11 Landscaping Mistakes That Make Home Buyers Walk the Other Way

Selling a home is all about first impressions, so don’t let potential buyers take a pass just because your landscaping isn’t up-to-date.

Your Landscaping Can Help Sell Your Home

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Your Landscaping Can Help Sell Your Home

If you’re selling your home or planning to sell, you know you need to make sure everything is in order. Your paint may need touch-ups, carpets should be cleaned, and all those knick-knacks need to be put away. But what about your landscaping? Since first impressions can make or break a sale, steer clear of these 11 landscaping mistakes that can make home buyers walk—or even run—the other way.

Related: Landscaping: A Good Investment

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Large Water Features

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Large Water Features

Sure, man-made ponds and water features can help create a relaxing outdoor space, but they can also attract insects, such as mosquitoes. Plus, it takes work to keep them clean and well-maintained—work potential buyers might not be up for. Morgan Knull, a broker with Re/Max Gateway, told the Washington Post that buyers are often intimidated when it comes to a water feature’s maintenance, such as dealing with clogged filters and leaky liners.

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Invasive Plants

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Invasive Plants

Some invasive plants may look pretty, but they are definitely a turnoff for home buyers, as they can quickly take over a yard or garden. Plus, they often destroy native, more beneficial plants. Invasives can be costly to control. According to the California Invasive Plant Council, in California alone, invasive plants cost the state at least $82 million each year to control.

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Large Trees

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Large Trees

While the right tree may offer shade or some textural contrast in your landscaping, big trees too close to the house can be a red flag. Depending on the size and age of the tree, large trees may cause buyers to worry about damage due to falling limbs. Plus, tree removal can be pricey with extreme projects costing as much as $2,000, according to HomeAdvisor.

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A Huge Lawn

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A Huge Lawn

A healthy lawn can be a plus when selling your home, but there can be too much of a good thing. For some potential homeowners, a huge lawn may be overwhelming. Since not all home buyers enjoy doing yard work, big, open lawns may mean an investment in time and energy they just don’t have to offer. If you have a big open lawn, there are some things you can do: Consider installing a large patio, or creating some smaller native plant gardens to break it up, or setting up multiple outdoor living areas, depending on your space.

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A Poorly Made Fire Pit

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A Poorly Made Fire Pit

A fire pit can be a draw for buyers who love backyard entertaining, but a poorly made fire pit can be a definite put-off, not to mention a fire hazard. If you have a backyard fire pit, make sure it is a safe distance away from any structures; ten feet is a common standard. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you adhere to any city or local government requirements.

Related: How To: Build a Basic Backyard Fire Pit

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Too Many Annuals

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Too Many Annuals

Too many annual flowers may cause buyers to walk the other way. Since you must buy them each year, annuals can be expensive and a lot of work to maintain—especially for a novice gardener. If you have large flower beds, consider swapping your annuals for a few native perennial plants or shrubs.

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Dog Urine Spots

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Dog Urine Spots

A lawn full of brown urine spots from your dog could make some buyers think twice, as it may say you don’t bother with upkeep. Spots of dead grass will usually repair themselves over time, but, for a quick fix, cover the areas with ground limestone to restore the soil's pH balance. Then cover the spots with topsoil and grass seed.

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Lawn Chemicals

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Lawn Chemicals

With more homeowners turning to organic ways to keep their landscaping lush and healthy, chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, are a no-no for some buyers. Instead of spraying chemicals, there are ways to target certain weeds. Aeration works to fight dandelions, while corn-gluten meal can help fight crabgrass.

Related: 7 Fertilizer Mistakes Most Home Gardeners Make

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Cracked Concrete

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Cracked Concrete

Cracks in your home’s concrete patio or walkways aren’t just unsightly, they can be dangerous. They can also be costly to fix, with HomeAdvisor estimating the cost of filling smaller holes or cracks at $100, if you do it yourself. Large repairs can set you back up to $20 per square foot.

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Unconventional Containers

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Unconventional Containers

Some feel using unconventional containers adds humor or a unique touch to the yard. Think old tires used as planters or an old clawfoot tub upcycled into a small flower bed. You’ll find some people even use old toilets to hold plants and flowers. This style just doesn't appeal to everyone and can be off-putting.

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A Messy Yard

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A Messy Yard

For those thinking of selling their home, a messy or unkempt yard may give potential buyers a bad first impression. For sellers, be sure to mow regularly, weed flower beds, keep the yard clutter-free, and put away toys when not in use.

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