The old Real Estate Values Story

Okay Landscape professionals, tell me what’s wrong with this story.

Also note we have heard about this value thing before, and I don’t see how this is news. Unless old news is now new news.

The story is pulled from the online edition of Lawn & Landscape. I might add that there is a lot of good info and real news for the site and the magazine which makes this story even more puzzling.

Three years ago, when Lisa and Lance Strawn bought a home in Franklin, Tenn., their landscaping consisted of the standard “shrub it up” builder’s package of two trees and bunches of big bushes.

“But it didn’t look like anyone had done any planning,” Lisa Strawn says. “And most of the bushes were hollies, which hurt if you cut them because they’re so prickly.”

The couple lived with their less-than-desirable shrubbery until July, when a desperate attempt at pruning made things worse.

Armed with a shovel, a chain saw and an ax, Lance Strawn wrestled the offending foliage out of the ground. In its place they opted for smaller evergreen plants, lava-rock mulch and ornamental grasses.

The Strawns’ decision to rip out their landscaping and start over isn’t as drastic as it sounds and may provide a modest hedge against declining home values, says Jim Lapides, a spokesman for the American Society of Landscape Architects.

“Whatever you plant isn’t going to lose value whether you sell your home in five years or 20,” he says. “Unlike a traditional remodeling project that begins to lose value because it’s no longer new, plants are always literally growing in value.”

In fact, says Alex Niemiera, an associate professor of horticulture at Virginia Tech University, a more sophisticated landscaping plan can increase a home’s value an average of 10 to 12 percent. He cites two studies that looked at people’s perceptions about plant size, diversity of plant and design sophistication.

Because homebuyers place a greater value on established perennials than annuals, Lapides says, it’s important for homeowners to plan to get things growing, especially if they don’t expect to stay long. Distinctive landscaping is also key.

“If you have the only house on the street without a deck, install a deck,” Lapides says. “But with landscaping, the opposite is true and it has to go above and beyond to really stand out.”

In some cases, that means starting over.

“Builders tend to shrub it up, which is OK,” he says. “But that doesn’t stand out or necessarily stand the test of time.”

Okay did you see it? It’s one of my bigger pet peeves, and it drives me nuts. There are some other things that got me wiggling. I’m curious to hear what others think. Link to online story.

For longtime readers you know it is very rare for me to post an entire story but I needed to show the entire context so we could evaluate the story and wonder why the same old thing keeps getting into the news.

Comment away.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Rick,

    It’s obvious. The “Landscape Professionals” referred to in the article are really just shrub peddlers.

    If more and older plants have higher value, the Strawn’s should have kept the original plants.

    “shovel, a chain saw and an ax” are all traditional landscape pruing tools of the trade:)

    “plants are always literally growing in value”….so why tear out the old ones?

    “increase a home’s value an average of 10 to 12 percent”…. Is this landscape pro a realestate pro also?

    There are many other reasons to hire a true landscape pro. Some of which will contribute to $value, many of which will contribute to values of the “heart”.

    I agree, the best designers find ways to use some of the older stuff with character, rather than rip and start completely over. Using some of the old requires some design thought . . . so of thes guys don’t want to do that.

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