Photos: Andy Barnes

By now builders are familiar with the interior touch points that appeal to buyers, but they may not realize that a good landscape plan also is a powerful motivator.

“A thoughtfully designed space considers the relationship to and the impact of the surrounding environment,” says Julie deLeon, of Chicago-based Groundwork. “Integrating the landscape treatment into the building of a site contributes to the overall experience of the built environment from the interior out as well as outside in.”

Mature trees and leafy foliage are reasons buyers like existing neighborhoods, even though they may prefer a newer home. New subdivisions, however, typically don’t have such features, which is where a good landscape plan comes in handy.

For this home in Highland Park, Ill., deLeon carefully chose a variety of hard and soft features to create a relaxing exterior space. Because the home uses slate inside, she used slate pavers that follow the line of sight from the courtyard through the home.

“Plant selection followed native selections best suited for a woodland garden as the home and property are married to this environment,” deLeon explains. She chose witch hazel for the corner edge of the front entrance because “it is one of few trees with a winter bloom—a beautiful orange flower that shows itself in January.”

Columnar aspens in concrete containers “accent the open air quality by breaking the roof line,” she says. A shorter species would have made the space feel tight. Says deLeon: “It is this plant selection that anchors the landscape design to the home and property and so it is the only specimen uplighted in the courtyard.” 

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.