The economy is not good to say the least, but this doesn’t mean that our backyard oasis or curb appeal should suffer.  There is much to be done that can cut future costs, increase the value of your home, and give a sense of pride and accomplishment while beautifying your surroundings.

Landscaping offers the greatest return on investment of any home improvement, often yielding more than a 200 percent return.  Homes that are well manicured can often sell for 6 to 7 percent more than a comparable home with poor or lackluster landscaping.  Also, homes that require low or little maintenance in the yard are tops when it comes to selling, and also enjoying!  So where do we start?

Many improvements can be done for free; all you need is a bit of muscle and some time to enjoy the great outdoors.  Pulling weeds, trimming shrubs and trees, picking up trash – nothing more than moving your spring cleaning outdoors, can and will dramatically increase the visual appearance of your surroundings.

The chance to save money, or add to our monthly income does not have to be as difficult as many of us make it.  Use products that offer year-round beauty, plant with a purpose and forego the itch to buy pricey annuals each year – go with colorful perennials that you can rely on year after year.  Native grasses are a great idea; they require no maintenance during the season, are fast growers and come in a variety of heights and colors, in addition to returning next season.

Quality landscaping is also about more than just if you are the market to sell your home.  Savings can take place on a monthly basis with the right additions to the yard.  Carefully placed trees that offer ample shade can dramatically reduce air conditioning costs and a landscape with varying foliage heights can greatly buffer noise.

Now I would be remiss not to mention the benefits of using rubber mulch in your outdoor surroundings.  As the snow melts and the browns turn to green you can see what I am talking about.  Up and down the block worn and weathered mulch looks battered and faded after the harsh winter, but those who invested in rubber mulch see a refreshing bit of color as the season starts to take shape.  24/7/365, rubber mulch continues to look great with little to no maintenance, but for a few touch-ups if you got a bit wild with the snow shovel this year.

If you are one of the many with a for sale sign in the front yard, but don’t have the dollars to spend on a landscaping project, buy a $10 edging spade a put a clean edge on all of your planting beds as this simple step can increase the value of your home by one percent.  A few thousand dollars for a few minutes work, now that sounds like a great investment.