Multiple Benefits of Landscape Transformation: Property Value & Trees

Published: March 1st, 2020 | , |

A number of economic benefits are available to property owners who apply the watershed approach to their landscapes. As Clements and St. Julianna (2013) explain in their publication The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value, the integration of Green Infrastructure (GI) can help property owners save on their utility bills while also reaping “higher rents and property values,” and “increased retail sales” among other environmental and social benefits. Primary research conducted by Laverne and Winson-Geideman (2003) found “landscaping with a good aesthetic value added approximately 7 percent to the average rental rate of a building” for 85 commercial office buildings in Cleveland, OH. Wolf (2003) analyzed 270 survey responses from city dwellers within revitalized business districts and found that the presence of trees within a commercial retail setting were associated with a willingness to travel more often, as well as farther and longer to patronize businesses. These same respondents were also willing to stay at the commercial space longer and pay more for parking. Finally, the same study reported a 12 percent increase in willingness to pay for goods when the retail space contained vegetated streetscapes. Kaplan (2007) analyzed nature preferences from 49 surveyed employees of 41 businesses along a main corridor in Ann Arbor, MI and found those who could readily look outdoors were the most satisfied. These same individuals, “appreciated that they could see birds and other animals, the general appearance of the area outside, as well as the number and size of trees.” Also, noteworthy was that manicured lawns at the place of employment “had no bearing on participants’ satisfaction with any aspect of the natural environment, or its general appearance.”

Data also suggests that residential property owners prefer smarter designed landscapes, as was observed more recently by the National Association of Home Builders. In their 2019 report What Home Buyers Really Want, the second ranked green preference by 4,000 recent home buyers or those looking to own a home within the near future, was “low-maintenance landscaping that grows in the local climate with minimal watering, weeding or mowing.” Similarly, Ward et al. (2008) found that the installation of GI within select Seattle neighborhoods helped increase property values between 3.5 and 5 percent. Sustainable landscapes therefore can impact home sales, as was also documented by one Sacramento, CA news outlet. In 2014, CBS Sacramento reported that home prices were taking a hit because green lawns could not be sustained on drought watering restrictions, in one instance this accounted for a $9,000 loss. Another buyer was reported to have backed out of a home purchase when the cost of maintaining the landscaped was

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