Landscaping to Your Environment

Education & Training with Adhi Schools, LLC

With much of the Western United States experiencing extended droughts, some homeowners are turning to alternative landscaping methods to save resources.

Recently REALTOR® Magazine1 (pg 34-35) wrote about owners who are “rethinking the traditional American landscape” by moving toward yards that require less water and maintenance. The “desert landscaping” method, popular in much of the Southwest, is probably what comes to mind when picturing drought-resistant landscaping, but depending upon your locale there are other options to save water without compromising the aesthetics of a property.

Besides aesthetics, cost can be a deterrent when re-landscaping. It takes money to tear out a lawn, buy new plants, or truck in gravel. While these upfront costs are cause for legitimate concern, a move towards drought-resistant landscaping has the potential to save a homeowner money over time.  The overall savings will depend on water prices in a given area, but expert estimates claim up to 75% less water is needed and maintenance bills could be lowered by 50% in Southern California when desert landscaping is implemented.

It would be wise to investigate rebate opportunities from your city or county water authority in your area to help offset the upfront cost. There are opportunities throughout the western United States for rebates for everything from removing grass lawns and installing more efficient watering and irrigation systems to more general rebates for conversion to a drought-tolerant landscape. With hundreds of dollars in rebates oftentimes available, the investment can be manageable.

Houses with great curb appeal are easier to sell and it is never too soon to plan ahead. While the traditional, perfectly green yard will likely never go out of style, trends in design can impact prices. Landscape economist John Harris states that good landscaping can add up to 28% to home value. A Clemson University study says that taking landscaping from good to excellent “in terms of design, condition, and placement” can add 6-7% to a home’s value.

These statistics show that execution and design are important. If you choose to move away from a more traditional landscape design, but do it poorly, you may miss out on the opportunity for increased value or worse - even see your property value lowered. Choose the right layout, plants, and accessories, from gravel to a suitable gate to the backyard or courtyard. Seek professional landscaping help or gather the opinions of those you trust about what works. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also publishes information on “hardiness zones” that help people understand which plants can survive in which conditions. Remember, if your landscaping is already good, making it “excellent” could add 6-7% in value.

Some owners resist the thought of a drought resistant yard because they fear that their children won't be able to play as much.  One option is to maintain a lawn in the backyard for room to play, while the landscaping for the rest of the property reflects alternative design. Some choose to pursue this goal with artificial turf in the place of a genuine grass. The distance to a good, safe park can also be a factor here. A nearby park can reduce the amount of green space you personally need and many newer developments are built with parks in the neighborhood.

So if you’re a homeowner, consider a more efficient yard. It might just improve your curb appeal and the value of your home while saving you money on water and maintenance. Whether you're taking real estate classes in Los Angeles or preparing for the real estate exam in California, make sure you know how to talk to your clients about landscaping. It may not be your job to convince them that alternative landscaping design is right for them, but it is your job to make sure they understand the reasons behind these designs and the community resources that may make up for lost green space.


May/June 2016 issue

Posted by

Cody Carmen

Comments (17)

Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Cody, I think we're going to see a lot more discussion of drought-friendly landscaping.  Good post!

Aug 04, 2016 10:52 AM
Cody Carmen

Thank you Patricia Kennedy, and I hope so! Growing up in Arizona it was normal to me (we had to offset to offset the water for all of those swimming pools somewhere!). But living in Southern California I almost never see it and it doesn't make any sense. 

Aug 05, 2016 01:27 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks so much for sharing this important information.

Have a great Friday and an outstanding weekend.

Aug 04, 2016 10:44 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Cody!  Your post is on today's list of Last Week's Favorites.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Aug 06, 2016 10:58 PM
Cody Carmen

That's awesome, thank you for including me Patricia Kennedy

Aug 08, 2016 01:36 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Cody Carmen ,

This is a topic that is very important as many of have experienced droughts in our area. Conserving water is something we all need to be aware of drought or not. Glad to see Patricia Kennedy featured your post this morning!

Aug 06, 2016 11:37 PM
Cody Carmen

Dorie Dillard great point about conserving when we aren't in a drought. When we're already depleting water in the good time, drought turns into an even worse problem. 

Aug 08, 2016 01:53 AM
David Alan Baker Laveen & South Phoenix Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Phoenix - Laveen, AZ
Your local Expert

There is so much that can be done in this area, great article.

Aug 07, 2016 03:45 AM
Cody Carmen

Thanks David Baker Laveen Realtor & South Phoenix Realtor. Phoenix is definitely a lot better about this than Southern California too.  

Aug 08, 2016 01:52 AM
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

I was talking with someone the other day about the drought in the Western U.S.   They wondered, "How can we pump oil from Alaska through pipelines for thousands of miles, but we can't pump water from the areas that have an abundance of water to places like Los Angeles and Phoenix?"

Aug 07, 2016 06:43 AM
Cody Carmen

Fred Griffin a lot of water is pumped to these cities, but it still has to come from somewhere! Water is a very controversial issue out here, lots of environmental, agricultural, consumer, etc.  concerns. And just a general shortage. 

Aug 08, 2016 01:42 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Great article and a well-deserved feature in Pat's collectionl We are hearing more and more about drought-tolerant landscaping and seeing more of it here all the time, and it not just replacing grass with artificial turf! I think there are more buyers who are concerned about this and will find homes with costly upkeep on their yards to be a negative, especially with the rising cost of water.


Aug 07, 2016 10:03 AM
Cody Carmen

Jeff Dowler it is a real concern that can be addressed with aesthetically appealing landscaping. The more people that adopt, the less out of place it will look in neighborhoods. 

Aug 08, 2016 01:43 AM
Melissa Jackson
Century 21 Alliance Properties - Azle, TX
Helping You Make The Right Move

Great article and good advice for agents to be familiar with landscaping options in their market. 

Aug 07, 2016 02:23 PM
Cody Carmen

Thank you Melissa Jackson. Important topic in so much of the country that agents should know enough to help their clients. 

Aug 08, 2016 01:46 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I've been checking out those wonderful patio books lately. I think it would be great if part of our backyard became a stone patio w/firepit, sitting areas and trees/bushes. 

Aug 07, 2016 08:23 PM
Cody Carmen

Kat Palmiotti patios with a firepit are definitely a great way to use space in a backyard. For many people it makes the space more usable, which is really what a yard should be.

Aug 08, 2016 01:45 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I have been working and developed a drought tolerant yard. During 2015 I had at least 5 blogs for San Francisco Bay area exploring different alternatives.

Mine was a retrofit type yard implying mine can go back to lawn if decided later. It was partially reimbursed by the City and Water District through a grant. I lost 15 pounds un-needed fat from working on it.

It comes with a completd drip system and will sense the weather to turn on only the weather is sunny. 

I believe it will improve the curb appeal making it attractive. 


Aug 08, 2016 05:40 AM
Cody Carmen

Great idea Sam Shueh. Drip watering systems are typically far more efficient at distributing water without excess evaporation.   

Aug 08, 2016 06:22 AM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Great article Cody Carmen and a perfect tie-in for your school's classes.  Well done!

Aug 09, 2016 09:36 AM
Cody Carmen

Thank you so much Lisa Von Domek. We try to provide resources for our students to learn beyond what is necessary to pass the state exam. There is only so much a real estate school can do for a student, and we are very good at that part, but every experienced agent knows there is a lot more learning to be done! 

Aug 09, 2016 09:38 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Hi Cody, Even selecting hardy plants that are resilient to extreme heat and drought doesnt always work. We lost a tree this year and don't know why. I guess it just wasn't strong enought to survive.

Aug 09, 2016 10:46 AM
Cody Carmen

That is a real shame Debbie Reynolds. Perhaps some sort of disease or parasite got to it. Harsh weather can definitely weed out the weak links 

Aug 10, 2016 02:56 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So true.  My landscaping design is Xeriscape (drought tolerant) and I'm just starting research on rainwater harvesting methods, rainbarrel type, to conserve what little water I receive in Arizona.  We get about 7" a year and when we get it, we want to save it.  

I would also suggest that homeowners contact their local utility provider for programs as well.  One of our utilities has a shade tree program.  For attending a 2 hour seminar, residents get free trees with instructions on planting them.  A great idea to reduce the heat island effect. 

Major enhancements have been made to synthetic grass options for homeowners.  They are lasting longer, require no water and are permeable for pets.  Not a great thing to throw in a landfill, but maybe repurposing used synthetic grass can exist for different uses.  

Aug 09, 2016 12:57 PM
Cody Carmen

Great advice Jan Green. There are definitely different strategies that work and any free resource subsidizes the cost!

Good luck with your rain harvesting! I'm sure monsoon season will be a worthy test of how fast you can collect  

Aug 10, 2016 02:50 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Zero-scape landscaping in Florida is a expanding trend.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 09, 2016 01:07 PM
Cody Carmen

Thank you for your info Lou Ludwig

Aug 10, 2016 02:54 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


It's a smart investment to landscape with drought resistant landscaping.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 10, 2016 11:23 AM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

Cody, thanks for sharing the information about landscaping that uses less water.

Aug 12, 2016 11:32 AM
Cody Carmen

Absolutely my pleasure Sybil Campbell. Hopefully someone finds this info to be useful! 

Aug 15, 2016 02:54 AM
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

I think drought friendly landscaping is going to become more and more popular. I like your suggest about keep a green backyard for play space. I think that would work really well. 

Although I plan to keep my lawn for now. I do like it except when it needs mowing. 

Aug 15, 2016 12:20 PM