As the weather warms, weekends get busier around the house, and the planning of major home improvement projects picks up speed. The main question becomes, "Which budget-denting project needs doing first?" Perhaps the query should be, "Which do-it-yourself tasks will offer the best return for our hard-earned money?" Should it be something that needs redoing every decade, or something that looks better ten years later? At the top of that short list: a well-designed landscape, which can give you back 100% of your investment when you sell your house.
Think of landscaping as an annuity or an investment in your future," says Sacramento-based landscape designer Michael Glassman, whose work is featured prominently in the new book by Maureen Gilmer, "Gaining Ground."
"When you buy a house, you might paint, buy new furniture, install new carpet or put in new tile. You could be spending over $25,000, which is more than a landscaping project," says Glassman. "Yet, seven or ten years down the line, because of interior wear and tear, you may do all that again. But a well-designed landscape will increase in value. Landscaping can also help sell the house. A new patio ages over the years, giving it a wonderful look. Twigs become big shade trees. Small shrubs become larger, filling in the yard."
And to save money on a well-designed landscape, consider doing the work yourself, which could save you as much as 60% of the cost if done by outside contractors. An effective way to do this: hire someone to draw up a landscape plan, at a cost of a few hundred dollars. Then, you gradually do the installation, as time and money permit. "If you are the least bit handy, or can barter for services, you are going to save money," advises Glassman.