5 Suggestions To Improve Your Land

If you are considering a move to the Texas Hill Country, you may be browsing available land and lots.  As you consider home designs, also consider how to improve the raw land you’ll be purchasing.

1)  Native Landscaping:  While beautiful, the Texas Hill Country can present an unforgiving environment for many types of trees, plants and flowers.  This is largely due to the temperature swings, soil types and periods of drought that we tend to experience.  A sustainable approach to landscaping is to rely on native plants.  Understanding which specimens are native to the Texas Hill Country can save you a world of trouble and expenses – not to mention help your property value in cases where buyers are looking for landscaping that will be easier to manage.  Here are a few landscaping suggestions to consider:

  • Grass:  Try Buffalo grass!  It’s more native to the warm plains of the South and Midwest and requires much less water.  Or, try Habiturf provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
  • Shrub:  Two mid-sized plants that do very well and provide some curb appeal are Rosemary and Esperanza.  Planting a row of Rosemary bushes can attract butterflies and supply you with cooking ingredients.  The Esperanza is a flowering shrub that grows upright and has bright, yellow blooms during several months of the year.
  • Tree:  If you’ve driven through the Hill Country, chances are you’ve seen patches of Escarpment Live Oaks that have dropped, withered and died due to Oak Wilt.  It’s a disease that can quickly kill large groves and can be very difficult to control.  Two varieties that are less at risk are the Monterrey Oak and Lacey Oak trees.  The Monterrey Oak is gaining popularity for its moderate to fast growth rate and sturdy nature.  The Lacey Oak, also known as the Canyon Oak, is native to the Edwards Plateau and rocky slopes of West Texas and does well in the Hill Country’s shallow, limestone soil.

2)  Rainwater Collection:  In many locations in the Texas Hill Country, buyers find themselves without public water supply.  This means you have to find alternative means to supply water to your home plumbing.  While many prefer to go the tried and true route of digging a well, there is also a growing argument for collecting and using rainwater.  Rainwater systems collect water from surface areas, usually the roof of a home or large shed.  Property owners these days range from collecting rainwater in small 100 gallon barrels to large storage tanks that can house up to 30,000 gallons!  You need to consider several things concerning rainwater – average rainfall in your area, your ‘catchment’ surface area, and the volume you’ll be able to store in a tank.  You can work with a rainwater expert to understand these three items better and plan a rainwater system accordingly.

3)  Fencing:  This is an improvement that many buyers want, but find hard to seriously consider when they realize the associated costs.  Thus, having boundary or cross fencing in place when you go to sell your property can really set it apart from the competition.  Fencing can be very helpful in establishing your property boundaries and will provide a sense of security that many buyers prefer.  Remember – when considering fencing that will run along your boundaries, make sure you understand your property lines.  This means you should have a survey on record that you trust and is recent.  Depending on where you live in Austin or the Hill Country, having a front gate with an automatic gate opener can also improve the value of your property.

4)  Access:  If you own raw land as an investment and you’re considering selling, stop to think about how the property shows.  If it’s a smaller tract and you’ll be appealing to buyers who want to build a home, lack of access can be a deterrent.  Without any method to entering the property, it will be more difficult to show and more difficult for buyers to picture their ‘dream home’.  Alternately, if you own a larger property or ranch and do not have any internal driveway or road system, your value will be pulled down.  Many buyers do not want to deal with the expenses of the less flashy improvements, and access certainly falls in this category.  An established entry for a piece of land sold in most counties will allow you to market it with an actual address.  Lastly, if you’re thinking about subdividing your property to sell off pieces, think long and hard about how you’ll provide access to each.

5)  Clearing:  There is almost an art form in how property owners decide to clear trees and brush from their land.  It has become very popular to try to rid your property of cedar trees due to their heavy winter pollen and shallow root system that sucks much of the water from the ground.  Clearing can also open up a long-distance view that was previously hidden.  However, even cedar trees have several benefits that you must understand before clearing everything.  On properties where there is sloping or any angle, cedar trees and their root systems provide valuable erosion control to the soil.  Additionally, cedars are evergreen and bushy which makes them very valuable as a privacy screen.

Check out a short list of land management companies that previous clients have recommended.


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