By Valerie Finholm
Hartford, CT (August 17, 2008)- The towering trees that shade your yard add more than beauty. They can increase the value of your home. Two national surveys conducted in 2007 by the University of Washington and the National Gardening Association found that healthy, mature trees increase the value of a house by 7 percent to 19 percent. The highest increases were found in higher-income, well-treed neighborhoods.
And while a lush lawn and flowerbeds are nice, without trees, they don’t add anything to the value of a home, the studies found. The findings don’t surprise Avon-based real estate agent Carol Cole, who says tall trees on a nicely landscaped property “put money into a homeowner’s pocket.” “I’ve had buyers a number of times who have said to me, ‘Do not show me any neighborhoods, subdivisions, where they clear-cut the trees,'” Cole said.
“People tell us they want trees and privacy behind,” said Pat Vredevoogd Combs, immediate past president of the National Realtors Association.
Combs says trees provide the ultimate in “curb appeal”- that first impression buyers get of a house before they even walk inside. “Buying a house is psychological. The very first look, the first impression, is the impression you stay with,” Combs said. “A well-maintained yard gives the impression that the inside of the home is cared for as well.”
Houses with mature, healthy trees not only sell for more than similar houses without them; they sell more quickly, she said. Even if the interior of a home is wonderful, if the landscaping is “awful, non-existent or overgrown,” the property tends to sell for less and linger on the market, Combs said. Combs recalled one client who, after a real estate agent had shrubs trimmed and dead trees removed from the property, decided to stay in the house instead of selling it. “It changed the whole look of the house,” she said.?
Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist and columnist for the National Gardening Association, said many new homeowners neglect landscaping in favor of spending on improvements indoors such as kitchen and bathroom renovations. “With housing values dropping in many areas of the country, having a beautiful landscape could make the difference between breaking even and making some money on the sale of your home,” he says.
For homeowners who buy bare-lot houses, Nardozzi said it is important to start on a landscape right away- and do it right- since it takes about five years for trees and bushes to mature. Nardozzi and other experts advise that homeowners hire a professional landscaper for the best results. A landscaper will sketch out a plan for a yard that includes “hardscaping”- rock walks, patios and walls- as well as trees and shrubs. Landscaping can be expensive- the cost can be as much as 10 percent of the value of a house. Homeowners short on cash can spread the work out by having a quarter of it done each year, Nardozzi suggests.
Bob Ricard, an educator in urban forestry with the University of Connecticut’s Cooperative Extension service, said it is important that people do their homework before hiring a landscaper. He said it is important to get references and pictures of work landscapers have done. “There are a plethora of poor landscapers out there,” he said.
A less expensive option is to work with a local gardening center that has a designer on staff. Robert Powell, owner of Gledhill Nursery in West Hartford and the company’s designer, said it costs about $400 to have him come to a home and sketch out a design for the average front yard. At his nursery, he shows homeowners examples of the plants he has recommended.
Without guidance do-it-yourself novices risk putting the wrong plant in the wrong place. That “cute” evergreen purchased on sale might grow up to cover the windows of a house. An exotic ornamental tree that is not native to the area may not survive a New England winter. “Some people come out here and buy a few little plants to go by the side of the door. In a couple of years they’re back and saying, ‘Help. They’re over the roof,” Powell said.
Trees That Thrive
Darryl Newman, sales manager at Planter’s Choice, a wholesale nursery in Newtown, said different trees thrive in different places, depending on the soil, the amount of sun and how close to a road they are planted. He says that New England favorites – pin oak, red maple and linden trees- “are extremely reliable and relatively carefree” when planted in the right place.
Trees planted near a street must be hearty enough to withstand dirty air and being splashed with salty drainage water. Some street trees recommended by experts include honey locust and oak. Poor choices include flowering dogwood, white pine and silver maple. Some of these trees, such as the silver maple, are fast-growing, but because of this, their branches tend to be weak and more likely to break in a snowstorm or windstorm. Homeowners looking for a faster growing tree should consider the Autumn Blaze Maple, Newman said.
He suggests buying a tree that is 8 to 10 feet high, because at that point trees have established branches. After three years, trees should be trimmed by a trained arborist, he said, to thin out the tree and assure that branches grow correctly as the tree matures. When a tree is selected by a homeowner and planted in the proper way, “within five years, expect a foot of growth a year,” Newman said.
For the full article, visit the Hartford Courant- Trees A Key In Home Sales.