One of your greatest assets grows in your own yard — literally, according to the Virginia Green Industry Council.
While paint and repairs do a lot to make your home look and feel better, simple landscape upgrades and improvements add value to your residence. Plants improve your entire neighborhood, too.
Trees are the biggest asset, growing in value as they mature.
Native plants are a good idea because they help reduce your dependency on garden chemicals that can potentially harm the environment around you.
Here's how a lovely landscape adds up in dollars and sense:
Reduce your carbon footprint. Over a 50-year lifetime, a single tree generates $31,250 of oxygen, $62,000 in air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and provides $31,250 worth of soil control according to Bob Dolibois, vice president of the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
Save energy. Well-placed trees around a home can trim energy bills by 50 percent. Plant shade trees so they cool your home from the midday and setting sun; place evergreens so they protect your home against winter winds.
Add value. Think of a $20 plant as it grows into a $200 shrub, bringing good looks and benefits to your home's property. Mature Japanese maples can cost as much as $1,500 or more to replace, so keep that in mind when you estimate your home's value over the long run.
Reports show a well-designed and maintained landscape boost a home's sale price by as much as 27 percent by some estimates. Real estate agents will tell you they always prefer listing a home with an attractive, neat and low-maintenance yard.
Consult a pro. If you are unsure what will give your home the curb appeal it needs, consult professional landscape designers. They will develop a landscape plan that fits your budget and lifestyle.
Here's how four local landscape designers help homeowners get the look and feel they want for their outdoor spaces:
Ken Matthews Garden CenterRoute 17, York County
The project: A blah backyard in York County becomes a place to entertain and relax with the addition of a paver patio and walk. Plants that soften the edges and frame the setting include: podocarpus makki, silverking euonymus tree form, soft touch holly, weeping Japanese maple, gardenia radican, beehive holly, tardiva hydrangea and variegated cleyera.
• A garden is for enjoyment — a place for reflection, renewal and better health, says landscape designer Ken Matthews.
Greener Gardens by DesignSmithfield; 357-2961.
The project: An Oriental garden at a town house backyard in Norfolk features a pond and waterfall with ground covers of black mondo and Chocolate Chip ajuga, iris, hostas, rain lily, Laceleaf Japanese maple and nandina. Before the overhaul, an unsightly garage, sagging gate and falling trellis filled the rear space.
• When you create a pond, which is a project some people can do themselves, use different size and color rocks for a natural look. When you work in a small area, remember to downscale the size of plants; for example, use a dwarf papyrus instead of a larger one, says landscape designer Diane Roselius. She's also vice president of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers — www.vsld.org.
Nickerson LandscapesYork County; 890-0770.
The project: It was a basic builder-installed landscape so the James City County house would pass inspection. A few tough, easy-care plants that work around a deer problem were selected. Foundation plantings are Liberty holly on the corners; it's a great conical-shaped plant that reaches 6-8 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Other plants used: Winter Gem boxwood, Firepower nandina, dwarf Teddy Bear magnolia; Miami crape myrtle and Snowdrift Easy Elegance rose.
• As this landscape matures, it will be easy and beautiful. It has a variety of textures and foliage colors to make it interesting year-round, says landscape designer. Eric Bailey.
Heart's Ease Landscape & Garden DesignJames City County; 566-9088
The project: A new walkway and brick retaining wall left a small space for planting next to the original patio. A larger patio was added under the trees. A birdbath used as a focal point in the new bed is also visible from an eating area in the kitchen. Plants around the bird bath include Hoogendorn holly and dwarf loropetalum for purple foliage accents. Variegated hostas survived the renovation and "volunteered" in just the right places.
• The Williamsburg homeowners and designer hand selected the plants at the nursery; the plants were chosen for their winter interest, contrasting texture and color and shade tolerance, says landscape designer Peggy Krapf.
More before and after landscapes, Page 2Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun