ART ELEMENTS: ADDOBE STOCK

The link between plants and home value is far from an anecdotal one. Horticulturists, economists and industry professionals of every stripe have spent years evaluating the impact gardening and landscaping projects tend to have on home value.

Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair in International Floriculture with Texas A&M University’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, has been involved in several academic studies on the topic and says the data suggests that greenery has a reliable, direct and positive impact on home value.

“We found that, on average, every dollar invested in landscaping generates $1.09 in perceived home value. So, compared [with] other home improvements … landscaping is the only home improvement that generates a greater-than-one-dollar return for every dollar invested,” Hall says. “Remodeling magazine puts together a cost versus value report, and you can see the return on investment from various home improvement projects — if you spend a dollar renovating a kitchen, [the ROI is] roughly 92 or 93 cents. If you spend [a dollar] on the bathroom — it varies, but before the recession, it was about 73 cents.”

Sid Raisch, a Garden Center Group member and president/CEO of Bower & Branch, says he has seen similar supporting data that indicates a high return on investment for home landscaping projects.

“To my recollection, the evidence is substantial, and compelling,” Raisch says. “In addition, the time it takes to sell a home with professionally designed landscape is shorter.”

Depending on the source, researchers and experts estimate that quality landscaping can improve a home’s value by 11 to 20 percent. A 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. And, according to an article on Realtor.com, landscaping can account for close to a third of a home’s value, or 28 percent.

Plus, data shows beautiful yards make people happy. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, after completing a landscaping project, 75 percent of respondents said they have a greater desire to be home, 65 percent have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are home and 79 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment.

If retailers want to reach their markets effectively, Hall says they should be familiar with the investment power of plants and be capable of sharing this knowledge with their customers.

“Garden centers need to know this, because if you just talk about landscapes being pretty, that’s a value proposition that doesn’t cut it anymore. We have to talk about landscapes being more than pretty,” Hall says. “[IGCs should educate their customers about the] environmental and ecosystem-boosting services provided by gardens, as well as the health and well-being benefits that landscapes provide.”

To say that putting plants into a front or back yard will automatically boost a property’s perceived value isn’t accurate, however. It’s fairer to say that a garden or landscape is an asset that must be maintained and updated in order to hold its value. Just like the fixtures, paint and the interior design of a house, gardens and patios are subject to changing trends, fashion sensibilities and upkeep standards. Hall says this is something else that should be made clear to IGC customers looking to improve their home resale prospects.

“There are diminishing marginal returns over time,” he says. “Once you install a landscape, it appreciates in value up to a point, but then it gets overgrown and needs to be renovated and so forth. There’s still a demand for landscape services and lawn and garden products after [customers] put in the landscape because [they’ve] got to continue its maintenance and updating it and so forth. It’s no different than furniture and paint and so forth in the interior. You have to maintain that and keep it up-to-date.”

People buy plants and outdoor décor for a multitude of reasons, whether they’re simply trying to beautify their house or they’re sprucing it up before putting it on the market. To appeal to this diverse array of gardeners, it’s crucial to use any available research data to promote the many different strengths and facets of your products.

Once planted, gardens and landscapes become assets that must be maintained and kept up-to-date.
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Applying the data

Your most loyal customers likely don’t need to be persuaded of the benefits of gardening — they’re already enamored with the simple joys of planting, cultivating and basking in the presence of their home gardens and landscapes.

Other consumers in the market for plants, however, may require some more convincing. Whether they’re experienced gardeners or not, these shoppers may be basing their purchases on what else they can get out of the hobby; health benefits, environmental effects, the utility and convenience of home-grown edibles, and/or the increase in perceived home resale value that a quality garden can provide.

Several retail garden centers use the economic benefits of plants to promote their products. On its website, the Great Big Greenhouse & Meadows Farms Nurseries in Richmond, Va., promotes the potential energy-saving and environmental advantages of trees, landscapes and other ornamentals.

“In a windy site, a windbreak or shelterbelt planting can account for up to 50 percent wind reduction with a 20 to 40 percent reduction in heating fuel consumption,” the website reads. “Well-placed trees and shrubs can also help cut air conditioning costs. Trees, shrubs, ground covers and grass affect solar radiation more than structural devices, such as awnings.

“Deciduous plants drop their leaves in winter and have the advantage of allowing sun to reach buildings in the winter for warmth, yet providing shade during the summer.”

Schulte’s Greenhouse & Nursery in St. Michael, Minn., also expounds the environmental, well-being and financial benefits of gardening and landscaping on its website.

“A garden/landscaping design can be considered an investment for the future,” the Schulte’s website reads. “A tastefully designed yard can add ‘curb-appeal’ to your house and in turn, increase the overall value of one’s home. Besides adding monetary value, a garden can help one sell a house faster than the average homeowner.”

Industry associations and advocacy groups are also recognizing and spreading word of the many benefits of plants, including those of a monetary nature. Plant Something, a national campaign to promote public support of local growers, nurseries, garden centers and landscapers, uses its website to bring awareness to these benefits.

“Plant something around your home, and the increase in your property value is estimated to be as much as 15 percent,” Plant Something’s website reads. “Attractive landscaping can hide an unsightly fence or transform a barren view, and it can create a more beautiful living space for buyers, neighbors, and your family. (And, if you own a business, you’ll attract more customers.) It doesn’t require a big investment or elaborate landscaping — you can improve your curb appeal just by adding a shrub or a few potted plants. Landscaping improves curb appeal, adds value to your home, and provides a beautiful sanctuary that you can be proud of.”