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GardenSMART :: If You Are Pining for a New Home Start with a 4-Step Landscape Inspection

If You Are Pining for a New Home Start with a 4-Step Landscape Inspection

By Davey Tree Expert Company
Photograph courtesy of Davey Tree Expert Company

Have you ever thought about the vital role trees play in a house hunt? With their hulking branches and delicate flowers, trees are a joy to see when you first step onto a property.

"A beautifully landscaped yard makes a huge difference," says Nancy Hodges, a RE/MAX real estate agent with 30 years of experience. On the flip side, an unkempt yard can have the same impact.

"I've actually had buyers pull up with me in the driveway and refuse to get out because of the way the yard was landscaped," Hodges says.

Whether you're ready to buy or sell a home this season, be sure to inspect the trees and landscape. Kevin Sheehan, a certified arborist at Davey's Long Island, New York, office, shares how.

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Know that most trees are a benefit that will pay you back

"At Davey, we always joke that money really does grow on trees because they save you money in very tangible ways," Sheehan says.

If you have big, mature trees in front of a home, you'll also get:

  • A natural energy saver. Strategically placed trees save up to 56 percent on annual air-conditioning costs. Likewise, in winter, trees, especially evergreens, can reduce the need for heating by 20 to 50 percent. (USDA Forest Service)
  • A smart investment. A tree in front of a house increases the home's sale price by an average of $7,130. (PNW Research Station)
  • A quiet protector. While providing privacy from neighbors, trees also reduce 50 percent of urban noise. (USDA National Agroforestry)

Check how close trees are to the home

A mature tree right next to or near a home works great as a natural home cooler or wind blocker. But there are risks of having a tree situated near a house: It could fall, its limbs could drop, or it could damage the home's foundation.

"Generally, you want trees to be about 15 feet away from a house. Larger trees should be further away while smaller trees can be closer," Sheehan explains.

If the tree has branches hanging over the house or touching the roof, it's probably too close.

Get an expert eye on the scene

Trees can be a sound investment or a liability. That's why the most important thing you can do is get lots of information about the trees up front.

Before you put in an offer or list your home, have a certified arborist inspect the property's trees for you.

"At Davey, our arborists actually do this for free. Experts can let you know if you have anything to worry about before buying. Or we can share small steps to really wow buyers before listing your home," Sheehan says.

Simple steps like mulching your landscape, shaping trees with an artful prune or adding a few new shrubs and flowers make a tremendous impact on your curb appeal

Remove dead or dying trees

To boost curb appeal, trees need to be healthy, maintained, and planted in the right place. If that's not the case and your tree is beyond repair, removing it could actually boost your property value.

"Dead trees pose a risk. It's that simple. If an arborist confirms your suspicion that the tree is dying or dead, you want to remove it as soon as possible to avoid that risk becoming a reality," Sheehan advises.

Ideally, a seller would know about the tree's condition and swiftly remove it. If that didn't happen, have an arborist inspect the trees and provide documents with their official recommendations. Then, you can ask the owner to remove the dead tree during your contract negotiation.

If that doesn't work and you're in love with the house, know that you'll have to pay for that tree removal on your own–and budget for that cost. Remember if the tree is dead, you need to act fast. After all, you wouldn't want that tree harming your dream home!

Need help with a landscape inspection before buying or selling your home? Reach out to your local certified arborist at Davey Tree.

With nearly 9,500 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company's vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance, and environmental services. Celebrating 40 years of employee ownership, Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. Want to join us? Discover your Davey career, and apply today.


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