Michelle Simakis

I’ve always considered a well-maintained, established landscape as a “nice to have” feature in a new home, not a deal-breaker. Many of my friends and family members are shopping for houses now, and I was surprised to hear just how many people named a patio, deck or front porch and quality landscaping as some of their non-negotiables in a new home.

It’s not that I don’t value outdoor spaces, gardens and good landscaping. I’ve just always considered backyards and garden beds to be more personal, something you must make your own when you move in. Perhaps it’s because I watched my mom transform each landscape when she moved and lovingly transplant her perennials, including my grandmother’s favorites, like the bleeding heart that is still going strong. Just like a wardrobe, her plants have evolved and been updated. Peonies, once dominant in her garden, have been replaced by hydrangeas. Renovating and reimagining a landscape has always been part of the home buying deal in my experience, and a blank slate wasn’t a bad thing.

Many buyers want complete, well-maintained landscapes and decks or patios, and it’s as important to them as an updated kitchen or refinished basement. There are statistics to support this, too. As you’ll read in the cover story starting on page 16, a 2015 survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 84 percent of people in the U.S. agree that the quality of a home’s landscaping would affect their decision to buy a home. The same survey, which included more than 2,000 adults, illustrated just how important personal outdoor spaces are. Ninety percent of Americans prefer to live in a home surrounded by trees, grass and nice landscaping, and 83 percent think it is important to have a yard, with another 75 percent indicating it’s important to spend time in that yard.

However, many don’t have confidence in their abilities to create these desirable outdoor spaces — 47 percent wish they could hire professional landscape help, and just 33 percent who have a yard strongly agreed that they have the know-how to keep their lawns and plants looking good.

The housing market is projected to be strong again in 2018, which you can read more about on page 22. This particular survey result caught my attention: “In the latest housing preference survey from the National Association of Home Builders, Millennial buyers were the only generation to have three outdoor spaces in their top 10 most wanted home features: deck, patio and front porch.”

That’s all good news for garden centers, who can be there to help home buyers of all generations who want beautiful yards and outdoor spaces but don’t know where to start.

Michelle Simakis