…the best return for your renovation dollar, plus the pay off increases over time.

Landscaping adds more value than almost any other home renovation. It doesn’t have to cost a bundle and best of all you can do it yourself.

A recent Michigan State University study found that, depending on where the house is located, high-quality landscaping adds five to 11 percent to its price.

If you have no immediate plans to move, that’s even better. Landscaping is the one home improvement that actually appreciated over time.

Where do you start? Depending how long you decide to stay in your current home will determine which projects to tackle first.

If you’re selling in a year or less…

Edge the beds. Cutting fresh edges where grass meets mulch makes the lawn well kept. Simpling curving the edge of your flower beds could increase the value of your home by one percent.

Nourish the grass. For a truly lush lawn, ideally you should start regular fertilizer treatments a year before listing the house. But you can green up your lawn in one application.

Scatter color throughout. For about $1 a plant, you can blanket your yard with petunias, impatiens, and other small annuals that will flower throughout the current growing season.

Also invest in some larger perennials and in shrubs that stand at least four feet high. A few good-size plants have more curb appeal than 20 little ones.

If you’re improving for the long term…

Cut back the jungle. Many everyday yard plants, such as azaleas, forsythia, hollies, and rhododendrons, will fill out with new growth after a season or so–even if you hack them down to stumps.

Add drama with foliage. A distinctive yard will make your home more appealing to buyers, so replace plants that don’t flower, or provide interesting foliage with eye-catching alternatives, like a patch of blackeyed Susans, a flowering crabapple or cutleaf Japanese maple.

If a move is not in your future, you don’t need to spend a lot of money for big plants. You can save up to 50 percent or more by buying small ones and waiting a few seasons to get the full visual impact. Keep in mind when planting to space them based on the mature size listed on the label, not how they look now.

Consider new angles. Most yards have almost all the plants along the foundation and property lines. But if you place yours throughout different parts of the property, you’ll create a dept of field that makes your home look farther away from the road.

Try putting some near the house’s corners to accentuate its shape, other near the street to define the yard, and some in between, where they can block unfortunate views and be admired from indoors.

A little privacy.It’s nice to wave hello to your neighbors out front, but the backyard should be a private space. If your backyard feels overexposed, fencing can offer a quick fix. You can also achieve the same effect at a much lower cost by planting small evergreen shrubs, although you’ll have to wait a few seasons for full coverage.

If you are looking for help, please feel free to call me. I have a list of qualified, trusted landscapers in the Silicon Valley and surrounding areas.