New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Ask Habitat: How Do We Create a Green Space That Increases Our Market Value?

New York City

Oct. 20, 2014

HABITAT ANSWERS: Few building amenities increase market value like common garden space. A decade ago, a landscaped courtyard, ordinary rear yard, or outdoor space reached via the basement fetched a mere ten percent or more to the price of units. These days, however, brokers bring potential buyers to the garden before showing the apartment.

Brokers are not speaking only of elaborate rooftop gardens, but of spaces commonly found behind residential buildings, alleyways, cement-topped service and laundry rooms, and ledges and atop cisterns. Anywhere a planter can be placed and water from a garden hose nozzle can reach is fair game for plants.

Plant the Seed

Your first step is to create a garden committee. The initial meeting should ensure easy access, check insurance coverage and take measurements to create a diagram. Where are the drains, faucet or water source, and where is the electricity to add subdued lighting? 

Don't ignore the entrance of your building. Plant annual flowers in street tree beds, place planters on the steps or either side of the entrance or install a shelf for a flower box above the door. Curb appeal reflects the people within.

Your committee can decide on an initial planting, a budget and anticipated uses. Will furniture reflect your building's era? Split up the enjoyable tasks of getting bids on planters, drainage material, soilless mixes and plants at the local nursery or online. Check out what's available in your local nursery and gain inspiration from New York City's botanical and community gardens. A place to sit is vital for envisioning places for plants.

You can also consider hiring a garden designer or landscape architect.

Harvest the Rewards

After the committee reports to the board, funds can be allocated from the existing budget, taken from reserves, or a small initial assessment made to launch the garden. A wish list for donations such as a birdbath, wall fountain or a gazing ball can be posted. Invest in perennials for seasonal beauty. Add different annuals that, planted in May, will add plenty of color through fall.

Communicate with brokers. When a unit comes up for sale, it's in your interest to offer clear, impressive digital shots for the broker's website. Even if your building has only a potential space planned for a little oasis, the brokers will be thrilled to show it.

Finally, draft house rules governing use of your garden. Like many other aspects of living with others, consideration and communication are fundamental. Consider hours of operation, guidelines for parties and the potential for a volunteer garden club to keep the space maintained.


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