As I wrote last time, a minimal investment in landscape staging can easily be assured of a 100% return, so there's no reason not to get a little dressed up when you're joining the home-sale dance.
But if you really want to see some results, consider dressing to the nines.
In 2003, Smart Money magazine reported that an investment of 5% of your home's value could return as much as 15%. So let's revisit our old listing : instead of 1%, you decide to bite the bullet and invest a whopping 5% of that $800,000 value -- or $40,000 -- into upgrading your landscape. Now we're talking about more than just a bit of greenery: this kind of money will buy you an arbor, new pathways, a deck, an outdoor kitchen, and/or a water feature... significant upgrades that really stick in the memories of potential buyers, and help them imagine themselves relaxing under the arbor or flipping steaks on the grill. If someone wants to pay a 7.5% premium -- certainly not unheard of in this market -- to call this oasis their own, you've just netted $20,000.
Where to start? Consult a professional landscape designer, who will be able to evaluate your yard's potential and offer suggestions on improving the landscaping as well as overall curb appeal. Whatever rule of thumb you follow, you can be sure that any well-executed landscape design will more than pay for itself.