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Americans are realizing that one of the best ways to increase a home’s resale value is to revamp the landscape. Smart Money magazine published a special report in its March 2005 issue entitled “Add 15 Percent to Your Home’s Value.” The magazine told its readers, “One of your greatest assets may be your own backyard, literally”. Numerous studies dating back to the late 1980s conclusively show that landscaping can increase property values. In its June 2005 issue, Illinois Landscape magazine cited a Society of Real Estate Appraisers Survey, which noted that 95 percent of the appraisers responding to the survey believed that landscaping adds to the dollar value of residential real estate. Moreover, 99 percent of them said landscaping enhanced the sales appeal of residential real estate.

Landscape provides a very functional role in that it can increase the usability of your property. A carefully planned and landscaped yard can double or triple the square footage of living space through the creation of outdoor rooms. By creating different areas for cooking, dining, recreation, and relaxation, you have more living options than if you relied on the inside of your house alone.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Forest Service, trees can increase a home's value by three to seven percent. Meanwhile, poor landscape design can actually decrease property values by up to 10-percent according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.

Curb Appeal Exercise

The next time you come to a home, stop across the street or far enough down the driveway to get a good view of the house and its surroundings.

  1. What is your first impression of the house and yard area?
  2. What are the best exterior features of the house or lot? How can the homeowner enhance them?
  3. What are the worst exterior features of the house or lot? How can the seller minimize or improve them?

Park where a potential buyer would and walk towards the house, looking around you as if it were your first visit.

Curb Appeal Checklist

Overall appearance: Remove any junk or clutter from the yard. This includes tree limbs and leaves, but especially goes for junk cars or parts, etc.

Overall appearance: If the exterior of the house is dirty or moldy, power wash it. If it is in need of paint, get competitive bids if you can't do it yourself.

Grass: If possible, reseed any bare areas of the lawn.

Landscaping: Trim all shrubbery and plantings. Trim trees if necessary, especially dead limbs.

Driveway: If the driveway is stone and looking lean, add a coat of gravel. If it is asphalt, consider resealing.

Decks and porches: Power wash and seal, stain or paint.

Gutters and downspouts: Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and functioning properly.

Lights: Make sure that all exterior lights are operational.

Landscaping: If the season is right, plant colorful flowers where appropriate.

Landscaping: Add mulch to planting beds and around trees. An inexpensive but very effective way of freshening the look of the yard.

Windows: Make sure the exterior (and the interior) of windows is clean and operational.

A large percentage of home buyers decide whether or not to look inside a house or take it seriously based on its curb appeal—the view they see when they drive by or arrive for a showing. The seller can help make sure they want to come inside their house by spending some time working on the exterior appearance.

Buyers think they care more about the inside of the house than the landscaping, but in reality, most buyers won't even get out of their car if the front landscaping lacks the promise of great details inside. Therefore, the landscaping needs to arouse buyers' expectations and entice them into viewing the inside of the home.


When marketing a home, you'll get the highest return for each landscaping dollar when the seller employs Design Psychology tactics. Design Psychology is based on scientific research into the underlying psychological effects of design on buyers, and these innovative design ideas will help your home sell quickly, and for more money, by influencing buyers' emotions.

Foliage Colors

Begin by coordinating the colors of the flowering foliage. Think about the selling season and plan for flowering plants that perform well during that time. Also give thought to the desired atmosphere and use plants to support that concept.

Use a lot of green and white in your color scheme. Green conjures feelings of coolness, freshness, and vitality, while white flowers also suggest cleanliness, and show up better at night, when many buyers will be looking at houses. Since yellow is the first color our eyes process, yellow flowers by the front door attract the buyer’s eye from a distance.


Appealing to Buyers’ Sense of Smell

Give thought to the overall scents of flowering trees, bushes, vines, and flowers in the yard, and take advantage of plants that support the desired emotional outcome. Lemon-scented geraniums add refreshing scents that contribute to a desert oasis feel, for instance, while jasmine adds a tropical feeling. Rosemary and French lavender enhance Mediterranean-style settings.


Adding amenities for emotional support

An alluring appeal begins with the access to the home. If there is no dedicated walkway to the front door, add a simple pathway. A wandering pathway to the front door psychologically feels better than a straight-shot walkway. If there is a plain, straight concrete walkway, create undulating flower beds on either side to encourage a relaxed, friendly feeling. Adding a water feature also enhances the ambiance, because moving water relaxes the body and mind and refreshes the spirit. Create a feeling of balance and harmony, like that found in nature.

Another reason to start on the exterior is to motivate the neighbors to also begin sprucing up their properties, because having the entire neighborhood look good will greatly enhances the value of property.


A well-conceived landscaping has the advantage when it comes to selling a house. If a home makes buyers feel good while they're on the property, you'll sell it quickly, and for top dollar!




Steve Rasof

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