A Home for Your Gnome

Gardening Advice from a Fan of Fun!

Return on Investment

May 8, 2023 | Design


The earth will make several trips around the sun before you might chill in the shade of a newly planted tree. When it comes to investments, it may take some time to reap the rewards. The same is true with garden design and creation. But there is something amazingly satisfying about experiencing a maturing garden. A simple example may be when you find yourself smiling as a sea of grape hyacinths you planted in October create a blue wave in early spring. Another spring blub that continues to fascinate me is Allium or ornamental onion. Their flowers can range from baseball to volleyball in size and it sometimes reminds me of a very slow-motion firework emerging from the ground. Feel free to check out another of my writings that relate to spring bulbs here: https://garrymenendez.com/a-garden-investment/

In these days of instant everything, it may be difficult to grasp the concepts of anticipation and delayed gratification but good garden creation takes time. Plants take time to mature but some of their beauty comes from slowly witnessing their growth. There are those that, if they have the resources (cash) think they can replicate instant maturity by buying huge plants. I don’t recommend this. It’s expensive and there is much more risk in moving mature plants from one location to another. I believe I covered this in another writing called Tree Talk.

In a more literal sense, investing in a well-designed garden does indeed pay off. When it comes to selling a property, curb appeal is paramount and this starts with how that property is perceived even before the tires roll onto the drive. As usual, I’m speaking from a very biased and personal viewpoint but I believe that sturdy, long-lived, well-placed tree species make all the difference. There are also those who view the landscape as nothing but a maintenance hassle. If you’re one of those, what are you doing reading my posts? Move on to writings about evergreens and fake grass.

For the rest of you, I say when it comes to plants, try to broaden your views of what is valuable and consider not only bloom color but how a plant helps create a rich and sustainable habitat as well. I’ve gone on about the benefit of choosing native plants in past writings but there is much to be said of plants that have multi-seasonal benefits (spring blooms, summer shade, fall color, and winter fruit). Serviceberry – Amelanchier sp. and Dogwood (Cornus) come to mind here.

As a past professor, I used to venture into many high schools to not only recruit for our major but just to get the word out to young minds just how cool landscape architecture is. Rarely did one of those sessions pass when a student failed to ask “How much money can I make in horticulture or landscape design?” After listing off several of my former students who are making much more than I was, I would inevitably respond with this line. “Wealth is measured in other ways than money”. The same is true with our garden investments. While a realtor or economist may argue about the value of a garden, as a homeowner and hopefully a lover of all things growing, you should rest easy in knowing that every dollar planted in the exterior of your property will not diminish in value.