Landscaping is the new frontier. Where you used to spend money on shoes, now you crave a lush lawn. Don’t be scared of making the investment in good landscaping. Turns out, in the end it pays for itself. RJ of Opus One Design Build, a national company specializing in a turnkey approach to construction, remodeling, design, and landscaping and Anna L. Martinez Owner of MTZ Landscaping in San Antonio, Texas – two highly rated pros on Thumbtack – plant the seeds for your new lawn.
Citing an economist, Anna shares that good landscaping can add up to 28% to overall home value, while enhancing existing landscaping can add 6-7% to a home’s value.
The landscaping is the icing on the cake, explains RJ. He likens it to the perfect outfit. Even if the home has a great layout and is in good structural shape, it’s a harder sell if it’s wearing terrible clothes.
Improving the irrigation system will have an immediate impact on water bills, shares RJ. Focus on leaks and upgrading your existing system to decrease water usage. Being strategic with hardscaping (placement of rocks, paving stones, etc.) can also eliminate the need for inground sprinklers. Maintaining softscaping (all those beautiful plants) does cost money though, he explains. So if you want a lush, tropical looking yard, it will require water. Focusing on more drought tolerant plants and incorporating beautiful hardscape touches reduces your water bill.
Don’t worry about losing beauty in the process! In San Antonio, Anna works with many grasses and plants that are drought tolerant—meaning they need little extra water or other assistance to look their best. She shares these low-water landscapes burst with color during every season of the year, and are lush and inviting. Going drought tolerant doesn’t mean you’ll surrender style! However, an effective irrigation system and regular maintenance are both important for keeping the water bill low and your garden looking its best, she explains.
If you are looking to get a return on your investment, RJ recommends never spending more than 25% of the value of your home. If it’s for personal pleasure, spend as much as you like, but for resale value reasons, he says 25% is the very highest you should invest.
He explains people often disregard homes for sale that have unattractive front yards. He shares an example of a home appraised at $253,000. It wasn’t the biggest or best house on the block, but the owners invested in a great landscape job of concrete work, cobblestones, a tree, nice shrubs, and plants. They spent $45,000, but in the home sale, they got that investment back, as well as increased equity value of $45,000 above and beyond their initial investment. They basically doubled their return.
It varies, says Anna. RJ agrees it’s hard to put a price on landscaping services. His company works on bigger projects so they start around $25,000 and go as high as you can dream. He had one client who wanted to recreate his yard to look like the gardens in the Wynn Hotel Casino. Whatever you can dream up, someone can make. That said, if you only have a few hundred dollars, don’t think you can’t find design and softscaping consultation!
Work with river gravel, boulders, flagstone, pavers, and very low maintenance plant material to enhance neglected areas. Small touches can make unused space look more attractive and inviting, explains Anna. Rethink that cobwebby area between the shed and side yard, it could be made beautiful.
Increasing the square footage of the house not “under roof” is the big trend RJ is seeing. People want the tile flooring of the interior to bleed into the backyard, creating a seamless look—especially with big, folding doors. He sees a lot of requests for outdoor fireplaces, kitchen, and living spaces. It’s like part of the home, but open air.
Don’t be afraid to discuss money, urges RJ. The biggest mistake people make is wasting time by not disclosing their budget from the start. He explains that by the time you call a landscaper, you have a rough idea of your max spend. Sharing this information with the potential landscape company doesn’t mean they’re going to maximize it (in a negative way) and waste all your hard-earned dough. Instead, it empowers you to make a clear choice. You share your max budget and your main priorities with your target several companies and ask how they would spend the money. That allows you to pick and choose the quote and plan that works best for you.