In Home Buying, Landscapes Need Inspections, Too


When looking for a new home, buyers often become so focused on the house, they forget to consider other aspects of the home that can contribute to its value, mainly landscaping.

In fact, a healthy, well-maintained landscape can add 25 percent to the overall value of the property, according to Bruce Avery with AAA Tree Experts in Tallahassee, Florida.

“Landscapes, like most houses, can look beautiful and appealing on the surface but still have many underlying problems that may cost an unwary buyer significant expense in the future,” Avery says. “Landscape inspection considerations should include a thorough evaluation of all turf, natural areas, shrubs and especially trees. Many landscapes now include amenities, such as irrigation and lighting, that sometimes get overlooked in the home inspection process and may result in expensive repairs.

“However, most home inspectors don’t have tree and landscape expertise,” he adds. Professional landscapers can fill this void.

Here’s four of the big-ticket items that need an inspection:

1. Trees

“Healthy, mature trees are the single most important contributor to higher landscape values,” Avery says. “Consequently, unhealthy and hazardous trees detract from that same value. Are there any dead or diseased trees? Are there any trees stressed or declining from drought, construction damage, insect problems, old age, or a combination of these problems? What types of trees are on the property? What type of future maintenance should I consider to ensure their long-term health and safety?”

2. Shrubs and woody ornamentals

Like trees, these require the same maintenance considerations but don’t present the same hazards and risks as trees can.

3. Turf

Different types of turf require different levels of watering and care. “Most homeowners have a lower tolerance level for problems with their lawns than any other part of their landscape,” Avery explains.

4. Landscape lighting

Evaluate all wiring, light fixtures and timers to ensure they are functional and meet the goals of design and installation.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2014.