While you may be looking to create an outdoor living space for your enjoyment and the memories that will inevitably ensue, most homeowners want to know beforehand which improvements add value to a home.

Which backyard home improvements add the most value? Not all outdoor features deliver the same financial return on investment, and it’s rare for any project to more than pay for itself when it comes time to sell your home. This post spotlights a handful of outdoor features that make the most sense for most homeowners, appeal to potential buyers, and increase home value.


Nothing beats a freshly roasted marshmallow while sharing stories around a roaring fire as the sun sets on a pristine spring, summer, or autumn evening.

As part of HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey, 59 percent of Midwest agents named fire pits the top-ranked outdoor feature buyers want with their new home. Regardless of location, fire pits were also the top-ranked outdoor feature for 54 percent of agents nationally. 

According to the most recent Remodeling Impact Report on outdoor features from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), consumers give fire features a perfect 10 out of 10 “Joy Score”—a scale for measuring satisfaction of completed projects. 

Costs will vary depending on the fire pit’s size, style, and fuel source, as well as whether it’s mobile or part of a permanent structure. Walled brick or stone permanent fire pits are popular outdoor design elements, but individual homeowners’ associations or local community rules and restrictions may regulate the type of fire features allowed in your community. 

For a stone pit and 10-foot space featuring gas burners, the NAR and NAPL estimate homeowners will recoup approximately 67% of the project’s estimated cost.


New patios are another incredibly popular and desirable home feature, totaling a 9.7 out of 10 on the NAR and NAPL’s Joy Score, and 84 percent of homeowners said their project gave them an increased desire to be at home. Patios are a highly sought-after amenity that expands and enhances a home’s outdoor living area outside the back door. 

For an 18-foot-by-16-foot concrete paver patio over compacted gravel and limestone base, the NAR and NAPL predict recovering approximately 70% of the estimated cost. But the size, scope, materials, and layout of your patio will affect the value added (and the cost). 


Featuring a Joy Score of 9.8, a new deck gives your home the perfect place for grilling, sunbathing, entertaining, and more. It’ll also be a major selling point to prospective buyers, especially if it’s well-maintained.

In the latest Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report, wood and composite deck additions both rank in the top 10 for projects with a percentage of costs recouped. Composite materials come with a higher cost, but less maintenance, adding more than 62% in resale value. The report found wood deck additions added almost 65% in resale value, but with more maintenance needed over time.

Additional features, such as outdoor lighting, a pergola, or other roof overhangs for shade, are estimated to deliver approximately a 50 percent return on investment.


Interior kitchen remodeling projects are common for many homeowners looking to sell. Now outdoor kitchen spaces have become a big draw for buyers looking for luxury living. In addition to grilling and cooking stations, sinks, bars, and even large-screen televisions and comfy couches appear in outdoor kitchens. Amenities such as outdoor pizza ovens, dishwashers, wine refrigerators, and similar specialty outdoor appliances can add further functionality and sophistication to an outdoor kitchen space. 

For a veneered masonry stone outdoor kitchen featuring one inset grill, stainless steel drawers, an ice chest, sink, and 60 square feet of countertops, the NAR and NAPL estimate a return on investment of approximately 71 percent.


Well-chosen landscaping projects are a great way to add home value while beautifying your backyard for daily enhanced enjoyment. Real estate industry experts at Opendoor say sellers can gain anywhere from five to 12 percent more value to their homes with a well-maintained and appealing landscape.

REALTORS® rank landscape maintenance, overall landscaping upgrades, and standard lawn care services as the top three projects most likely to appeal to buyers and make property values increase for resale. REALTORS® estimate that lawn care can recover more than 250 percent of its costs, while landscape maintenance and tree care can recoup 100 percent of costs at the time of sale. 

Ongoing landscape maintenance may include annual fresh mulch application, regular mowing, pruning shrubs, and planting aesthetically pleasing annuals or perennials, estimated at approximately $3,000.

The NAR and NALP estimate new stone planters, flowering shrubs, a natural stone or paver pathway, and a maturing (15 feet tall) deciduous tree or similar landscape upgrades will provide an 83 percent return on investment. 

Invest in Your Future with Aspen Outdoor Designs

Whether you’re planning to sell soon, or have no intention of ever leaving, Aspen Outdoor Design can help increase your backyard appeal and add value to your home. Reach out to our team today to get started or schedule a consultation. Our qualified designers and certified landscape architects look forward to working with you and your family to create a backyard that both you—and your home’s next owners—will value for years to come.