We’ve all heard the expression, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” But does it?

Home values nationwide have dropped an average of 20 percent during the recession, but one young entrepreneur says some homeowners could recoup 80 percent or more of that lost equity over the next 3 years even if the housing market doesn’t rebound.  The secret, he says? “Plant trees.”

John Pounders, 23, of Florence, Ala. started AnythingGreen.com seven years ago when he was just sixteen years old.  The company, which sells trees online such as the Leyland Cypress and the “Thuja Green Giant” and ships them to your doorstep, took off. “I guess I just had a good idea, and a lot of luck,” he says.  The company grew quickly and can now count customers in nearly every corner of the United States.

Now Pounders thinks he has at least one solution to homeowners’ home equity woes.

“It is a fact that trees add an average of 15 percent or so to the value of your home,” Pounders says. “Nationwide, home prices have dipped an average of about 20 percent, and by simply planting trees on their property, homeowners could actually recoup a great deal of this lost equity for less than pennies on the dollar and in a short period of time.”

As it turns out, this isn’t just a sales pitch from an eager young business owner, either.  Experts back him up.  According to Eric Emad of the International Society of Arborculture, “Studies have estimated that trees may account for up to 15 percent of the value of a residential property.

For example, a $200,000 house on a lot with three mature trees might owe as much as $30,000 of its value to the trees.  Assuming that all three trees are of equal value, each tree would be valued at $10,000.”

Alan Cherry of the American Society of Consulting Arborists agrees.  “Trees add a minimum of 15 percent value to your property,” he says.  And Cherry knows trees – he acts as an expert witness in litigation involving trees.

Pounders says the trees he sells at AnythingGreen.com are often used as privacy fences.  The trees – both the popular Thuja Green Giants and the Leyland Cypress – range from 18 inches to 3 feet in height at the time they are shipped.  Pounders says the trees grow as much as 5 feet per year, and home values “can grow just as fast, seeing up to a 15 percent increase by the time these trees are just three years old.”

The trees, which ship in their pots inside special packing containers, sell for about $2 to $18 each, depending upon their size and maturity at the time of shipping.  Customers can choose from one of three sizes when placing their orders online.  “When you consider how much value these trees can add to your home – I don’t know of any other home improvement project with so much potential ROI in terms of adding value to your home,” said Pounders.