Assessing the Value of Trees and Shrubs in Your Yard
Before picking up a chainsaw or shovel, know the value of what you are removing. The trees and shrubs in your yard may be adding to your property's value.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Is landscaping worth the money?” the answer is an emphatic yes. Your landscape's trees and shrubs, as well as the entirety of your backyard landscaping, add beauty along with a monetary benefit to your home in the form of reduced utility expenses and increased home value. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, a nicely landscaped home is worth up to 12 percent more than a home without landscape trees, shrubs, perennials, and a healthy lawn.
Use the checklists below to evaluate the value of trees and shrubs in your yard. And while your number-one concern should be function and appearance when developing patio landscaping ideas or backyard landscaping plans, it’s always a good idea to also keep increased property value in mind.
Related: Tree-Pruning Tips
Uses of Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Whether you’re developing new patio landscaping ideas, laying out new backyard landscaping, or just beautifying a small area around your home, a garden design should start with the pillars—trees and shrubs.
- As the anchors of your home’s landscaping—whether front yard, backyard, or patio—trees establish the design and style of your entire landscape.
- Well-placed trees or hedges provide privacy to your home and yard.
- Shade trees can reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home by 10 to 50 percent.
- Landscaping around trees with rocks, bark, gravel, or shade-tolerant groundcover reduces the size of your lawn, thus reducing your water consumption. However, take care when landscaping around tree roots; you can damage or even kill your tree by burying the roots too deeply.
- When adding a tree or shrub, always visualize its mature size and shape. Will it outgrow its location or become tangled in utility wires? Choose plants that suit the space.
Related: Evergreen Trees for Privacy
Assessing the Value of Landscaping Trees and Shrubs
Just like the contents of your home and your house itself, the elements making up your landscaping have value both individually and collectively.
- If you need an exact number—like when you are deciding on an asking price for your home—a good landscape appraiser is qualified to determine the most accurate value for the trees and shrubs in your yard.
- A mature oak is more valuable than a fast-growing poplar because it is more difficult to replace. Generally, large established trees provide more benefits (and have more value) than smaller, shorter-lived varieties.
- Some kinds of trees have a higher value due to their hardiness, durability, beauty, adaptability, or mature size. For example, Japanese maples and dwarf conifers are among the most highly valued trees for their versatility and beautiful appearance.
- Healthy, well-formed trees and shrubs have more value than malformed, poorly maintained, or storm-damaged plants.
The plant's value to the property arises from both functional and aesthetic considerations. Trees and shrubs that form a focal point, frame the house, add privacy, or stand in a hedgerow represent high-value specimens.
Replacing Existing Landscape Trees and Shrubs
There are times when existing landscape trees and shrubs need to go. Maybe you’re putting in a vegetable garden and need more space, wanting to remove a tree that is diseased or blocking a view, or simply having bigger and better landscaping ideas for your home. Before picking up a chainsaw or shovel, however, you should know the value of what you are removing.
- Have your trees and shrubs appraised, and take pictures of them. Keep the records for insurance, legal, and income tax purposes. Insurance formulas take into account the ease of replacing specific landscaping shrubs, trees, or flowerbeds.
- Consider the cost of what you have before digging it up or cutting it down. It would be a shame to remove a valuable plant.
- Before removing an established plant, ask yourself, “How much does it cost to landscape a garden from the ground up?” It’s often worth it to move smaller plants to a new spot in your backyard landscaping rather than removing them entirely.
If you’re planning to cut down an established tree or large shrub, take into account the cost of removal. You might spend more than you expect in time, money, and effort.