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In the real estate industry, small improvements - affordable but visible alterations - can have a lasting impact on prospective buyers. As I have written previously, these changes are important in the area of lawn care, where property owners can transform an otherwise ordinary building into an attractive destination. This emphasis on presentation - either for a residential home or a commercial office - can often mean the difference between generating new business and languishing in an already challenging economy.

And, in contrast to other investments (which are both expensive and highly subjective), having sufficient greenery - lawns, gardens and shrubs - is an easy way to beautify the surrounding area and highlight the relative worth of a building. This advice has added value for the real estate industry, where there is a glut of inventory, falling prices and a difficult financial landscape. But, and this principle bears repeating for commercial property owners and residential building managers who seek to win the attention of potential tenants, lawn care is not a passive activity. Meaning: you need to make the right choice about treating and maintaining large patches of greenery.

This idea - the concept that the outside of a property can (indeed does) influence the valuation of a building - is all the more reason to make lawn care a priority. (My recommendations to realtors and homeowners are the same: before you redo a kitchen or revamp a backyard or invest in some faddish technology, focus on the practical things - the grass, trees and paint - that strengthen curb appeal. In the world of commercial realty, including the management of multifamily housing and apartment complexes, as well as office buildings and corporate campuses, a well-maintained lawn signals success. For example: a building with a lot of greenery - literally, a vast expanse of healthy grass - can pique the curiosity of passersby and possible residents. On the other hand, a rundown property - including a traditional suburban dwelling - will only draw criticism; no one wants to see the great inside of a house with a depressing outside.) The difficulty rests with finding the right way to approach lawn care.

Many products, including a variety of popular brands (like Scotts EZ Seed and other gardening tools), may either require repeated use or contain ingredients that may not be green-friendly, so to speak. None of which is to knock this or that item, but - and again, this caveat is crucial - lawn care is not a sprinkle-and-forget-it endeavor. Having a green lawn requires making the right judgment, using your money wisely and respecting the people - renters and buyers - who can be your lifeline in this market.

More broadly, these actions are not a temporary exercise; rather, it makes sense to always care for your lawn. Aside from the fact that many condominium complexes have specific rules about maintaining the integrity of lawns and gardens, this undertaking is often the quickest - and most affordable - way to distinguish residential and commercial properties from other listings. Concerning the latter, including the large number of suburban offices (many of them with acres of lawns and trees), this strategy enables owners and managers to showcase their greatest strengths – like the peaceful nature of the area, other visible amenities and the outdoors in general.

While these points may seem obvious for a private homeowner, they are just as true for a high-rise office building (even one with a modest lawn or green walking area). A property should be attractive, accessible, comfortable and memorable. To achieve these goals involves using the right resources, respect for the environment and knowledge. With these benefits, all property owners - residential and commercial - can prosper.

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