by David Chapman, Staff Writer
The first view one sees pulling up to a new home isn’t the spacious great room, intricate woodwork or cozy kitchen.
It’s not the “new home smell.”
It’s not even inside — it’s the exterior, or lack thereof, that creates a first impression.
“Proper landscaping is vitally important. It’s the first thing people see when they pull up. If it’s not looking good outside, people will look for things wrong inside,” said Jason Dugger, owner of Scapes of North Florida.
Dugger has been in the business for more than 10 years and works with builders on the front end of new home construction and existing homeowners who want to renovate their current landscape on designs.
Besides adding curb appeal, it can also pay off, said another industry veteran.
“I’ve been told proper landscaping can add around 25 percent to a home’s value,” said Louise Johnson, owner of In The Garden, which provides landscape and design services.
Despite the plethora of options, homeowners of recent years are sticking to a key principle when choosing their landscape design: low maintenance.
“It’s landscape with curb appeal while also being something they won’t have to worry about on the weekend,” Dugger said.
Johnson emphatically agrees.
“Low maintenance, low maintenance, low maintenance,” she said.
That includes slower-growing grass that requires less irrigation, which can be costlier as water prices continue to increase. Johnson also recommends homeowners aiming for the exotic look to dig deeper before planting tropical plants — especially in a gated community.
“Some can get out of hand and grow quickly, requiring homeowners to stay on top of it,” she said.
But, it’s more than just throwing down some sod or ripping open a few bags of mulch.
Outside of the “typical” scope, Dugger said that new and existing homeowners have also been investing in additional lifestyle features. Especially for homeowners who have reinvested in their home, outdoor living structures like fire pits and outdoor kitchens have become popular and increase the overall appeal of a property.
“It definitely adds value,” he said.
Johnson said that homeowners are dedicating outdoor space and landscape for entertaining and larger events, such as weddings.