It is the dream behind the purchase. Not only are you paying to live in your home, but you are investing in a future when your property might be worth more than you have paid for it. The interior can be adapted and improved – there is no doubt – but first impressions count. The buyer approaching your house will be first influenced by your garden. Then, when the house has been viewed they will enter the back-garden space and be given the final impression before deciding to buy or not to buy – what to offer – or not to offer.
With some care and attention to the landscaping of your grounds, you could add thousands to the price people are willing to offer. Here we guide you through some tips that will help you maximise the value of your property.
Your home is from a period of architectural design that speaks a certain language to those looking on. It may be Victorian, or Edwardian, or from the Arts and Craft movement, or maybe it is somewhere built with a Mediterranean influence. However, over time, people who do not see the house and garden as one unit and have adapted the landscape, including items that contradict the overall cohesive style of the property.
You may have a traditional Regency townhouse – but the previous owners designed the exterior with a Japanese garden. This is fine – but there is a lot of common sense in the idea that someone looking for a period property might not be looking for a garden with an Asian influence. Therefore, to maximise the strengths of your property you might want to re-landscape with a cottage style garden that reflects the history and the level of formality in the home.
Equally, if you own a modern, open plan minimalist space – it is likely that the new owner is not going to be someone who enjoys the fuss and fancy of lots of flower beds and walled garden areas. They may in fact much prefer pots and baskets on the decking – clean and low maintenance – like the home they are seeking to buy.
In short, try to imagine your home and garden as a cohesive whole. What would be the personality of the person who would enjoy both spaces? If the personality of the new imagined owner matches – then you have no problem. However, if you have a young family with little time living in the house – but a landscape that has been crafted by someone who has gardened for fifty years – then you might have some work to do. Think really carefully about who would likely buy your home – ask an agent if necessary – then make changes that would fit a family, or the busy professional, or the older couple with plenty of leisure time.
Start your landscaping with a plan. A lot of us work on our gardens as an afterthought. We pop down the garden centre here and there – try to put some logic into the planting based on light and soil – but otherwise, the design comes from an accidental mish-mash of your taste at different times.
If you want a landscape that increases the price of the property then you should sit down and sketch out a plan for your garden, with a clear strategy in mind. Research suggests that a balance of grass, low-maintenance planting and a seating area is the most likely to appeal. If you design the planting so that there is an all-year-round appeal – but with the minimum need for intervention – then you can do wonders to the house price.
Make sure that when you are planning your planting that there is a balance of shrubs and perennials. You want there to be a variety of planting without the area looking cluttered for the best outcome for your property.
Remember when you are planning that sometimes less is more. People want a sense of open space – it is something at a premium in today’s crowded world. Therefore, the worst thing you can do is make your garden appear small. Also, people moving in will want to have the chance to make their own mark. Therefore, there should be enough renovation to suggest that they could move in and leave it as it is if they want – but with enough room for them to imagine how they could create their own home/ garden spaces if this is what they wish.
It is true that you will sell your home at a single point in the year. If we were being lazy, we could design our landscape to flourish in this small window of time – to offer the ultimate in the best impressions, but then it would die away long before the people moved in. Imagine, as you are showing people around the garden space, you could help them imagine the garden in the spring and in the winter, maybe the delights they can expect in the autumn. The idea that there is a seasonal balance can then become an added-value to your property.
There are lots of easy ways of achieving seasonal balance. You can plant some bulbs that will bloom in spring – some evergreens for the winter maybe. The summer could have your wash of perennials and annuals – and the autumn could be dominated by the trees you plant and the golden and red showing of turning leaves.
Complimentary planting is something that your garden centre would love to talk to you about. This means using an area of your garden to plant items that will flower at different times but also assist the soil in the growth of other choices. For instance, you may choose to buy a patio rose – but then buy some alpines to line the pot and maybe plant some spring bulbs to flower whilst the rose is not budding. The spring flowers will then mulch down and feed the rose for the coming summer bloom.
If this idea of seasonal balance and complimentary planting has scared you a little, feel free to skip to the section called “Hiring a landscape gardener”!
This sounds small – and it sounds insignificant – but edging your lawn could be enough to give the impression of a neat and well-presented garden. All this means in going around the edge of the lawn and making a distinct change between the border and the grass. It means removing stray entrails of lawn that are starting to spread over the driveway – and making sure there is a clean line demarcating the grass area. This should be neat and accentuate the intended shape of the lawn – whether it is curved or squared.
Edging the lawn is the final step we often don’t take after mowing the lawn. A neatly mown lawn won’t add much value to a house – but a neatly trimmed edge does add that sense of a complete property. Remember, choices should be cost-effective – and maybe this will be all that is needed to landscape your garden and help it complement the house.
If your lawn is looking patchy and dry – however – there is some benefit in bringing the whole lawn back to life. There is nothing that speaks more of home repairs needed than a lawn that looks a little battered. A tidy lawn can make it seem like the whole house is in good repair. Of all the things we have advised you to undertake in your garden, a well-groomed lawn will offer the best return on money and time. It is the garden equivalent of painting indoor walls magnolia to give the sense of a neat blank slate for new owners to enter.
So – all this sounds grand – but your garden is actually in a bit of a mess. Far from adding value to your property, the landscaping around your house is dilapidated and reducing the price of the property. This will make the job of turning this around seem too big for the majority of us. Here, the most cost-effective approach might be to hire a landscape gardener. Sure, this seems like a luxury – but they are likely to achieve much better effects for a similar price to you going backwards and forward to the garden centre to buy things you are not sure will work.
There will be an initial charge for the consultation and plan – this can vary a lot depending on your garden and the work that needs doing. Imagine that this is likely to be at least a day for a trades-person and value that at as how much you would pay for a skilled craftsman. We would suggest keeping an average figure of £400 in mind. Add to this the cost of the materials – and then add an average of 10% on top of the cost of materials for the work to be completed.
Your garden could currently be reducing the value of your property by let’s estimate £1000. Then, if landscaping the garden professionally adds a further £2000 to what you could expect to gain on selling the house. Consider if the landscape gardener is going to cost you a potential £3000 – which is unlikely – it would still be worth your while. This is how you work out whether it is cost-effective to bring in a professional. It is likely that these estimates are conservative – it is well worth speaking to an agent about the impact your changes could have on your house value before starting the work.
If you want a particularly professional look to your garden, budget to spend about 10% of the value of the property on properly renovating and rejuvenating your landscape. However, it is likely you would only spend this amount if you were hoping to enjoy the returns – rather than immediately sell on after the work is complete.
Construction in your garden can add a lot of value. In fact, a shed is said to add the most value to a property – as most people need the added storage and, let’s face it, most of us desire a hideaway where we can potter in peace. However, after a good shed on homebuyers’ wish-list comes quality patio, paving, or some decking. People spend more time in the outdoor space now – so look to have somewhere that they can socialise and relax – with the obvious desire for a space ideal for the barbeque.
When you are designing and constructing this outdoor living area, you should also consider lighting. Any expert in design will tell you that the most important decision you can make in the home and garden is how to light the area. It can turn a mundane area into something spectacular. Therefore, as well as investing in the blocks for the patio or in the wood for the seating area – remember to also invest in some landscape light solutions. There is a huge variety – from outdoor lights that attach to the wall and indoor electricity supply – to simple solar lanterns that mark out the edge of the lawn.
Some people spend thousands updating the garden when a simple lighting scheme can revolutionise the design of a garden. The results tend to have a disproportionate impact on the house price. Remember it is small changes rather than major transformations that can impact on the value you bring to your house.
In short, imagine if you were a home buyer and you turn up to a house with a terrace area, with lighting and an outdoor heater – with a space fit for a small group of friends to enjoy a burger and a beer. This immediately sets the buyers mind to drifting to happier times on summer evenings when they can enjoy this bonus space. Suddenly, they are likely to offer more for your property than they may have before.
Kerb appeal is the impression you have on buyers as they are driving past your house. They glance your “For Sale” sign and they make an initial judgement about your property. Nothing you do to the interior can influence the outcome of the drive-by buyer. However, a well-presented front garden, with well maintained slow growing plants that don’t need much maintenance – now this could drag them in through the front door.
Kerb appeal requires you to view the outside of your property as if for the first time. What are you doing with the wheelie bin? Would it make a difference to invest in a trellis to fence it in and conceal any unsightly mess? On such small choices, thousands of pounds are retained in the value of a property.
It could be that you need to consider what is most valued to your potential buyer. If you live in the city and you are likely to sell to a couple who are professionals – then turning the front space into a driveway could be your best investment. If you are in an area of groomed lawns and retired people – then something more sympathetic to the nature of the area. Remember it is the area that has initially drawn the buyer – and the idea of what this area offers.
In short, we end where we began. To increase the value of your property you need to consider the first impression that you are hoping to make on your intended buyer. Think of your audience – and then make choices that will appeal to their desires. If you are not sure what this means – walk around the neighbourhood at the general feel of the area – and this is what has attracted people to potentially buy your house.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.