Few homeowners work, sweat and blister their hands landscaping their lots with the sole intention of selling the fruits of their labor.

But here’s some heartening news for those folks who decide to sell their homes: Home buyers will pay, on average, an additional 10 to 15 percent for a home with a well-maintained landscape.

The American Association of Nurserymen came up with the figures after years of study and experience, and area landscapers, real estate agents and consumers have found them to be true.

Although in a real-world home sale it’s hard to pinpoint actual dollar gains, we are talking about an industry where time can mean money.

In other words, a house with a lush, colorful landscape should sell much quicker than the same house with – let’s be civil here – a less-than-well-maintained lot.

“If (a potential home seller) has a nice yard, I’ll tell them to add some flowers, possibly some shrubs,” says Paul Perrone, a Realtor with RE/MAX Associates of Dallas.

“I’ll tell them they’re doing it because they want to – and because it might help the house sell quicker.”

There’s no question, at least in Perrone’s mind, that a house with a nice landscape is easier to sell than one without.

“As soon as you get out of the car, it’s your first impression of the house,” he says. “If the house is nice on the outside then you – and a potential buyer – believe it will be nice on the inside.”

Informal surveys of local landscape architects, designers and contractors provides a few basic design tips to make property look better and, hopefully, sell better.

  • Always follow a plan. The overall theme of the landscape should work within the theme of the house’s exterior. Avoid “helter-skelter” planting.
  • Always think of the curb appeal of the landscape. “The best thing you can do is add color and present a very neat appearance,” says Al David, landscape designer at Enviro Design on Greenville.
  • If undesirable plants and trees are part of the landscape, don’t be afraid to “bite the bullet” and take them out.
  • Use plants that will add immediate impact to the landscape, but be sure they also will be successful in the long run.

“Try to add different types of shrubs, different layers, textures and colors,” says Russell Maynard, head of landscape design and sales at Forest Green Landscaping on Greenville. “We need as much impact as we can get right now, and that usually comes from good, durable plant materials, not necessarily the ‘flashy’ plants.”

To add impact, David and Maynard suggest planting quality foundation shrubs such as dwarf Burford holly, dwarf Yaupon holly, Savannah holly and dwarf Indian hawthorne. Then establish some accent points – usually near the entryway – of seasonal annual color.

As with any home improvement, don’t always expect to get a dollar-for-dollar return from your landscape work. Be satisfied with the fact you have improved your property, enhanced the sale – and hopefully had some fun working the soil in your own little plot of the world.