Gardening Makeover Pays Off on Sale Day
June 21, 2011

A quality landscape -- or just a good yard cleanup -- can add to the value of a house and dictate how quickly a home sells, experts say.

"The whole trend for living outside is enormous right now," said Denis Flanagan, host of HGTV's One Garden, Two Looks. "The garden has become an extension of the house."

Fences, trees, patios, paths, decks and water features all increase the enjoyment -- and value -- of a home. As a result, landscaping is an investment on par with any indoor renovation project. "It's up there with kitchens and bathrooms right now," says Flanagan.

Some estimate landscaping can raise a home's value by at least 15 percent. It's also established that sprucing up your outdoor space, especially the front yard, plays a major role in making your home attractive to potential buyers.

"If you don't have a plan, it's easy to waste money," warns Flanagan. For some, the plan is budgeting $200 for perennials, but for others it involves detailed drawings. This usually requires a landscape architect or designer, although those with a vision and a green thumb may opt to use landscape design software, widely available on the web.

An expert's master drawing, with details right down to the name of each plant, usually costs between $750 and $2,000, depending on the scope of the project.

From there, the rule of thumb is to budget 10 percent to 25 percent of the value of your home. For example an overhaul of the average front yard -- complete with an interlocking brick walkway, lighting, planting, irrigation and urns -- costs between $20,000 and $25,000.

It's generally not the materials that are expensive, but the labour.

If you're willing and able to do the work yourself, you'll save money, but some projects require an expert. When hiring, interview a number of candidates, review past projects, check references, consult professional associations and ensure the company has liability insurance.

Whatever your project of choice, experts agree that as the line blurs between outdoor and indoor living, sprucing up the yard can only add to your home's value-- both in terms of personal pleasure and resale potential.