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5 Backyard Upgrades That Will Provide the Best Return on Your Investment

5 Backyard Upgrades That Will Provide the Best Return on Your Investment
Beautiful back deck.

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.

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People love to spend time outside, and the right backyard improvements can really extend your living space and increase the value of your home. But not everything you do in the yard will increase its value. While plenty of backyard upgrades are nice to have, they won’t necessarily get you a great return on your investment. Here are 5 that will.

1. Deck

Decks used to be a bit of an afterthought when it came to considering the value of a home. People liked them, but they weren’t big money makers. But boy has that changed. Decks are now hugely popular, and they can often bring in 75% ROI or more. The key to achieving this kind of number is to make sure that the size, complexity, and cost of the deck are in keeping with the overall value of the house. So for instance, don’t install an over the top, luxury deck in a postage-stamp size yard of a tiny house. Whenever possible, you want to have one part deck to five parts yard.

2. Trees

If you really want to add value to a yard, plant a tree. Mature trees almost always add to a property’s perceived value. Especially when it comes to newly built homes and new subdivisions where greenery is lacking. I suggest planting one or two as soon as you move in. That way when it comes time to sell – whether it’s 10, 20 or 30 years down the road – they’ll be a good size. But try to stick with medium sized trees, and nothing so big it will totally overshadow the house. If you’re not sure what’s best, ask your local gardening centre for advice. Trees are one of the few things that actually appreciate in value over time, so you may as well take advantage of it.

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Related: 12 Beautiful Backyard Ideas for Every Budget.

3. Privacy Fence

This is a tricky one, because replacing a fence is often seen as a maintenance project rather than a value-adding addition. However, if the circumstances are right you can get a decent return on your investment. In new neighbourhoods in particular, where there are no fences between the backyards, a privacy fence can be a welcome addition. Ideally you and your neighbour can go in on it together and split the cost. And if several neighbours are interested, you may be able to get together and arrange for a group discount from a single company. If you can make it happen, you’ll all win in the long run.

4. Simple Landscaping

Some people will tell you that fancy landscaping will add value, but I disagree. Now don’t get me wrong – I love a beautifully landscaped yard. But if you’re going to do it, do it for yourself, and not to add value. When people are house hunting and they see complicated landscaping, the first thought that pops in their head is “that’s beautiful” and the second is “that’s way too much work for me”.

Related: Weird Plant Tips for Your Home and Garden That Actually Work.

5. Maintenance

Technically it’s not an upgrade, but nothing will keep up the value of your home better than regular maintenance. Sometimes people let the backyard go a little bit because they figure no one will see it, but this can be a huge mistake, because when the time comes to sell you’ll have a ton of fixes to do. So don’t let the yard get overgrown, take care of cracks in cement or asphalt, and don’t let the deck fall into disrepair. Some basic maintenance will ensure that you maintain, and possibly even raise the value.

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Images courtesy of Buyers Bootcamp and iStockphoto.com.



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