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Karl J. Muzii, M. Haque, R.T. Fernandez, B. Behe, and S. Barton

The research contained in this thesis quantifies the difference between actual landscape value and perceived value on the part of homeowners. Pertinent information and necessary data were gathered by surveys interviewing consumers over the age of 18, who evaluated a set of 16 home landscape photographs. These surveys were conducted at two sites in South Carolina. The study involved three levels of landscape design with varying complexity and cost factors. Four plant material and hardscape combinations were developed for use in each cost design. Finally, the plant material size was categorized as small, medium, or large. Thirty-six design combinations were created. A subset of 16 computer-generated images was selected to simplify the evaluation. Participating respondents answered a questionnaire providing personal demographic information and their evaluations of the 16-image subset. Participants were supplied a base starting price and a photo of the home without landscaping. Responses were analyzed to determine consumer perceptions of value influenced by landscape design style, plant material, and hardscape selection; plant size; and by the difference between perceived value and actual cost to install. Consumer responses for all landscape designs were positive and indicate that consumers consider landscaping an asset to residential value. Participants valued the home on average between.95% to 11.3%, depending on the complexity of design, plant material, hardscape, and size combinations. The variance between consumer perception and actual cost of material and labor indicates that consumers undervalue the price of a newly installed landscape where all material and labor costs are priced consistent with professional landscaping averages.