There is a comfort in knowing a neighborhood provides you with not only a unique experience, but a rewarding lifestyle. Richmond neighborhoods are becoming known for their tight-knit community bonds inspired by environmental landscaping programs. The Chesapeake RiverWise Communities program, sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay focuses its attention on providing feasible landscape solutions to combat watershed pollution. The program encourages communities to develop a personal commitment to environmental stewardship. Richmond real estate agent and RiverWise program participant Shana Bloom strives to keep her clients aware of the benefits best management practices and native plants have on property value in these communities.

Native plants are species that have evolved within a specific region. As part of the RiverWise program, it is important for homeowners to know about the benefits of native plants – on both the yard and the larger environment. Since these species are adapted to the climate of the region, native plants can reduce the expenses that come with landscape maintenance. After establishment, native plants require less water and fertilizer, and are known to attract desirable wildlife such as birds and butterflies. A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc. found that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years cost $3,000 compared with the $20,000 maintenance cost of non-native turf grass upkeep over the same period (HouseLogic). Aside from their economic benefits, native plants can be a colorful, unique and functional addition to a property – qualities homebuyers frequently seek as part of curb appeal. A property’s green space has a lot to say about the home in general. Shana Bloom speaks about curb appeal as inspiring buyers to believe the homeowner takes good care of their home – both inside and out. Knowing a home has been kept in good hands leaves a certain comfort in a buyer’s mind. An acre of native plants over 20 years cost $3,000 compared with the $20,000 maintenance cost of non-native turf grass upkeep over the same period

Native plants can also benefit those looking to sell a house. With home inspections and regulations being an important part of selling a home, it is essential that the owner prevents any water from seeping in an around the house. Bloom encourages her clients to avoid moisture with well-placed rain gardens that direct excess stormwater away from the foundation. The beauty and functionality of the gardens provide multiple benefits for homebuyers. Native plants add beauty, functionality and a sense of place to home gardens.

Throughout Richmond, installation of Bayscapes and rain gardens filled with native plants is becoming a neighborhood consistency. Neighbors in these areas are accustomed to seeing rows of houses utilizing the RiverWise best management practices. While not everyone seeks environmentally conscious housing, Bloom notes that some buyers do seek specifically “green” houses. Bloom notes that while it was fun to take part in her own landscaping design as part of her involvement with the RiverWise program, it was also fun to be able to answer questions buyers had about the specific landscape installations. She hints that environmentally conscious landscaping is “becoming a market standard.”

Shana Bloom, Real Estate Agent of Compass Realty sells homes in Richmond and surrounding areas. She is well acquainted with the unique neighborhoods Richmond has to offer and is proud of her personal involvement with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay RiverWise program.