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5 outdoor projects that will add value to your home

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Photo by Ema Peter Photography
Courtesy of Sarah Gallop Design

Everyone wants a great outdoor space, but backyard projects can be a lot of work – and in many cases, a lot of money. So it just makes sense to choose projects that will enhance your quality of living for summers to come as well as yield a great return on investment. Here, then, are five value-building outdoor projects that pay off in more ways than one.

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1. Add a wood deck
Decks are great additions for multiple reasons. They expand your living space outside, creating a useful link between interior and exterior spaces. Wood decks also offer one of the highest returns on investment of any home improvement project. In fact, a wood deck will recoup more than 80 percent of its construction cost when you sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. Composite decking, in comparison, comes up short in terms of ROI.

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A deck constructed of Western Red Cedar benefits from the lumber’s natural rot resistance, inherent beauty and low maintenance requirements (you can stain it or let it weather naturally). What’s more, Real Cedar lumber comes from certified sustainable forests, so you can feel good about your deck’s environmental impact.

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2. Update your landscape lighting
Lighting outdoor areas once required lots of wiring and professional installation, but advances in solar lighting efficiency and brilliance have made landscape lighting easy. From uplights that illuminate trees and architectural features, to light strands that provide visual delineation of stairs and railings, a variety of solar lighting options are available. Installation is often as simple as putting a stake in the ground. Plus, it’s cost-effective. True, you may need to make an initial investment in quality solar lights, but you’ll save in the long run on electricity. Also, doesn’t the idea of a warmly lit backyard space just seem more inviting?

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3. Define your seating area
Creating an outdoor room that feels like an extension of your home is a win-win. It increases the square footage of your living space, which in turn, increases the value of your property. Of course, choosing the right material is paramount in terms of maximizing your investment. Whether you’re designing a fully loaded, outdoor kitchen/dining area or simply installing a pergola with some built-in benches, you need beautiful high-performance products.

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With that in mind, your best bet is a strong versatile wood such as Western Red Cedar. It’s pitch and resin-free, so it readily accepts and holds a variety of finishes. Or for an ultra-low maintenance option, you can let cedar weather naturally to a graceful silvery patina.

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4. Build a fire pit
Right now, fire pits are the “hottest” thing in landscaping (pun intended). Seriously though, landscape architects cite a fire pit as an outdoor improvement that’s in high demand. That’s because they’re great for enhancing key areas and creating a sense of place, which in turn, adds value to your home. They can be both practical – warming an outdoor space on chilly fall evenings – and fun. Installing one is relatively easy, too. You can find plenty of design ideas, complete with building instructions, with a simple online search. Be sure to carefully consider where you locate your fire pit, keeping safety in mind.

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5. Incorporate raised planters
Gardening is a popular outdoor pastime, and building raised planters or beds can make it easier to enjoy a variety of vegetables and flowers throughout the growing season. Planting in raised beds – instead of directly in the ground – affords you greater control over soil quality, moisture and pests. Plus, tending raised beds is easier on the back. For a longer-term investment, choose a durable, naturally rot-resistant material, such as Western Red Cedar. This will ensure your beds are in good shape from season to season. And according to many home renovation experts, it’s little landscaping touches like this that can add substantial value to your home.

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For more design ideas, free building plans and how-to videos, visit our outdoor project planning section.