Creating A Low-Maintenance Garden To Boost Your Rental Appeal
It is in your landlord's interests to make your rental property as appealing as possible to potential tenants, giving it a competitive edge over similar properties in the area. One of the features many people look for is a private garden or patio.
Outdoor space has become a particularly sought-after feature in recent years for obvious reasons. “Since the recent pandemic-induced lockdowns, everyone seems to have rediscovered the immense value of having private outdoor space,” explains one letting agent.
That said, a garden tends to mean ongoing maintenance, which equals additional time and expense for both landlords and tenants. With estate agents also highlighting attractive property features like presentable gardens and patios, what’s the solution? In this article, we take a look at how to create an attractive yet low-maintenance garden that enhances your rental appeal and income without increasing your workload.
What do tenants want?
Whether you have a garden flat or a whole house to let, the type of tenants you wish to attract will determine the kind of outdoor space that appeals to them. Different groups look for various features – here are some typical examples:
- Private outdoor space for entertaining
- Stylish decking or patio area
- Contemporary planters and furniture
- Simple shrubs and evergreen planting requiring minimal maintenance
- Larger lawn area for children’s play
- Sturdy table, chairs and benches
- Child-friendly plants and trees
- Secure fencing for safety, privacy and preventing stray balls/toys
- Level pathways for easy access
- Seating at frequent intervals
- Flower beds with colour but not requiring much pruning or weeding
- Natural light for spending time reading or enjoying the garden
Specific characteristics may differ but most tenants seeking private outdoor space want minimal responsibility for the upkeep of their garden. For landlords, this means that choosing a simple, uncluttered design with low-maintenance features will have the widest appeal across tenant types.
What are the key features of a low-maintenance garden?
The trick to creating an easy-care garden is choosing hard landscaping, hardy planting and efficient features that minimise ongoing chores. Start with hard landscaping to provide useful patios, decking and seating areas without a lawn to mow. One recent article recommends mixing materials for added interest. “From concrete, to pavers, stone, tile, brick and gravel, changing materials can create separate zones within your patio. Ideal if you want to use your patio for multiple things such as a dining zone or a reading corner.”
When it comes to planting, opt for low-growing evergreen shrubs, succulents like lavender and hardy perennials over flowering annuals. These plants don’t need annual replacement nor much in the way of watering or pruning once established. Also consider container planting with pots and planters that can be easily moved around and brought under shelter if needed. This also allows you to adjust planting displays for different seasons or tastes.
If there is a lawn, have it mowed and edged regularly by a gardener to keep a tidy appearance. Choose more robust grass types that do not require feeding to stay green and luscious. An artificial lawn is also an increasingly popular option, with no ongoing maintenance needed whatsoever. If you do have a gardener, arrange pruning shrubs and small trees a couple of times a year to avoid any areas becoming unruly while also encouraging healthy growth. This type of general maintenance should be sufficient for most low-key rental gardens.
With these choices, it is possible to design an outdoor space that presents beautifully but doesn’t become a chore to manage or cost a fortune to maintain. Keeping things simple but stylish is the key, with a minimal amount of lawn or planting that needs attention. Most routine maintenance can be handled efficiently by occasional visits from a professional gardener. Your tenants get to enjoy an appealing garden area without the hassle of ongoing responsibilities.
Who is responsible for garden upkeep?
Many landlords find it more convenient to pass the responsibility for garden maintenance onto the tenant, requesting that a minimum amount of work must be carried out to keep the garden looking reasonable. In fact, mowing lawns and keeping on top of weeds are often standard clauses in Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements.
If garden responsibilities are to be included in the tenancy agreement, be as specific as possible about what exactly your expectations are. Can your tenants grow vegetables or make structural alterations to the garden? What about adding or removing plants? It is advisable to add a clause saying the landlord’s permission must be obtained before any improvements or changes can be made to the garden.
We would also recommend that you include dated photos of the garden in your inventory check-in report, which can then be compared to the condition of the garden at the end of the tenancy. “Landlords should make sure that they are taking a sensible deposit from the tenant before the tenancy begins. This can then be used to recover some of the costs that might occur due to damage or neglect of the garden by the tenant,” explains an insurance expert in the field.
Unfortunately, garden maintenance is often a bone of contention between landlords and tenants, particularly when it comes to the end of the tenancy. The result of any dispute will largely be based on what it says in the tenancy agreement, so make sure you’re covered. If there is no clause about gardening responsibilities, you won’t be able to claim for damages caused by the tenant.
How to present your property’s garden for viewings?
First impressions count when it comes to viewings, so ensure your garden is looking its best to help secure the right tenants. While aimed at low maintenance, a few touches will make an outdoor space more appealing for viewings:
- Clear any debris from patios, walkways and decking. Mow the lawn, edge pathways, pull up weeds and prune shrubs. A clean, clutter-free garden will show much better.
- Place a few potted plants, window boxes or hanging baskets near entrance ways to give a friendly welcome and add colour, but without overcrowding the space.
- Set out a bench, table and chairs to demonstrate how the space could be used. Keep furniture contemporary and in proportion to the size of the garden.
- Feature good quality photos of the garden in your property listing to generate interest, including images of seating areas, greenery and other garden highlights.