The Value of a Tree

[One of my greatest wishes is that we all take pride in our real estate. I get the sense that people don’t have much respect for real estate when they are unsure of its value. This is a time when it’s hard to know what property is worth, but I have long believed that one of the quickest and cheapest ways to make bad property look good, and good property look great, is simply to landscape intelligently. For that reason I’ve asked Marie Long, who designed the landscaping in some of our properties, to submit the following article, which I commend to you, whether you are thinking of selling, or whether you simply want to enjoy the property you own.]

“Landscaping your home is like spreading frosting on a cake, or like completing your favorite painting with the perfect frame.

A thoughtfully planned landscape will display your home's best architectural features. It draws the eye to the elements that you would like to accentuate. For example, if your entry way is one of the design highlights of your home, the right choice of evergreen shrubbery and flowers along a flagstone walk graciously beckons your guests to your front door. Mature trees add substance and scale depending on the size of your home. And finally, there is the cool green "puddle" of lawn in a sunny spot for the kids, the dogs, or the blue bird houses.

As pleasing to the senses as all this sounds, let's not forget the purely financial side of the landscape equation. A modest investment in landscaping for your home can generate big returns at the closing table. Several thousand dollars, just for example, spent manicuring and updating your landscape can translate into 2 or 3 times that amount in the selling price. Money Magazine(May 2003)states "while kitchens and baths may return 75% and 20% of its costs respectively, landscape investments are estimated to return at least 100% and up to 200% of their costs".

Let's say for example that you decide to put your home on the market. And that you have lived in your current home long enough for the landscape to have "matured". Take a critical look at your home from the street, as a home buyer might be seeing it for the first time. Remember you have one shot at a first impression. Don't be sentimental. The home buyer doesn't share your feeling for late Aunt Sara's pass-a-long plants. First, list all the trees and shrubbery disfigured from hurricanes or age. They will need to be removed. Take a count of the holes in the hedges to be filled. Decide if the lawn is an asset or not.

With some "re-scape" projects I find it helpful to work from a digital photograph. Seeing your yard on paper allows you to focus on the details and not be distracted by the rest of world.

Once the tattered flora is removed, manicure what remains. Get out your arsenal and clip, prune, edge, mow, blow, and remove all debris from the property. Make a pact with yourself or your lawn service to keep the yard at "parade ready" for the duration of the selling period.

Now decide, "What's missing from this picture?" Choose items that will make the biggest impact from the road. Is your yard calling for a shade tee, some fresh sod, or color by the door? Spend your money on items that will pass what I call the "35mph drive by test".

Remember that you won't get an offer if the buyers don't take a look. So don't underestimate the power that a beautiful landscape has in getting buyers to stop at YOUR home and take a serious look.

Better yet, don't wait until you have to sell. "Re-scape" now. Enjoy living in your new environment. And then when you sell your home, reap the financial rewards at the closing table.”

Marie Long

Monarch Landscape Services, LLC