Smart Money Magazine - March 2003 issue on the front cover highlights landscaping your home for big returns. They give the lowdown on how to boost the value of your home by...... LANDSCAPING! According to Walt McDonald, president of the National Association Of Realtors "When people ask me how they can get interest in their property, I always tell them to fix up their landscaping. If a homeowner is reluctant to do it, I tell them they won't get top dollar."

According to Smart Money there are 4 projects you can do to increase the value of your home:

  1. CURB APPEAL: For selling purposes stick to the front before you do anything else. Cleanup , fix up and redo the front. Then get serious with brick walkways staying away from the straight paths that take you on a "garage walk". Lighting and arbors are also a plus.
  2. YEAR ROUND YARD: This takes planning to give your yard year round appeal. It can be done with some thought. Everyone wants something in bloom during the season but what about winter? Colored stems in shrubbery, grasses, strategic lighting on grasses and trees help in the winter also. Grasses are the one thing in my own landscape I enjoy the most during winter. Their beauty is unsurpassed after an ice storm and the snow and wind give enjoyment all winter. Trees placed properly can cool with their canopies in summer or evergreens add heat to your home by blocking north westerly winds in winter. Giving your home the "winter edge" over other drab homes in the neighborhood. Over planting can be a turnoff giving the perception of too much maintenance. Clemson University and University of Michigan claim in a study that consumers value a landscaped home 11.3% higher than its base price. Now that's not coming from a landscaper or realtor!
  3. THE SANCTUARY: If you want to move on after the front it's time to concentrate on the the back yard creating a sanctuary. I chuckled when I read Smart Money's use of the term "sanctuary" as this is what we call our backyard. From the day we bought our home 14 years ago our long term plan was to create a backyard sanctuary where we could come and retreat from the rest of the world. According to Smart Money water fountains or ponds are key in creating a sanctuary. A seating area is crucial to viewing your sanctuary. Any type of seating, benches built into a deck or benches in the yard for strategic viewing of the pond and other prominent features in the garden. Lighting for nighttime viewing. Many people leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark. Lighting gives all night pleasure to the garden and pond. Pathways, hedges or other hardscape structures to separate your sanctuary from the street are a must. There are no better examples of this than in New Orleans with the many courtyard gardens that are hidden from the hustle and bustle of the street. Small ,lush, almost tropical enclosed gardens that the passerby doesn't even know exists. That's what I think of when I think of "sanctuary".
  4. BRINGING THE INSIDE OUT: Extend your living space to outdoors. Deck kitchens are the rage now, outdoor fire pits ( stay away from permanent ones) that move with your mood. An example of an outdoor room would include a deck with seating which has a 76% return on it versus an indoor sunroom at only 60% return (according to Remodeling Magazine), a  fire pit, for on the deck weenie roasts since many towns outlaw open fires, a grill, a gazebo and a hot tub. From experience our family does not eat indoors as long as weather permits May thru September. The pond and patio area are utilized all year. Want to know where your kids are? To get  your kids to entertain their friends at your house add some of these things to your backyard. That's the problem with these 4 hints on making your home more sellable, you may not want to leave.

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