How to make your yard and landscaping investments last long

The daylight savings time switch is just a week away and a good time to think about outdoor improvements that will help you enjoy that extra daylight all spring and summer long. But with the economy in a spin, it's more important than ever to choose landscaping investments that deliver long life and good value to your property, without adding to the maintenance bills.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently did a study of the life expectancy of home components. The projections for exterior elements like decks, driveways, sprinkler systems and pools vary widely depending on age and maintenance history. Use this list to prevent surprise additions to your home maintenance budget and workload:

  • Asphalt driveway: 15-20 years
  • Polyvinyl fence: a lifetime
  • Clay paving: a lifetime
  • Underground PVC piping: 25 years
  • Valves: 20 years
  • Sprinklers: 20 years (though usually made obsolete by advances in technology)
  • Controllers: 15 years (lifespan for areas not prone to lightning strikes)
  • Decks: 20 years for wood (dry areas last 20-25 years, south 10-15 years and north 20-30 years); 25 years for deck planks.
  • Swimming pool (general): a lifetime
  • Concrete shell for pool: 25-plus years
  • Interior finish for pool: 10-15 years for plaster, 25-35 years for pebble-tec, 15-25 years for tile
  • Pool cleaning equipment: 7-10 years
  • Pool decking: 15 years
  • Waterline tile in pool: 10 years

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home makeover tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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