A Pool Doesn’t Have a Good Return on Investment, But These 3 Yard Updates Do

One simple task puts $1,200 back in your pocket.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
house with lush grass

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Money might not grow on trees, but planting a few lush shrubs in your yard will increase the value of your house. This intel comes from a study by Lawn Starter, which breaks down the best (and worst) updates home sellers can make to their outdoor spaces, drawing on numbers from a 2018 yard report from the National Association of Realtors. One surprising fact: Simply mowing the grass is more worth your time and money than building an in-ground swimming pool. While lawn-care services see a 267 percent return of investment, the latter recoups just 43 percent of the average $57,000 cost of installation. 

Fancy water features (think: hot tubs and fountains) can negatively affect your property’s value by $2,500 to $10,000. So what will put money back in your pocket? Keep reading for some must-try updates.

Up Your Mowing Game

white house with green front lawn
Photography by Molly Rose.

Leading the way is a well-maintained lawn, which costs an average of $270 per year, but adds around $1,200 in value. In other words, nice-looking grass pleases buyers, especially millennials, who ranked it as the number-one feature they search for in a new home. If you don’t love the idea of committing so much time to cutting the grass, consider purchasing a large zero-turn mower to help shave off a few hours, so you can get back to enjoying your outdoor space.

Build a Natural Canopy

Kids swinging on tree
Photography by Sam Frost

Planting mature trees is another low-cost outdoor improvement that sees a high return on investment. Taller species can improve a neighborhood’s property values by up to 15 percent. Add a swing (or two) and you’ll be sure to catch the attention of any young families looking for room to roam.

Winter-Proof Your Porch

bean bag chairs on porch
Photography by Robert Peterson; Styling by Courtney Favini

No need to go overboard with elaborate fencing and a Wimbledon-worthy tennis court. Instead consider simply enclosing your deck (a built-in, all-season deck returns an estimated 83 percent of the amount spent). A firepit and wine will keep you warm in the winter months.

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.