Certain elements of a landscape are more appealing to potential buyers than others. According to the book Landscaping Makes Cents: Smart Investments that Increase Your Property Value, by Frederick Campbell and Richard Dube, the elements most often desired by home buyers are:
arbor or pergola
birdhouse or bird feeder
good view from the house
good view of the house from the street
ground cover (lawn alternative)
hot tub or jacuzzi
Of course, not all of these elements can be incorporated into every landscape. For example, you either have a great view of the ocean, or you don't, and you can't add one to your suburban yard on the prairies. Other elements, such as a hot tub or swimming pool, may be desired by some buyers, while others may consider their maintenance to be too much trouble. However, a lawn, a storage area, some flowers, walkways, a shade tree, a deck or patio and fences can generally be incorporated into any yard, hopefully adding appeal for most potential buyers.
When reading this list of important elements, what stands out to me is that they are all functional. Potential buyers want a yard that is useful, with a place for their barbecue, their deck furniture, their car and their swing set. A functional design with plenty of pretty flowers will most likely help your house sell the most quickly. And if your landscaping isn't very attractive, be sure to sell your house in the winter when your dying lawn is safely covered in snow.