The Landscaping Mistake That Can Reduce Your Home's Value by $25,000 (or More)

As kids, we learn two fundamental lessons: 1.) Never judge a book by its cover, and 2.) it's what's on the inside that counts. Yet when it comes to the world of real estate, the rules of the playground do not apply. Perhaps you already knew that curb appeal is the golden egg of home value, and according to a survey of 1,250 real estate agents, poor landscaping and hardscaping can have a detrimental impact on a home's worth. In fact, lackluster landscaping can decrease property value by up to 30 percent, according to the survey. However, the pendulum swings both ways, and there are a few easy fixes to remedy things, fast. (Psst—59 percent of real estate agents say that trees are the landscaping element that adds the most value to a home.)

Don’t get us wrong; slapping on a fresh coat of kitchen paint and adding a wet room can totally increase home resale value. But if you’re looking to get top dollar on your listing, we recommend you ignore everything you’ve been teaching your kids and focus on what really matters: outer beauty. Read on for three ways to combat a neglected lawn and improve your home’s first impression.

The 3 Words on a Real Estate Listing That Can Cause Your Home to Sell for Less (Way Less)

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1. Keep Things Neat And Clean

If we haven’t already made it abundantly clear, a well-maintained front yard is the key to drawing in prospective buyers. “When they observe a neglected lawn, or a home without any additional curb appeal, potential buyers immediately get the idea that the home was not well-maintained. They set a value of the home in their mind based on that, and it’s usually not a good price,” Kimo Quance, owner of the Kimo Quance Group in Santee, Calif., told “On the other hand, a neat, clean lawn puts the buyer’s mind at ease.” Think: clean-cut grass, freshly laid mulch and evenly manicured hedges and shrubs. And please, for the love of God, get rid of anything that’s rusty, chipped or weathered. Vintage furniture might be trending, but rusted, tetanus-inducing patio sets are not.

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2. Add Trees, Grass And Flowers

So, you’ve cleared everything out…now what? The next step is bringing in some greenery, and according to the survey, the landscaping elements that add the most value include grass, trees and flowers. David North, a real estate broker in Redmond, Wash., explains: “a tree is one of the most natural and interesting ways to add color, texture and contrast to any home’s yard…The natural beauty of a tree can be especially powerful when it distinguishes one property from others, whether by different shape, color or size.”

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3. Upgrade The Hardscaping

If 2021’s social front yard trend has taught us anything, it’s that replacing a water-hungry lawn with a permeable hardscape or groundcover is more appealing than ever. And, for those who don’t know, upgraded hardscaping—which refers to all of the structural or decorative elements of an outdoor design—is one of the top priorities for potential buyers. In the survey, real estate agents recommend increasing your home’s ROI by adding or improving decks (58 percent recommended this), driveways (54 percent), and an outdoor kitchen (47 percent).

“Today’s homebuyer expects the home they purchase to be move-in ready and prefers not to have to do any work,” says Chicago-based real estate investor and developer Bill Samuel. “Exterior hardscape upgrades that allow for outdoor entertaining are becoming even more desirable, as most homeowners prefer to entertain at home and outdoors during the pandemic.”

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Associate Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Associate Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...