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Originally published July 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Page modified August 2, 2014 at 10:43 AM

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A well-designed backyard play area can be a selling point

But if you’re contemplating spending money on new play equipment and you know you will be putting your home on the market in the near future, you would be better off focusing on backyard features that appeal to people of all ages.


The New York Times

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Homeowners may worry that children’s outdoor play structures make their yard look junky to potential buyers.

But the presence of a play structure will not necessarily be perceived as a negative by potential buyers, says Debbie Huscher, an agent at William Raveis Real Estate in Westport, Conn.

In fact, house hunters with young children may regard well-designed play equipment as a selling point.

“As long as the playscape isn’t the focal point and is more of an accessory to the backyard, I think it doesn’t hurt,” Huscher says.

But if you’re contemplating spending money on new play equipment and you know you will be putting your home on the market in the near future, you would be better off focusing on backyard features that appeal to people of all ages.

“A new patio would give you more mass appeal and return on your investment than a playscape would,” Huscher says.

Ive Haugeland, the owner of Shades of Green Landscape Architecture in Sausalito, Calif., says people’s reactions to outdoor play equipment depend on “what it is, where it is and how much space there is.”

Specifically, she says, if it’s a cheap prefabricated play structure “squeezed up close to the house, and there’s not much space otherwise, it would definitely detract.

But if you have it in more of a discrete area, and enough space for other garden features, it’s usually fine.”

Backyard features for children “don’t have to scream that they’re just for kids,” Haugeland says. She has incorporated child-friendly features into a number of projects without overwhelming the landscape design, she says.

Examples include a fence with a built-in outdoor chalkboard, a climbing wall with colorful hand grips and a water feature that doubles as a splash pad, as well as tree swings and gravel areas for push-bikes.

“These are all things that don’t take up a ton of room,” Haugeland says. “Especially in a small space, you don’t want to put up a big monster of a play structure.”

Whatever play equipment you have, you should give it special attention before each showing of your home, to ensure that all toys are put away and the play areas look well maintained, she says.

“You want it to be as clean and parklike as possible,” Haugeland says. “Maybe add some mulch around it, and make sure it looks appealing and safe.”

Just like the inside of your home, she says, you don’t want it to look cluttered: “In the same way you would stage a house, you should stage your backyard.”



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