Every neighborhood has at least one – a home so impeccably maintained and carefully landscaped that just driving by makes you want to stop and ring the bell, hoping to get a glimpse at the stunning interior. It’s an elusive quality known as “curb appeal” and like many concepts that are difficult to define, you know it when you see it. Many homeowners may be surprised to learn that in addition to creating a beautiful, tranquil living space, a well-landscaped lawn and garden can significantly increase the value of your home, and it probably won’t cost as much as you think.

According to an article on a landscape project’s return on investment, an initial outlay of only $500 to $3000 can add as much as 11 percent to the market value of your home. In today’s tough housing market, many homeowners may feel that investing cash in an already devalued property doesn’t make sense, but consider the facts. If you’ve ever put off opening your 401k statement just to delay the pain, you’ll have to admit that traditional investments aren’t reaping the dividends they once did. It’s likely that your home is your most valuable asset. Even if you aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon, why not invest in the future and improve your quality of life in the process?

Make a Plan

While the finished product may appear effortless, the truth is that spectacular landscaping will require some planning. Too often homeowners take a trip to the nursery or garden center and purchase whatever happens to catch their eye. This can result in the mismatched, hodge-podge look so common in suburban neighborhoods. Depending on your climate and temperance zone, you can achieve the look you want, but first you need to know what that is. Consult gardening magazines, search for photographs of Orlando trees and shrubs online, even study those other homes in the neighborhood that you find striking. Once you’ve decided on a theme – whether it be English country garden or tropical oasis – you’ll be better prepared to choose just the right plants, shrubs and trees.

Consult a Professional

While you could hire a landscape architect to execute your vision, expect to pay more upfront. If you’re on a budget you can easily create a look you love – with the help of your local nursery. Most garden center employees are knowledgeable about local growing conditions, soil types, native plants and the transplanted beauties that thrive in your environment. One or two mature trees, thoughtfully placed, can make a huge impact – almost overnight. Your nursery professional can guide you in balancing plants and blooming seasons, making your yard the serene, inviting paradise you’ve always dreamed of – and the envy of the neighborhood.