These Outdoor Features Will Improve Your Yard—and Your Home’s Value

Expand your home’s living space as well as its potential list price with these smart open-air updates. 

By Savannah Sher | Published Jun 24, 2022 2:51 PM

bob vilas most valuable projects of 2022 - outdoor living spaces

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This is the fourth installment of Bob Vila’s Most Valuable Projects of 2022, a month-long series featuring high-ROI home improvements on kitchens, curb appeal, bathrooms, and outdoor living spaces. Each week, we’re pulling from our vast library of informational content, vetted shopping guides, and connections to industry professionals to present primers on the top projects to take on this year.

Once considered an afterthought or a bonus space, outdoor living areas are now more mainstream, and a desirable feature among many of today’s home buyers. One driving force behind the trend is the pandemic-induced shift in priorities when it comes to the home. Updating your property with a deck or other outdoor room that is fun as well as functional not only expands your usable living area now, it also adds value if you decide to put your home on the market.

According to the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report, the average cost to add a wood deck to a property is about $19,000, and homeowners can expect to recuperate nearly 65 percent of that cost when selling their home. This estimate is for a 16 by 20-foot deck with pressure-treated joists and planks. A composite deck is slightly more expensive, but it also brings in an excellent return on investment (ROI) of about 62 percent.

Along with a deck, there are many other features to consider when updating your outdoor living space—from landscaping to sun protection to accessory buildings and more. We’ve put together a collection of articles that cover everything you need to know about refreshing your yard, whether you’re planning to sell your home in the near future or simply looking to spruce it up for your own enjoyment. The following ideas, cost estimates, shopping guides, tutorials, and other important considerations will help you plan an outdoor living space update that’s right for your home and budget.

bob vila most valuable projects 2022 outdoor living deck

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Deck

Installing a new deck (or replacing an old one) is one of the most impactful projects homeowners can do to improve their backyard. When planning this addition, however, there are countless decisions to be made, from the type of materials used to the square footage and aesthetic design. It’s important to consider how much money you want to invest as well as how much maintenance the deck will require after it’s built. Consult the guides below to learn about the pros and cons of different decking materials, how much the project costs on average, as well as how to design, build, and maintain a deck yourself.

Decking Material Considerations
All About Pressure-Treated Wood
All About Composite Decking
The Average Cost to Build a Deck
The Best Deck Design Software of 2022
How to Build a Floating Deck Yourself
The Dos and Don’ts of Sealing a Deck
Deck vs. Patio: Which is Best for Your Outdoor Space?

Patio

A patio is a popular alternative to a deck, as it’s typically cheaper to build and easier to maintain over time. Like a deck, a patio can function as an outdoor living room suitable for entertaining, or it can simply be a place for relaxing in the open air when the weather is nice. If you’re considering a patio for your backyard, one of the most important decisions to make is the material. Pavers or a simple concrete slab are two popular choices today, and each comes with different costs and installation methods as well as different aesthetics.

Popular Types of Patio Materials
All About Patio Pavers
The Average Cost of a Paver Patio
How to DIY a Paver Patio
The Average Cost of a Concrete Patio
7 Things to Know About Concrete Forms
How to Pour Concrete Yourself

boo vila most valuable projects 2022 patio shade pergola landscaping

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Shade

Planning a covered outdoor living space is prudent in warmer climates where shade is necessary on hot, sunny days. Adding cover to a deck or patio can be done in a number of different ways, from pergolas and gazebos to awnings and shade sails. For a more natural look, you could even consider planting fast-growing shade trees in strategic locations around the yard. The following articles provide outdoor living ideas that will inspire you to add sun protection to your landscape.

24 Covered Deck Ideas
The Best Pergola Kits of 2022
12 Pergola Plans for DIY Shade
The Best Gazebos You Can Buy in 2022
8 Gazebo Plans You Can Build Yourself
The Best Shade Sails of 2022
6 Fast-Growing Shade Trees to Plant

Landscaping

When selling a home, it’s important to make a good first impression. Great landscaping not only provides curb appeal for prospective buyers, but it also increases the value of a home. Planting trees and shrubs can improve air quality and privacy while simultaneously making an outdoor living space more aesthetically appealing. The articles below include landscaping ideas for different types of yards, cost estimates for various lawn and garden projects, and tips and tricks for planting and pruning outdoor greenery.

45 Backyard Landscaping Ideas
The Average Cost of Landscaping
The Best Landscape Design Software of 2022
15 Best Plants for Backyard Privacy
The Dos and Don’ts of Pruning Shrubs
20 Best Plants for Lawn and Garden Borders
The Dos and Don’ts of Foundation Planting
How to Properly Plant Trees Yourself

bob vila most valuable projects 2022 outdoor living spaces accessory building

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Accessory Building

An accessory building can add storage space and functionality to a yard, and it can even be a source of income. If you’re considering adding a shed, an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or any other outbuilding to your property, there are a number of practical factors to keep in mind. For example, many municipalities have setback and building-permit requirements based on the type of structure you plan to add. Read up on these important considerations and more before adding an accessory building to your property.

7 Things to Know About Setback Requirements
All About Accessory Dwelling Units
All About Lean-To Sheds
The Average Cost to Build a Shed
The Best Storage Sheds of 2022
Tips for Building a Strong Shed Foundation
19 Shed Plans You Can Build Yourself
How to Build a Shed