Landscapes & Home Investment

Landscapes & Home Investment

Buying or selling a home?

Landscaping contributes to your home’s worth, as well as your family’s well-being. Your yard is the first impression of your home that potential buyers will see. Beautiful landscaping can increase home value by as much as 17 percent.

In a rush to save water, especially in drier areas, many damaging programs have been introduced encouraging people to “rip out” their lawns, replace living landscapes with rocks, mulch, cactus or artificial turf (“plastic grass”). Some homeowners have even been subjected to drought-shaming for maintaining their yards. While these efforts may be well-intentioned, they dramatically undermine one of our most fundamental and important ecological systems: the all-American yard.

If you want to get the highest possible selling price for your home, make sure your REALTOR® understands the benefits of your living landscapes so he or she can promote them with buyer’s agents who show your home.

How Your Living Landscape Benefits the Environment & Your Health

REDUCES ENERGY COSTS. Planting the right gtass, trees and plants makes your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE. Without grass and other living plants, your outdoor dining area, barbecue, fire pit and other outdoor living areas will be hotter and less enjoyable. Plus, green space reduces stress and makes kids smarter. 0

PRODUCES OXYGEN. Just 50 square feet of turfgrass produces enough oxygen to meet the daily needs of a family of four.

REDUCES RUNOFF. Grassy areas mitigate storm water runoff, slowing and absorbing it, while also cleansing water of impurities and dust.

SEQUESTERS CARBON. Turfgrass is the biggest carbon sink in the country, and lawns sequester more carbon than it takes to maintain them.

PROTECTS TREES. If you stop watering your yard, your trees don’t get water either, leading them to dry out and become vulnerable to disease and pests. Losing mature trees not only hurts the urban ecosystem, it also can cause local temperatures to rise and home values to drop.

For More information:

Fact sheet: Living Landscapes Worth Homeowner’s Time & Effort

Fact sheet: The Benefits of Living Landscapes Beyond Curb Appeal

Infographic: Beyond Curb Appeal: Why Living Landscapes Matter for Homeowners

Living Landscape New Year’s Resolutions for Realtors & Sellers

Living Landscape New Year’s Resolutions for Realtors & Sellers

Even though the real estate business traditionally slows down at this time of year, the turn of the New Year is a great time for Realtors to encourage clients to plan yard and garden projects that will have buyers swooning in the spring.

The living landscape at a seller’s property is a significant asset that increases property value, promotes outdoor living, contributes to family and community health, supports wildlife, and provides recreation and a home playground for family and pets.

Realtors who want to help their sellers get ahead for spring should meet with their clients now to help them map out yard improvements that can boost curb appeal and attract the right buyer. Here are some things to consider from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

Be An Outsider: Spruce Up Your Outdoor Play & Living Rooms

  • Sketch the current yard and green spaces.
    Creating a sketch of the current yard that includes existing trees, bushes, structures and flower and gardening beds to help identify what needs to change and what is currently working in the family yard.
  • Visualize buyers in the space.
    What are the activities a target buyer will want to envision themselves doing in the family yard? Dining outdoors? Entertaining in warmer weather? Having a space for quiet reflection after work? A pet or child play zone to encourage more time outside?
  • Develop improvement and maintenance goals.
    List the play and work areas that will make your target buyer’s dreams a reality. What would enhance this space for family? What needs to be done in the yard to create a safe and welcoming place for family gatherings and for kids and pets to play? Enhanced landscaping, play structures, and areas for specific activities, such as patios, decks, outdoor kitchens and fire pits, need to be identified.
  • Determine which plants are best for the climate.
    Selecting the right plants, trees and shrubs for the climate zone will keep maintenance to a minimum for the new owners – a selling feature on your listing write-up! It also maximizes benefits to the environment, our pollinator friends, migrating birds and other wildlife. Check out the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map to determine which plants are most suitable for your area. Doing this now will make shopping at the local nursery more productive come spring.
  • Conduct a nature inventory.
    Wildlife in the yard creates a serene setting for potential buyers. So consider these critters when planning the space. What migrating birds fly overhead? What butterflies and other wildlife stop by in your neighborhood and yard? These important members of our ecosystem need places to rest and recharge and find food. Identify plants, trees and shrubs that will attract and provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Map out a timeline and plan for your yard.
    Have your sellers mark the areas where improvements and maintenance are needed, and where they might need more landscaping. Develop a timeline, based on the property needs, the climate zone and weather to identify when certain tasks should be completed. There are better times to plant than others, depending on location and goals.
  • Take stock of lawn and landscape tools.
    Don’t wait until an ice or snowstorm hits to tend to the trees in your yard. Prune your plants, trees and shrubs now for a tidy look that will also keep branches from snapping off due to snow and ice.
  • Organize the garage
    Does your client’s outdoor power equipment need to be serviced before the spring season? Or maybe they have recently moved to a home with a yard and need to purchase a lawnmower, trimmer, edger, leaf blower or other equipment. Now’s a good time to take stock of the equipment and tools so your clients will be ready for seasonal changes.
  • Decide if you need professional assistance.
    If professional assistance is required, now is the time to line up consultants and obtain bids. This will put your seller ahead of the spring rush.

For more tips, go to

Winter Curb Appeal Checklist

Winter Curb Appeal Checklist

Creating curb appeal is important in real estate and can increase value by as much as 17%. But it can be challenging to achieve in the cold weather months.

Here is a list of to-dos from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) that can help sellers create a good first impression, even when the temperatures drop.

Creating Curb Appeal in the Winter Months

  • Focus on safety
    Make sure buyers can safely get into your home by keeping the walkways, stairs and driveway clear of snow, ice and wet, slippery leaves.
  • Showcase winter plants
    Utilize evergreen and cold weather plants like holly, pansies and witch hazel in patio pots and flower beds to add life to the landscape. A live wintergreen wreath is also a nice touch.
  • With decorations, less is more
    When decorating for the holidays, keep it simple and elegant. (Save the inflatable snowman for your new home!)
  • Give the lawn some love
    Keep leaves and debris cleared off the lawn. A carpet of dormant grass gives a better impression (and hint of what’s to come in spring) than dead leaves and twigs.
  • Clean gutters
    Clean gutters and downspouts signal to potential buyers that your home is well-maintained.
  • Utilize outdoor lighting
    Showcase your home on short, grey days with strategically placed outdoor lighting to light up the driveway, pathways and front porch.
  • Prune shrubs & trees
    Don’t wait until an ice or snowstorm hits to tend to the trees in your yard. Prune your plants, trees and shrubs now for a tidy look that will also keep branches from snapping off due to snow and ice.
  • Organize the garage
    Store your outdoor power equipment neatly in the garage, declutter the space and give it a good clean. A tidy garage looks bigger and more inviting.
  • Add birdfeeders
    Create a natural, serene scene (and support pollinators at the same time) by installing a bird feeder or bird garden. A blue jay or cardinal makes a striking image against a winter scene.

For more tips, go to

Do This Fall Yard Work and Reap Springtime Benefits

Do This Fall Yard Work and Reap Springtime Benefits

Don’t believe your family yards needs attention in the fall? Autumn is no time to ignore your lawn and landscape.

“What you do now will determine the quality of your family yard next spring and summer,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

“People know to plant flower bulbs in the fall, but this time of year is perfect for mowing, mulching, aerating, trimming and patching your yard,” said Kiser. “After all, your living landscape does a lot for you. It produces oxygen, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters and captures runoff, improves air quality, controls erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide, and supports biodiversity. You benefit when your yard is in top shape.”

OPEI offers the following tips to make sure your yard is ready for relaxing and fun outdoor activities next year.

  • Keep mowing. Grass still needs regular care to stay healthy. Grass that is too high may attract lawn-damaging field mice. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass, so less leaf will turn brown in the winter. However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the season.
  • Aerate your lawn. Compressed soil hurts grass health. Aerating punches holes into the soil and lets oxygen, water and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.
  • Mulch your leaves. Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.
  • Trim and shore up trees and bushes. Use trimmers, chainsaws or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines, and not in danger of falling on a structure in winter weather. You may need to tie or brace limbs of upright evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard to reach spots.
  • Repair bald spots. Fall is a great time to patch bald or thin spots in a lawn. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture (found at most garden shops and home centers). Use a garden rake or de-thatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.

Kiser also said it is important to follow safety procedures whenever using outdoor power equipment.

“Read your owner’s manual,” he added. “It will describe the individual requirements for your particular machine, and will provide directions on which fuels may be appropriate for your product. You may begin to see fuels higher than 10% ethanol being offered soon, so, remember ‘look before you pump.’” Fuels containing more than 10% ethanol — such as E15 (15% ethanol) — should not be used in outdoor power equipment unless directed in the owner’s manual. Most gas-fueled outdoor power equipment is warranted and designed to run on E10 (10% ethanol) fuel or less.

“And, drain fuel tanks before storing equipment for the winter,” he said. “Fuel more than 30 days old isn’t good for machines. Also service and winterize your lawn mower, string trimmer, leaf blower, and other outdoor power equipment before storing so it’s ready to get jobs done.”

For information on safe fueling go to For tips on outdoor power equipment safety, go to

5 Staging Tips For The Outdoor Living Room

5 Staging Tips For The Outdoor Living Room

It isn’t always obvious to buyers how the spaces in a home are intended to be utilized. Solid staging can help, but there’s good reason to take the extra steps to stage the outdoor “living room,” as well.

Outdoor spaces are quickly becoming one of the most coveted home features for buyers. They expand living space without expensive renovations, offer a relaxing respite from everyday stress, provide a safe place for kids and pets to play, and create an oasis for entertaining guests.

5 ways to stage the outdoor living room

  • Declutter & Clean
    Just as with indoor staging, the first step to sprucing up the outdoor living room is to clear dirt and clutter from the space. Store lawn equipment, children’s toys, and pet play things in a shed or garage. Have clients stash lawn ornaments and yard art, especially anything that is personalized. (After all, the goal is to get buyers to envision themselves in the space.) Thin out furniture and patio accessories to make the space look larger. Finally, give the entire area a good scrub down, sweeping away dust and debris to create a fresh, clean canvas.
  • Invite the Outdoors In
    Blending interior and outdoor living spaces helps the exterior area feel like an extension of the home, not an afterthought. Ensure blinds and curtains are open to the family yard, highlighting the outdoor oasis before the potential buyer even steps through the backdoor. If the weather is nice during a showing, leave sliding patio or French doors open to illustrate just the space’s seamlessness. Finally, ensure the indoor and outdoor décor complement one another by working with your client to utilize similar colors, materials and styles both inside and out.
  • Create Cozy Sitting Areas
    Help your clients arrange their outdoor furniture in a way that invites buyers to sit down and envision themselves enjoying the seller’s backyard. Leave a cold pitcher of iced tea or fresh-squeezed lemonade on the outdoor dining table for this very purpose. Create easy traffic flow throughout the outdoor living room, while offering a number of places for people to sit – at a table, around a fire pit, or in a cozy chair configuration. Also, offer some shade by using umbrellas or outdoor curtains to minimize sun glare and maximize visions of enjoyment in the outdoor living room.
  • Soften the Outdoor Space
    Introducing a few soft design features into the outdoor area to create an inviting atmosphere. Rugs, throw pillows and upholstered patio furniture are a few ways to accomplish a “cozy” feel. Ensure these items are looking fresh and clean and not worn and dated. It’s relatively inexpensive to swap out new pillows and rugs. Create outdoor ambiance by hanging string lighting, introducing a fire pit in the center of a patio, setting up a zen-like water feature, or adding candles, small plants and freshly-cut flowers to tabletops.
  • Utilize Living Landscapes
    Nothing says “welcome home” quite like a beautiful living landscape, complete with flowering shrubs, trees, flowers, and other vegetation. Encourage clients to freshen up their family yard by weeding, mulching and planting flower beds and pots with colorful flowers and verdant plants. Vases of flowers can also help bring life – and a pop of color – to outdoor tablescapes.

For more tips, go to

Beat the Heat: Tips for Creating Curb Appeal in the Summer

Beat the Heat: Tips for Creating Curb Appeal in the Summer

It’s no secret that curb appeal has a big impact on a buyer’s impression of a home. But summer heat and dry conditions can take a toll on the family yard – and the chances of catching a buyer’s eye. Here are some tips to help sellers keep their lawns looking good throughout the summer.


  • Save water for more delicate plantings. Flowering plants may require a little more water during drier conditions. That’s okay since these plants are vital to our birds, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators.
  • Avoid over-watering. Too much water is actually bad for grass, in particular. Overwatering causes the grass roots to grow horizontally, rather than vertically. With less water, the grass has to work harder and will grow its roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. This helps it do a better job of trapping carbon and releasing oxygen.
  • Know when to water. Most lawns require about an inch of water per week to stay healthy. Water deeply early in the day. Moisture can be more efficiently absorbed by the lawn’s root system during the cooler part of the day.
  • Keep grass and shrubs growing. Trim back shrubs when the temperatures aren’t sky high. Set the mower to trim turfgrass a little bit higher. Longer blades give more shade and grass roots extend deeper into the soil. This helps limit weeds and the lawn retains moisture better. Dense turf requires less water, too.
  • Sharpen mower blades. Dull blades can cause grass to fray, and frayed grass is far more likely to brown. A sharp blade is always important, but it’s critical to lawn care during hot summer months.
  • Practice grasscycling. Instead of bagging grass clippings, encourage sellers to use a mulching mower and return grass clippings back to the lawn. This will help trap moisture, keeping the lawn cooler and better hydrated. It also saves some time and energy for busy sellers!

For more tips, go to

Suggested Social Media Posts

  • DYK? Too much water is bad for grass. Watering less makes the grass work harder, growing its roots deeper into the soil, which improves its ability to trap carbon and release oxygen. #LivingLandscapes #BeyondBeautiful #BackyardReady
  • #CurbAppeal tip! Most lawns require about an inch of water per week to stay healthy. Water deeply, early in the day for a yard that will catch buyers’ attention. #LivingLandscapes #BeyondBeautiful #BackyardReady
  • #CurbAppeal tip! You should trim shrubs when the temps aren’t sky high. #LivingLandscapes #BackyardReady #CurbAppeal #BeyondBeautiful


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