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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dollars & Sense in your Yard

When we plant trees in the neighborhood we not only fight crime, and help drainage and provide shade and help cool the environment, we also help sustain and improve property values. So much bang for so little buck.

The greening of the real estate industry hopefully will be a boon for both the environment and the pocketbook. Recent studies demonstrate that eco-friendly practices not only can reduce home operation and maintenance costs but also increase property values. And nothing improves environmental performance and curb appeal more than a wildlife-friendly, sustainable home landscape.

In addition, strategic planting of trees and shrubs to cast cooling shade in summer and insulate against cold winter winds can slash the amount a homeowner spends to heat and cool a home by as much as 40 percent.

Sustainable landscapes have more subtle economic benefits as well. By calculating how much money property owners save by avoiding flood damage, recent studies have demonstrated the value of rain gardens, bioswales and other “low-impact development” measures designed to reduce storm-water runoff. Other research has shown how sustainable landscaping strategies can help lower taxes by reducing the cost of storm water infrastructure.

Sustainable landscapes also are growing the value of homes. In one study released four years ago, University of Michigan researchers reported that people are willing to pay more for well-designed yards with mostly native plants than for properties dominated by lawn.

Realtors have long recognized that attractive landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values by as much as 20 percent.

Given these impressive numbers, it’s not surprising that the number-one green home improvement recommended by realtors is planting native trees and flowers—the foundation of a healthy and beautiful backyard habitat.

In short, growing a green landscape is a win-win proposition. The old expression “money grows on trees” may not be literally true, but a sustainable landscape comes close.

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