published Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Landscaping adds value to home and community

Learn more

* Find the top local landscapers, nurseries, garden centers, designers, tree specialists, lawn care professionals and equipment at www.Chattanoogalandscapers.com.

* Charlie Hall's Web page is http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu.

* Find Chattanooga's tree planting program, Take Root, on Facebook.

* Get Tri-State Home Show information at the Home Builders of Southern Tennessee website, www.hbast.org.

Contact Tom Stebbins at tstebbins@utk.edu or 423-855-6113.

A great landscape can increase home value by about 9 percent. One survey showed landscaping has a recovery value of 100 percent to 200 percent if it is well done and harmonizes with foliage nearby. This compares to a recovery value of 75 percent to 125 percent for a kitchen remodel, 80 percent to 120 percent for a bathroom and 20 percent to 50 percent for a swimming pool.

A well-executed landscaped patio can add more than 12 percent to the value of a home, and a well-landscaped curb can increase property value by 4.4 percent. Come to the Tri-State Home Show today and Sunday at the Chattanooga Convention Center to see how a better landscape can add real value to your home.

Study results

Dr. Charlie Hall keeps track of all these economic studies regarding the value of plants in our lives. I know him simply as Charlie because he was on the University of Tennessee faculty for five years. He was so popular they voted him a member of the Hall of Fame of the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association.

A couple of years ago, he went big time to become professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M. He now serves the entire nursery and landscape industry. His mission is to help the plant nursery and landscape industries thrive. As such, he explores any and all studies related to how landscaping can add value to our homes, increase our health, beautify our neighborhoods and enrich our lives in general.

One study found that a nice house with 20 percent more trees could be worth $8,000 more than the average comparable house in the same neighborhood. This same result was seen for the houses with better lawns or flower beds. They could be worth $20,000 more.

Good landscaping and desirable ornamental plants have a high correlation with occupancy rates of apartments, municipal and business buildings. People desire to live and work in an area that is nicely landscaped.

There is a proven link between the presence of a park in a neighborhood and the level of physical activity of the residents. As a result, these residents do not spend as much each year on health care and medical treatment.

Another study found trees that are planted along sidewalks reduce the temperature of the asphalt on the street through shade. This temperature reduction reduces the amount of maintenance and helps to increase the longevity of asphalt. Paved roads and sidewalks also are much more enjoyable for pedestrians to walk along if trees are present. Chattanooga City Forester Gene Hyde said the goal of planting 1,500 trees downtown through the Take Root program has almost been met.

Chattanooga has also discovered that the presence of parks and landscaping downtown draws tourists. This is called ecotourism. Ecotourism areas like the Tennessee Riverwalk are relatively inexpensive to maintain, and people come for the simple enjoyment of an urban green space. These areas bring in new revenue for the community through the added consumption of food, lodging and other costs associated with tourism.

Botanical wish list

I think Chattanooga would benefit greatly from a real botanical garden with every kind of tree and shrub -- a wonderland filled with blooming flowers. Research shows that people will come from near and far to visit a botanical garden. A botanical garden would bring the city revenue through special events and recreational attractions. Many local garden clubs and Master Gardeners have indicated they would support an attraction such as a botanical garden. It would be a great addition to our growing area.

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