Traditional estimates for the added value of a good landscape usually land around 20% of a homes value. Generally this accounts for the value of the curb appeal that an established garden gives, the value of outdoor living areas, and any special features like pools, play areas or any other special landscape feature.
But after reading this article at Hyperlocalvore about the economics of yard sharing I am starting to wonder if perhaps the right landscape, specifically a productive one, might be able to justify a lot more value.
In the post, Liz makes the following case for yard sharing – a practice she encourages for people without a lot of space or initial investment.:
“Let’s assume that each of (3) families enjoys approximately:
- 2 lbs organic Granny Smith apples @ $4.50 per week.
- 1 lb organic anti-oxidant rich blueberries @ $12.00 per week.
- .5 lb organic almonds @ 7.00 per week
That’s about $24.00 per week per family, or about $1250.00 per family per year for three pretty basic healthy staples. It’s $3750.00 per year for all three families to eat yummy organic green apples, blueberries and almonds. Now let’s assume that to produce this amount for three families you will need:
- 4 almond trees (producing about 64 lbs per year)
- 2 apple trees (producing about 600 lbs per year)
- 15 mature blueberry bushes (producing about 150 pounds per year)
Your group wants the benefit sooner rather than later so you agree to purchase mature trees and shrubs.
- 4 producing almond trees – 8′ @ $80.00 = $320.00
- 2 producing apple trees 8′ @ $90.00 = $180.00
- 15 producing blueberry bushes 4′ @ $40.00 = $600.00
Your one time investment is about $1700.00 (plus tax and shipping) for all three families, including one time purchase of tools and starting garden costs using a rough figure of $600.00, assuming you have no tools between you and your soil needs a lot of help. Add some sweat equity and a year to let the trees and shrubs settle in.
This works out to about $600.00 per family for 20 years worth of apples, almonds and blueberries! Growing their own saves all three families a total of $74,000.00 over 20 years. – Assuming your families share, or 24K, is conservatively invested expecting a 2.8 % return over those 20 years and adjusted for inflation – that’s $61,072.13 clams via the magic of compound interest!
Now the almond trees, treated well, will produce almonds for 40+ years. The apples for 30, and you may need to replace the blueberries. We’re just playing with pens and napkins after all.
So, how do you like them apples, almonds, and blueberries?”
If you consider that the $1700 dollar initial investment is part of the purchase agreement and in return you get over (3*$61,072.13=) $183,216.00 ROI just from the produce alone, – that means that a modestly productive landscape would, over the life of the loan, pay for the cost of the average home in America. Could it be true? Are the value of mature productive landscape seriously under valued? Should we think about installing blueberries as “foundation” plantings and apple trees instead of ornamental cherries or Japanese maples making the landscape value much higher? (I think so) This really has me thinking….let’s discuss…
Note: Numbers were originally published on Feb 4th 2009.
image by sitting rock