With spring around the corner, many homeowners are preparing their homes for selling. Instead of staging and updating paint colors, homeowners should be concerned with one of the top factors that impacts a sale: curb appeal.
How a house looks from the outside defines whether a home feels inviting when the prospect drives by or views pictures online. According to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of home buyers.
In fact, well-maintained yards fetch a higher price and a quicker sale. “Good landscaping can add up to 28 percent to the overall value of a house and even cut its time on the market 10 to 15 percent,” said landscape economist John Harris. That's especially true for landscaping that includes mature trees. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, 98 percent of realtors believe mature trees have a strong impact on the sellability of homes listed for more than $250,000.
That first impression is key. If prospective buyers don't like the looks of the house from the curb, often they won't even go inside.
Don’t know where to start? Here are 8 tips from certified arborist R.J. Laverne at The Davey Tree Expert Company for improving curb appeal:
- Start by cleaning up the yard. Remove dead branches, weeds and debris.
- Take a look at your plants' health. "Dead and dying plants need to be removed and replaced with healthy plants suitable for the site. The most important thing in landscaping is maintenance," says Laverne.
- Create a layered landscape. Plant small, low plants up front and shrubs behind them with ornamental trees in the rear. Use large trees as a centerpiece to complement the scale of your home. “Landscaping should pull your eyes to the front door,” says Laverne.
- Plant strategically. Trees provide shading and cooling, control erosion, reduce air pollution, and provide privacy. Plant deciduous trees on the west and east side of a building to lower summer air-conditioning costs; evergreen trees can be planted to block prevailing winter winds and help save on heating costs.
- Prune trees and shrubs. This will not only improve visual appeal, but also structure and even longevity. "Houses with mature trees fetch more money," says Laverne.
- Spread mulch. Mulching around the base of trees gives the yard a tidier appearance. It also helps retain moisture for roots and cuts back on weeds. About two inches of mulch is all you need.
- Choose diverse plants that provide seasonal interest: Plant spring flowers (crocuses & daffodils), followed by summer flowering ornamental trees and shrubs (redbuds & forsythia), and followed by those that provide great fall coloration (maples, oaks & viburnums).
- Keep it simple. Design your yard with plants and grass that work well in your environment and that don't need a lot of water, fertilizer and pruning.
Trees don't ask for much — soil, water, sunlight. Yet they provide a wealth of benefits: They improve the air you breathe, cut your energy bills with their shade, provide homes for wildlife, add beauty and deliver a substantial return on investment in exchange for relatively low-cost maintenance.
Don’t underestimate the value of trees and plants in your yard. Provide proper tree care and landscape maintenance this season and beyond, and you'll reap the benefits for several seasons to come.
Putting your home on the market this spring? Your local Davey arborist can help prepare your landscape for selling.