How to create an easy-to-maintain garden

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16 Aug 2018

How to create an easy-to-maintain garden for your rental property

Author: Grace Watson

It can be a tricky dilemma; you want the garden of your rental property to be attractive for your tenants, but you don’t want to create something which needs weekly visits from Monty Don to keep it looking neat and tidy.

Therefore low-maintenance should be your main priority, to minimise the chance of the garden becoming unkempt or overgrown and requiring major work before it can be marketed to new tenants and re-let.

But it is equally important to understand what tenants want from their home. While most will find an outdoor seating area appealing, so they can enjoy the sun when it shines, on the whole, different types of tenants inevitably have their own requirements. For example, families are likely to be looking for a home with a safe garden which is suitable for their children.

Whichever type of tenant you are targeting, take a look at our guide to creating a garden which is not just appealing but requires minimum maintenance:

 

Families

  1. A secure garden

Security is a health and safety requirement when letting a property and is a high priority for parents who want to keep their belongings and, more importantly, their children safe. Secure fences and gates are therefore a must, and you should avoid potentially dangerous features such as a garden pond. They may look nice, but can be deadly with small children around.

  1. A lawn

Lawns are popular with families as they provide a safe place to play for children. They are relatively low maintenance, only requiring a weekly mow in the summer; with our current heatwave, they don’t even need that. Establish at the start of the tenancy who will take responsibility for the upkeep of the lawn and garden and, if the tenants will be taking care of it, make sure there is a lawnmower available for them to use.

  1. A garden shed

The lawnmower will need somewhere to live, and families will appreciate a secure shed in their garden, for storing bicycles, toys and garden furniture. This is a relatively small investment to make, which can make your property more attractive to tenants.

  1. Patio

A patio – with reasonably priced slabs – can be a good investment for your property. An outdoor seating area is high on the list of requirements for most people, so they can enjoy sitting out in the evening sunshine and al fresco dining.

 

 

Young professionals

  1. Outdoor seating area

Just as with families, an outdoor seating area such as a patio can be high on the wish list for young professional couples, too. This is a generation which enjoys socialising with friends, so a space with room for guests is ideal.

The seating area doesn’t have to be slabs; gravel can be an economical alternative which is extremely easy to lay. What’s more, if laid onto a permeable membrane, it will allow rainwater to drain away and help to prevent flooding.

  1. Boundary markers

Fences and hedges each have their own advantages and both require a degree of maintenance. Unless you are landscaping a garden from scratch, the boundary markers will most likely already be in place, so your main consideration is how to deal with them. 

A fence requires less work as you may be able to get away with a quick treatment between tenancies, every couple of years. This will keep them looking fresh and also help to prevent deterioration.

Hedges give a garden a softer look and can help to encourage birds into the garden, but usually require trimming twice a year, so can be off-putting to potential tenants, unless you offer to pay for a visit from a gardener twice a year to keep them looking neat. This is a tax-deductible expense so well worth considering.

  1. Planting

A plain lawn is easy to keep but is not very exciting to look at so some planting will help to break up the hard edges. But don’t expect your young professional tenants to want to get involved as research by Fiskars has shown that the gardening bug generally doesn’t hit until the age of 41.

You can solve the issue with hardy, low-maintenance shrubs which provide variety and colour. These could include:

  • a low-growing juniper, which will provide year-round colour and ground cover
  • photinia, a popular evergreen with glossy red leaves
  • an evergreen euonymus, choosing a variegated variety to add extra interest
  • lavender, which provides attractive purple flowers with a beautiful scent
  • mahonia, an evergreen shrub with fragrant yellow flowers.

 

House shares (HMOs)

  1. Waste disposal

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) generate a large amount of waste, due to the numbers of people living there so, while it may not be a garden feature in the traditional sense, storage for waste disposal is essential. This will become even more important from 1st October 2018, when landlords will become legally obliged to ensure tenants follow the local authority’s rules on refuse and recycling (source: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2018/9780111167359).

  1.  Paving

Most young people and students have little interest in gardening so keep the outdoor space as low maintenance as possible, perhaps with paving which requires very little work.

  1. Communal seating

To help create an outdoor meeting point for your tenants, a communal seating area could be a good addition to the garden, with a covered area for rainy days. If they have somewhere to sit outdoors and enjoy a drink after work or lectures, this can help to strengthen their relationships, contributing to the smooth running of the household and perhaps encouraging them to stay in the property for longer.

For further information on how best to cater for your tenants, and to increase your property's exposure, call your local Romans property experts on 01344 987 508, or visit your local Romans office.

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