You’ve heard by now that even simple acts like sprinkling wood chips neatly around your existing outdoor landscaping can add instant value and curb appeal to your home, especially when you are in the process of listing and selling your home.
But what if you’re planning on staying put for a while? When investing in exterior landscaping, as with interior upgrades like a kitchen or a bath, always keep in the back of your mind when you may or may not see a return on your investment (ROI). If your investment choices are simply for the ongoing enjoyment of your home, that’s wonderful. But if you are hoping to recoup the cost of landscaping, bear in mind that things like hardscapes may last, but vegetation may not, and that larger plants and trees tend to increase in value over time.
So when should you DIY it with some bags of wood chips, and when do you need to bring in the pros? Is there a secret formula? A magic sauce? What’s the ROI of various stages of outdoor landscaping…how do you know when you’ll recoup your money and by how much?


The fact is, a good first impression translates into higher perceived value, which translates into real life ROI. And if you follow some basic landscape design principles like balance, repetition, focal points, contrast and rhythm, you should generally be okay. If this immediately sounds out of your scope or realm, then you may want to call in a professional.
A study from the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension found that investment in landscaping can increase value by 5-12%, depending on location and the intricacy of the design (curved pathways, integrated stonework, large trees, etc.).
Some sources suggest spending more, even up to 20% of your home’s value in not just softscaping (plantings) but hardscaping and structural investments like ponds, paths, fences, lighting, outdoor living spaces, pools and yes, fire pits. A study often cited by Better Homes & Gardens suggested that you can increase your home’s value 5-15% by spending 5-15% of your home’s current
value on landscape upgrades and maintenance.
So while 5-15% of your home’s value has become a rough guideline based on averages, more expensive homes have greater potential to increase in value from well-designed and well-installed landscape upgrades, according to the publisher.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends investing 10% of your home’s value in landscaping, which quickly adds up to a lot of money, especially for higher priced homes.
To get the inside scoop on landscape investment success, we turned to our Nest agents, who have facilitated countless transactions throughout the nation. We wanted to know what they’ve invested in their own landscaping. More than 43% of Nest agents across regions have invested up to $5,000 in landscaping to their own homes since closing, and almost 14% of agents have invested $10,000 or more. 42% of Nesters wish their yard was higher performing (with a bee hive, garden, edible native plants); and almost 19% employ a mix of xeriscaping, grass, turf, and other creative landscaping.
So what’s right for you? The answer is, it depends. Check with your local Nest agent to discuss your local market conditions and your home’s particulars. If you are planning on selling soon, putting $500-$1,000 into your home’s exterior can improve curb appeal enough to entice buyers or close a deal.


At the end of the day, you have to do what you can afford and what will bring you the most satisfaction, whether that is the highest immediate sale price for your home, or a zen garden to wait out a pandemic. But knowing these averages and best practices will set you down the path to making the right decision for you and your household. Set a budget, stick with it, and enjoy!
We shared this Landscaping Investment article with you in the Spring/Sumer 2022 issue of NEST Magazine. To view the full issue, click here.

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