18 April 2024

First impressions count. When it comes to house hunting, that first impression begins with curb appeal: the moment a buyer turns into your road and steps into your garden. In this article, we’ll look at how landscaping can influence the value of your property.

What is landscaping?

Landscaping can be a big, intimidating word. All it really means is the process of organising and shaping your garden and outdoor space so that it’s attractive and “works” for you and your family.

In South Africa, we are influenced by a number of factors when we organise our outdoor spaces. We are a nation that loves to braai; we like being outdoors; and we live in a largely water-scarce country. Two more recent trends impact our landscaping considerations: more and more people work from home and, at the same time, are striving for healthier and more budget-friendly lifestyles. The latter means that more people are establishing vegetable gardens.

More than just gardening

Landscaping is more than just looking after your garden. It’s a way of extending your home into the outdoors. Deciding what to do will depend on your lifestyle and how you’d like to “use” your outside space.

For example, creating an outside braai and entertainment area under deciduous trees that provide shade in summer, but let through the warm, bright sun in winter. When you are planning this new garden “room”, you may want to consider flow: is it easy for you and your guests to move between your kitchen and reception areas? Or if you have the space, do you want to create something quite separate from the house so that, for example, the kids can still play X-box in the TV room without disturbing the grown-ups?

On the other hand, you may wish to create a tranquil haven that could be an extension of your home office, and where you can work in nature and draw inspiration. This could involve levelling off an area, and/or putting up a deck so that you can set out a table and chairs as an outside workstation surrounded by greenery with pops of seasonal colour. Of course, this pretty patch can double up as a space for morning coffee, lingering lunches, sundowners and al fresco dining.

Some essential landscaping tips that add value

Before we get to the tips, bear in mind that if you have bought a property without an established garden, patience is the watchword. Gardens don’t grow overnight.

Start with the basics

The lawn

Lawns and grass are contentious issues. The increasing need for water-wise gardening has seen a move away from large tracts of green towards “wild” gardens. Sometimes, though, this can be a trade-off as you create a green space for children to play or to entertain. If a lawn is a non-negotiable, plant indigenous grasses that are specific to your area, e.g. Buffalo or Kweek in the Western Cape, and Kikuyu in the sunny, higher rainfall areas.

Staying with the need to conserve water, a grey water system is a great way to both maintain a lawn and also to conserve water. If you can, and funds and local regulations allow, sinking a borehole or a well-point so that you have irrigation water on tap could be a major benefit that would certainly make your property more attractive to buyers and, in some cases, could even bolster your home’s value.

Trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs are essential for shade and privacy. In addition, carefully selected shrubs will give you seasonal colour and can be cut into attractive shapes or barriers that can separate one garden room from another. An excellent, quick-growing indigenous and water-wise shrub that both makes a good hedge and provides glorious winter colour is Tecomaria Capensis – the Cape Honeysuckle.

Shade trees are essential, and when you select trees, bear in mind that their root systems are an underground mirror of their above-ground shape and size. This means that when you buy that little sapling, don’t plant it too close to the house as it is highly likely that the roots will, at some point, interfere with the foundations, paving and even the plumbing.

Flowers, herbs and vegetables

We’ve grouped flowers, herbs and vegetables together because these are usually a matter of personal taste. You’ll get quick pops of colour from annual plantings, like the African daisy and marigolds, and if you plant edible flowers like nasturtiums and pansies, you’ll have colour in both the garden and in your salads.

Vegetables can either be interspersed with your flowering plants or in dedicated beds. Either way, you’ll need to make sure that they – the beds and the veggies – are properly tended, watered, weeded and mulched so that your garden is both productive and neat.

Word to the wise: container plantings are an easy and inexpensive way to create seasonal colours for your garden. Herbs grow well in containers and if they are placed at your kitchen door, you can have them on hand when you need them.

Hard landscaping

You’ll often hear people refer to “hard” landscaping. We’ve already mentioned a couple of examples: the outside braai and deck areas. What makes these areas even more user-friendly and attractive is lighting. The added advantage of lighting is that it can be solar-powered and/or connected to your security system. This last had the benefit of not just increasing the value of your property but also potentially adding to your home’s security and thereby reducing your insurance premiums.

Other examples include the fencing you choose to secure your property, pathways, the pool or water feature, as well as other structures like retaining or decorative walls and even sculptures. Because these features are more permanent in nature and more expensive to add or replace, these features tend to have more of a direct impact on your home’s value than planting would.


As with everything about owning property, your landscaped garden needs to be maintained. This could be a serious consideration if you’re thinking of installing a swimming pool as it will need constant maintenance, all year round, and in times of drought.

Trees and most shrubs need to be trimmed from time to time. If you don’t carefully manage large trees, branches – or whole trees – can come down in stormy weather and can damage your (or your neighbours’) property.

Keep an eye open for pests – they’re often a sign that a plant or tree is unhealthy and needs feeding. When it comes to lawns, regardless of what you plant, always keep your lawn and flower beds neat, trimmed and weed-free, especially when you put your house up for sale.

Must I use professionals?

Whether or not to use professionals depends on a combination of budget and, some would say, passion. However, if you don’t know where to begin and don’t really have an interest in the garden other than enjoying the outside space, calling in a professional landscaper is a no-brainer. Similarly, if you lead a busy life and you don’t want to spend a big chunk of your spare time tilling your land, contract a reputable garden service to do the work.

Will this hard work and money pay off when I sell my property?

Remember what we said at the beginning about the importance of first impressions? It’s common knowledge that homes that are well presented – inside and out – both sell more quickly and realise higher prices. In fact, some research even seems to suggest that homes with landscaping appeal can command a price that is around 6% higher than a similar property.

If you’re considering selling your property and would like a valuation, please contact your nearest RE/MAX office.

Have more unanswered questions? Here are some related questions – and answers – that might help…

How much does property increase in value per year in South Africa?

The extent to which properties increase in value depends on a number of factors: socio-economic conditions in South Africa, the condition of the property, and location, to name a few. You can speak to a RE/MAX Agent to find out how much house prices have increased in your area.

How do I find the value of my house in South Africa?

To find out the value of your house you can ask your nearest RE/MAX office to conduct a free marketing assessment of your property.

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