How much should you invest in your home’s landscaping?
According to the American Society of Landscaping Architects, you should be putting up to 10% of your home’s total value into its landscape.
Of course, not all landscaping is equal.
And if maximizing your home’s resale value is your goal, nothing can compare to fully established, mature landscaping.
Mature landscaping consists of fully grown trees, shrubs, and other plantings that have been in the ground for a considerable amount of time.
You can’t force your current landscaping to mature overnight.
But knowing the pros and cons of mature landscaping can help you decide if it’s worth investing in for the future!
What Does Mature Landscaping Mean?
Mature landscaping refers to ornamental trees, shrubs, and other plants that are full-grown.
These plants have reached their full size (or very near to it) and do not grow or change much year to year.
While you might think that almost all landscaping is mature, it’s important to put things into perspective.
New developments, whether residential or commercial, typically install landscaping from scratch.
It can take several years — even decades — for freshly planted landscaping to fully mature.
Many plants won’t look their best until they reach maturity.
Immature landscaping can look barren, especially when it comes to shrubs or large shade trees that take time to fill out.
What Are the Benefits of Mature Landscaping?
Outside of your home and lot size, landscaping is one of the biggest factors in determining property value.
According to several surveys, mature trees can increase a property’s value by up to 19%.
Large trees aren’t just valuable in a financial sense.
Having several mature trees on your property also provides shelter and can cut down on energy costs.
There are few things better than sitting under a shady tree in the middle of summer.
Plus, many tree species provide habitats for wildlife like birds and squirrels.
Shade trees can help cool your home by blocking the sun for part of the day.
During winter, evergreen trees and shrubs will block harsh winds and keep your home warm.
When shopping for a new home or commercial property, the existing landscape can be a big selling point.
Yes, you can install your own. But that means potentially waiting years for trees and shrubs to fill out.
If a prospective property has mature landscaping, you don’t need to wait.
Instead, you can have gorgeous curb appeal the second the sale is finalized.
What Are the Downsides of Mature Landscaping?
If you enjoy redesigning your garden every few years, then a mature landscape probably isn’t for you.
Young shrubs and trees are resilient and fairly easy to move.
The same isn’t true for mature plantings. Redesigning a mature landscape often means starting completely from scratch.
Just like animals, plants don’t live forever.
While proper care can extend the lifespan of your mature landscaping, it won’t stop the inevitable.
Old trees and shrubs are more susceptible to disease and damage from the elements.
If your landscape plants are all about the same age, you could see a large number die off in a very short period.
You’ll have little trouble trimming dead branches from a juvenile tree.
Once that tree reaches 10, 15, or 20 feet tall, however, you’ll need to call in the professionals.
Mature landscaping can also mean performing more maintenance on your property as a whole.
For example, large trees can put your home at greater risk of storm damage.
Who Should Consider Mature Landscaping?
It’s easy to get swept up in all of the benefits of mature landscaping.
However, it’s not ideal for everyone.
Mature landscaping is a great option for anyone who:
Wants to Increase Property Value
If you plan to sell your home in the future, the earlier you install landscaping the better.
On the other hand, the potential for lost property value may deter you from leveling an existing mature landscape.
Enjoys the Look of Large Trees and Shrubs
Most landscaping ultimately comes down to aesthetic preference.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to invest in mature landscaping just for the classic look of tall trees and dense shrubbery.
Wants to Cut Down on Home Energy Costs
Large trees are an excellent way to add shade and wind protection to your property.
Remember to take into account the direction of the sun and cold winds when planting new trees.
Is Willing to Invest Time and Money in Upkeep
Mature landscaping is an investment.
While it can reap many rewards, not everyone has the resources needed to keep up with the needs of aging trees and shrubs.
Doesn’t Want to Make Changes in the Future
If you find joy in redesigning your landscaping every few years, then mature landscaping might not be the best option.
However, you can still include a handful of mature trees and shrubs in areas where change is least likely to happen!
How Do You Create a Mature Landscape?
Anyone can create a mature landscape if they have patience.
Choose plant species with long life expectancies. The last thing you want is to wait years for a tree to mature only for it to quickly die off.
It’s also a good idea to select plant species that are native to or otherwise thrive in your climate.
If you’re going to care for a plant for several years, it needs to be well-suited to the local environment.
You can still plant annuals in your landscape. Use these plants as seasonal gap-fillers around mature plantings.
Is Mature Landscaping More Expensive?
Many homeowners believe that mature landscaping is easier and more affordable to take care of.
It’s true that one of the most expensive parts of landscaping is installing it in the first place.
But mature plants come with a host of unique expenses.
Mature landscaping often includes large trees and shrubs. If a branch needs to come down for safety, you will need to hire a professional arborist to climb and cut the offending limb.
Established landscaping is more likely to cause damage to the surrounding property.
For example, tree roots can wreak havoc on plumbing, pavement, and your home’s foundation.
Even removing mature landscaping is more expensive.
Not only do you need to account for equipment and labor but also the damage removing large trees and shrubs will do to the surrounding property.
Making any changes to mature landscaping — even necessary ones — is a major project!
Do Mature Landscapes Always Require Time to Mature?
No. However, few homeowners opt to pay the high cost of installation.
Planting a fully grown tree can cost up to $3,000. Most landscapes require several trees to look their best and provide adequate shade.
Some homeowners choose to overfill their landscape with immature plants and remove some as they grow.
This eliminates the awkward gaps you often see in freshly planted landscaping.
While this method is a bit wasteful, it creates a smooth transition as the plantings mature.
Where Are Mature Landscapes Commonly Seen?
One of the easiest ways to tell how long a building has been around is to look at the trees!
Mature trees and shrubs are a hallmark of neighborhoods that were developed many years ago.
You’ll often see mature landscaping in historical neighborhoods. However, even homes built at the end of the 20th century have well-developed trees and shrubbery.
Remember that mature landscaping isn’t all or nothing.
Just because you see annuals or young trees on a property doesn’t mean the rest is not mature. Keep this in mind when designing your own landscape.
7 Examples of Mature Landscaping Elements
1. Shade Trees
Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves each year) are a staple of mature landscaping.
On average, these trees take several years to reach maturity and will continue growing throughout their lifetimes.
Many species can live several decades without issue, making them a great long-term investment for any property.
Although evergreen trees tend to take longer to mature than deciduous ones, they are still a worthwhile addition.
Evergreens are a popular choice in areas with harsh winters because they are incredibly hardy.
Plus, they provide shade and shelter during the entire year — even when other trees lose their leaves.
3. Climbing Vines
If you want to cover a trellis, arbor, fence, or exterior wall, climbing vines can be a wonderful complement to more traditional plantings.
Look for species that grow on woody stalks and do not require cutting back.
Some examples of climbers that will flourish for many years include wisteria, clematis, and climbing rose.
4. Foundational Beds
Foundational plantings are garden beds that frame the perimeter of a building.
Avoid oversized trees and shrubs in your foundational beds. The limbs and roots may cause damage to your home’s exterior.
Instead, turn to hardy, compact varieties that require little maintenance.
5. Flowering Shrubs
Shrubbery is an excellent way to fill out and add color to your landscaping.
While some shrubs reach their full potential within just a year or two, slow-growing varieties like the lilac bush can survive for decades.
You can use flowering shrubs alone or as a framework to be supplemented with seasonal annuals.
6. Water Features
Yes, you can enjoy a water feature like a pond or waterfall immediately after installation.
But these landscaping elements tend to get even better with time.
Your aquatic plants may need some time to establish.
It can also take a few growing seasons for the surrounding vegetation to adapt to the new water source.
Hedges are a practical, aesthetically pleasing alternative to fencing.
The one downside is that they can take years to reach the desired height and density.
If you’re willing to wait, hedge plants are a rewarding investment that will serve you for many, many years.
Well-groomed hedges can also add quite a bit of value to your home!
Mature landscaping isn’t just about property value. It’s preferred by many homeowners and professionals for its appearance alone.
While it’s true that mature landscaping doesn’t happen overnight, you can take steps to speed up the process. These may include:
- Planting fast-growing species
- Choosing plants with long lifespans
- Budgeting for future landscape maintenance
- Prioritizing plant health from a young age
Still, mature landscaping isn’t for everyone.
If you enjoy changing up your landscape every few years or want to leave room for future updates, mature plantings could back you into a design corner you don’t want to be in.
The key to creating a landscape you’ll love for years to come is to prioritize your own needs, lifestyle, and expectations.
Only you can decide if mature landscaping meets these factors or not.