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Northeast LA homes are known for fine architecture as well as gardens. For many residents outdoor living with good landscaping is part of the lifestyle.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), a home’s landscape can add as much as 15 percent to the value of a home. The organization suggests investing between 5 and 10 percent of your home’s market price, adding research out of Virginia Tech University shows that an investment in landscape grows over time.

The topography and climate of Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) provide its neighborhoods with terrific landscape schemes as well as challenges. The homes in Mt. Washington, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock and other hillside neighborhoods might have steep sloping areas, while homes in Highland Park, Hermon, and Garvanza could be in the Arroyo Seco floodplain. The complexities and opportunities of these landscapes might require the skills and licensure of a landscape architect instead of just a landscaper.

ASLA provides a directory to help find the licensed landscape architects by location. But in the process of selecting and hiring such a professional, it will help to define the goals of such a program:

Site challenges: Will earth need to be moved, will a retaining wall be necessary or useful, and are there special environmental conditions that need to be satisfied (e.g., floodplain or protected wetlands)?

Scope and budget: Some homes can use landscaping all around, while others may be about a front yard, a back garden, or some combination of those. It’s possible your project may cost only a few thousand dollars – less if you are patient and can buy smaller plants that can grow in a few years – but add a pool, retaining wall, decking, and mature vegetation and the costs can go well into six figures. 

Develop a list of questions for prospective landscape architects: How do you charge for your consultation and design? If we decide to proceed would you also be the project manager? Can you cite experience in projects of this nature (and show us portfolio pictures if available)? What are some challenges to our preferred outcome that might alter those plans? Can you provide client references? Is our budget in the general ballpark of what we have in mind?

Your landscape architect will have questions as well about your intended use of the space. So be prepared to discuss your thoughts on use – Do you entertain? Would a kitchen garden be used? Do you have a dog or other pets? What about children and play areas? – and consider much time for maintenance you or hired help are willing to put into it?

Some people are seeing landscape as a gesture to environmentalism, such as using sustainable native plants that require minimal watering. Or plants that help attract pollinator species, or can anchor a rain garden (or, you might even capture rainwater in barrels or an in-ground cistern).

Realtor Tracy King has helped buyers and sellers in NELA for more than 25 years – and can tell you the difference it makes when a home’s landscaping lends itself to good curb appeal (or not). Contact her at (323-243-1234).

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or