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Measuring the true cost of landscaping

The cost of landscaping always seems to shock homeowners. Somehow people relate the cost of landscaping to the cost of gardening and are surprised to find out that decks and wood cost more than plants…not to mention the labour involved to install them. In speaking to several industry professionals, the average backyard renovation starts at around $20,000 with some projects crossing the million-dollar mark. With such a huge range, how do you know how much your outdoor renovations should cost and how much should you really be investing in your home?

One of the biggest mistakes that a client makes is to envision what they want in the yard BEFORE they really set the budget. When I meet with a client, I start by asking what the approximate value of the home is. If you set your budgets based on percentages of your total home’s worth, than you know that you plans will stay in-line with property values in your neighbourhood.

Front yards have been getting more attention by realtors and housing experts because of first-impression numbers. Several online sources place the value of curb appeal and a home’s first impression between 5-8% of the home’s worth. Items like shade trees and front walkways contribute to higher returns, as do front porches and sitting areas. While plants and gardens are important to the overall appeal, too many flowers in the front yard intimidate buyers looking for low-maintenance homes. As my general rule, I try to keep the front yard landscaping at 7% of a homeowners renovation budget. That number does not include the driveway even though it may be at the front of your home.

Backyards tend to be more about function than a front yard renovation. Good design can offset the shortfalls from the inside of the home with outdoor elements that meet the same need. For example, if a home has a small kitchen, adding an outdoor version with a barbecue or a smoker is a smart investment because it partially addresses buyers concern when they see the inside space. Having a good deck or patio in your backyard that provides lots of living space can increase your home’s value by up to 12% (Century21, Canada).

You also need to consider the return-on-investment for your outdoor renovation. According to ‘Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost-vs Value Report’ a kitchen renovation has an expected return of 79% if you sell the home within 5 years of the completion of the work. After 5 years, that number steadily drops as styles change. A simple wood deck has an expected return of 81% for the life of the deck, which averages 8-10 years in Canada.

As you plan your spring projects this year, budget your dollars accordingly. I always tell homeowners to set aside about 20% of their renovation budget for the outdoors. This may seem like a lot, but with all of the housing market numbers showing big returns in landscaping, you can renovate knowing that you money is being spent wisely.


Author: Carson Arthur

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