Bring Joy with 5 Features

research ranks the level of joy brought by popular landscape features

November 1, 2020. By Isara Ongwiseth: With the LA housing market continuing to pop through the pandemic, it’s no wonder people continue to renovate their landscapes with home value in mind. But, what about those of us who simply want to enjoy the home we have a bit more?

The National Association of Realtors surveyed homeowners to identify the landscape renovations that brought them the most joy. Can you guess the top three? I’ll admit, one was a surprise to me!

Third Place: New Patio

This month, HomeLight walked us through their data on the types of patio spaces homeowners are seeking now. From cozy nooks to outdoor kitchens, it shows the addition of a new patio produces compelling returns at sale. At 9.7, the NAR study showed the value-in-use or “Joy Score” of adding an outdoor patio was also high, even pre-pandemic.


Second Place: Tie! Water Features and Wood Decks

Wood decks and water features both delivered joy scores of 9.8. Decks, like patios, also produce an exceptional return on investment at sale. That said, we doubt simply looking forward to a home’s sale factors into the joy score.

Potentially shocking to any Angeleno, pools are not among the water features that produce a 9.8 joy score. While 83 percent of new pool owners reported increased enjoyment, pools earned a joy score of only 8.8! Lower maintenance features like fountains.


First Place: Tie! Fire Features and Irrigation… Yes! Irrigation

It’s easy to see how fire features earn a perfect 10 when it comes to the addition of joy. Humans seem biologically programmed to gather around a hearth, whether it takes the shape of a fire pit, fireplace or more artistic fire feature. While it’s hard to beat the drama of these features on a cool summer evening, we find clients also gravitate to their warmth on cool mornings and use them to extend use of their outdoor spaces into the winter months.

At first, irrigation upgrades earning a joy score of 10 dropped my jaw. Smart irrigation is invisible! How could it possibly out-compete the scent and sight of blooms, the comfort of a cozy nook, or the delightful crunch of walking a gravel path?! Is it the joy of saving water? Their ease of use? Being able to offload responsibility to your landscape maintenance team? Or is it something intangible and magical? If you’ve experienced this joy, you’ll have to let me know!

More Information

  • Full NAR Study
  • HomeLight: 8 Ideas for Creating a Backyard Oasis