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7 Ways to Make Landscaping Pay Off

Tips to get the most out of improvements to your yard.

Submitted by Owen Zukovich

The photo featured with this article shows the backyard of a client served by Sterling Horticultural Services, and is an excellent example of how landscaping can add value to a home. 

How much value? Studies show that professional landscaping can improve the value of a residential property by 5 percent to 15 percent (Virginia Tech and Clemson University). These studies say that the top factor was the sophistication of the design, and most realtors agree. 

Sandra Laughlin of Coldwell Banker in Mendham says that buyers are looking for designs that integrate decks and patios into an outdoor lifestyle. And her associate, Betty Kiser, recently wrote “Front Paths Donʼt Lie,” an article that highlights the importance of first impressions. 

Unfortunately, the quest for natural beauty has its share of pitfalls. Marc Zukovich, owner of Sterling Horticultural Services for 26 years, has found that people often attempt projects that are beyond their grasp: “They get in over their heads, and thatʼs when they call in a professional.”

With all this in mind, Right Blend Investing offers the following advice:

7 Ways to Invest Wisely in Your Landscaping

  • 1. Donʼt skimp on design: Realtors and academics agree on the importance of design, which helps ensure a holistic, integrated look, and which can prevent costly mistakes. Tight budget? Hire a professional, use small plants, and install in phases.
  • 2. Hardscapes offer the biggest bang for the buck: Hardscapes include patios, decks, pavers, and walkways. Studies suggest that these capital improvements hold value well. Source: Case-Shiller 10-City Composite Home Price Index, 1/1/87 to 3/1/13
  • 3. Timing counts: As shown in the chart, home prices have stabilized after a long decline. This may make it an attractive time to invest in your home and your landscaping.
  • 4. Work with what you have: Landscaping can transform your property, and even create more usable space. But you canʼt change the climate, so you need to adapt accordingly.
  • 5. Think about long-term costs: Installing a patio is more expensive than grass, but it will stand up to heavy use with minimal maintenance (water, fertilizer, mowing, raking). Other long-term considerations include shade trees to reduce cooling costs, and native plants to reduce water consumption.
  • 6. Taxes: Hardscapes are exempt from sales tax in New Jersey. Unfortunately, trees and shrubs are taxable, and so is the cost of installation. [N.J.S.A. 54:32B-3(b)(2)].
  • 7. Your home, your priorities: Landscaping offers something for all five senses, from sights and smells, to taste and touch—it can even serve as a buffer against noise.

In many ways, the landscaping process is like wealth management: Professional design and regular maintenance get the best results.

Sterling Horticultural Services, Right Blend Investing, and Coldwell Banker are not affiliated. 

This research was done by Right Blend Investing, and is based on sources we believe to be reliable. It is for information purposes only. All investments have risks, including landscaping. 

Owen Zukovich is a Financial Advisor in Hillsborough with Right Blend Investing, LLC.

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