Landscaping advice from a general contractor – Forbes Advisor
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Finding the balance between function and beauty is the result of excellent landscaping. But should landscape excellence break the bank? Not with a little information, it is not. Here’s what our entrepreneur had to say about the things he sees in the field every day, including his thoughts on saving time and money.
Q: What types of landscaping offer the highest resale value?
A: To answer this question, think in terms of return on investment (ROI). For every $ 100 spent to build a new patio, the resale value increases by approximately $ 80. Newly installed ground level terraces have an average return on investment close to or greater than 100%. Compared to the average bathroom remodel which has a ROI of around 50%, decks and patios are great for increasing resale value.
Rehabilitating an existing terrace or patio can generate even higher returns. Housing markets, however, are temperamental. Talk to a real estate agent or market expert before you invest any money in the hope of a return.
Less expensive but effective options include well-organized softscaping. Planting trees, shrubs, and plants improves the appearance of your garden and can increase the selling price of your home.
Q: What’s the biggest landscaping mistake people make?
A: Interfering with water drainage and planting too close to the house aren’t the most common mistakes, but they are the costliest when things go wrong.
Many people love gardening. Shrubs and flowers add beauty to a yard. They can also cause a lot of damage if planted carelessly. Concrete foundations are considered the strongest part of a house. However, this strength can be compromised to failure if the roots of a nearby shrub invade. Water leaks and cracked masonry can be the result, and repairs are expensive.
The worst situation I had to face was an owner who, seeking to create a flat place for the perennials, leveled the slope of the ground which kept the rainwater away from the foundation. In just a few years, the lack of drainage and an overgrown root system had degraded this part of the foundation to the point of being dangerous.
Planting near the foundation is usually not a big deal. Just make sure that the roots of what you’re planting aren’t too aggressive, and that the excess water has a place to go and a road to get there.
Q: Have you ever worked on interior landscaping, and how does that coincide with a home remodel?
A: Although I was never the one to decide which plant goes where, I was responsible for framing spaces designed to contain indoor water features and planting areas. Creating an interior landscape is often a team effort including the owner, a qualified interior designer and a builder.
That said, an architect will need to know all interior landscaping plans, especially if it is water. Get them involved early to save time and money.
Q: What are some landscaping tips and tricks that anyone can do to increase their curb appeal?
A: Anyone can tell you that spending a fortune to hire a designer and landscaper to completely renovate your garden will increase the curb appeal of your sidewalk. Here are some cheaper ideas that may work just as well:
- Keep your garden mowed and weeded
- Cut the grass borders at the walkways
- Prune your shrubs and hedges
- Buried plants and flower boxes are easy and efficient
- Install low voltage or solar walkway lighting
- Pressure washing of walkways and retaining walls from time to time
- Refresh mulch areas by adding new mulch directly over the old one
These things don’t just increase the appeal; they can also increase the resale value. It also gives potential buyers the feeling that if the exterior is well maintained, the interior maintenance is likely to be up to date as well.
Q: What are the absolutely necessary landscaping tools for home owners?
A: The basics are all you need to keep your landscape looking beautiful. A decent lawn mower and trimmer go a long way in making yard work enjoyable rather than feeling like a chore. A grass trimmer for pruning trees and shears for pruning shrubs are essential. Other than that, a few gardening hand tools and a shovel or two are really all you need. Everything else in the shed is primarily for convenience.
Most importantly, you will need a lawn chair to relax and reap the benefits of your hard work.
Q: What do you think is the most often overlooked landscaping task?
A: The most frequently overlooked task can be aeration of the lawn. It takes some effort to accomplish, but it’s worth it. Spending half a day once a year aerating your lawn greatly increases its health. It can save money on unnecessary fertilizer applications by greening the grass naturally. It also conserves water by allowing it to seep into the compacted soil rather than flow out of it. A lawn aerator can be rented from your local home improvement store for about the cost of a bag of grass seeds.
Q: How can people save more money on landscaping?
A: Regular yard maintenance is the best thing you can do to save money on landscaping. Chances are, what’s already in your garden will continue to look great as long as it’s kept clean, pruned, and maintained. Money spent on good tools that make yard work enjoyable, instead of buying expensive exotic plants, will make it much more likely that maintenance will be done and that it will keep looking great.
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