WHEN DELIVERED, THE AVERAGE new home includes very little landscaping or none at all. Sure, there's a driveway and perhaps some flowers planted in front, but that's about it.
“You will find that a lot more builders pay more attention to the kitchen cabinets and the countertops than they do to landscaping,” says Rich Ohmann, vice president of sales and marketing for St. Lawrence Homes in Raleigh, N.C. “But as we know from Real Estate 101, curb appeal is a major factor in home purchases.”
A few simple additions can make a big difference in a house's appearance, whether in landscape lighting, flowers, a well-planted lawn, or a stone or brick patio.
“Landscaping with brick is a popular choice because it stands up to the elements so well,” says Jewel Warlick, marketing director for Brick Southeast, an association of manufacturers and distributors. “It also adds a classic, durable look to any outdoor space and extends a home's living space far beyond its wall.”
It seems strange that builders leave landscaping up to the buyers, especially when you consider the importance of curb appeal and the trend toward outdoor living space.
Some builders, however, are starting to get it. St. Lawrence Homes, for example, offers a choice of three landscape packages to new-home buyers in one of their communities. And Winston-Salem, N.C.–based Pine Hall Brick says it has seen a marked increase in the use of brick pavers in new-home construction, especially on the higher end.
“With nearly 60 percent of new homes featuring a patio, consumers want a warmer look than is offered by traditional poured concrete, and they are getting their ideas from local commercial projects that are using clay pavers at an increasing rate,” says Ted Corvey, marketing director and paver business director for Pine Hall Brick.
St. Lawrence gambled on the fact that well-executed landscaping in the parts of the community that were already sold would spur sales and prices in those areas still under construction. It appears the company was right: The new development where landscape packages are offered is “one of the most successful projects we have done in a long time,” Ohmann says.
You want natural cobblestone but can't afford it. The manufacturer says its Bugnot Series offers the next best thing: a porcelain tile that offers the look and feel of the real thing. It is available in 8-by-8-and 16-by-16-inch tiles in charcoal, rose, cream, gray, beige, and ruby. The through-body product is suitable for outdoor and indoor use, the company says. Saicis North America. 877-675-3772.
One of construction's most versatile products, brick can be used for interior or exterior walls and for exterior landscaping. The manufacturer's interlocking clay pavers come in a variety of edges and styles, including tumbled and antique. All pavers exceed ASTM standards with a 10,000-pounds-per-square-inch rating and low water-absorption rate, the company says. Pine Hall Brick. 800-334-8689. www.pinehallbrick.com.
LaneLight in-pavement light-emitting diode markers are ideal for landscaping, the manufacturer says. The system consists of sealed electronic lenses and stainless steel light heads. Durable and maintenance-free, the markers carry a 24-month warranty and have a projected service life of up to 15 years, depending on operational conditions, the company adds. LaneLight. 866-466-4836. www.lanelight.com.
Natural stonework is always a welcome sight in landscaping, but it's often expensive and labor intensive. The Courtyard Collection, the manufacturer says, is a better idea. This decorative, freestanding wall system allows you to create beautiful and durable stonelike structures easily. Made from high-strength concrete, the interlocking blocks fit together without mortar or pins and require no footings. Two finishes are available. Allan Block. 952-835-5309. www.allanblock.com.