteen (16) photos of the same house with different plantings that varied in size, type, and sophistication.
The plant types included varieties and sizes of perennials, shrubs, and trees, and the three (3) sophistication levels were: 1) foundation planting only, 2) foundation planting with one large, oblong island planting and one or two single specimen trees in the lawn, and 3) a foundation planting with adjoining beds and two or three large island plantings, all incorporating curved bed lines.
The most important factor in effective landscape design was sophistication (42%) followed by plant size (26%), and then diversity of plant material type (22%).
The preferred landscape included large deciduous, evergreen, and annual color plants in a colored hardscape with a sophisticated design. This differs from a 1999 study using the same methodology that had plant size as the most important factor, with design sophistication a close second.
In Virginia, sophisticated design has been a hallmark of many of the Commonwealth's historic homes and, while lacking in newer developments, is prevalent in older neighborhoods.
Perceived Change in Value
In assessing a home's value (based on no landscaping to well-landscaped), home values increased between 5.5% (none to good) to 11.4% (good to very good). So, a home valued at $250,000 with no landscaping (lawn only) could be worth between $263,750 to $278,600 with some careful planning, planting, and plant selection.
Landscape designers like Virginia's famous Charles Gillette supported the idea that landscaping should look like it has been there for a long time, regardless of when the house was built. Hardscapes that don't conflict with the home's style, shrubs that add dimension and shape, and trees that offer shade and protection are parts of all of the best landscapes.
One of the best ways you can enhance your curb appeal is to ensure your landscaping fits your neighborhood, doesn't detract from your home, and makes a visitor want to stop for a second and enjoy his surroundings.