Real Estate Investment News & Blog

Curb Appeal: Green Lawns, Landscaping & Cash Returns

house with curb appealThe “curb appeal” of a home is a reference to how attractive and welcoming a home looks to a person driving by the property. A freshly painted Cape Cod style home with a brand new garage door, a fancy front door, and new windows can look quite appealing to neighbors and buyers.

However, the same home with just dirt and rocks in the front and no decent landscaping around it can make buyers keep walking by the property.

Per a 2010 U.S. Census study, the average size of a lawn was reported to be 0.225 acres or 9,801 square feet. The median size of a new single-family home built in 2010 was 2,169 square feet.

Per an updated U.S. Census Bureau study for 2015, the average new home built was 2,520 square feet. So, the average lawn size is near 400% larger than the actual home.

A general rule of thumb suggested by many real estate professionals is that a property owner should consider spending upwards of 10% of their overall home’s value on their landscaping budget.

Based upon this landscape cost estimate formula, a landscaping budget of $30,000 may be appropriate for a home currently valued at $300,000.

This landscaping expense should be viewed more as investment that will likely generate even higher cash-on-cash returns when selling the property at a later date.

Property owners should create a landscaping budget that they can truly afford, first and foremost, before starting any work.

Green Lawns, Landscaping, and Cash Returns

Did you know that many people first notice the state of a person’s front yard more so than the home itself?
primrose and grass
A front lawn that looks dead with lots of dirt pockets may cause prospective buyers to perceive that the homeowner is in dire financial straits and probably willing to accept a very low-ball purchase offer.

On the other hand, a well-manicured front lawn that looks like it could belong next to a top notch golf course will make the home much more saleable and captivating to buyers.

According to HomeAdvisor (the nation’s largest network of screened & rated home care experts), let’s take a look below at some of the nationally reported costs for the most preferred and likely tasks of adding at least a green lawn and sprinkler system:

Install Sod Costs: The average reported costs to install turf or sod varied in price between $1,059 to $2,582 ($4,000+ for pricier regions) for average sized homes and yards. Sod is considered as squares or rolls of grass with roots in it.

Climate and Grass: Grass, plants, trees, and flowers all need just the right amount of sunlight, shade, temperature, rainfall, and water from sprinkler systems to most effectively grow or bloom.

Some types of vegetation are best suited for colder weather while others will flourish much better in warmer weather. Homeowners should consider planting enough trees around their yards for additional shade options for themselves and their lawns in both cooler and warmer climate regions.

Warm Season Grasses: Bahia, Bermuda, Buffalo, Carpet, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Zoysia

Cool Season Grasses: Bent, Kentucky Bluegrass, Rough Bluegrass, Fine Fescues, Perennial Ryegrass, Annual Ryegrass, and Wheatgrass

To learn more details about the types of grass, water, and other important yard issues, please visit this website source:

Installing Sprinkler Systems: Homeowners spend anywhere between an average price of $1,832 to $3,329 to install their home sprinkler systems.

Other Landscaping Options and Expenses

There are a wide variety of factors that will greatly impact the landscaping costs for property owners. Some of these factors include:

  • The size of the yard
  • The desired features
  • The materials, grasses, plants, trees, and flowers selected
  • The source or origin of materials (local, out-of-state, or foreign)
  • The home’s location (i.e., very expensive coastal regions or more affordable inland locations)
  • Local labor costs

Listed below are other potential landscaping costs over and above the most basic grass and sprinkler system cost estimates:

Hire a Landscape Designer: $4,380

Hire a Landscape Architect: $2,976

Build a Deck: $6,915

Install a Patio or Pathway: $3,372

Hire a Land Surveyor: $479

Install a Retaining Wall: $5,160

Build a Patio Enclosure: $15,200

Install Drainage: $3,345

Install a Water Fountain: $2,515

Install a Pond: $3,003

Install Landscape Curbing for Flower Beds: $1,173

Install a Fiberglass Pool: $26,553

Build a Greenhouse: $13,893

Build a Gazebo: $7,148

(Average national cost estimate source: )

A Higher Quality of Life & Outdoor Living

There are many types of formal outdoor living room areas with built-in BBQs, awnings, fireplaces, stereo systems, and bars that can cost over $50,000. Since most people prefer to spend time outdoors in their much bigger yards, they are willing to pay top dollar.

Many people are stuck indoors most of the day either at their work office or in their home. As such, more people really want to spend time outside in the fresh air while enjoying the vast space on their lot on or near their lawn or patio.

Many CRE Online readers will sell at least one home hoping for the top dollar price. Some sellers may spend anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000 (or more) remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms by way of new paint, flooring upgrades, kitchen appliances, or new cabinetry and run out of money to fix up and improve the outdoor area.

A beautifully landscaped yard can boost home values and help hide a deteriorating, outdated home, while a barren and desolate yard can reduce property values significantly.

An investment in outdoor living areas can be much more affordable and profitable than indoor remodels. A healthy, vibrant yard and a green thumb can lead to very green investment returns!

CLICK here to subscribe to our mailing list and get unique, fresh content like this delivered right to your inbox.

Loading subscribe form...

About the Author...

Check out Rick's new book The Credit Crisis: 10 Years and Counting (August 2017 publishing date) as well as The Credit Crisis Deals: Finding America's Best Real Estate Bargains.

Rick Tobin has a diversified background in both the Real Estate and Securities fields for the past 25+ years. He has held seven (7) different Real Estate and Securities brokerage licenses to date. He also writes college textbooks and real estate courses in several states for some of the largest educational firms nationwide.

Rick has an extensive background in the financing of residential and commercial properties around the U.S with debt, equity, and mezzanine money. His funding sources have included banks, life insurance companies, REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), Equity Funds, and foreign money sources.

You can visit Rick Tobin at


  1. James says:

    Hey Rick, I’m a property manager located in Atlanta ( ) and I’m always going back and forth with my clients on the value of renovating the front of their rental properties.

    It’s always tough to make them see it up front, for those that do, though, they always see that they are able to ask for more in terms of rent.

    Your breakdown of cost and expectations in the article is a great resource.

    “Based upon this landscape cost estimate formula, a landscaping budget of $30,000 may be appropriate for a home currently valued at $300,000.”

    This is a really simple rule but from my experience it seems that this is actually the case in many situation.

    The one thing I wanted to ask is if you knew or had any case studies of how much more someone can usually ask for in terms of monthly rent?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    • Rick Tobin says:

      Thank you for your kind words, James. I am glad that the article was helpful to you. Unfortunately, I haven’t researched the potential positive impacts of higher future rents as a result of improving landscaping. I may look into it for future assignments. If so, I will post the link here at a later date.

What do you think? We would love to hear your opinion.


Hide me
Let Us Help You Achieve Better Results. (IT's FREE!)
Name Email
Show me