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Carpenter Costin Blog

Adding Home Value Through Landscape Design

Are you one of the millions of Americans who chose to stay busy during the pandemic by taking on home improvement projects? From small paint projects to “down-to-the-studs” bathroom remodels, Americans went all out to add home value through home improvement projects. 


Landscape design is one such project that many homeowners have found to be an excellent return on investment and a major boost to curb appeal for their property. 

According to a recent report in Statistica, more than 76% of homeowners (who responded to their survey) reported, “making at least one improvement to their home during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States in 2020.” Renovations and remodels of bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, decks, patios, and yes, landscape design were completed not only as a way to keep ourselves busy during this unusual time period, but also as a way to add value to a home. 

Real Estate Experts Weigh In on Home Improvements

Real estate agents have their collective fingers on the pulse of what home improvements can increase a home’s value and those that do not. Fortune Builders, a real estate development company, recently created a list of the top home improvements and their return on investment (ROI) that we thought would be helpful to share given our landscape design expertise in Massachusetts. 

Top 5 home improvement projects with ROI. 

  1. Minor Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 102%
  2. Landscaping: Returns an average of 100%
  3. Minor Kitchen Remodel: Returns an average of 98.5%
  4. Attic Bedroom Conversion: Returns an average of 93.5%
  5. Major Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 93.2% (Source: Fortune Builders

A Word on Curb Appeal 

Not only does landscape design have a fantastic return on investment and a boost to your home value, it can also help your home sell even years down the line. 

In one HomeLight survey, 94% of top agents said that great curb appeal equals money in your bank account at closing. Houses with exceptional landscaping and landscape design sell faster and at higher levels than homes of comparable size and location. 

In the same HomeLight study, top real estate agents across the country reported that well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes with no landscaping.

Well-designed walkways, patios, gardens, and strategically placed plantings can change the entire aesthetics of a property. A landscape project can be completed in one season and mean years of enjoyment. 

Picture the Possibilities of Landscape Design 

Carpenter Costin Landscape Design can help create an oasis in your yard using: retaining walls, stone walls, Perennial gardens, outdoor fire pits, paver driveways and walkways, hardscape patios, and natural privacy shields. The sky's the limit when it comes to how you want your property to look.

Our professional team can listen to your design ideas and customize a plan for the topography and size of your property. Not only will you improve your curb appeal, but also increase the value of your home while creating an outdoor space you can use year after year.

5 Benefits of a Stone Fire Pit Entertaining Space

Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are quite the trend in the United States today. According to the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Residential Landscape Trends Survey, topping the list of outdoor design features is the stone fireplace and fire pit. 

Why are the fire features so popular currently? To understand the sudden appeal of stone fireplaces and fire pits in the Massachusetts area, one only needs to examine the benefits associated with this type of residential architectural detail. 

Let’s take a look at the 5 benefits that a fire pit could add to your property this year. 

#1 Extended Entertaining Area 

One of the top reasons why homeowners in our region love to add fire pits or outdoor kitchens with a fireplace component is the idea of transforming outdoor spaces into viable entertaining areas that can be used throughout the year. 

Adding a fire pit or fireplace to your backyard is like adding valuable square footage to your home except the room is outdoors and allows multiple gathering spaces as well as cooking options. 

For most homeowners in the northeast, getting outside at night becomes an option when there is a warm cozy (and attractively designed) fire to sit beside. Spring, summer, fall, and even some parts of the winter will allow for fire pit season in our area. 

#2 Functionality 

Not only does a fire pit area allow for more entertaining space to be added to a home, it provides a function as well. Many homeowners use the pits or fireplaces to cook their meals during the hot summer months when they don’t want to heat up their homes. Grilling dogs and burgers becomes less of a hassle when you can do it outdoors while enjoying the peace of your yard and nature. 


#3 Warmth & Light 

Who doesn’t like to sit by a crackling fire while enjoying the company of friends and a few cocktails? A fire pit can lengthen those late-night get-togethers by providing both warm and light. The party doesn’t need to end when the sun goes down when you have a fire pit to keep everyone cozy and entertained. 

#4 Adds Curb Appeal & Value to Landscaping

The National Association of Realtors explains that, “Outdoor hardscape projects (such as walkways, fire pits, fireplaces and walls) add resale value to a home as well as bring extra enjoyment to homeowners while they are living in the home.”

When it comes time to sell your home, a well-manicured and hardscape-designed backyard will be more valuable and create more curb appeal, thus attracting more serious buyers. 

#5 Makes Unusable Space Usable

Many New England homes have sloped or rocky yards that are not great for doing much planting, playing, or entertaining. By adding a tiered fire pit to a yard, areas that were once unusable become highly functional and possibly your favorite aspect of the yard! 

If you're thinking about jumping on the fire pit trend and adding one to your property, let our landscape architects handle the planning and heavy lifting for you. We can design, plan and execute the entertaining area of your dreams. 


Increase Your Property Value With Landscaping

Improving your existing landscape or creating a whole new landscape will not only enhance the look of a property but also add value when refinancing or selling a home.

If you are looking to improve your landscape there are some key takeaways and benefits you should definitely consider to help make the decision a no-brainer.

Lets go through some of the benefits of investing in landscape design projects for your property and home.

The benefits of properly executed landscaping plans are:

  • Economic benefits

  • Environmental

  • Personal health

  • Socialization

  • Outdoor living space

Economic Benefits From Landscaping

Landscaping your property can increase the resale value of a property by as much as 15%. 

A significant landscape project that can bring close to 12% increase in property value is the construction of a patio. Patios bring an aesthetic appeal along with a purpose. 

Environmental Benefits Landscaping

Green Leaf Wide

It is a known fact that trees clean the air of pollutants which improves the quality of our air we breathe. Trees have many environmental benefits which we go into more detail in our blog posts "Importance and Value of Trees"

When planting trees, there are a select few that if properly and strategically planted can significantly absorb sounds waves and reduces noise pollution.

Improve Your Personal Health With Landscaping

Women Happy Nature Wide

Some studies have shown that when people are surrounded by nature like trees and flowers they significantly suffered less job stress and ended up feeling more satisfaction from their job.

To get more specific many people reported having fewer headaches and ailments than people that did not have a view of natural surroundings like trees and flowers. 

Overall by being surrounded by trees and plants it caused an increase in positive feelings while feelings of fear and anger were reduced.

Create Outdoor Living Spaces

People enjoy being outside in the sunlight and enjoying time with family and friends. A landscaped patio can raise the value of a home by as much as 12.4%. 

Outdoor Living Spaces

Landscape designs for your yard can encourage and provide much more opportunities for social interactions and family time. Picture a backyard patio where you can have an outdoor fireplace where your family and friends can sit around, roast marshmallows.

A key feature in a backyard landscape is a water feature. This does NOT mean a pool. Anything from a fountain to a small pond or even a hot tub would be more than enough. The reason being that you are creating an area in your backyard that is a comfortable place to sit, relax and take in the fresh air.

The benefits of landscaping can be maximized when you have a certified professional involved in all aspects of the landscape including the design, site prep, plant selection, and installation. This is where a Landscape Master Plan is highly recommended.


If you have any questions or interested in any of our services please reach out to us at 877-308-8773 or click on the link below for a free consultation!

Request Free Landscape Design Consultation


Creating a Master Plan for your Landscape Design

When you finally want your dream landscape to happen it doesn’t start with a patio, plantings, water feature or even shrubs. It starts by working with a landscape designer to create your Master Plan.

Landscape Design Master Plan

A master plan is a comprehensive plan of action intended to guide growth and development. It documents every last detail of your space. You can create a master plan for professional success, for personal growth, for a community, and you can create a master plan for your home and landscape design.

Lincoln patio and pool 10-04  Updated 5-16-19 (1)

Why a Master Plan is Important

The question you should ask is, ‘would I want someone to build my house without knowing how they are going to build it, what tools they will need, what kind of resources are required, or how much time is going to be needed to complete it?’ A master plan acts as a blue print or road map for the project of your dream landscape so we can answer all those questions and ensure the completion of your project the way we planned it TOGETHER.

Understand Your Goals For Your Landscape

Although you might know that you want a patio or a couple trees planted there are a few things to consider and figure out. The master plan will help you make certain of;

What you want: Patio, Retaining wall, Walkway, Natural Privacy screen,

Where you want it: Front yard, Side yard, Backyard

How it will be used or want to be used: For entertainment, Relaxation, Privacy, Personal space, etc. 

Complications that could arise: What happens when the tree you planted grows? Is it too close to your patio?

This is why a master plan is crucial because once the project is completed there really is no turning back without spending money you shouldn't have had to if you had just created the master plan.

Break Your Landscape Project into Different Stages

Whether you implement your design in one season or break it down into phases and install over several seasons, a landscape master plan ensures continuity throughout the project. Master planning allows you a practical approach to construction sequencing and phasing, and gives you a better understanding of the costs and maintenance you will need for your landscape.

Side of paver drive

When your landscape project includes more than one project like:

  • Tree Plantings for a natural privacy screen
  • Patio design & construction
  • Outdoor Kitchen/Fireplace
  • Water features like a waterfall or pond

It is very important to break your dream landscape into multiple stages. This will allow you to have more control over your projects like completion dates and spending amounts. So if the patio project is your priority then you will be able to start with that and decide the next steps you are able to take and plan from that.

Flow of the Landscape

Your home, where you live, includes both the indoor and outdoor living space that should be complementary. You want a flow from one space of your property to the other. Your landscape should be a harmonious space from which you derive enjoyment.

Blue Pebble RiverWith that being said, every property flows differently. Questions to ask yourself or for the landscape designer to consider is;

  • Is your yard flat or does it slope dramatically? Is there a hill?
  • What is your soil made up of? Rocks? Sand?
  • How does your yard handle a heavy rain? Does it drain well or flood?

These are just a few questions that will be answered in your master plan so that both you and the landscape designer are on the same page throughout the process.

Landscape Design is an Art Form

Landscape design is an art, it uses the principles of simplicity, good scale, balance, sequence, and focalization. These principles are the guidelines in designing each outdoor feature, whether it's patio, stone walkway/pathway, a flower garden, or a shrub border. Every detail matters which is why it is critical to have the master plan to effectively and efficiently get the job done.

Improve Your Landscape

When you decide to improve your landscape, your outdoor living space, a master plan is essential. A Landscape Architect creates a master plan by working with you to understand your goals for the space and how you intend to live in it. Analyzing your goals and researching the parameters of the site helps determine the optimum solutions in advance of actual execution.

If you have any questions or would like to move forward with improving your landscape please contact our registered Landscape Architects to discuss master planning for your landscape design project.

Request Free Landscape Design Consultation

Landscape Design Portfolio


Editors Note: This post was originally published in April of 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Featured Project: Tired Courtyard Receives New Landscape Design

Often times the best designs are not born of a single mind, but of a collaboration between many.

The First-Calvary Baptist Church and it's members, reached out to Carpenter Costin during the summer of 2014 for landscape architectural services. The issue was a central courtyard in dire need of a redesign, in order to provide a space for reflection and prayer within a garden setting.

Old Landscape in Courtyard

Courtyard before landscaping project

The original courtyard required a much needed redesign

Being a larger-scale project representing the needs of many, the church requested full landscape architectural services and plan sets. After the plan sets were completed, multiple contractors (including Carpenter Costin) would be able to bid on the construction aspect of the job. This would ensure fair, unbiased, and independent design + construction services.

Brendan Carey RLA from Grounded Growing Landscape Architects was selected as the designer and consultant by the church board members. He developed a series of conceptual plans focusing on circulation, drainage, and overall aesthetic. After a few weeks of intensive design work and meetings, Brendan had a set of drawings ready for landscape contractors to bid on.

Carpenter Costin was quickly selected as the winning bid for the landscape construction portion of the job

Siting strong analysis and understanding of the landscape architect's plan set, along with a competitive price, the church board members turned to Carpenter Costin to turn their plans into reality.

Being a courtyard in the middle of a place of worship, there were unique issues that took both acute sensitivity along with simple brute strength to solve. All materials stripped out of and brought into the courtyard, had to fit through a standard-sized door frame. Our crews crossed finished floors throughout the process and made sure to be extra careful of window walls surrounding the work zone.

Working closely with the landscape architect and the onsite representative of the church, we streamlined this process as much as possible.

Landscape Project In Progress

Blue Stone Placement for Landscaping Project

Blue Stone Outlining the Courtyard

In the end, the sum was greater than its parts.

Natural Stone Surrounding Sod

Creating this beautiful and reflective memorial garden in the heart of a church took more than one took wonderful and understanding clients, a thoughtful and talented landscape architect, and a resourceful construction team here at Carpenter Costin.

View of Natural Stone and Sod Installation

An inspirational view of the new courtyard from the inside.

Final Look of the Redesigned Courtyard

The final look of the redesigned courtyard.

*More pictures to come will show the depth of color and beauty from over 100 perennials in mid-summer. 

Making Space Beautiful After Removing A Pool in Beverly, MA

Our client in Beverly owns a beautifully renovated, craftsman bungalow on a pristine lot. There was only one glaring eyesore...a round sandpit where an above-ground pool once stood. 

What You Should do After Removing a Pool

After removing an above ground pool from your backyard you Arts Garden Before Projectwill most likely have a sand pit underneath. With a sand pit in your back yard a good idea might be to look into something that will bring either an aesthetic appeal and or a landscape that is functional. For this project, our landscape architect, Shane Mahoney, worked with the clients through various options, designs, and layouts. The more they brainstormed, the more they were drawn right back to a circular shape.

A circle form softens the strict linearity of the architecture and fence lines, while creating a strong anchor point in the corner of the yard.

Arts Garden ProgressNext Step in the Landscaping Project

The next step was to figure out how to make the circle form into a usable and aesthetic part of the landscape.

Inspiration came from formal European gardens of symmetry and balance. Which is what they decided to go with.



Natural Stone For Arts GardenEach of the four quadrants is a raised perennial planter that doubles as an intimate seating wall. These sections of the overall circle form are divided by two perpendicular blue stone walkways that deliver you to the existing lawn perfectly on-grade.

Anyone else out there thinking of replacing an above-ground pool with a Beaux Arts Garden? Request a free consultation!


Preparing for Spring Landscaping

Landscaping Services in the Spring

It doesn't feel like Spring is around the corner but in reality now is a great time to start planning your Spring landscape. To begin, think about how you want to use your yard this year and consider areas for kids or pets, entertaining or outdoor living. If you're not sure, our landscape architects have great ideas and will help you envision your yard as a perfect place to play and relax.

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Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring warmth and fun to your backyard with a stone fire pit

  2. Redefine the entrance to your home with a new walkway

  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point

  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season

  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio

  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that detract from curb appeal

  7. Install a stone wall to delineate a seating area

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Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality. Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877-308-8733.

The Perfect Touch: A Danvers Paver Driveway

Improve Your Landscape With A New Paver Driveway!

Custom Paver DrivewayYou might think of your driveway as an after-thought to your landscape or yard work, but pictures from this project will change your mind! A beautiful driveway is the perfect touch for curb appeal, welcoming visitors, and creating a clean and polished look to your property.
We just completed a beautiful 3,000 square foot driveway in Danvers, MA using a premium combination of pavers. The different shades and shapes create an interesting and beautiful look.
Paver Drive with GarageA horseshoe section of driveway delivers you to the top parking court area and garage, which sits about 15-feet above the grade of the road.
Some of the details include a double interior banding of weathered brick type pavers throughout the horseshoe
section of the drive, with a single banding at the top section to delineate the parking court area.
Our Carpenter Costin masons custom built an inlaid, 6'-diameter compass rose as a center piece for the parking court area. Look at the detail!
Custom Compass Rose Center Piece
Installation of select landscape boulders, plants, and high-quality Kentucky bluegrass sod softens the hardscape edges and finishes off the overall aesthetic.
Natural Stone Garden Wall

We love sharing projects like this to start sparking ideas! If you're interested in speaking with a landscape architect who can give you ideas about giving your outdoor space the perfect touch, call us at 877-308-873 or request a free consultation.

Create a Destination - At Home!

Soothe Your Soul by Enhancing your Landscaping

The fragrant hint of summer roses, the sound of the wind in the trees and the beauty of brightly colored flowers all reward our senses in the garden. After a long day of traffic jams, deadlines, difficult economic news and endless demands, a stroll through your garden can soothe the soul. In fact, researchers have found that exposure to nature can actually reduce your blood pressure, give you a sense of peace, and lift your mood. Lincoln patio and poolTurn your yard into a place to relax by making it a destination. You can create an inviting outdoor living space by adding outdoor ‘rooms.’  Here are some ideas:

  • Design a tropical, comfortable and calming oasis. Imagine sipping an ice cold drink and relaxing with friends in the sun!
  • Add a pizza oven for unmatched entertaining.
  • Create a special place just for the kids and bring them out into the fresh air to play. 
  • A special, secluded ‘room’ in a quiet spot can be used for reading or meditation.
  • An outdoor fireplace can be used throughout the year.

If you have any questions or interested in any of our services please call us at 877-308-8733.

Spring Landscaping Ideas

Ideas for Your Landscape in the Spring

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it’s time to get outside, take a deep breath and start planning how you are going to use your yard this year. As we all seek outlets for stress reduction and restoration, let our landscape architects help you transform your property into an attractive, welcoming and serene place to play and relax. describe the image

Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring the warmth and fun of a campfire to your backyard with a stone fire pit.
  2. Define the entrance to your home with a new walkway.
  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point.
  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season
  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio.
  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that may be hiding your home.
  7. Install a fence or stone wall to delineate a property line.describe the image

 Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality.  Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877-308-8733.  Visit our landscape portfolio.

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