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What is Hardscaping and Should Real Estate Investors Do It?

Feb 08, 2021 by Liz Brumer
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We all know curb appeal matters, for both flippers and landlords. You're more likely to receive a higher offer from a buyer or hook a renter when the exterior of the property is well maintained. And in that vein, there are trends in the landscaping realm that can help. With heightened consciousness about sustainability and the increased desire to spend time outdoors during the pandemic, hardscaping has become a popular approach to landscaping. Learn what hardscaping is and if you should use it in your next project.

What is hardscaping?

Hardscaping is a component of landscaping that uses permanent, nonliving features in the yard to improve function, create better outdoor accessibility, expand the living space, and reduce the environmental impact over a traditional landscape all while having the picture-perfect Better Homes and Gardens (NYSE: RLGY) look. It might involve a patio or deck, graveled or paved walkways, terraced xeriscape, outdoor living rooms or kitchens, firepit areas, or water features. Hardscaping features are usually blended with sustainable garden beds or softscaping for a landscape design that is both usable and low maintenance.

Is it worth the investment?

The cost varies widely for hardscaping because it depends on the size of the yard as well as what already exists and what you are adding. For a professional design, which is almost always necessary for hardscaping, a patio, gazebo, pathways, and the associated vegetation or xeriscaping will on average cost around $30,000. But this estimate should be taken with a grain of salt. A patio install can cost as little as $2,000, while a large deck could cost over $10,000. A gravel walkway costs $3-$6 per square foot, whereas flagstone is $10-$30 per square foot.

Essentially, hardscaping costs should be relative to the anticipated value of the house. Spending $30,000 on a small 2/1 frame house worth $140,000 probably doesn't make much sense, but spending that much or even a bit more on a home worth $300,000 house makes more sense. If, for example, the home is worth $320,000 and the hardscaping features boost the value by 12%, you could actually profit an extra $8,400 from a $30,000 hardscaping install, not to mention it will likely sell faster due to the increased curb appeal.

As an investor, your goal is to appeal to the masses whether you focus on residential or commercial, rehab, or rental. Creating an appealing outdoor area for residents of an existing or planned apartment complex can help compete in the marketplace while reducing ongoing maintenance costs for landscaping. Another on-trend component of hardscaping is the reduction in watering, mowing, and pesticide or herbicide use. So if you really want to keep things low budget, opt for a significant amount of area-appropriate low-maintenance softscaping with a few pathways to meander through the garden.

In summary

According to The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), hardscaping that includes outdoor entertaining areas and increased environmental awareness are two of the top four landscaping trends of 2021. Hardscaping is in demand. It can increase curb appeal, create more usable space, allow for easier maintenance than a traditional yard. Plus, it offers the opportunity to increase returns, making it a great design element to try on your next investment project.

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Liz Brumer-Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.