If your garden is the last thing on your mind when it comes to property maintenance and you regard it as a dreaded chore, then a change of mindset is essential – especially if you plan to sell your home.
A great garden, beautiful backyard or blossoming balcony play an important role in winning buyers.
Tim Waring, Head of Residential at Lister Haigh, Harrogate, says: “The first observation is that if you don’t look after your garden, buyers will assume that you don’t look after your house. A lovely, well-maintained garden is a selling point.” But he adds: “Don’t make it too complicated, as some buyers may see it as a burden if they aren’t keen gardeners and don’t have time for maintenance.”
The orientation of a garden also plays a part in saleability. South or South West facing is optimum as this gives you the best chance of sun throughout the day and into the early evening. A North-facing garden means shade for a larger part of the day. Size also matters. “A big house with a small garden will restrict appeal and a small house with a big garden is a gardener’s dream but it could be someone else’s maintenance nightmare,” says Tim.
For those who have a dismal backyard, or “courtyard garden”, as some estate agents like to call them, making an effort can make all the difference to saleability.
“I’ve seen a backyard transformed with timber cladding on the walls. This instantly softens the look.
“The owner laid flags over the concrete and added bench seating and some lovely planted pots. It looks very picturesque and added to the property’s desirability,” says Tim, who adds that plastic plant pots are no-no if you want to impress. Utilitarian terracotta or decorative ceramic pots are a must.
He also warns that while the industrial look may be fashionable it is usually only suitable for urban gardens. He adds: “My advice is ignore the garden at your peril if you are buying or selling a home. They matter more than you might think.”
If you are clueless and the subject of gardening feels too overwhelming and “too big” to master, you are not on your own. Fear of failure is one of the reasons many people give up on their green spaces, but all gardeners will tell you that trial and error is all part of horticulture. Plants will die, often for no apparent reason.
To help boost your confidence, try a beginners session at a garden school. They will soon be open again, all being well, and many are still running Covid-safe online sessions.
You can also enlist the help of a garden designer. They will give great advice and can offer the full package of planning and planting, which will, undoubtedly, be a good investment.
The Royal Horticultural Society website is helpful for sparking enthusiasm. You can find it at www.rhs.org.uk Its flagship site in Yorkshire is Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. You can pre-book a visit on the website and use its garden centre, which remains open. There is also a virtual tour on its website, www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
The National Garden Scheme, which sees hundreds of people open their private gardens to the public to raise money for charity, is hugely popular and inspirational. Tickets vary in price but are generally between £5 and £10. There is a Yorkshire section on the NGS website and pre-booking is now available. For those unable to visit in person, there are virtual tours on the website. Visit www.ngs.org.uk
The value of gardens and outdoor space took on a new importance during the pandemic lockdowns, according to National Garden Scheme Chief Executive, George Plumptre.
He says: “With many people enjoying their gardens and getting to grips with gardening for the first time, be it in a pot on a balcony or planning their first garden makeover, we’ve seen an explosion of interest.”
The effect of this on wellbeing has been palpable. A recent study by the Department of Landscape Architecture, in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, showed that even including a few plants in a previously bare front garden reduced stress levels.
Researchers from the Universities of Sheffield, Westminster, and Virginia found that a greener front garden can make you feel happier, more relaxed and closer to nature. The four-year scientific research project added ornamental plants to previously bare front gardens in economically deprived streets in Salford.
By measuring the residents’ concentrations of cortisol hormone before and after the plants were added, the research team were able to see if the greenery had any impact on stress by measuring cortisol levels. Before the experiment, only 24 per cent of residents had healthy cortisol patterns. Over the course of the year following the plantings, this increased to 53 per cent.