Are you a homeowner who is dissatisfied with your landscaping? Perhaps you’ve been living with the shrubs your builder installed “way back when”, or landscaping done by the previous owner. Perhaps you’ve nibbled your way to your present situation in many small steps, afraid to do anything really bold. Most likely you have a plant collection instead of a landscape.
Most home landscapes are combinations of the following problems: Plants that have gotten much too big for the space they’re in or have been sheared so many times they became ugly and disfigured. Out-of-control weeds choking out the desirable plants. Empty spaces where shrubs and trees have failed, one by one. “No-man’s land” problems like walk-out basements and steep banks, where the landscaping was never really finished. Giant trees with exposed roots, under which nothing will grow.
Most home landscapes have failed to provide real benefits, like shade and windbreak, privacy screening, blocking unsightly views, or attractive outdoor living spaces where spending your leisure time is pleasant and restful. Often only the front and side foundation beds were ever really finished. We call these narrow foundation landscapes “necklaces.”
Landscaping has dollar consequences. It can affect the value of your home, and can have an impact on your maintenance costs. Well done, it can increase your property value and save you energy cost. Or, it can create a maintenance nightmare. As important as good landscaping is to your home’s value and your quality of life, you probably haven’t invested very much time or money in it compared to the rest of your home.
There aren’t many major home improvements that can be done in a single weekend, but that’s all the time, patience, and energy many people have when it comes to landscaping. Landscape work is drudgery for most homeowners. Routine maintenance tasks like mowing and weeding can eat up much of your available time, especially if your landscape is poorly planned (or unplanned). It’s also hard for many people to visualize major projects.
One reason many people postpone landscape improvements is that they aren’t sure what they want. Some people are good at imagining finished landscapes, but most people aren’t. Walking around in nurseries can be mind-boggling. Many home landscapes are just a collection of plants that were bought on impulse because they attracted attention when they were blooming.
Could it be time to focus on your outdoor spaces? Would it be outrageous to suggest that you dedicate 10 percent of your home’s value to making the surrounding landscape beautiful, inviting, and flattering to your home? How about five percent?
Before you dismiss this idea as crazy and futile, consider this: well-done landscaping can often increase your home’s value more than the cost of the improvements. Even if you don’t care about the resale value of your home, we’ll bet that you would get your money’s worth of pleasure and pride from a professionally designed and installed outdoor living space. Perhaps it’s time to put that at the top of your list of home improvement priorities.