Selling a property has a lot to do with visual appeal. If it doesn’t look nice it just won’t be attractive enough to bring in the offers. So working on your garden, and making sure it looks attractive and tidy, is one way to make it more likely to sell.
Although this might seem like a daunting prospect (especially if you’re not a keen gardener), usually things work out as long as you have a clear plan. Making the effort to brighten up your garden space could really add value to the property.
Will my garden add value?
Yes, it certainly will. Obviously, it has to be attractive and well kept. Bearing in mind that prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in the property, a good-looking garden can be a key factor in a sale.
Just how much value a good garden will bring to a property isn’t completely clear. Some experts have stated as much as a 20% increase in value is possible. Maybe it’s too optimistic to believe this will happen, but a good garden will always make a home more attractive.
The time factor
On the whole, viewings of properties take place in the afternoon or early evening, due to the working hours people have. With this in mind, it's well worth investing in some lighting for the garden, so that if the viewing takes place at a time that hasn’t got as much light as it needs, you have it covered.
Any lighting you have in the garden area should be maintained well. This is not just about looks, you also need to make sure that bulbs have been replaced if necessary, and any broken lighting is either fixed or removed.
What about Weeds
Your biggest problem here could well be the weeds. No-one likes them, and if they’re in the garden of a house up for sale, there’s a serious problem. Ensure you pull the weeds out wherever you find them on the grass area. You can do this by hand or you can use a good quality handheld weeder. There are plenty available on the market.
If the weeds are actually becoming very difficult to manage (in that simply pulling a few of them out won’t suffice) then you have to start getting serious. No matter what you might think, weeds in a lawn are not going to help with the sale of the property. You’ll need to take firmer action.
Use a herbicide in the first instance, such as glyphosate. If you’re concerned about potentially damaging your lawn, don’t be. There are plenty of specialist weed solutions available, and many of these ensure that the lawn actually gains nutrients during the process.
Then we come to plants and weeds that have kind of snuck into English gardens in recent years. These examples of plants are usually quite damaging in fact, and perhaps the very best example of these is Japanese Knotweed. It has been known for buyers to sue the sellers after the home has been sold, simply because the sellers didn’t notify the buyers about Japanese Knotweed. It is notoriously difficult to get rid of, and professional help is almost always required.
The problem with Japanese Knotweed is that it is quite quick to grow. It’s also capable of presenting structural damage (it has been known to travel under a property) and this is why having it on a property can reduce the sale price by up to 50%. Ensure you have professionals in to manage the job, because chemicals are required for complete eradication of the weed.
Thatching is another issue, and while it may not be as unsightly as weeds, it doesn’t help the area to look attractive. However, de-thatching is a process that is pretty much unheard of by the majority of homeowners. So doing it well will add value, and that extra finish to the lawn.
You can easily buy a de-thatching rake from a local DIY shop, and that should be more than enough to deal with the problem. One thing you will have to be aware of is the after effects of de-thatching. You won’t have a great-looking lawn for a few weeks. So get this part of the job done as soon as possible.
Mowing the lawn
When it comes to mowing your lawn, resist the urge to give it the sharpest cut of its life. The aim is to allow the lawn to have some level of density. Slightly thickened is better than completely flat, simply because this gives it some ‘life’ and allows it to, in the long run, resist any further weed growth.
You don’t need a forest of grass on your lawn but a little bit of growth keeps the sun off weeds that would otherwise use it to grow. This will also look more attractive to prospective buyers.
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The pretty parts
A garden is not just for sitting in, and many buyers are looking for gardens which they can use for a variety of purposes. This means you’ll have to work hard to add value through the items in the garden and the overall utility of it.
A good all rounder is privet hedging, it's suitable for town houses and near busy roads where soil may not be of the best condition. Hedging can add a new dimension to a garden including cutting off noise, boosting privacy and of course adding a delightful array of texture to the borders of a garden.
If you’re able to, have a terrace designed so that the inside of the property extends into the outside. This allows buyers to imagine parties in the summer, and long, lazy lunches. If you are going to go down this road, ensure that you pay for high quality paving. It makes a huge difference due to its durability and added attractiveness.
Water features are always welcome in any garden. The trick here is to keep it reasonably subtle and aesthetically pleasing. No one likes a huge monstrosity, and if you have one installed when buyers are looking, they’ll feel overpowered. A small, or a number of small water features dotted around the garden instantly add a calm feel to the space. On top of that, a water feature can help mask any unpleasant sounds, such as traffic rushing by. It’s well worth investing in one, just remember the need for subtlety.
One of the most popular additions to a garden (and one that really appeals to buyers) is the installation of an outside kitchen. The idea may seem a little strange at first, but having a barbecue and kitchen equipment stored in a shed and wheeled out on a sunny day really adds value to the garden. If buyers feel it is a place they can spend their summers in, you’re on to a winner.
There are plenty of ways to add even more value to gardens, and the more you have when you’re preparing for selling, the better.
- One key rule is to try and keep the whole project as simple as possible. The aim is not to overwhelm buyers with lots of visuals and complicated arrangements. Instead, focus on making sure that everything is neat and tidy. And alongside that, there is a lot to be said for the ‘low maintenance’ garden. Buyers do not want to see a garden that takes lots of work.
- If it's a problem, deal with privacy issues as much as you can. If there is no fencing, for example, where there’s privacy needed, this is where you can invest a little money to add value. The vast majority of buyers will expect, and want to see, that the garden affords a level of privacy. While they can certainly spend money themselves when they move in, and build in privacy that way, the property will be a lot more attractive to them if the fencing is already in place and they feel the garden is a place to escape to.
- Don't underestimate the power of sheds and other outhouse buildings. These days, people expect to have some from of living space in the garden (assuming you have space for this of course) and if you have the ability to develop some space then it is well worth buying something that gives that feel.
- Consider whether or not you want to leave decking in place if you have it. Decking is great as long as the quality of the wood is of the highest level. If it isn’t then you could be looking at a garden that has a safety problem. Poor quality decking can be slippery and dangerous. Also, if you haven't bought decking materials that are robust and all-weather proof, it will show after just one winter.
- Aim to make the garden feel like it is part of the house. While you can’t be expected to have a real (and expensive) ‘indoors to outdoors’ flow, you can do a few things to make the garden feel like a natural extension of the indoor living space. Remember to keep it simple, and if possible follow lines from the inside to the outside.
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Remember, all of this kind of work can be done quickly by a professional gardener and landscaper. It won’t cost the Earth if you keep it simple, and the value it’ll bring to the property will more than repay the investment.