How important is a garden and how it looks when it comes to selling?
The answer will depend on many things and as with so many aspects of buying and selling homes, it depends on the individual. Suffice to say however, if you ignore it then you are doing yourself a disservice when thinking of selling your home and getting the best price.
Gardens are one of the hardest things to talk about in a blog because of the endless variations. Is your garden small, medium, large or acres upon acres? Paved, lawned or landscaped? Is it a garden for the kids to play in, the dogs to tear round in or for entertaining? Is it a plantsman’s garden, a food producing engine room or home for the animals?
Unless your garden is at the extreme ends of the size spectrum the chances are it will do many things for you and each compact area will have an element of purpose.
There are two key things to consider when looking at your garden and how it will affect your sale. If you can, plan ahead and then titivate!
The time of year that you consider entering the market will have the biggest impact on the look of your garden. Spring is naturally a good time for several reasons (read our article When Should I sell for more detail) and gardens tend to be entering their best phase, as can the weeds. In the depths of winter when much is bare, mud appears and grey skies dampen the allure of the outdoors. British weather is endlessly unpredictable, hailstones in June and bright sunshine in December, whatever you anticipate something else will happen.
There are some golden rules to adhere to when preparing for selling.
Plan as best you can for the weather conditions, if it is likely to be wet and muddy then ensure that people entering your home won’t bring mud in, overshoes, mats, rugs and sheets can all help you avoid getting frustrated and you don’t want viewers feeling embarrassed because they’ve just shed mud on your best cream carpet.
Make sure wooden decking has been cleaned properly, especially in wet weather, anti slip coatings or paints can be helpful, the last thing you need is a prospective buyer skidding across and off the edge into the rose bushes or falling and injuring themselves badly. The same can sometimes be said for Patios, slimy and slippery hard surfaces are a real hazard. Keep animals out of the way, especially pets who are overly friendly. Muddy paw prints all over clothing tend to upset the politest of people.
Get hedges trimmed, if it’s appropriate for the time of year, fences painted and broken panels replaced. Look critically around the garden and tidy away those items that have somehow settled in permanently to that place they were ‘just put there for a moment’.
Clear and de clutter the shed. Cut and edge the lawn, hide away empty flower pots or fill them with fresh colour. If you have pots and baskets then make sure you dead head, feed and water regularly, straggly dying plants look forlorn and hopeless, not the impression you want to give.
Look at paths and patios, driveways too; get rid of weeds, tidy edges and sweep. Clean your garden furniture or cover it over in bad weather. Is your barbecue rusting into a pile of dust? You may not want to replace it but getting rid of something that is plainly not fit for purpose is generally a good idea. If you won’t want to take it with you because of its condition then the chances are your buyers won’t want it either. If the water barrel has been overflowing onto the brickwork and made a damp patch then tackle it and let the brickwork start to dry.
These are the reasons why we say plan ahead. When the thought of moving is beginning to roll around in your mind, that is the time to take stock of your garden and plan. Yes the Kitchen and Bathroom are the two most important rooms but nowadays our gardens are extensions of our living space, think of it with the same importance. Few people like taking on work so show a well managed, loved garden, or at least a practical and useful one, not a restoration project.
Here is a ‘run down’ of some of our top tips.
If you have a sixteen foot diameter trampoline in a twenty foot square garden it’s probably advisable to move the trampoline to storage or friends/family.
Trampolines and other play items for kids can leave bare patches on lawns, can they be moved and the area re seeded?
If you have a lovely garden to look at please make sure the windows have been cleaned, curtains drawn and blinds opened so people can see the garden from indoors when they view.
Weather permitting, open French doors onto patios and garden spaces, it can be incredibly inviting.
If you are having an open house and the weather permits, laying the garden table and staging the patio can be wonderfully enticing.
You may not have the time or patience to plant up baskets, pots and troughs. Talk to your local garden centre and see if they provide a service to do it for you. We recently had some done, they kept them for two weeks to ensure the plants were established and what we got back was wonderful!
Get rid of broken glass around the garden, greenhouse panes, cold frames etc.
Get the garden shed/s painted or treated and make sure the roof is in good order.
Ensures ponds are looking clean and healthy. Make sure your agent and the viewers understand you intentionally have a bog garden otherwise.
Running water is incredibly relaxing in the background so if you have fountains and waterfalls, make sure they are clean and have them tinkling away in the background during the viewing. If there’s a force nine gale blowing and you are showering all in a mile radius then turn it off.
Make sure you repair that loose garden step, you know, the one you mention to everyone as they walk round with you.
If you have archways, pergolas and openings in hedges please make sure they are user friendly. Most people love roses until they snag their best clothing or scratch a face or hand. Make moving around safe and simple, enjoyable.
Put the wheelbarrow out of sight and the tools back in their shed or store.
Talk to your agent about getting photographs done at different times of year to capture the best of your garden. That’s what we mean also by planning ahead. You probably have some lovely pictures in your albums and we can use those but it isn’t a strange thing for us to build up a library of pictures ready for the time when you finally decide to move.
If you have lots of trees and/or hedging and they require maintenance regularly then provide your agent with information of how you deal with it. What does your gardener cost and how often does he come. Getting the arboriculturalist in to pollard the trees, how often and how much is it? These things may not bother some people at all but if someone is hesitating or concerned then having the information to hand can be priceless.
Take a good hard look at your front garden, it is the first thing people see. How good an impression does it give? We discuss this in Preparing Your Home: Where to Begin
Plan the photography with your agent. Different times of day may prove more beneficial for different areas. Be ready to have the photographer visit more than once and prepare accordingly.
Finally, please remember, not everyone is a passionate gardener. Don’t be upset if someone doesn’t seem that captivated by your prize display. They may have allergies, may be planning to change it to suit their needs or they may just have already decided yours is the perfect home for them and they don’t need any more convincing.