Many investors view landscaping as a long-term investment that takes years to pay big dividends. While this is true, there are circumstances in which, with good planning. a change to the existing landscaping can provide dramatic and valuable changes to the property almost overnight. Even simply pruning existing trees and shrubs and removing weeds will result in an immediate and very noticeable improvement in the appearance of a property. One way to quickly upgrade land is to plant trees on it. This is an improvement that has the most benefit when it is done as early as possible to give the new trees time to   become established and grow. When planting trees, take care in choosing where the trees will be. Ask yourself, where would I plant around a building that might be constructed here? It is relatively easy to mark off setbacks and to put the hulk of planting in these areas, usually closer to the property lines than the future building area will be. Some trees are easier to transplant than others, so plant those easiest to transplant in areas where they may need to be moved.

It is important to remember that landscape enhancement does not mean just plants. It can also mean rocks, mulch, cutting and removing plants. and changing the location of existing plants. All of these can create nearly instant value. The cost can be little more than a couple of weekends of work.

Many communities have landscape codes that regulate the kinds of plants that are preferred or even required for new landscaping projects. While these codes may not affect a redesigned landscape. it is a good idea to check with the local authorities to ensure that no building codes are violated. In addition, these same officials can provide valuable information about the kinds of plants that will grow best in certain areas of town.

Each state and most counties have agricultural departments that offer free or very inexpensive tests of soil, information on plant illnesses, and so on. In some areas there are reforestation projects in which a landowner can get free trees if he or she agrees to plant them according to the rules of the department. While this may be a long-range project, the very fact that this step has been taken may attract a long-term investor who will view this as a positive way to increase the value of the property. An older property may have excess trees, shrubs, or other plants that hide the natural beauty of the property or make the buildings dark and unattractive inside by blocking light from the windows. Because mature trees and other plants can be very expensive, It may be possible to swap these for new, more appropriately sized plants and landscape material from a retail landscape company, which will then move the mature plants to a location where they are desired. Another option is to move these trees or other plants to another location on the same property. This adds the beauty and value of mature plantings where they are needed without incurring the expense of buying them.

In some instances, mature trees are so valuable that they can be sold for a substantial profit. One lot I purchased as a site for a commercial building I planned w construct had five medium-sized oak trees right in the middle of it. Prior to closing on the lot (my deal was predicated on my obtaining permission to build a 30.000-square- foot single-story building), I put a sign up announcing the advent of the building. The sign showed an artist’s rendering of the future building in hopes of attracting future tenants. A few days later I had a call from another developer asking if he could buy the trees and how much would they cost. This was my first time making money from trees that I had anticipated I would have to pay to have removed. There was plenty of time to prepare the trees to be moved (the roots had to be properly pruned around the root bulbs that would go with the trees when they were removed from the ground) during the six months it would take to get the appropriate approvals to build the building. Now, when I purchase land, I pay close attention to what plants, if any. can be moved and how much landscapers will pay for them. Some trees and shrubs are easy to transplant as long as the proper technique is followed. Towering palm trees, for example (palms are one of the easiest of all trees to transplant). can bring a very attractive price.

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