BLOG: Function and Aesthetics Equate to Increased Land Values

Function and Aesthetics Equate to Increased Land Values

By Tom Roberts with Michael Landreth, ALC

When developing a land enhancement plan for a ranch property many factors must be considered in order to maximize the benefit of the dollars you are spending on the endeavor. Many people pull out the old quote that “form follows function” when addressing any type of design and construction effort, but in our opinion, form and function should go hand in hand so as not to miss an opportunity to truly maximize the value of your land investment.

As an example, imagine a trout stream running through a ranch has been degraded through years of cattle grazing in and near the water. The stream has been degraded to a point where the ecology is unhealthy and it simply looks terrible as well.

Now suppose a landowner wanted to restore that river to a healthy system by installing some instream boulder structures to provide fish habitat, which could increase the numbers and sizes of the trout. Functionally, there a different ways to place these boulders that would have equally positive results from a habitat standpoint. We have seen many ranch owners spend a lot of money for boulder structures built to create a symmetrical arch that creates a small waterfall and then a perfect oval pool. These habitat structures function very nicely, but from an aesthetic standpoint look very unnatural and completely manmade.

As a company that specializes in the enhancement of ranch properties, we at Western Lands, LLC believe that although the ecological function may have been enhanced, this contribution hasn’t maximized the overall value of the land. A huge opportunity has been missed by letting the aesthetics take a back seat to functional aspects of the river restoration. An artificial appearance does not help enhance the overall land value when the visual appearance is what many people would respond to before realizing the value of the habitat.

Our approach to enhancement in this case would come on both macro and micro levels. On the macro level, we would place strong consideration on the actual location of the river structures to have them provide the greatest level of visual interest from vantage points away from the river, such as from the house, trails, or entry roads. On the micro level, we would be sure that the structures were built in a manner that mimicked nature and would be unclear if they were natural or manmade. Careful craftsmanship and material selection are keys to success.

The dollars spent on the enhancement work are quite often a once in a lifetime deal. Most people don’t want to go back a do it again and will simple live with what they get, which is why it is critical to do it right the first time. Looking at the enhancement project from both an aesthetic and functional perspective simultaneously will provide the maximum results.

Think of it this way, if the cost to do it either way were the same, but more overall value was gained while also paying attention to the aesthetics then you certainly should want to develop a plan that addressed both. This principle can be used on almost all aspects of enhancement work, which includes the placement of your homes, how your roads may meander through the ranch and any other type of land or ecological improvements.

Our goal is to help our clients realize these factors that may not be something they normally think about, but it is what we love to do. Call us to discuss any type of enhancement project on your land and we are sure to find ways to maximize your dollars.

{Note: Contributing Author Tom Roberts, a frequent contributor and professional affiliate, is the owner of Western Lands; Ranch Restoration Services ( a full service ranch consulting firm that is dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of investment grade and legacy ranch properties in the western United States;

Michael Landreth, ALC, of Landreth Ranch & Land Co, and Partner at, is a Nationally Recognized expert on Colorado Ranch Properties, who works with Buyers only.}