University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article


THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF LANDSCAPING

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
 
 
Economically, landscaping can increase property and resale values, lower energy costs, improve business and sales, and create positive perceptions for areas.

Landscaping can add up to 14 percent to the resale value of a building, and speed up its sale by up to 6 weeks.  Another source of information has a similar increase of 15 percent in resale value, by spending 5 percent of your home value on landscaping, resulting in a 150 percent or more return on your investment.  A Quebec survey found that adding hedges to a landscape increased property values by 3.5 percent, adding a landscaped curb added 4.4 percent, and a landscaped patio added 12.4 percent to property values.

A study on rental properties found that landscaping was the improvement that had the largest positive impact on occupancy.  Appraised property values of homes next to natural parks and spaces are typically 8 to 20 percent higher than properties elsewhere.

Properly selecting and placing plants can lower costs for heating and cooling homes by up to 20 percent or more.  This can include deciduous trees for summer shade, evergreens for winter windbreaks.  Estimates from Department of Energy computer models are that three properly placed trees can reduce average home energy costs between $100 and $250. 

In leaky old homes (such as mine!), proper placement of evergreen plants can reduce both heat loss and cold air coming in during winter.  During summer, plants can save 15 percent or more in air conditioning costs.  Trees can be used to block sun from windows and walls.  Grass and groundcovers can be used to reduce reflected heat.  Shrubs and vines next to foundations can be used to create an air space that provides some insulation. 

Attractive landscapes prove beneficial to businesses as well as to homes.  A survey in the south showed that almost 3/4 of the public preferred to patronize stores that were well-landscaped, including landscaped parking lots.  Another survey in eight U.S. cities found that businesses with orderly and well-maintained landscapes were rated more highly than others.  Figures from Washington state indicate the public has more positive perceptions about businesses that have trees and green space, and are willing to pay 10 percent more for products purchased in such green areas.

Rental rates for commercial properties in one study found they were 7 percent higher on well-landscaped sites.  Some hotels appreciate the value of indoor plants, one of the largest indoor gardens being at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.  Interior rooms facing the tropical gardens are the first to be reserved, resulting in an additional $7 million in room revenues.

While smaller trees are less expensive to install, and provide benefits for the short term, in the long term large trees have been shown to be a better investment.  When mature, each large tree can provide an average $65 more benefit than smaller trees in energy savings, cleaner air, extended life of streets, better storm water management, and higher property values.

In addition to economic benefits, plants and landscaping provide environmental and social (or human services) benefits.  More can be found on these studies at the Magic of Landscapes (www.magicoflandscaping.com).
     

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