If you are looking for gardening tips to sell your home, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you are a “push the mower around and that’s it” kind of garden owner or a “the DNA of my perennials in engrained in my soul” gardener with passion, I have hints and tips that will not only help you sell your home and garden but make it as painless as possible.
The Great Debate
Whether or not any garden adds value to a home is a matter of debate. A quick Google search found 100’s of “Gardening Tips When Selling A Home” lists which break down garden features and tell you how much, in dollar terms, they are likely to add to the value of your home.
On top of that, every website seems to have a different take on the figures. For example, on sfgate.com, the sister website of The San Fransisco Chronicle they say:
“This advantage ranges from 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent depending on the type of landscaping and the home’s original value. That translates into an extra $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home.”
Meanwhile, other sites suggested that a “well-maintained garden” can add anything from $3,000 to $45,000.
But Guess What
There are so many variables involved it is almost impossible to pin down precisely how much value, in dollars, a garden adds to a home, so, on this occasion, we aren’t going to concentrate on dollars spent vs. value added. Instead, this post focuses purely on gardening tips when selling a home, which results in a garden that is cleaner, brighter and more appealing to the average buyer. Period.
Gardening Tips When Selling A Home
Not all gardens, or the people that tend to them, are equal. Consequently, a simple “one size fits all” list of gardening tips isn’t going to cut it. For this reason, we’ll start with gardening tips for anyone selling a home, and follow them up with some tips which are specific gardeners who are:
You know who you are. You’ll vaguely push the mower around on the grass and hack back any overhangs. Only the most basic tasks are carried out, and they are done reluctantly, as a result of some extreme nagging, or because the kids went outside yesterday and you needed to send in search & rescue to find them again. You wouldn’t know the difference between a perennial and a biennial, and you’re OK with that.
You like a tidy garden, one in which you can sit and relax and not feel guilty about the mess. You once Googled “Best plants for my soil,” but it all seemed to complicate so you went back to buying what you like rather than what will grow. The occasional trip to a garden center is made in order to stock up on some color, but most of your buys happen on the fly at the local superstore. It’s important to have a “nice, tidy garden.”
You know the ph level of your soil, have a carefully planned four-season garden for year-round interest, and some of your plants are like children to you. Feature plants from specialist growers are your preferred garden furniture. Meanwhile friends and family buy you heavy-duty hand cleaners and moisturizers for special occasions because they wouldn’t dare buy anything else garden related in case it was incorrect.
Gardening Tips When Selling A Home
Let’s start with a quick survey of your garden. Start by standing across the road to see exactly what a potential buyer might see in an online listing, or when driving by. Then, take the time to walk both sides of the home, if they are accessible, and finish up in the back yard, working your way from the house, outwards.
As you go, make a note of any obvious issues such as cracked paving or overgrown plants, but don’t forget the little things. Circles of dirt where puddles stood on the pathway over winter, the dead central branches of the fir tree in the corner, a dripping faucet, these things can add up to give a general “unloved” feel which can be off-putting for potential buyers.
And don’t forget
Keep your “buyers glasses” on.
Remember, you have grown used to those little things, such as the cracked planter or the broken picket in the fence but they will stand out like a sore thumb to a buyer, so make sure everything makes its way onto your “to do” list.
For All Gardens
No matter what your level of interest or enthusiasm and no matter what the size of or complexity of your garden, there are some things that everyone needs to address.
1. Gather up any kids garden toys.
If your children are still in the habit of playing with them designate a particular spot for them to live day-to-day. The best option is, of course, a shed or similar structure where you can hide the toys away during viewings. If that’s not an option chose a point directly under a window, so the toys are not the first thing buyers see when they look out.
2. Take down any structures which are past their prime.
You may be used to the old swing set, the platform that was rather grandly dubbed a “treehouse” or the tumbledown shed that has never been used but they make the place look a mess. Even if you have an emotional attachment to the structure, consider this: You’ll be moving away soon so taking it down now is just speeding up your separation. So take a deep breath, knock it down and cart it away.
3. It’s an outdoor room you know.
You try to ensure all of your furniture and accessories are clean, in good repair, and staged to make the most of the inside of your home, and you should do the same for the outside. Any chairs, tables or other pieces of furniture that you will not be taking with you, should be disposed of now.
A clean empty deck will always be far more appealing than one which is crowded with unappealing, dirty, or broken furniture.
For all items that are staying, carry out any repairs that are needed and give everything a good clean. If you have several mismatched items, consider giving them a new lease of life by painting or staining them all the same, or similar colors.
Bright outdoor cushions or sunshades can give a quick and easy lift to a drab spot, but don’t overdo it. Just as inside the home, too many different colors or patterns in the garden are a turn off for buyers.
4. Bin It.
We all have garbage cans, but nobody wants to sit and look at them. If you can poke your trash can and recyclables containers into a discrete corner, great, if not, consider putting them in the garage or shed during viewings. If you have a large enough garden and an out of the way enough location, you could even buy or build a discrete “garbage can stand.” It could make things more pleasing to the eye.
Whatever option you take, make an effort to scrub your garbage cans down, inside and out. If there are any offensive aromas, you can put a generous scoop of baking soda or cat litter in the bottom to absorb the smells.
5. Pretty Up The Stuff That’s Staying.
If your shed, freestanding garage, or similar structure is in good health and will be staying put, don’t forget to give it a little TLC. At the very least give all of the walls a good wash down, clean any windows and ensure the roof is in good repair, clean, and free of debris such as dead leaves.
6. Wash-Up Any Water Features:
Give any ponds, fountains, or other water features the once over. Make sure they are free from algae, watermarks, and any other surface dirt. For any items with running water, clean all fixtures and fittings, as well as the apertures through which the water flows. Once everything is sparkly clean, put it all back together and give it a test run.
7. Clear off and clean, all hard surfaces.
Once you have removed furniture, planters, or anything else that has taken up residence on a patio or pathway, give the surface a good clean. A pressure washer is the best option for this job. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you could consider borrowing or renting one, or even hiring someone to clean the surfaces for you. Alternatively, a hard brush and some hot soapy water will do a decent job.
What’s most important is to clean away the stains, grit, and dirt which naturally accumulate on a gardens hardscaping.
8. Discard or repair damaged items.
Before replacing your planters etc., on the hard surfaces, give them a quick once over to ensure there are no cracks, peeling surfaces, missing pieces, etc. If items cannot be repaired, repurposed, or placed in such a way the default isn’t visible, get rid of it.
9. Scrub ‘em clean.
Once you know which items will be resuming life on your hard surfaces and any repairs have been carried out, give everything a good scrub before placing them once more on the patio or pathway.
10. Weed ‘em.
Now it’s time to get down on your hands and knees and get weed pulling. Give every bed, container, planter, nook, and cranny the weeding treatment.
And you know what?
It doesn’t stop there. Inspect the bases of trees, points where walls or fences meet other surfaces, and once you’ve weeded the flower beds, recheck them.
11. Clip ‘em.
Now it’s time to grab the pruning shears and walk the garden removing dead branches, stalks, flowerheads, and anything else that has died off. Having said that, it’s not just the dead you need to remove. There may well be plenty of live growth in need of taming and cutting back the foliage is an excellent way of opening up a smaller garden, which in turn makes it feel larger.
Only cut back in a way that is healthy for the plants and that leaves your trees, bushes, and shrubs looking lush and healthy. An unrestrained application of the pruners can leave previously pleasing plants looking like a hurricane has recently passed through and ravaged them beyond all hope of revival.
12. A room with a view, on repeat.
Go inside the house and check the views from the windows and make a note of any areas which look uncared for or displeasing to the eye.
Go back out to the garden and trim any unruly or unsightly trees, bushes, and shrubs that you identified as making the garden look less cared for. Now, repeat the task from every window of the house.
13. Chose who stays and who goes.
Now you have everything cleaned up, trimmed and deadheaded, etc. you may have to make some choices. It may be that all of your plants now look fabulous, in which case, congratulations. If not, give serious thought to digging up and disposing of any planting which still looks sick, limp or dying.
It’s better to have a gap in which you could place a pot or inexpensive garden ornament than a sad, straggly specimen.
14. Mow, mow, mow your lawn.
It should go without saying that you should mow the garden, and rake up afterward. But, just in case you’re a “but it wasn’t on the list” type – cut your grass.
15. Plant with caution.
Every year garden centers across the country make a fortune from homeowners getting ready to put their precious abode on the market who think that by buying six trays of something colorful and planting them all over, they will make the garden look better.
Don’t worry though; planting advice is on its way, I’ve just split it up so you can choose your “gardener level” and do what’s best for you.
Gardening Tips When Selling A Home – The Reluctant Gardener
If you don’t enjoy working in the garden, don’t worry. As long as you’ve carried out those tasks, from the list above, which apply to your garden, there are only a handful of additional things you might want to consider to elevate your garden from dreary to delightful(ish).
- If you have flower beds, but they are mostly devoid of plants, consider covering them in a layer of mulch. Not only will it instantly make a flower bed look tidy and well cared for but it will suppress weed growth – bonus. One word of caution – use a natural color mulch and not a novelty
- For a spot of color, you can pick up relatively inexpensive, pre-planted garden containers at most large DIY stores or places like Walmart and Target throughout the summer. If you purchase several pots, ensure they are the same, or complementary colors and that the planting in each is the same or similar.
- Any areas in your garden that have a covering of stones or gravel will instantly look better if you spray them with water, level them out, and, if the gravel bed is patchy, topping up with some fresh stones.
Gardening Tips When Selling A Home – The Average Weekender Gardener
If you don’t mind gardening, but it isn’t at the top of your fun things to do list, then you can apply all of the tips above AND kick it up a notch. To make your garden even more appealing:
- Take a trip to your local garden center and hunt down one of the staff. Explain to them that you’re looking to add some bling to your garden because you are selling your home, so you don’t have any particular plants in mind, and you don’t want to spend a fortune.
They should be able to help you get the best floral bang for your buck.
- Chose a few spots around the garden, not to random but not all on top of each other, and fill them with some cheap and cheerful annuals. Use one color, two at the most, and it will give the garden a connected feel.
- If you have a vegetable patch which is looking a little bare, grab some simple veggies such as colorful letticie to fill out the patch.
- The same goes for herbs. Fill any gaps in the herb garden, or, if it’s quite small anyway, consider digging it up and putting it into a container or two. Not only will it look better, but then you can take your herbs with you.
- Consider a few “garden accessories” such as markers for naming herbs, vegetables or other plants. A carefully placed mirror can brighten and lighten an otherwise dull area of the garden, a bench tucked into a corner can be an appealing place to relax and an unusual planter can add a point of interest in an otherwise endless sea of grass or fencing.
Don’t overdo it. One or two items add interest; once you hit half a dozen, you’re in danger of making the place look bizarre, disjointed and cluttered.
Gardening Tips When Selling A Home – The Passionate Gardener
A passionate gardener is unlikely to need many gardening tips from me when selling their home. That said, when someone is passionate about their hobbies, interests or pastimes, they can sometimes be blinkered to the views of other, less interested people.
If you’re a passionate gardener take a moment to remember, few if any of the people coming to view your home, are going to appreciate the time, love and effort which you have put into your yard. However, they may appreciate:
- Information about the plants in the garden including common and scientific names and the best ways to keep them looking fabulous.
- Hearing that you have gardened organically, that you have planted with water conservation in mind or any other similar sustainable practices you have employed.
- Consider putting together a scrapbook type document with all of your garden contents and care information, along with lots of photos and possibly a hand-drawn map. Also thoughtful would be a month by month guide so that the new owners know, for instance, which gardening tasks happen in April and which should not happen until May. Leave your hard work on view at the open house.
- Before you put the house on the market, remove any plants you wish to take with you to avoid the “But I specifically wanted that flower bed to look like that” dramas with your buyers. If you cannot do this, be sure to make it very clear what will be staying and what will be moving with you.
- Some avid gardeners have a habit of buying one of this and one of that until their yard is full of beautiful yet disparate planting. If this is the case in your garden consider replanting the items which are staying and grouping similar plants for a more mainstream, cohesive look.
Just Before A Viewing
Just as you would push the vacuum through, tidy things away, wave around a duster and spray some pleasant smells inside the house before a viewing or open house, you should also have a “quick hit” plan for the garden.
Rake, sweep or blow away any debris, ensure any stray toys, gardening equipment, or other items are picked up, and run a cloth over outdoor furniture. If it’s raining double check drains are clear, and there’s no standing water anywhere.
Generally, give the outside the kind of last-minute primping you give to the inside.
When you are selling your house, treat your garden just as you would any other part of your home. Ensure everything is clean, tidy, and well presented. This makes it easy for would-be-buyers to imagine themselves enjoying the outside as much as they will enjoy the inside.
Additional Real Estate Resources
Shade Gardens That Inspire! – Eileen Anderson
About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.