How plants can add value to your home

Ned Browne

Plants aren't only great for livening up a living space—here are some simple ways they can add practical value to your home. 

Fifteen years ago I found myself renovating a stone-built property a stone’s throw from the sea on the south-west coast of Ireland. Despite using every trick in the book, one wall continued to suffer from rising damp. The adjacent section of the garden was waterlogged.

I brought my problem to a local garden centre, where a knowledgeable employee suggested I plant a hydrangea as it was a “thirsty plant”.

As it grew, it gradually dried out that section of the garden and the damp subsided. And that got me thinking: what other uses do plants have (aside from their aesthetic appeal)?

 

Thirsty plants

Hydrangeas

It’s not just hydrangeas you can plant. The Royal Horticultural Society suggests using the following “thirsty” plants: Liquidambar Styraciflua, Cornus Alba, Phyllostachys, Hosta and Zantedeschia Aethiopica

It would be wrong to assume they will eradicate damp on their own. But they might help.

 

For privacy

plants add privacy

According to the United Nations, around 55 per cent of the world's population is thought to be living in an urban area or city. That figure is set to rise to 68 per cent by 2050. Our neighbours have never been closer. Plants can create a natural, beautiful oasis.

If you find that you’re lacking privacy or are overlooked, consider planting some of the following: Bamboo, ideally in planters, as it’s a pernicious plant that can soon take over. 

Climbers are a great option too—install trellis and let clematis armandii and jasmine do the rest. Beware, however, of planting fast-growing evergreens. There are countless disputes across the country since the introduction of leylandii.

 

For security

security outside house bush

Most burglars are opportunistic and carry out their thefts in a matter of minutes. And no thief wants to battle through a prickly hedge. Such barriers will take some time to grow, but the end result justifies the wait.

The Metropolitan published a list of “protective” plants that included: Firethorn "orange glow" (flowers white in June, with bright orange-red berries), common holly, mountain pine (a very hardy, large shrub or small tree, with long sharp needles) and creeping juniper (thorny stem and foliage). I have planted the former and it’s stunning in late summer, but tricky to prune.  You have been warned.

Top tip: Hedges in the front garden should be kept to a height of no more than a few feet. Otherwise, potential intruders can hide behind them.

Read more: How to burglary-proof your home

 

As sound barriers

best plants for sound barrier

Plants will never be as good as physical barriers, such as brick walls, when it comes to sound reduction. But they do have a role to play. Not least because they create their own, rather pleasant, ambient noise as they blow in the wind.

In terms of which plants are the most effective, evergreen shrubs provide year-round noise reduction. Broadleaf evergreens tend to be more effective than narrow-leaf plants. Also, choose plants with dense branches that reach all the way to the ground, such as hollies and junipers.

 

Plants as money-makers

garden can affect sale price

If you’re selling your property, you can create a wow factor before the prospective buyer opens the front door. 

Never underestimate the importance of your front garden; it might just secure you a higher price than you’d thought possible.