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Many home sellers are finding that old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” can translate into faster sales and higher profits when it’s their grass that is the greenest.
According to the Chicago-based non-profit Turf Resource Center (TRC), a well-planned and well-maintained landscape can add between 5 and 30 percent to the value of a home. And it’s the lawn portion of the landscape that can impress or depress potential buyers most easily.
“The lawn is the welcome mat to the entire property,” points out Doug Fender, executive director of TRC. “Call it curb appeal or first impressions, but whenever prospective buyers drive up to a house, it’s the lawn that first catches their eye. If it looks well cared for, buyers will almost automatically conclude that entire house has also been well cared for. If the lawn looks shabby, they may choose to keep driving.”
Real estate industry studies have documented that similar homes in the same neighborhood will sell for different prices if one is enhanced by a stronger first impression because of landscaping.
Reports have also shown that the return on a landscape investment can range from 100 to 200 percent, compared to a 20 to 50 percent return for swimming pools or a 40 to 70 percent return on decks.
“With this knowledge,” Fender suggests, “homeowners can very seriously consider replacing their old lawn with a new one as part of their sales preparations. A beautiful new lawn...especially one that takes advantage of the immediacy of turfgrass sod...can be enjoyed before the house sells; the house should sell faster and the return on investment for the new lawn is almost assured.” Homeowners should also consult with real estate professionals to determine if the cost of a new lawn installed immediately before a sale can be used to reduce any capital gains taxes.
While selection, location and maturity of trees and flower beds are important to landscape features, so too is the design and layout of the lawn. “Turfgrass is more than just an eye-appealing home landscape feature and it should be more than an afterthought,” says Fender. “It can provide important environmental benefits including controlling erosion and preventing dust problems. Lawns also provide a low-cost and safe recreational surface that is important to both physical and mental health.”

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