15 Outdoor Updates That Add Serious Value To Your Home

When it comes to home improvement, most of us think about updating our bathrooms and kitchens rather than updating our outdoor spaces. We naturally want the interiors of our homes to be comfortable, up-to-date, and, above all, attractive. However, the first thing everyone sees of your house is its outside. This includes not just the exterior of your physical house, but the lawns, trees, and landscaping that goes with it. It's the same thing you saw when you decided to buy it all. As it turns out, outdoor updates matter a great deal.

Whether you're planning on selling your home or not, you want to make sure that you are consistently adding value to your home. There are a lot of outdoor updates that will add some serious worth to your home. From budget-friendly landscaping improvements to more cost-heavy additions like decks, swimming pools, or outdoor kitchens, the work you put into outdoor home improvements is going to reap the rewards.

Of course, certain projects are going to add more value than others. So, don't view this as a comprehensive list of updates that you absolutely need to do in order to bring value to your house. All of them, however, are known value bringers. Any one of them is going to add some dollar signs to your home.

Re-landscaping

Creating a personalized landscape design for your home is a process that will take many years to accomplish. Unless you've made your way onto an HGTV show, you are not going to get the landscaping of your dreams all in one go. It takes time, patience, and good budgeting to get the landscaping in your yard to look absolutely amazing. And it is definitely something you'll want to do, as good landscaping can increase a home's value by as much as 15%. 

If you're looking for a starting point, begin working on areas you know will bring visual appeal. Think of lining your walkways with beautiful perennials, mulching your existing flower beds, planting shade gardens, and edging along the driveway, sidewalks, and front path. A yard that is neat and tidy is going to go a long way toward positively extenuating the other visual components of your home.

From there, you can get more intensive. You could remove dangerous or unsightly trees, and replace them with new ones. You could build a pond. You could add a rock scape, bring in shrubbery, or invest in a professional to totally redesign your yard. This last one is costly, but it will hopefully be worth it. Landscaping projects can have anything from a 20% to 100% return on investment. 

Investing in a good lawn

While you're out and about making all that landscaping look amazing, don't forget about your lawn! A beautiful green lawn adds some serious value to your home. This is because a green lawn is something people associate with care and upkeep. You could lump lawn care in with landscaping, but keeping it as a separate category here allows us to show you the power of a well-maintained lawn, even if other aspects of the landscaping are not altogether pleasing.

According to Coldwell Banker, a well-maintained lawn alone can increase your home's overall value by 15%. This means that your lawn, like that other landscaping you're doing, is something of a cash cow. It shows that any care you put into it is going to be an excellent return on your investment. 

What are some ways you can keep your lawn looking vibrant and green? Knowing when and how to mow is very important. Always make sure that your lawn is dry, and never remove more than a third of the grass at a time. This method reduces stress on the grass and soil beneath and allows the lawn some breathing room. Twice weekly watering, except when it rains, and a good fertilizing regimen are also key. And make sure to remove any evidence of pests in your yard, as well as keep those weeds at bay. Do these things, and you're looking at excellent value for easy input.

Outdoor lighting

What's an outdoor space without ambiance? Good outdoor lighting will enhance that special feeling your yard gets after dark. The soft glow of some twinkling string lights over a seating area makes the place seem cozy, warm, and inviting. But there is more to outdoor lighting than simply creating a mood. It also enhances the safety of your property, which can be a real value adder to potential buyers.

Lights can increase your property's safety in two ways. One, they can act as a means of sight. If you live in a particularly dark area, lining your driveway or walkway with little solar stakes, or timed outdoor lights is going to help you and potential guests see the environment. This will reduce the amount of incidents in which cars or feet find their way into places where they shouldn't be. 

The second way lights make your property safer is by increasing your home's security. It's well-known that thieves are deterred by an excess of light because that means they cannot hide in the shadows. Light increases the likelihood that they will be seen, therefore increasing the likelihood that they will be caught. These security measures will add value to your home by creating a feeling of safety. Potential buyers will feel it, and are willing to pay for it. 

Water features

A well-placed and well-designed water feature is going to add both monetary and aesthetic value to your home. If you could build the likes of the Trevi Fountain, that would be amazing. That said, a small coy pond or reasonably sized fountain adds a level of unique individuality to your home. And uniqueness, if done tactfully, is going to add value to your home.

If you're planning on adding a pond into your backyard, you need to take its size and shape into account before you put a shovel to the dirt. Even if you're taking the project on yourself, you are likely going to be sinking a few thousand dollars into making this pond. However, the cost is almost negligible compared to the high return on investment such updates can bring to your home. Whether the pond is purely aesthetic, or helping to bring water to livestock, the value it adds to property is immense. 

For a suburban pond, be sure to properly landscape around it so it doesn't just look like a watery hole was placed randomly in the middle of your yard. The fact that not every house in the neighborhood will come with its own small pond or fountain is going to make it all the more desirable. And desirability leads to increased value.

Privacy plants or fencing

While it might be appealing to some to be surrounded on all sides by trees and have many miles between them and the nearest neighbor, the vast majority of people are not looking for an environment that is rural. Still, even in the more popular and crowded suburbs, the illusion of privacy helps add value to any home. Because no one wants their neighbors spying in on everything they are doing in the backyard — or anywhere else for that matter.

There are many ways you can introduce privacy into your home. The most common is with a tasteful fence. Building a good fence that encloses your backyard is a plus for many potential homebuyers, especially ones with young children and pets. A fence not only provides a physical boundary but allows you to feel as though you are in your own private kingdom, which is part of what homeownership is all about.

Another, more natural way you can go about creating privacy is to plant trees and other taller greenery. Shrubs like arborvitae, which can grow 10 to 15 feet tall in as many years, will be a perfect, natural barrier between you and your neighbors. It's also, arguably, a more sightly one, as it can merge itself with the landscape design that's already adding so much value to your home.

Outdoor fire pit

There is no question about it. People will pay for a fire pit in their backyard. Among the most searched of all DIY projects, an outdoor fire pit has to be one of the most popular updates a homeowner can make to their backyard. Not only will you, your family, and your guests get tremendous use and fun out of it, but when it comes time to sell, a fire pit creates a welcoming space that will make your home (and its price tag) all the more attractive to the buyer.

Now, when it comes to outdoor fire pits, you have two options: permanent or transportable. While either can appeal to a potential buyer, having a fire pit as a permanent fixture means that it is, effectively, part of your property. It is a physical improvement to the landscape and, therefore, gets lumped in with other permanent updates you've made to your property. The ROI on a fire pit is between 60% to 70%. 

Build with good materials, such as stone or bricks, in order to make the fire pit look as amazing as possible. Obviously, there are some materials that are going to cost more than others. If you want that return on investment to speak in terms of added value to your home, the better the materials, the more value they will bring. Still, equally important as the fire pit itself, is the area surrounding it.

Stone patio

A well-designed patio, whether it is made of stone, brick, or concrete, is going to add tremendous appeal to your home. Be advised, though. Installing a patio on your own or having professionals install it is going to set you back a considerable sum. According to Forbes, an average patio costs between $3,000 to $5,000 to install, with some ranging closer to $20,000 depending upon materials, size, and amount of features.

There is some good news about this cost, however. Patios are known to increase in value by at least 10%. Think of adding a patio like adding another room to your house. It increases your square footage and can count as a living space outside. So, depending on how often you use it and what you eventually sell your home for, you could see upwards of an 80% return on investment from a patio install.

Keep in mind, however, that location is key here. Most suburban patios will be placed in the backyards to provide better privacy. However, a more rural setting might see the patio in the front yard, or farther away from the house to give an even more secluded vibe. Location, as in real estate, is vital to patio placement.

Wooden deck

A wooden deck or porch is yet another investment to your property that is going to add visual appeal, boost overall value, and be an excellent return on your investment. An elevated wooden structure that extends directly from the house, a wooden deck can be a lot more convenient and cost-effective than installing a patio, which is always at ground level and not necessarily attached to the house.

While wood tends to have a shorter lifespan than stonework, especially if it is not maintained properly, the return on investment for a good wooden deck is nearly equitable with a stone patio. Decks have an average 76% ROI, making them easily one of the most valuable assets you can add to your home, in spite of the expense it takes to build one. Decks are easily customizable and can be outfitted with a number of different variations.

Another reason a deck can add value to your home is because of the fact that, since it is not at ground level, you have the potential for increased views. This is especially excellent if your property overlooks mountains or bodies of water. Where a patio, being at ground level, might come with obstructed views, the height of a deck really allows you to take in the scope of your property and the surrounding area to its fullest.

Extended roof or pergola

These are options that you can add to either a deck or a patio. Each has its benefits in terms of looks, value, and functionality. An extended roof is, as it sounds, an extension of your existing roof. Typically drawn up over a deck, an extended roof is going to provide your outdoor seating area with a level of protection. If you add roofing material, you get protection from the sun and rain, which makes your deck more accessible during poor weather. 

A pergola is a little different in that it is typically a free-standing structure that does not include any roofing material but is instead open to the sky above. Pergolas have been built over patios or garden areas as a way to allow climbing plants, such as roses or grapes, to have a place to grow, as well as add scenic value.

Pergolas and extended roofs are also great ways to bring lights to your deck or patio. Some string lights strung up along the beams are going to lend a very soft and cozy feeling to the whole area. And if you have a patio complete with a pergola, lights, and a fire pit, you have created one heck of a welcoming and valuable space.

Swimming pool

Swimming pools are not going to appeal to everyone. To some, they might seem like a nuisance of upkeep and aggravation. This is especially true if they were not properly installed, or are located in an area of the country where they really shouldn't be — like Alaska. This aside, however, a good swimming pool in the right area is going to increase your home's value by upwards of $32,000. 

It may be that the pool does not end up being worth as much as it costs to install. A lot depends on the size of the pool and the materials used to make it. But most cars depreciate in value the moment you drive them off the lot. And you still happily pay tens of thousands of dollars for one. But what a pool can do that a car cannot do is add extra living and recreational space to your home.

Think of a swimming pool as a combination of patio, fire pit, and water feature all piled into one. Yes, that means it comes with a hefty price tag, but the amount of living and recreation space gained by adding one is going to add value in other ways. Countless summer memories could be made at your pool. And we're talking in-ground pools here. Not inflatable, above-ground ones.

Irrigation system

No one likes to water their lawn or garden. However, these things need to be watered in order to be maintained, and provide you with the best possible value that a lawn or garden could bring to your home. One of the best ways to save yourself from watering is to have an irrigation system installed. Not only will this keep you from having to drag hoses all over your property, but you will actually save on water, and increase the value of your home by helping make that lawn look absolutely beautiful.

While it may seem foolish to tear up your lawn in order to get the hoses run and valve box connected to your water system, the eventual value that an irrigation system will bring to your lawn is worth a little up front damage. Keep in mind that it is not as though you are ripping apart your entire lawn to get this plumbed. The trenches needed for the water pipe are about 6 inches wide and buried beneath the frost line so they won't freeze in winter.

Once the system is installed, you can set it to a timer. This is where the water saving comes into play. Having the system set to go off at the same time and for the same duration during the week means that you are effectively measuring your water release and knowing how much is going towards irrigating. Potential buyers will see this and understand the value of it immediately.

Outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are amazing. Not only do they expand your living space, adding infinite value to your porch or deck, but they also make for excellent entertaining, keep food smells out of your house, and can even potentially lower your energy bills. All this in one tremendous outdoor space? Yes!

Outdoor kitchens can be as simple or complex as you want to make them. Keep in mind the functionality of the space. It needs to work as a kitchen would. Therefore, you need ample prep space, as well as a good flow from prep to grill. You could build a wood-burning stove or pizza oven in your space, or you cater the addition to your existing grill. We actually recommend you go with the former. The more hardcore you go, the more the space is going to appeal to a potential buyer.

An outdoor kitchen can be added to any outdoor space, such as a pool area, patio, or deck. The materials you use to make one range from wood to stone, though material choice depends on how integrated you want the space to be. Regardless, the amount you put into the outdoor kitchen is going to be returned to you by the time you spend using it, and the value it brings when the time comes to sell.

Facade lift

No home is without blemishes here and there. Like the landscaping we discussed at the beginning of this article, working on the exterior of your actual home is something that needs to be done over a period of many years. Seeing as they are exposed to all the elements of nature, a house can take a beating. Siding can break, windows will get cracked, garage doors could break, and paint chips and falls away. All of these are things that need to be fixed in order to make your home look as appealing as possible, as well as provide you with peace of mind.

When you do make these fixes, you need to make sure you are using the right materials. Use stuff that is going to stand the test of time and take on the weather that your area can throw its way. It'll look very silly if you invested all this time, money, and energy into a beautifully landscaped house, all while your siding is falling to pieces and your garage door doesn't open.

A lot of these repairs can be made on your own, but you do need to know when to call in professionals. Things like missing roof tiles or windows that need replacing should be left to the professionals. Just know that all of these facade treatments that you are giving your house are going to pay in dividends later on.

Shed

Sheds are one of those outdoor structures we don't know we need until we have one. While they do not provide much in the way of overall monetary value, the practical value they bring to a home is second to none. You can purchase prefabricated sheds, or build your own. The idea is to have one that is strategically placed to be of the best service it can be.

No one is going to complain about having extra storage space in their yard. Everyone wants to have a place to store their garden tools, lawnmower, snowblower, beach gear, etc. The amount you spend on a shed is going to be in direct relation to its size, and the quality of the materials used to construct it. A shed that falls apart after a few years is not something that is going to be attractive to anyone. Whereas a shed that stands the test of time has infinite value well beyond its price tag.

So, while a shed is not an outdoor update that is going to add too much in the way of monetary value to your home, you and whoever comes after you will be glad that it's there.

Raised garden beds

To certain folks, raised garden beds are infinitely more attractive than fields of directly sown crops. Besides being more visually appealing than an average garden, having raised beds in your yard shows that you care about maximizing space to its fullest potential. It lets people know that you are able to grow food on your property, which should come in handy if times get tough.

Now, raised beds can come in a number of different sizes, and can be made with a wide range of materials. Most, however, will be made out of wood. Cedar is a popular wood to use in building raised beds, specifically because of its tremendous water and rot-resistant qualities. Metal raises are also available, and have become very popular owing to their longevity and sleek look. Either way, you're adding an upscale garden to your yard, which holds an appeal to many buyers.

These updates are by no means the be-all-end-all in terms of what you can do to improve your property. The whole home needs to be taken into account when thinking about how to update it. However, all of these updates are going to add some serious value to your home. So whichever ones you can spring for, go for it. You won't regret it.

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