Seven Reasons You Should Improve Your Land

Consider any improvements that enhance overall usability, enjoyment, aesthetics and wildlife.

In general, the word "improvement" indicates something that enhances value or utility. In real estate, an improvement is defined as a specific, permanent change to a property that enhances its value, utility or desirability. In real estate lingo, that usually means building a home, office building, shop or garage.

However, when we talk about land, improvements can take many forms which, more often than not, don't involve buildings. If you are looking to "improve" your property, here are a few ideas that will not only enhance your own enjoyment, but also the value of your property.

Adding water or power -- The distance to available power, and the depth necessary to drill for water, can vary widely. Either job can run into the thousands of dollars. Nonetheless, both can provide creature comforts that will make trips to your property much more enjoyable. No one likes lugging water or tending a generator.

Building internal roads
-- Providing access for vehicle traffic on your property is essential. The best internal road systems combine all-weather roads for two-wheel drive vehicles and a network of ATV and walking trails. Road building doesn't have to involve a bulldozer. A woods grinder and other less invasive equipment can create serviceable roads quickly and inexpensively.

Adding a lake or pond
-- Lake building is never cheap, and it can be difficult to get the right permits. But done correctly, it is always a valuable addition. If you do build a lake or pond, make sure that you budget for stocking and ongoing management. You'll enjoy being able to wet a hook, plus your property will get a value boost that often exceeds the cost of construction. In fact, a pond almost always adds more value to your property than it costs to build.

More wildlife habitat -- Whether you are a hunter or not, having abundant wildlife on your property is a benefit. Just seeing deer standing in the woods or a turkey strutting in the field makes you feel closer to nature...and further from the city. You don't necessarily bulldozers, tractors and plows, either. Check with your state wildlife agency for ways to enhance native plant species, attract wildlife, and establish wildlife habitat management plans.

Adding open spaces
-- Everything from a small clearing to a large field can add character and value to your property. Any area with a concentration of small trees or brush can potentially be transformed into a field or wildlife opening. In many cases that transformation can be done with a tractor, a rotary mower and a disk harrow. When larger equipment is needed, be sure to check with your state forestry commission. In many states, these agencies offer budget-priced services for landowners.

Fencing and gates -- In addition to controlling access, attractive fencing and a nice gate can dress up the road frontage and provide an aesthetic boost to your property. Plus, these additions make your property look "lived in" and discourage trespassing and poaching when you're away.

Building a cabin -- The operative word here is small. Just make sure your cabin is appropriate for the property and provides comfortable accommodations. Building a 5,000-square-foot home in the center of a 200-acre hunting parcel doesn't make sense and may not "improve" your property, especially if the home looks more appropriate for a country club than a rural setting. Comfortable and cozy is the best bet.

When you spread the cost of any improvement across the acreage you own, it often comes down to only a few dollars per acre. So consider any improvements that enhance overall usability, enjoyment, aesthetics and wildlife.

Don Webb is the author of "Maximizing The Land Ownership Experience" and president of Greenwood Land Company, which provides land acquisition and consulting services. Contact him at (706) 575-4178 or go online to

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