Lawn service companies often claim that lawns increase property values. Conversely, those who are unhappy with a neighbor’s natural yard often say they don’t like it because it hurts their property values. Are these claims true? There are two answers to this question.
#1: It’s impossible to say.
In some court cases over property owners’ rights to have a natural yard, judges did not accept arguments that natural yards hurt property values. The judges pointed out that property values are influenced by so many things – the size of the home, the quality of the local school district, the recent sale prices of nearby homes, and the general housing market, just to name a few – that it is impossible to say that any one factor is helping or hurting property values in any one neighborhood.
#2. Compared to what?
Lawn service companies typically base their claims on studies that compare lawns to bare soil or to truly unmaintained masses of invasive plants. When asked to compare lawns to natural yards, a surveyed group of real estate agents believed that the natural yards came out ahead, raising property values by as much as 10%.
Ultimately, the value of a property is nothing more than what a potential buyer is willing to pay for it. In the past, when many people did not like or understand natural yards, it may have been true that buyers were willing to pay more for a lawn than for a planting of wildflowers. As attitudes change, however, buyers are not likely to be willing to pay a premium for an expensive-to-maintain lawn, when they could buy a well-established natural yard, move right in, and enjoy the birds instead of firing up the lawnmower every weekend.