Here are the essentials for great landscaping.
Essential #1: Trees
Maybe only Mother Nature can make a tree, but the National Tree Benefit Calculator can tell you what it's worth.
The calculator examines how a tree species in a particular ZIP code affects:
- Storm water runoff. Trees block and suck up water running off your property, preventing pollutants from entering community waterways.
- Carbon dioxide reduction. CO2 contributes to climate change.
- Energy savings: Shade trees cool homes in summer; windbreaks help warm them in winter.
If you introduce trees, plants, or shrubs, go native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra TLC (read: time and money) you'll devote to anything that's forced to live outside its natural habitat.
Native plantings help wildlife, too. The National Wildlife Federation awards a special certification to homeowners who create natural backyard habitats for birds, butterflies, and other animals looking for places to roost or feed.
There's a slow but steady increase in buyers seeking these wildlife certified properties; a recent listing for a West Virginia property trumpeted its wildlife certification, restored meadow, and organic garden.
Essential #3: Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting consistently tops the NAHB's list of most wanted outdoor features in its annual "What Home Buyers Really Want" survey: 41% rate it "essential;" 49% say it's "desirable."
But that's not the only reason it's a landscape essential.
- Tasteful lighting paints your home at night, highlighting your other great landscaping choices and directing guests to your home's focal point - the front door.
- It protects against slips and falls.
- It makes a property a more difficult target for intruders. That added security can reduce burglaries, and therefore claims.
- It makes your home feel homier. Soft lighting on a wrap-around porch or just a front stoop feels warm and inviting.