An eco-friendly landscape can look beautiful while saving you time and money. Studies also show that natural landscaping can preserve or even improve your property value. The biggest impact occurs when trees are planted and portions of lawn are converted to well-designed native flower gardens and/or beds of native shrubs. Like a savings account, this requires an initial investment. But even small changes can make a difference.
Americans have long valued beautiful landscaping, especially when it includes trees – it's been shown to increase property values by 15 to 20%. In addition, a 2010 survey from the National Association of Realtors finds that 88 percent of buyers consider environmentally friendly features to be an important consideration when buying a new home.
In 2008, the University of Michigan found that people prefer and are willing to pay more for well-designed yards that feature native plants. Survey participants preferred a front yard garden that was 75 percent native over one that was 50 percent native. Least desirable was the yard featuring a conventional lawn.
In a famous case study from California, two matching homes were landscaped with different approaches – conventional and eco-friendly – and costs were tracked. Though installation costs were higher for the sustainable site, it required 77 percent less water, created 66 percent less landscaping waste, and cost 68 percent less to maintain.
The average American home uses nearly one-third of its water outside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (in arid parts of the country, the figure climbs to 70 percent). The agency estimates such water use can be cut by as much as 50 percent when native plants are used.
Another study shows that shade trees on the south side of buildings can save up to $47 per year on air-conditioning bills (Peper, 2007). And another study finds that rain gardens and similar features save up to $4,800 per residential property over conventionally engineered solutions (Sherwood Gap Creek, 2000).