Garden Landscaper Owen Chubb offers some practical advice on preparing your garden for a House Sale
The first thing to do before putting your house on the market is preparing your house for the sale. Research figures show that when it comes to forming an impression, prospective buyers form an opinion within 30 seconds of viewing the property’s exterior. Referred to as ‘Kerb Appeal’, how the buyers initially react to the exterior can have a major impact on eventual interest. Since the exterior is the first thing a buyer will see, first impressions are very important. This relative short but critically important 30 seconds which determines the first impression could be the crucial difference for both the seller and the prospective buyer.
As outdoor living becomes a more important priority for many, it is not surprising therefore that many consider the garden a critically important aspect of the exterior. Ideally effective use of colour and style should provide a seamless transition from the house interior to the ‘outdoor room’ or garden areas. In such situations how the front and rear gardens are presented to prospective buyers is very important if an overall positive image is to be achieved.
In today’s competitive property marketplace, sellers should ensure that when it comes to selling time that the gardens look their very best. At a basic level, areas should be clean and clear of clutter. However much more needs to be done to create attractive gardens that could make all the difference to the prospective buyer.
What first impression a prospective buyer may have, begins with perhaps a view from a passing car or literally at the kerbside. But how do you determine ‘Kerb Appeal’? For starters take a good look around the immediate neighbourhood. Look at nearby houses, how does your house compare? Are your gardens above/below average standard for area? Is the fencing, paintwork and paved areas in good condition? Are trees and shrubs neat and tidy? Are there signs of wear and tear, fallen leaf, overlooked debris and toys cluttering areas? Are there obvious signs of colour and vibrancy? Are lawn areas groomed, green and refreshing or simply jaded weedy patches?
Use colour, scent and features in areas that are practical and comfortable, pleasing and refined, and create calm and spacious surroundings that one would love to enjoy. The buyer experience begins in the garden with a sense of excitement and inspiration, mixed with an anticipation of comfort and well being that only the beauty and harmony of a cared for natural garden can provide.
Where to Start
Before you start showing the house, invest some time, money and effort to create looks that sell and pass the ‘kerb appeal’ test that will attract interest and not repel prospective buyers. Speculate to accumulate is probably another way to look at it. Focus on optimising the buyer experience, attention to detail defines the whole experience, and this should be apparent from the entrance gate. Now should be a good time to start work.
Lawns should be in good condition, evenly cut with crisp well defined neat edges and cleared of all grass cuttings, fallen leaf and weeded etc. If colour is not vivid consider feeding with lawn fertiliser. If the problems are more serious and lawn is infested with weeds, it might be better to replace old lawn with new turf. A well maintained groomed lawn whatever the size makes a striking impression.
Shrubs, Trees and Flowers.
Dead head old flowers, trim and prune trees and shrubs where necessary, especially low hanging or overgrown branches especially around windows, over footpaths. Remove all dead shoots and branches. If there are obvious yawning gaps in planted areas, better to fill voids with new plant stock. Do bear in mind, the importance of colour and flower and ensure all plants are watered and look healthy. For a striking and fresh looking finish mulch planted areas with bark mulch.
If the garden appears neglected, it might well require more professional assistance to complete the remedial works including installation of new lawn areas, and revisions to planting scheme. For more modest undertakings, best to keep it simple by planting groups (block planting) the same type and to bring out the best in colour and achieve impact use seasonal flowers. Do not overlook scent which can be an exciting experience in the garden.
There are plenty of plant types to choose from including Shrubs, herbaceous and Herbs, e.g., Lavenders, Santolinas, Helichrysums, Lillies, Roses, Dill, Thyme, Rosemary etc. Try planting scented shrubs near windows or better still near seating areas and along footpath edges.
Patios and Paving
Patios and paved areas should be weed free, tidy and if necessary power washed to remove accumulated surface grime, lichen, moss etc. Check Driveway areas for any signs of engine oil, and remove any oil stains with proprietary cleaners. A few strategically positioned colourful planters can have a dramatic effect at or near Patio areas or in overlooked recessed areas.
Ideally water features and especially pond areas should be cleaned and pumps in good working order. Also check garden lights and replace any faulty light bulbs. A particularly intrusive interference are Halogen security lights with poor settings, adjust angles and settings correctly so as not to blind house viewers.
Toys should be stored away neatly, all garden rubbish should be removed and all doors, windows, drains and down pipes cleared of webs, washed and cleared of any debris. Worth checking are any Garden Outbuildings and Sheds which might benefit from a coat of paint.
So before selling your house pay some careful but critical attention to the garden areas. Some simple adjustments to particular aspects of the landscaping, not only enhances the overall effect, but could make it easier and faster to sell the house. More importantly the seller will be wise to remember the importance of the exterior and its role in shaping the prospective buyer’s first impression and making it count.
Owen Chubb is Director of Owen Chubb Garden Landscapes Limited, based in Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. An established and award winning landscaping company offering Private & Commercial clients a complete landscaping service including Garden Design, Construction and Planting. A full member of the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland (ALCI), the professional association for landscaping contractors.
We are proud winners in 2005 & 2006 of the prestigious ALCI Awards for BEST PRIVATE GARDEN Design & Construction.