It is a fact that landscaping has a strong effect on a home's curb appeal. Whether you are hoping to sell your home, or simply increase its value, your landscape design is a crucial part of the overall package. There are several decisions to be made prior to beginning any landscape project. The plants you choose and their placement are paramount to vigorous and long-lasting growth. Also, consider watering needs, fertilization requirements and eventual maintenance.
If ever you plan on selling your home, you'll discover how important first impressions are. Curb appeal, or how your house and yard look upon first approach, is the most important part of reselling. Joan Honeyman, of Honeyman Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C., notes that a well-manicured lawn and landscape are "the first thing you see." She finds that a professionally landscaped property can add 20 percent to the home's value. In addition, The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests homeowners spend 10 percent of their home's total value on landscaping.
The decision to do the landscaping yourself or hire professionals is an important one. Ask yourself this: Do you have the knowledge, the access to plants and the time to execute the entire landscape job yourself? You must consider where you'll find healthy plant specimens. You'll need to know your yard's soil type, irrigation abilities, sun exposure options and salinity content. You must know your plants' disease tolerance, fertilizing needs and eventual maintenance once the plants mature. If this is not your area of expertise, you'd do well to hire a professional.
A lavishly landscaped yard in an otherwise average neighborhood may not give the returns expected. Mark S. Henry, a professor at Clemson University, wrote a paper entitled, "The Contribution of Landscaping to the Price of Single Family Houses: A Study of Home Sales in Greenville, South Carolina." He found there were three ways landscaping and gardening impacted sales prices of homes: the quality of the landscaping in the neighborhood, the quality of landscaping on lots adjacent to the house for sale, and the quality of the landscaping in the yard of the house for sale. Studying the first two aspects of Professor Henry's findings may help dictate the degree of landscaping in which you should invest.
One profound trend that Honeyman sees in her work is the blending of the outdoors with the indoors. Terrace extensions and outdoor rooms are popular. Taking aspects of the inside of the house and carrying them through to the outside is one of landscaping's hottest techniques. Another trend is going green. Water consumption, harmful run-off and excessive yard waste are all aspects of landscaping being addressed today. Xeriscaping, which involves the use of native plants in landscape designs, has caught on not only in the United States, but worldwide. The use of native plants decreases water needs, fertilization amounts and maintenance.
One of the most common pitfalls a homeowner makes is to select plants that are appealing, yet will not be well accommodated by the soil, climate, salinity level or moisture. Often plants purchased based on looks will die within the year. Another pitfall is to select a wide variety of plants. The end result is a landscape that has no balance or flow, and is exceedingly difficult to maintain. Finally, failing to compare your landscape plans with those of your neighbor's and your neighborhood will result in a landscape design that simply does not fit in. No matter how beautiful you believe it to be, it still must be a part of the general neighborhood appeal.