A patio or a pergola? Choose carefully—the right landscaping ideas can make your home more valuable

By Lauren Phillips
Updated April 12, 2019
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Landscape design ideas can turn a home from nondescript to absolutely alluring with just a few smart tweaks. (Following lawn care tips can help, too.) It doesn’t hurt that landscaping ideas brought to life make up the all-important first impression of any home, but even backyard landscaping ideas can be valuable—literally. The right landscaping ideas and projects (like any home improvement project) can actually make your home worth more while increasing your satisfaction with the space as you enjoy it before you sell it.

The tricky part is picking the value-adding landscaping ideas from the not-so valuable ones. Houses with pools, for example, don’t always get the return on investment one might expect. But a new analysis from real estate platform Zillow identifies the home improvement projects that can help a home get a higher price at sale time, effectively increasing their value, and several outdoor projects were on the list—including some surprising ones.

Home remodeling costs aren’t cheap, and savvy homeowners looking to protect their investments in their home will want to make sure their projects and landscaping ideas do something to improve the home’s worth to potential buyers, even if selling it is a long time away. Zillow’s analysis identified terms that were used in listings for properties that eventually sold for more than their asking price, so the science certainly isn’t perfect, as most homes likely had a number of factors that contributed to their higher-than-expected sale prices. Still, linking some terms to more valuable homes can help highlight what kinds of projects homeowners might want to do—just don’t expect a backyard overhaul to magically sell a home for far more than expected.

At the top of Zillow’s list was an outdoor kitchen: Homes with outdoor kitchens mentioned in their listings sold for 24.5 percent above asking price. On a $300,000 home, that’s tens of thousands of dollars—maybe even enough for the outdoor kitchen to pay for itself. Next (in order of how much value they added, in proportion to homes’ asking prices) were solar panels, outdoor lighting, an outdoor fireplace or pit, and a rooftop deck or balcony. All were featured in homes that sold for more than 15 percent above ask price—still a huge boost for home sellers. Other landscaping ideas that increased home value to a lesser extent were fire pits, hot tubs, picket fences, and pergolas.

As people are spending more time outdoors, brushing up on spring lawn care tips, and thinking about what landscaping ideas might help them love their homes even more, keeping these projects in mind could help them make smarter decisions that will pay off—literally—in the long run. Until it’s time to sell a home and move on, though, these landscaping updates can definitely make for a more comfortable outdoor space.