Landscape Science

The Truth About Landscaping Value

stone walkway through a lakefront wooded property adds beauty and functionality

Home Investments

The best home improvements and remodeling projects increase the quality of life for homeowners and offer a return to the value of their property. The trouble is, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), most remodel projects fall short.

These organizations published a report1 on the impact of twenty different interior and exterior remodeling projects. The median return on remodeling projects is around 67%. Only new roofing or hardwood refinishing recoup 100% of the cost – but let’s face it these aren’t top choices by consumers for home enjoyment.


So what about landscaping? These organizations don’t address it, and you’ll find a lot of speculations, but not hard research numbers, to quantify an exact percentage. That isn’t to say there isn’t good research data to predict home value increases, as well as which specific things increase perceived value.

Depending on what you spend and how well the landscaping is executed, you will be looking at a better ROI than most home improvements, and unlike home improvements, your landscape maturity will increase in value over time.

“A good landscape adds 6 to 11% to the perceived value of a home.”2

Research is also focused on what elements in a good landscape are a significant factor in this perceived value.

What Makes a Good Landscape?

A “good” landscape starts with a great design plan. It should match the home’s style and be part of a consistent and sophisticated plan. A great design can also make complex landscape installation easier and more cost effective to maintain. (That’s a win for prospective buyers if you’re looking to sell.)


A sophisticated design considers aesthetics and functional use. The best landscape designs have a plan for both foot and vehicle traffic; a planting plan for trees, shrubs, and groundcover; a construction plan for installation of hardscapes and elements like water features, outdoor kitchens, irrigation/lighting needs, and shoreline protection and beautification on lakefront properties.


A quality landscaping nursery will be able to supply a great mix of deciduous, evergreen and colored annuals/perennials. This mix is a key characteristic provided by researchers. Other important factors include diversification of species and a bias toward larger plant size/maturity.

“[The] Largest affordable plant size should be used, as it consistently provided a higher perceived value in all markets,”3 further, “Michigan respondents did place a higher relative value on plant size than respondents from all other markets.”4


Researchers noted a strong preference for sophisticated designs to include well-done hardscape elements. There are numerous natural and man-made hardscape materials to choose from. Indeed, varied colors, textures, and stone cuts create beautiful driveways, patios, walkways, retaining walls/terraces, custom water features, and shoreline/beach protection.

All In

Plant size and sophisticated design are the clear top two factors of importance, shifting priority depending on the researcher and application. Don’t do it halfway. Low sophistication and small plants can decrease perceived home value. So how much is appropriate to spend?

How Much Should You Spend?

Industry researchers often recommend 10% of a home’s value as a starting point. Sometimes you’ll hear anywhere from 5% up to 20% or more. The key takeaway is to think of a budget in terms of a percentage of your home’s value. We recommend a consultation to see what your needs are and how particular design elements might align with your budget.

Our experienced staff at Drost Landscape can help you with landscape design and installation that will enhance the enjoyment of your home and provide value for years to come.


1 NARI 2017 Remodeling Impact Report

2,3,4Landscape Plant Material, Size, and Design Sophistication Increase Perceived Home Value
B. Behe, J. Hardy, S. Barton, J. Brooker, T. Fernandez, C. Hall, J. Hicks, R. Hinson, P. Knight, R. McNiel, T. Page, B. Rowe, C. Safley, and R. Schutzki
Journal of Environmental Horticulture  2005 23:3, 127-133