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Landscape Features That Increase Property Value in Phoenix, Arizona

March 22, 2024

Key takeaways:

  • The uptake to increase property value in Phoenix brings significant financial, physical, and psychosocial benefits.
  • Landscape features that increase property value consist of simple tweaks that recover costs quickly and large additions that bring great enjoyment to both seller and buyer.
  • Besides costs, factors to consider when upgrading a home include the residents’ needs, outdoor views, noise levels, running costs, and protection from environmental agents.
  • Most homeowners entrust backyard upgrades to landscaping professionals to ensure high investment returns.
  • A highly experienced landscape designer is your best resource when upgrading your property.
DC Ranch - complete landscaping project - beforeDC Ranch - complete landscaping project - after
Walkways and Backyard Pool with a View, Before and After Remodeling. From Straight Line Landscape

The most obvious advantages of increasing your property value are the high potential equity assessments and investment returns. High equities can benefit homeowners who don’t intend to sell, while high investment returns tend to favor homeowners who do. Studies also show that living in a high-value property positively impacts people’s health, having more space for recreation and opportunities for enhancing mental well-being.

Choosing the right focal pieces and functional spaces is the easiest part. The most difficult, make-or-break task is completing the project to produce an impeccable finished product that impresses home appraisers and potential buyers. So, while DIY projects can address simple concerns in your outdoor living space, only working with true landscaping experts can ensure your property upgrades increase your home value.

In this article, I discuss ways to boost property value by landscaping improvement.

Table of contents

What Landscaping Features Can Increase Property Value in Phoenix?

The 2023 National Association of Realtors (NAR) research revealed that the following outdoor living space improvements had the highest investment returns in recent years:

At least 100% cost recovery:

  • Lawn care
  • Landscape maintenance
  • Overall landscape upgrade
  • Outdoor kitchen

With an 80-95% return on investment:

  • Patio
  • Wood deck
  • Tree care
  • Irrigation

With a 56-59% cost recovery:

  • Landscape lighting
  • Fire feature
  • In-ground pool

According to NAR, homeowners who participated in their study upgraded their outdoor living spaces to enhance livability, fix damaged areas, or simply change. Additionally, remodeling increased residents’ desire to live in their homes and gave them a sense of accomplishment. 

Of the homeowners included in the study, 40% completed their landscaping projects without hiring professionals. Those who entrusted entire projects to professional landscaping services comprised 37%, while the rest either contributed minor DIY work or bought the materials and let hired labor take over the project execution.

What do these figures mean? Let’s explore the significance of these trends and ways you can use the research findings to your advantage.

Brickston Lisa backyard - beforeBrickston Lisa swimming pool - after
Backyard Lawn and Pool Area, Before and After Project Completion. From Straight Line Landscape.

Lawn Care, Landscape Maintenance, and Overall Landscape Upgrades

Lawn care is the least expensive home improvement, costing only $415 on average. Landscape maintenance (average cost: $4,800) and overall landscape upgrade (average cost: $9,000) are also relatively inexpensive. However, these tiny tweaks can transform your outdoor space overnight if done properly, which may explain the huge investment returns.

Curb appeal is a critical selling point to a potential buyer, so most real estate experts advise clients to enhance theirs before listing their homes. Landscape maintenance and upgrading are essential in enhancing curb appeal, as shown by the above figures. More importantly, they’re the easiest paths to a prettier home exterior.

So, how should you turn a desert yard into a captivating sight?

Xeriscaping has become a popular gardening method due to its many advantages, including its ability to increase property value in Phoenix. Xeriscaping is, simply, water-efficient landscaping. Native, desert-adapted Arizona plants are used, which require little water. Natural grass lawns are either reduced in size or replaced by artificial turf. 

More drought-tolerant trees are planted, as trees are generally more water-efficient than grass and shorter plants due to their ability to provide shade and retain water. Water-efficient irrigation technology replaces old watering equipment. Hardscapes, particularly shade structures, replace large areas of water-inefficient softscapes. Food security is not a problem in xeriscaped homes with vertical gardens.

Adopting these changes in your Phoenix backyard has several advantages besides enhancing your property’s curb appeal. First, they let you take advantage of the city’s water conservation rebates. Second, they make your outdoor space friendlier to wildlife. Third, they help reduce ambient temperatures and water waste in your property. Fourth, these landscaping projects help maintain physical and mental health

Call us at Straight Line Landscape to get your yard in tip-top shape fast before your prospective buyer visits.

Outdoor Kitchens to Increase Property Value

The NAR research reports that the average cost homeowners spend on adding an outdoor kitchen to their yard is $15,000. Outdoor kitchen costs vary across states and greatly depend on the amount spent on project scope, materials, and hiring professional landscapers.

Baker - pool with ramada - beforeBaker - pool with ramada - after
Outdoor Kitchen and In-ground Pool, Before and After Construction. From Straight Line Landscape.

You can read more about landscaping budget planning from my previous article Costs of Premier Landscapes in Phoenix: Narrowing Down on Your Budget.

In the NAR study, outdoor kitchens rank as the third most expensive home upgrade, next to in-ground pools and wood decks. Yet, outdoor kitchens’ cost recovery is 100%. What accounts for this trend?

Outdoor kitchens provide unique dining experiences. This part of the home allows people to grill and smoke food, which aren’t exactly indoor activities. Al fresco dining enkindles fun conversations between family and friends. Having a meal outdoors feels natural and relaxing.

Outdoor kitchens are convenient for people who enjoy family picnics and large backyard parties. These nooks make food, beverages, and utensils available where they are required. They spare people the extra steps to their indoor kitchens and prevent delays and messy spills.

Among the home additions in the NAR study, outdoor kitchens inspired a greater desire to stay home in the largest proportion of homeowners at 99%. With impressive cost returns and enjoyability factor, I definitely recommend adding this activity space to your property remodeling plans.

Outdoor kitchens can be simple or complex, depending on your household needs. You can read my previous article, 3 Outdoor Kitchen Features You Must Seriously Think About, to learn more about the basic kitchen zones and ways to integrate them smoothly into your landscape design.

Some people choose to build their outdoor kitchens on their own to reduce costs. However, the NAR figures indicate that most homeowners would rather entrust landscaping construction to professionals than take on the task themselves to ensure the greatest investment return.

Furthermore, a recent study reveals that labor by a non-professional leads to more project delays, costly errors, and defective and unsafe construction. So, unless you have landscaping construction expertise, handling the task without professional help may not produce significant cost returns.

65K landscape example - render65K landscape example - completion
Outdoor Kitchen and Walkways, Render and Completed Project. From Straight Line Landscape.

On the other hand, Straight Line Landscape has years of experience constructing custom outdoor kitchens that can significantly increase property value in Phoenix homes. Contact us if you want to build an outdoor kitchen that’ll surely increase your family’s enjoyment and home value.

Patios and Decks to Increase Property Value

A patio costs around $10,500 to build, has a 95% cost recovery, and brings a greater desire to be home in 85% of home dwellers. A wooden deck costs $16,900 to build, returns 89% on investment, and sparks a bigger desire to be home in 74%.

These figures seem to indicate stark differences between these outdoor features’ desirability. However, the comparison needs further scrutiny. Patios and decks have overlapping functions but are not entirely similar, so their utility may differ in every home. Both deserve consideration when you plan your yard remodel.

Patios can even rough ground surfaces but are generally not built for elevation. They’re perfect for setting up outdoor living rooms and providing stylish spaces for outdoor activity areas with heavy equipment, such as outdoor kitchens and entertainment hubs. Patios are often made of natural (e.g., travertine) or artificial (e.g., brick) stone.

Composite material—essentially, a plastic wood substitute—doesn’t have the same cooling and aromatic properties as wood. However, it does reduce the need to chop down trees. You can check out the Trex website to learn more about composite decking.

As previously mentioned, patios and decks serve different functions in every home. Either one is a great addition so long as you’re working with a reliable landscaping architect who can make the structure functional and safe as it is visually attractive. Call Straight Line Landscape to discuss patio or decking options for boosting property value.

Scott - Ramada - BeforeScott - Ramada - after
Patio with Ramada, Before and After Construction. From Straight Line Landscape.

Tree Care and Irrigation to Increase Property Value

Tree care includes planting trees and maintaining them by adding fertilizer, spraying, trimming, pruning, and, if necessary, removing a view-obstructing mature tree. Trees’ numerous environmental benefits include providing shade, cooling the surroundings, conserving water, sheltering wildlife, and promoting recreation.

Fruit trees also add to food security, also contribute to the increase of property value in Phoenix. The recommended types include apple, plum, mesquite, citrus, and pomegranate.

For irrigation, water-conserving technology is essential in the Sonoran desert region and one you should highly think about adding to your yard. Water-recycling and rainwater-collecting features may be incorporated into a home’s irrigation system.

Water-conserving equipment is best for Arizona homes with vegetable gardens, natural grass lawns, and water features. At Straight Line Landscape, we install smart technology in home irrigation systems to control irrigation timing and amount for busy or constantly traveling homeowners.

Both these home additions contribute significantly to home value. Native trees, like native plants, can quickly boost curb appeal. Water-conserving technology reduces your water requirements without sacrificing your landscape’s vibrance.

Outdoor Lighting to Increase Property Value

Landscape lighting keeps the beautiful parts of your landscape visible in the dark. It also ensures walkway safety from dusk until dawn, making your home inviting to overnight-staying guests. So, it’s another outdoor feature worth considering during your Phoenix home upgrade.

Most homeowners acquire a greater sense of enjoyment in having good outdoor lighting. Some even consider it an excellent way to modernize a landscape. Unsurprisingly, NAR reported that the homeowners in their study gave landscape lighting a joy score of 10/10, equaled only by adding a swimming pool. Appraisers and potential buyers also put a premium on great outdoor lighting.

The Straight Line Landscape team installs landscape lighting suitable for any Phoenix architectural style. We’re just a phone call away if you need to enliven your outdoor space at night.

DC Ranch main entrance - beforeDC Ranch main entrance - after
Front Porch and Garden, Before and After Remodeling. Outdoor lights were added during the renovation. From Straight Line Landscape.

Fire Features to Increase Property Value

Fire features include outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. Outdoor fireplaces are suitable for sizable yards, while fire pits are better for landscapes with limited space. Both can provide warmth on chilly Arizona nights and add drama to background lighting. Costs vary, depending on the type and size.

The NAR research shows that fire features can recover only as much as 56% of one’s investment. Regardless, a joy score of 9.7/10 makes these structures highly desirable during a property upgrade.

Outdoor fire features make bewitching focal points. They bring family and friends closer together and make evening garden chats livelier and cozier. The Straight Line Landscape team understands this, so we make it a point to mesh fire features well into any landscape design. 

To learn how fire features can make your outdoor space attractive to appraisers and potential buyers, you can read my previous article, Outdoor Fireplace and Fire Pit Design Ideas for Phoenix, AZ Homes—A Comprehensive Guide.

In-Ground Pools to Increase Property Value

According to NAR, in-ground swimming pools are the most expensive landscaping project features, costing an average of $90,000. The cost return is around 56%, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the price of building one. 

However, the landscape construction industry has seen an increased demand for this water feature in recent years. Tag price notwithstanding, 89% of homeowners profess a greater desire to be home after having a swimming pool built. As previously mentioned, in-ground swimming pools are the only outdoor features besides landscape lighting with a joy score of 10/10. Consider including one in your upgrade if you have enough yard space.

Swimming pools are great for socializing and recreation. Notably, in-ground swimming pools contribute immensely to home value because of their association with luxury. In Phoenix, swimming pools are highly valued because they’re great for cooling down in the daytime. Water-conserving technology and strategic landscape design tricks, such as building pools near shaded areas, can reduce these structures’ water requirements.

Swimming Pool, Waterfalls, and Pergola - beforeSwimming Pool, Waterfalls, and Pergola - after
Swimming Pool, Waterfalls, and Pergola, Before and After Construction. The backyard has a magnificent valley view. From Straight Line Landscape.

Other water features to consider in Phoenix, which can contribute to an increase in property value, include waterfalls, fountains, and ponds. These water features can cool a hot desert yard in the daytime and provide shelter to wildlife. Fire pits with attached fountains may attract potential buyers for their unique design and brilliant combination of contrasting elements.

The Straight Line Landscape team has expertly built many Phoenix homes’ in-ground swimming pools and water features. Call us if you want to add these luxurious structures to your property.

Pool, Outdoor Kitchen, and Fire Pits with Fountains - RenderPool, Outdoor Kitchen, and Fire Pits with Fountains - Finished
Pool, Outdoor Kitchen, and Fire Pits with Fountains, Render and Finished Project. From Straight Line Landscape.

From the trends above, costs are easier to recover with simple backyard modifications than outdoor features requiring major landscape design changes. Meanwhile, backyard upgrades that create functional outdoor living spaces, including expensive projects like pools and kitchens, produce the highest enjoyment rates.

However, the NAR study doesn’t account for the cost impact of non-modifiable factors like location and the characteristics of the home dwellers. In the next section, I explain how you can address these concerns during your landscape upgrade.

Factors to Consider When Upgrading Your Outdoor Living Space

Phoenix is a great place to live, particularly with its booming economy and fantastic scenery. However, as urbanization rapidly reduces our living spaces, it’s crucial to consider how to increase property value in Phoenix when upgrading your outdoor living space. This not only caters to changing family needs but also enhances the overall value of your home:

Family Needs 

Think of the needs of each family member. Young children need enjoyable play areas where their noises don’t reach the neighbors’ space. Adolescents and adults need room for recreation and intimacy. Older individuals require recreation and convenient access to different home areas. Everyone needs safety from hazards like fires, sharps, water accidents, electricity, and slippery surfaces.

Optimize your yard space so everyone’s needs are met. Install appropriate safety features in various parts of your landscape. 

Outdoor Views

Among the modifiable attributes of a property, outdoor views have the largest impact on real estate value. Adding color to your landscape helps enhance curb appeal. However, orienting your windows or yard to get the best view of a natural feature, such as a mountain or lake, increases valuation tremendously. If reorientation is too pricey, a deck that gets a better outdoor view may also pique a home buyer’s interest.

A-Property-with-Great-Backyard-Views.-From-Straight-Line-Landscape-1.jpg A-Property-with-Great-Backyard-Views.-From-Straight-Line-Landscape-2.jpg A-Property-with-Great-Backyard-Views.-From-Straight-Line-Landscape-3.jpg A-Property-with-Great-Backyard-Views.-From-Straight-Line-Landscape-4.jpg
A Property with Great Backyard Views. From Straight Line Landscape

Noise Cancellation

Noise pollution can make any city dweller cranky. You can attract potential home buyers by installing fixtures that can shun it out of your property. That’s why noise cancellation is also highly valued in real estate. 

Important elements to include are landscaping walls and water features. Landscaping walls shield your property from neighborhood noises. Water features produce a soft background sound that dulls outside noise. 

Low Running Costs

Important factors impacting running costs include maintenance, durability, and energy efficiency. Serious home buyers don’t mind paying for expensive amenities so long as they’re made of high-quality, built-to-last materials despite little upkeep.

Energy efficiency is a little tricky. For small-to-medium-size homes, little adjustments like enlarging windows to enhance visibility and ventilation or switching to energy-efficient appliances may be enough. For big homes with considerable energy requirements, adding solar panels may be necessary.

Do solar panels increase home value? The US Department of Energy says every $1 of reduced wattage translates to a $20 increase in home value. Forbes states that homes with solar panels sell 20% quicker than residences without them. 

Protection from the Environment

Phoenix has one of the harshest climates in the country. Residents need protection from various environmental agents to enjoy staying in their backyards. That’s why protective features that add landscape design sophistication and extend the living space toward this side of the home increase home value quickly.

Some ideas to consider are water and fire features, landscaping walls, and shade structures. Water features reduce daytime ambient temperatures. Fire features protect you from the biting winter cold. Exterior landscaping walls keep out the wind and noise while retaining walls prevent soil erosion. Shade structures like pergolas, ramadas, and trees shield you from UV radiation and rain.

Choosing your backyard’s new outdoor features can be challenging. However, you may have a better idea of the direction you want to take after discussing your outdoor space plans with a highly experienced landscape designer. At Straight Line Landscape, you only need to fill out our form to get value-packed landscape remodeling services and advice from our team.

Pool with an Adjoining Shaded Outdoor Kitchen, Before ConstructionPool with an Adjoining Shaded Outdoor Kitchen After Construction
Pool with an Adjoining Shaded Outdoor Kitchen, Before and After Construction. From Straight Line Landscape.

Upgrading Your Home Is a Journey Worth Taking

Renovating your outdoor space is a great way to increase your home value. There are plenty of strategies to do it, but ultimately, your decision should consider your family’s lifestyle, preferences, and plans for your home.

Upgrading your property value can benefit you immensely, whether you’re staying in it for decades or selling in the near future. Living in a nice home positively impacts a family’s health and enhances self-esteem. A high-value home improves real estate appraisals for home equity or resale. But remember that landscaping upgrades require a meticulous approach, one you can make with the help of an experienced landscaping team.

Contact Us When You’re Ready 

Finally, if you’re raring to bring your landscaping ideas to life, remember that Straight Line Landscape is just a few keyboard clicks away. Fill out our quote form so we can schedule you for a consultation and home visit. The sooner you get in touch with us, the faster you can turn your dream landscape into reality.


Author: Holly Banghart

Holly, our senior designer and sales manager since 2010, brings expertise in design, industry certifications, and Master Gardener qualification. She crafts functional outdoor spaces tailored to clients' needs with manageable maintenance. Holly excels in conquering design challenges, turning yards into captivating landscapes. If you seek to enhance your outdoor space, Holly stands ready to transform your vision into reality.

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