The landscaping mistakes that are turning buyers away, according to the experts

We asked the experts about the landscaping mistakes that will put off potential buyers. Here's what they had to say...

landscaping mistakes that put off buyers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When potential homebuyers view your property, they’re looking at more than just your home’s interior. According to a study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, homes with a higher level of curb appeal sell for an average of 7% more than similar houses with no curb appeal. 

Things such as your backyard landscaping ideas play a crucial role in your home’s curb appeal so it pays to get them right. These are the top landscaping mistakes that are turning buyers away. 

1. No landscaping

brick path in a backyard

(Image credit: Styer Landscaping)

The single biggest mistake you can make is to have no landscaping at all. Thinking about everything from your garden path ideas to your front porch ideas is key to making a great first impression. 

According to Mihal Gartenberg, a real estate agent at Warburg Realty in New York City, NY, most buyers prefer landscaping, and if you don’t have any, they know they’ll need to handle this task if they purchase your home. 'Once landscaping starts to feel like "a project" buyers are instantly wary,' she says. 'It does not mean they’ll walk away, but it does mean that they’re adding it to their list of pros and cons.'

2. Invasive or destructive trees and plants

best climbing plants: Hedera helix ivy

(Image credit: Alamy)

Trees and plants can add to your home’s landscaping – but only if you have the right kind.  Jean M. Rosalia, a realtor at Keller Williams Realty in Virginia Beach, VA, says one of the biggest landscaping mistakes that can turn buyers away is planting invasive or destructive trees, vines and privacy plants. 'When thinking of invasive plants, the first thing that comes to mind is bamboo because it's very hard to contain, spreads rapidly, and is even harder to get rid of.'

Rosalia also warns against ivy. 'While it looks beautiful on historic brick homes, it actually erodes the mortar joints between the bricks, and can cause structural issues if let to go too long.' And while those Mulberry trees are beautiful, when they bloom, Rosalia says they’re really messy. 'Not only do the berries drop everywhere and stain whatever they land on, but the birds also eat the berries and the incredibly acidic droppings will actually damage the paint on your vehicle.'

3. Planting too close

In the right location, trees and bushes can provide shade and add to your home’s curb appeal. But savvy buyers also know that in the wrong location, the same trees and bushes could result in problems down the road. 'If bushes or trees are planted too close to fences, they will damage the fence as they grow, either through the growth of their roots, by causing moisture and rot, growing into the fencing itself causing damage or by growing too close, and preventing proper maintenance of the fence,' Rosalia explains. 

Planting too close to the house is also problematic for buyers, and Rosalia lists Mulberry and Weeping Willow trees as being particularly invasive. 'Their roots grow under slabs and foundations or into water or sewage pipes, causing thousands of dollars in damage,' she warns. 'Trees planted too close to homes with overhanging limbs that grow over roofs also do damage by leaving sap and lifting roofing shingles.'

Got a small backyard and don't want your trees to take over the space? Our best trees for small gardens feature is a good place to start your search. 

4. Unkempt landscaping 

how to mow a lawn: stihl mower being used by lady in garden

(Image credit: STIHL)

Another landscaping mistake that won’t sit well with buyers is unkept landscaping. 'Part of your home staging requirements extend outdoors,' says Ricardo Mello, co-founder and managing partner of Manhattan Miami Real Estate in NY and FL. 'Build curb appeal by mowing the lawn regularly, trimming hedges and bushes, as well as making sure any debris or clutter is removed from the yard.'

You'll find the best lawn mower for the task in our buying guide. 

5. Haphazard planting

Landscaping is important – too important to just start randomly adding items to your yard. 'Beginning landscaping without a plan or a color scheme is a mistake,' warns Gerard Splendore, a broker at Warburg Realty in New York, NY. 'Buying plants simply because they are on sale is not the best reason to invest in landscaping, and inappropriate plantings or too many of the same type will also backfire as a strategy.'   

6. No pop of color 

garden color schemes: brightly coloured dahlias and orange chair

(Image credit: iBulb)

A monochromatic color scheme can make your home forgettable. 'One of the biggest eyesores for a buyer is a house that blends in with its landscaping,' says Mello. He warns that it creates the impression that your home has no personality. 'Add a pop of color with perennial flowers for lesser maintenance.'

Check out our garden color schemes for inspiration for your outdoor space.

7. Dingy concrete 

how to clean a patio: stihl pressure washer

(Image credit: STIHL)

You’re probably so accustomed to your home’s exterior that you don’t remember the driveway, sidewalk, etc. are dull and discolored. 'Most homeowners know someone with a pressure washer, and it's 100 percent worth it to borrow one for a weekend,' Mello advises. 'Brightening up the driveway, sidewalks, and entry will make a world of a difference, since first impressions are everything to buyers.

Find the best pressure washer with our guide, plus we've got tips on how to use a pressure washer to ensure you get the best results. 

8. Going overboard 

The last landscaping mistake is going overboard. 'Too much of anything is never a good idea and landscaping that includes too many hard surface areas is a big turnoff,' says Christopher Totaro, an agent at Warburg Realty in New York, NY. 'A buyer may be able to see the home’s potential sans trees and concrete, but the thought and cost of removing trees and concrete are just too much.' 

Head over to our backyard ideas for inspiration on how to give your space a new look this year. 

Terri Williams
Terri Williams

Terri Williams is a journalist with real estate, home improvement, and product review bylines at Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, MSN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, and Apartment Therapy. She also covers business topics, with bylines at USA Today, The Economist, US New & World Report, Verizon, and several other brands that you’ve probably heard of. Follow her adventures on Twitter.