This article appears in Fall Home & Garden magazine.
Prudent homebuyers wouldn’t skip a home inspection, which covers the structure and systems of the house inside and out, but what about the yard? A standard inspection doesn’t cover the grounds, trees, plantings and structures that not only add value to a home but are enjoyable.
Trees and plants play a vital role in a landscape around a home and are some of the first things a potential buyer may notice. On the flip side, an unkempt yard may drive potential buyers away.
Just like a home inspection, a landscape inspection can help homebuyers feel more secure, said Kevin Sheehan, a certified arborist with the Long Island, New York, office of the Davey Tree Expert Co.
“A landscape inspection takes groundcovers, trees, shrubs and irrigation into consideration, giving homeowners the peace of mind that these features have been evaluated by a professional who understands the health and potential issues of these outdoor spaces,” Sheehan said. A landscape inspection can also include drainage, retaining walls, walkways, playground areas, fencing, patios, pools and spas, outdoor kitchens, water features and fire pits.
The results of a landscape inspection will give homeowners a clearer understanding of the property’s outdoor features and the upkeep and maintenance they will need in the near future, Sheehan said.
“While many homeowners are familiar with home inspections, many are unaware of the value their landscapes provide. ‘Home sweet home’ applies to every inch of property new homeowners purchase,” Sheehan said.
A landscape inspection is something many people overlook.
“People tend to be tree blind. A visual inspection starts from the ground up. If you see a problem at the base, chances are the tree has more significant issues at the top,” Sheehan said.
Trees located next to or near a home naturally cool the house or act as wind blockers, but trees located too close also pose safety risks. A tree or a limb could fall on the home or damage the home’s foundation.
“You don’t want to move to a house that makes you feel unsafe. Check out the condition of the trees around the house and make sure they are healthy and well,” Sheehan said. “A tree that is about to fall down is a major hazard. It’s not only a danger to your property but also the inhabitants.”
A heads-up on costs
A professional landscape inspection will provide potential homeowners with an estimate of the costs they may be facing in the future to repair or maintain their landscape.
“This can come in handy as a bargaining tool to negotiate over the price,” Sheehan said.
“Acting on recommendations from the landscape inspection will not only keep trees and the outdoor area safe, but it also will decrease property maintenance costs in the long run. Proactively treating trees and hazards is much more cost-effective than dealing with them later,” he said.