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Landscaping can improve your home, and perhaps your resale value

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 24, 2018

METRO DETROIT — Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially when it comes to home aesthetics.

Michigan homes are notably on display in the spring and summer months, as many homeowners take pride in sprucing up their properties in the form of landscaping and making their houses stand out for passers-by.

Like with everything else, there are a multitude of trends that take hold annually and encourage individuals to revisit their lawn and backyard setups. Hiring a company to do the work is just as commonplace.

Dave Barlow, owner of Troy-based Landscape Design & Construction, has been in the business for 61 years. He has seen the industry shift from word-of-mouth referrals to more modern forms of recruiting services, such as Google and social media.

“References are a good idea,” Barlow said. “The public are fairly well-equipped when they come to you. If you’re not getting negative reports, you’re not working at all. In this day and age, people have a big want to report (more) bad things than good.”

He said most of his customers tend to be in the range of 65 to 90 years old and often in the market for a new patio, expansion work, or to complete repairs of older work that hasn’t withstood the test of time.

Little things like watering, fertilizing and maintaining shrubbery are not only encouraged, but are vital.

“Most people think that you buy a tree, stick it in the ground and you’re done,” Barlow said. “That’s like saying you had a baby and it will take care of itself and I’m done. Not at all.”

Mic Karwowicz, owner of Washington Township-based Great Escape Landscaping, said any reputable landscaping company should be able to provide renovations, plants, trees and shrubs, brick pavers, outdoor waterfalls and kitchen areas, and even fire pits.

Like Barlow, Karwowicz said that brick pavers are still admired by homeowners. However, there has been an evolution during the past 25 years, he said, that has focused on more outdoor kitchens, fire pits and lighting.

“Back in the day, it was just patios,” Karwowicz said. “Now, there’s so many more options when it comes to brick paver styles, colors and such to choose from to get a little more creative.”

And just like any business, people want the most they can get at the lowest possible price. But as Karwowicz warns, the lowest quote is not always the best one. Some people may not be licensed or insured, or lack the experience and qualifications of those who have done it for decades. It’s an issue of due diligence.

In the Michigan climate, some want plants that regenerate themselves, while others want to make an effort to get them to bloom.

Barlow said perennials are commonplace due to requiring little maintenance. Karwowicz said flowers add color, while plants like hydrangeas require less water. Pots and urns are popular.

“This is why we enjoy our summers more than other states,” Karwowicz said. “They like the bells and whistles with it.”

Of course, there’s always the aspect of resale value.

Kelly Finley, owner of New Century Realtors in Troy, said that curb appeal is always important because it’s the first thing anybody sees. For those who are selling their home and putting pictures on realty websites, there’s a “pride of ownership” aspect.

As to whether there’s a flip side for sellers who don’t do anything to improve outdoor aesthetics, the jury is still out. That could be due to Michigan being a more seasonal state.

“It’s tough to say,” Finley said. “Right now, inventory is really low and everything is going very fast. In some cases, even ugly sells.”

Karwowicz said that some people just want a Band-Aid on their home, just so they can sell it off to someone else and relieve themselves of the situation. Simultaneously, it’s that company’s stamp on the home and not all want their name associated with Band-Aids.

Barlow had simple advice: Don’t wait until the final hour.

“It’s usual happenstance that they’re spending money for the next guy, but at this point, they’re forced to do that,” Barlow said. “They don’t have a choice. … The house outside is a mirror of what’s inside.”