Why Backyards Bring Huge Returns on Your Real Estate Investment

Rear Yard 1 - 31 Townsend Ct

by Shane Thompson, Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage, Roseville, California

In a recent study it was shown that prospective buyers were willing to pay up to 11.3% more for a home with a nicely landscaped rear yard. To put this in perspective, this equates to a little more than $45,000 on a $400,000 home. Curb appeal is great but the backyard is where homeowners are going to spend a lot of their time entertaining and relaxing. Some yards are more elaborate than others and not all improvements will yield the best returns, however it is important to look at not only the return value but the market desirability of each feature. Below we have constructed a list of what buyers are looking for within our local real estate market and the value they place on your home.


Maturing trees will yield the highest return on investment for a homeowner. They offer texture, depth, and most importantly shade! Properly located trees can reduce a homeowners energy costs. More important than the trees though is the master plan for how the trees will tie in with the existing landscape while allowing adequate room for growth. If you don’t intend on hiring a professional landscaper to do all the work at least invest in a professionally drafted plan from a landscape architect. This is a small investment compared to having a professional landscaper do all the work and the finished product will appear as if more money was spent on hiring a professional installation crew.

Native Plants

A landscape featuring many native plant varieties will add color and interest to an otherwise bland looking yard and require less watering than materials such as sod. We recommend using a variety of materials that will bloom at different times throughout the year as well as some evergreens that will hold their foliage year round. This gives the homeowner something nice to look at during the cold winter months as well as a consistent splash of color during the warmer season. A good master plan may incorporate raised planting beds, a dry creek, boulders, or mounding to add more dimension to your landscape. Plants can be relatively inexpensive to purchase and usually yield no less than double their purchase value when the home is sold.

Outdoor Lighting

In a survey 41% of home buyers said that outdoor landscape lighting was an essential item. Additionally, another 49% said it was not a necessity but a very desirable item. An outdoor lighting system is great for lighting up walkways and highlighting some of your landscaping materials when they would not otherwise be visible due to darkness. Some have used them to light up water features or dry creeks and the effect is nothing less than awesome! We like the idea that you can extend the hours in which you use your backyard by adding this ambiance enhancing feature.

The solar powered systems are a very easy to install product that your average homeowner can install themselves. The low wattage hard wired systems on the other hand can be very costly and require a little more effort to install. There are professional landscape lighting companies that specialize in the system layout and installation of this product however they can be pretty pricey. We are not able to put a number on what a homeowners return on this item would be due to the substantial variance in what the systems can cost. However one thing is very clear, buyers like outdoor lighting systems!

Patios & Decking

When buyers look at a rear yard they are looking for a place to park their barbecue. The lack of a patio or deck in a rear yard area without doubt hurts a homes value. Many buyers love the look and feel of a nicely constructed wood deck, however, for some there are concerns over maintenance cost. A concrete patio offers a low maintenance option and they can be constructed in a number of ways to improve their appeal. In addition to all of the different methods of construction they can also be colored and sealed. The investment on a patio or deck may not get you a dollar for dollar return, however, we are confident that it will be the reason why your home sells before other like kind homes on the market that do not have this feature.

Outdoor Living Areas

Have you ever heard of the term stay-cation? Backyards are becoming more than just an area to let the pets run around and occasionally light up the barbecue. The latest trend has been outdoor living areas. Some are as simple as a nicely constructed covered patio with outdoor furnishings such as couches, loungers, and tables. Otheoutdoor living area 2rs may include a full open air room with nice furnishings, a fireplace, ceiling fans, flat panel TV’s, and even a full service outdoor kitchen. These can be extremely pricey though! The desirability for these by the public is very high, however, not everyone can afford or are willing to pay for them. If you are interested in creating one of these we suggest that you set a budget that is no more than 3% of your homes current market value. If your home is currently valued at over $1,000,000 then you may need to extend the budget range a bit if you don’t already have one of these in place, since many within this price range will almost certainly expect a decent outdoor living area to be established.

Backyard Farms

Well, short of a tractor, the day of having just a single wooden garden box has quickly spread into something much bigger. And many consumers are digging it! Today it is not uncommon to see three or more large garden boxes full of organically grown vegetables and herbs. We are also seeing more and more fruit producing trees integrated into backyard landscapes. Due to public awareness on the health benefits and cost of organic produce we are seeing more and more families resort to creating their own backyard farm. Even if you have never planted or managed a growing garden before the idea of eating something that you grew yourself is appealing. I know we have this item at the bottom of our list but let’s clear the air about one thing. Well constructed gardens are desirable and for being so low in cost to construct they can yield a very nice return on the investment. Depending upon the size of your yard we recommend giving these their own defined space so that it is not the focal point of your landscape but a benefit of the overall yard.


For more information about home improvements or buying and selling real estate feel free to contact the author directly at:  shane@assetvu.com  or by phone at:  (916) 223-8119.

Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage is licensed by the California BRE – ID 01803537