(ARA) - Want a good way to help protect the value of your home? Remember these two words: green matters. Not green paint, mind you, but green space. It's an umbrella term for the trees, lawn, shrubs and other plantings that can affect not only the salability of your home, but your utility bills as well.
Which is why Project EverGreen, a national non-profit organization, is leading the charge to educate consumers about the many values of green space -- especially as it affects their pocketbooks.
According to Den Gardner, executive director of Project EverGreen, "research shows that improving the green space around your home can have real economic benefits."
Gardner cites a number of studies which show that sprucing up your green space can help protect and, depending on market conditions, bolster home value. For example: a study cited in Smart Money magazine indicated that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3 percent higher than its base price. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that landscaping investment is normally recovered fully and sometimes doubled by its ability to increase home value.
That sounds good, but Gardner adds this important caution: "It's wise to plan before you plant. Make sure you begin landscape improvement or renovation with well-thought-out ideas for maintaining and/or improving your green space. You may want to do the work yourself -- and that's good exercise; however, it's always wise to seek professional advice to get the right balance and placement of trees, shrubs, grass and other plantings."
As evidence of this he cited a research project conducted by the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI). This showed that a sophisticated landscape design with trees and large, colorful bedding plants can raise the perceived value of a home between 5 and 11 percent. On the other hand, consumer reaction was that minimalist landscapes (i.e. with small plant size and low sophistication) actually decreased the perception of home value.
Planning the right mix of trees, grass and other plantings can also make a difference in a home's energy consumption. One study has estimated that when properly placed to shade your home, trees can reduce air conditioning demand by 10 to 30 percent. Another study found attic temperatures could be up to 40 degrees lower when adequate shade was present.
"There are two ways you take advantage of this natural cooling effect," Gardner says. "First, if you have mature trees, make sure they're pruned properly to maximize shade benefits, and second, in planning for future shade, seek professional advice as to the type and location of the trees you should plant. Both steps can help lower your electrical bill."
Also, don't overlook how maintaining a thick, healthy lawn and other plants also provides cooling benefits. "This is due to a process known as evapotranspiration, Gardner says. "When vegetation is warmed by the sun it gives up water, which then evaporates to cool not only the plant itself but the surrounding area as well. The result is one of nature's most overlooked, and yet most efficient cooling systems. In fact, researchers have calculated that evapotranspiration from the front lawns in a block of eight houses produces cooling equivalent to 70 tons of air conditioning." Courtesy of ARAcontent