"Greenbacks from Greenery" book--Where can I get it?

I have been thinking about a book called “Greenbacks from Greenery” or “Greenery Makes Greenbacks” or something like that. Do any of you have it in your libraries? Couldn’t find it on Amazon.

It is an old real estate investment book that showed how to improve cash flow by improving building exteriors with climbing vines, trees, shrubs, flowers.

If I remember correctly, it had an amazing picture in it of the standard rectangle 8 or 10-plex 2-story apartment house with the open upper balcony of which hundreds were built in California. The before (stark rectangle with concrete) and after (Shangri-la of vines, flowers, palms) pictures were amazing.

The real estate guru’s philosophy was to ignore the inside (your basic white apartment) and spend money, time, sprinklers, gardeners on the outside. He had a waiting list for his apartments because they were so gorgeous looking and stood out from the rest.

He raised his rents and started getting a much higher caliber of tenant, who cared where they live. He started attracting closet gardeners who then hung up bird feeders, etc.

I have been thinking about this a lot. One of the main joys of going to Disneyland, a resort, a fine hotel is to enjoy the landscaping. I am thinking that I need to start doing a whole lot more on units that are already done enough on the inside.

What have you landlords been doing with this idea? Do you have any landscaping success stories to tell?


There is an apartment building in my area that very obviously belongs to a master gardener who does his own landscaping.

No ordinary landscaping company could make a place look like that. Maybe a top commercial company could, but no landlord could afford to pay the price for that type of company.

The apartments I am talking about are impossible to get into. He doesn’t have vacancies. Every investor in the area drools over the property.

So I firmly believe that gorgeous landscaping would make a property an easy sell.

A couple of problems, though. Tenants tear up landscaping at an amazing rate. If they are responsible for it, they won’t do the work. If they are not responsible for the gardening, they tear the landscaping up.

Beautiful landscapig is labor intensive and quite expensive (I keep my own house quite nice, and it costs a lot of time and money, and it is never finished).

I do think that the better the landscaping is, the easier it is to obtan tenants, or to sell. I just can’t make it pencil out.

I agree with Tatertot. For me, everything comes down to money, because that’s what business is all about. Tenants are hard on everything. I certainly could not make money by planting flowers, shrubs, or landscaping just to have the tenants neglect or even destroy it. How many full time gardeners would I have to employ to take care of several dozen gardens? How would I ever make enough extra money to offset the expense?

However, your niche market might be different. I certainly don’t have traveling professionals as tenants.



Here we have 1 gardener who cuts and trims and weed-wacks and maybe trims a few shrubs. He charges us about $30/month per property. This is too little in the summer when he may need to cut once a week, and it is too much in Nov.-April when he just does clean-up and leaves. But we pay him the same year-round and that works for him as other customers don’t pay in the winter.

I am going to landscape with the native or prolific or perennial plants. Trumpet vine is so invasive and comes up like a weed. It is gorgeous and covers whole ugly chain link fences. Also Wedding Veil vine, jasmine and Virginia creeper. Hollyhocks love heat and sun and re-seed themselves.

I don’t think it is so difficult to get great looking landscaping. It’s just a matter of education like everything else. For example, Home Depot is now full of expensive perennial wines like Bougainvillea, Mandevilla, etc. Those vines will DIE here as they can’t tolerate frost at all. But Home Depot continues to sell plants suitable for California from the big California nurseries.

Last year I bought 7 different kinds of vines and planted them along the chain link fence on a property. Three survived and thrived. Now I will buy only those: climbing yellow rose, Wedding Veil, Trumpet vine.

Mike, if you had better landscaping>better tenants>fewer evictions would it be worth it to you?
If I am traveling and need to stop at a motel, I always pick the one with the best landscaping.


Furnishedowner - never thought about this. We are going to put our home on the market in the beginning of July… My wife is trying to convince me in investing money in improving our backyard (the front yard is already nice). I didn’t think it would be worth it (we would not recover the money). But I do agree with you that it will probably be easier to sell. I guess the challenge is to not over-do it… Invest only enough to make it more desirable, but not too much that you will lose money… Anyone has a formula for this? Something simple that I can apply, like plant 1 tree for each window facing North, 1 bed of roses for each door, etc… :O)

I was just reading an appraisal general information book. It stated that the value of a mature street shade tree is $10,000. So, Propertymanager Mike, quit cutting down your trees!

I am lucky enough to live in a nationally recognized “City of Trees”. That means that the city has a full-time arborist and Arbor Day is celebrated every year. This year I got 4 free trees from the city on Arbor Day.

When I look at property to buy, trees are very important. Right now all week it is over 100 degrees and summer is not here yet. My dogs would poach in the yard without trees.

Anybody found that “Greenbacks/Greenery” book yet?



If you are owner-occupied and going to sell, don’t put a lot of money into the backyard. Trim everything very neat, green up the grass (campaign of fertilizer, weeder, water).

Then buy 3-4 nice big planters and fill them with bright flowering annuals. Half whiskey barrels work and they are about $12 each. A couple of flats of flowers for about $12 each, and you’ve got your backyard decorating for under $100.

I like a simple mix of petunias and allysum. They are hardy, bear flowers for the entire season, and they look really good.

Move them around the yard to see where the best impact is.

They will have to be watered nearly every day if the weather is hot-- which is why it only works if you are in or very near the house.

If you are not a gardener, don’t plant new trees. Almost every place I’ve ever bought, someone has put the wrong kind of tree in the wrong place in the yard. That won’t help your resale value.

If you have a small yard, it is very tricky to get the right tree in the right place. Shrubs are better in a smalll yard, but they take so long to grow that you won’t get any impact in time to sell.

Tatertot - thank you for the tip. My wife loves plants and flowers, etc. She tends to go overboard when it comes to the front and backyard. I will show her your post… :O)

Thank you.