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Big yard truly worth it?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 7, 2013 07:32 AM

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Just mowed my lawn. It only took me 40 minutes to buzz across the fraction of an acre on which my Natick fixer-upper sits, but that's quite enough for me!

OK, maybe I am just allergic to lawn mowing - brings back all sorts of bad memories of battling with my father at as a teenager over when to mow.

Now my wife Karen and I have it out.

Still, after years of work, we finally have a yard that is nice to relax in. When we first bought our then-decrepit village colonial back in 2002, the yard was in worse shape than the house, infested with poison ivy and scraggly undergrowth.

But we should enjoy it, for after all, we are paying for our yard, as modest as it is. Buildable lots can often be more valuable in pricey, building-constrained Greater Boston than the homes that sit on them.

My house is no exception - the lot of my Marion Street house is assessed at nearly $200,000. That's more than my house, which is valued at $185,000. And I have a relatively small yard.

That raises a basic question here. However satisfying it may be to have an acre of lawn and trees to call your own, is a big yard truly worth it?

"Frank," a regular in the comments section of this blog, is beginning to have his doubts.

Frank recently traded in a Woburn rental for his suburban dream house, complete with an acre of land.

But after putting down $400 for a mower, and innumerable trips to Home Depot, Frank is acutely conscious now of the costs as well.

All that said, he still loves his big new yard. As they say, love is irrational.

"I am never going back to anything that's less than 0.5 acres, if not the 1 acre I have now," Frank writes.

Here's Frank:

My own place has a full acre of space, AND the majority of it is front/back yard with grass (with some trees in the back, abutting the woods, on my property). This vastly adds to the curb appeal, and gives me a great place to relax/host friends.

BUT all that land/plot/space comes at a price. First in the cost of the property, 2nd in higher taxes, and 3rd in higher upkeep costs. (I just bought by 1st lawn-mower today, at over $400, since I'm going to have to start keeping the grass in-order now, myself. The alternative is to pay an additional $60-150 a month to have someone else cut my grass. (think $400-1000 per year). This is on top of the $300+ a year I am spending on having the lawn fertilized etc.

It would be interesting to find out what others consider their "ideal" plot/yard size. Me personally, having lived in Woburn where the next house is usually 10-20 ft away from yours, and you have a postage size back yard, I'm (likely) never going to go back to anything that's less than 0.5 acres,if not the 1 acre I have now. The privacy and feeling of being "my own space" feels too good to give up, now that I have it, not to mention all the birds and wildlife we get to see.

What's your take? Do you have a big yard or dream of owning one? Is it really worth it?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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