522 Cost Analysis and Perceived Value of Selected Landscape Features

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  • 1Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824; 2Dept. of Plant and Soil Science, Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717; 3Dept. of Marketing, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824

For most residential home improvements, excluding landscapes, professionals can document return on investment. Our objective was to compare costs of installing landscapes with perceived home value, and determine return on investment. We administered surveys in eight selected U.S. cities in 1999. Self-selected participants from home and garden shows were asked to examine a photograph of a home without landscaping (base home), and were given its value estimated by local realtors. Participants were asked to view 16 additional photographs of the base home with different landscapes. Cost estimates for landscape materials and installation were calculated. Results showed that a sophisticated landscape with large and diverse plant material added up to 13% to the perceived value of a new $200,000 home. On average, any level of landscaping added value to the home. The increase in perceived value as a percentage of project cost was greatest for simple designs with small evergreen plant material. Complicated designs that included hardscapes and large, diverse plant material returned the least. In general, we found that return on investment for landscaping is comparable to the returns gained on several major home improvements, yet differed with respect to geographic region. We found that colored hardscape, developed from a red brick paver walkway, returned less than color from flowering annuals. Return on investment was greatest for annual plants added for color.

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