Five Landscape Enhancements That Pay Off

Apr 22, 2016
landscaping-improvements-thumbnailLooking for cost-effective ways to make your home more inviting and increase its overall value? As we enjoy the gorgeous spring weather, it’s an opportune time to make landscape improvements that will make our homes more enjoyable places to be while delivering a strong return on investment. According to Investopedia, landscaping design can add up to 20 percent in resale value to your home. Below are five exterior enhancements that rate high in terms of cost versus value, and will go a long way towards improving your home’s curb appeal:

#1 Plant trees
One of the best landscape investments you can make, trees not only enhance the beauty of your home but can also provide shading from the sun in summer and protection from windbreaks during the cold weather. Strategically placed trees can effectively lower your heating bills by 15 percent and reduce your cooling costs by as much as 40-70 percent. Additionally, planting trees helps to decrease global warming and lessen the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Trees also filter groundwater pollutants, prevent erosion and stop storm-water runoff. And as HGTV points out, a mature tree in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a home by 7 to 19 percent.

To save money and time on maintenance, it’s a good idea to include native and/or drought-tolerant trees in your yard. Some excellent choices for Northern California yards are oak trees, California redwoods, and the drought-tolerant Colorado blue spruce which grows to magnificent heights and can live up to 800 years. You may also want to consider the Autumn Purple Ash, an indigenous tree that produces beautiful flowers and grows quickly when it’s young, and the Chinese pistache, which is drought tolerant and has deep green leaves that turn dazzling shades of red and orange in the fall. For a list of drought-tolerant trees that grow well in Northern California, visit

#2 Tidy up your grounds
A low-cost way to quickly improve your landscape is to simply spend some time cleaning up your yard. Prune back overgrown greenery, trim shrubs, and pull weeds before they spread out of control and cause infestations and suck up much-needed nutrients in your garden. Take a rake to your mulch or use gloves to turn it over with your hands to give it a fresh, earthy look. A well-groomed, healthy lawn is also a must in terms of creating curb appeal. To reduce water usage, you may want to consider installing weather-based irrigation controllers (wbic or smart controllers) to replace your standard irrigation timer.

#3 Add a deck
Another landscape feature that delivers stellar results in terms of financial payoff, a deck expands your living and entertaining areas outdoors and can harmonize beautifully with your natural landscape. Costs for a new deck may run about $15,000 to upwards of $47,000 depending on the style, size, features like stairs or built-in seating, and the contractor you use (unless you plan to save money by building it yourself). According to Remodeling magazine, you’re likely to recoup 82.4 percent to 103.6 percent of the money you invest in a deck in San Francisco, depending on materials used and whether you are in a midrange or upscale market. One important fact to note if you plan to add a deck to your home, you’ll need to factor in maintenance costs when choosing your building materials. For example, natural wood wears out quickly, so you may want to consider man-made deck materials such as composites instead. To learn more about the pros and cons of various deck materials, check out This Old House’s article at

#4 Create ambiance with outdoor lighting
An attractive landscape accentuated with soft lighting goes a long way toward making a home appear warm and inviting, and installing outdoor lighting is relatively inexpensive as compared to other landscape renovation projects. Home design and construction professionals generally estimate the total cost to install six lighting fixtures in the average yard from approximately $363 to $787. To access an Outdoor Lighting Installation Cost Calculator, visit the Homewyse website at

#5 Replace exterior doors
Although installing a new front door and garage door are considered to be more exterior improvements than landscape redesign projects, we’ve included them among our top five upgrades because of the dramatic impact they can make on the visual appeal of the outside of your home—and the huge return on investment you can make. In the San Francisco area, a new garage door generally costs you between $2,077 (midrange) and $3,353 (upscale) and has a resell value of $3,433 to $4,736 respectively. That’s a ROI of 165.3 percent and 141.3 percent (source: Remodeling Magazine)!  

Are you ready to get started on a landscape improvement project that will significantly boost your home’s value but need a way to fund it? SF Police Credit Union can help with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). For details and to apply, visit us at

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