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Add Home Value With Landscaping
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Houses that look good from the road carry higher price tags, a fact that turns landscape investments into money in the bank when selling a house.
Dr. David Tatum is the state nursery specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He has tips for homeowners looking to increase the value of their home before it's sold.
"Money spent working on the landscape is a good investment and will bring actual returns," Tatum said.
He recommended hiring a professional to help develop a landscape plan and offer advice. This person can be either a landscape architect or a licensed landscape designer. Professional advice allows homeowners to develop a landscape within their budget that is functional, offers curb appeal and can be added to by future owners.
"A well-landscaped yard can add 5 to 15 percent to the selling value of a house," Tatum said. "It just looks good, and people are willing to pay more for it."
Tatum said realtors in the region are beginning to realize the value of a well-landscaped yard and are touting this as a feature of the house. Areas of the landscape, such as gazebos or privacy areas, can even be seen as exterior rooms, offering more living space for homeowners.
Not only are landscapes visually pleasing, they are expected now more than ever before.
"The average person has more disposable income, and they are able to beautify their surroundings," Tatum said. "We're seeing good economic times, and people are spending on their homes. However, even in economic downturns, people with money spend it on their homes."
Tatum said a landscape is a reflection of the personality of the owners and gives visitors an idea of what to expect inside the house. Depending on what landscaping is in place when starting, establishing a good landscape can be expensive, but it can be done in stages.
"A homeowner can add to a landscape plan designed by a knowledgeable person," Tatum said. "You start with trees, then plants around the foundation of the house. After that, you can concentrate on gardens, accents and privacy areas."
Gardeners on a budget can buy a few plants at the local nursery and place them according to their own plan. They can add to these later as finances allow. With patience, even weekend gardeners can have a landscape that is the envy of neighbors and a selling point for the house.
When starting with a small budget, Tatum had two warnings.
"Cut your space. Don't put out fewer plants in a large area as they will not fill it out and you will have to fight weeds," Tatum said. "Don't buy smaller, less expensive plants and place them close together. When they grow, they will be overcrowded."
If homeowners are looking for an inexpensive, quick pick-me-up for the yard, flowers can often do the trick. Bright splashes of color add visual appeal, but they usually are temporary. Consider, instead, using more permanent bushes. Stick to basics, leaving more costly and permanent landscaping to the new owners.