Whether you're trying to sell your home or simply spend a bit more time in it, make it a comfortable, enjoyable space with these handy (and cheap) garden improvement tips.
Moving home is a stressful time. You’re trying to keep your own house looking tidy for viewings, spending your evenings and lunch breaks cruising the internet for the next home, as well as managing all the solicitors and estate agents too. Never mind the constant state of fear that you might fall in love with a house but can’t buy it until your own home is gone, or if you actually sell your home before you find a place you like… you might have to rent, oh god the rental crisis!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to send you spinning. Just take a breath and repeat after me: whatever is for you won’t pass you. Go on. Whatever is for you won’t pass you...
Now that your heart rate has settled a bit, let’s talk about prepping your home for sale. The age-old tricks of lighting the fire and fresh flowers on the table are great, but some are not appropriate for warmer weather. If you're trying to sell, but especially during the summer months, your exteriors need to look as sharp as the interior. We Irish are vitamin D-deprived so we like to spend any and every opportunity loitering out of doors if the weather is good.
And as they say (I’m really knocking it out of the park with the old wives’ phrases in this article, aren’t I?) first impressions matter. So here are a few garden improvement tips if you’re trying to sell.
Mow the lawn – properly
I hope this one goes without saying but I’ll say it nonetheless. A scrappily mowed lawn, that’s either been cut too short too fast or with straggly bits around the edges, is no better than an unmowed lawn. Do it right.
If your lawn has really been let go, start about a few weeks before the first viewing and set the blade quite high, only cutting a few inches off the top. Don’t try to make life easier for yourself and cut it super short on the first go. It’ll just go brown and weeds will start sprouting up everywhere. Leave it a few days and then cut another few inches, until you have about 3-4 inches left. This might seem a bit long but it’ll hide any balding patches potential buyers might see from the upstairs windows and will give it a lovely uniform green colour.
Forget the garden beds
If you haven’t been struck with green fingers yet, it’s not going to come now. As garden improvement goes, filling a newly planted bed will get expensive quick and gardeners interested in buying it won’t care for your local DIY shop's finest while non-gardeners won’t even notice your back-breaking work. Just remove any prickly leafed plants, especially any that are near the front of the beds as there might be children boddling about while parents have a nose about the house. Nettle stings will not leave a family with good vibes.
Potted plants are your friends
Instead of the beds, invest in a few large potted plants instead. Not only can you move them around while your house is being shot for the estate agents – it’s by the front door, now it’s by the back door, but you can also spy it out the living room window, and there it is again on the patio! – they can also come with you to your new house so it’s not a wasted investment. Pick a few spots that appear bare and cluster the pots together there. Having plants of varying heights will also give the idea of depth and size when you cluster them together… They’ll also nicely cover that hole in the grass that the dog dug.
Create a place to hang out
Think of your garden like a room – it should have designated activities for each area. These don’t have to be big changes. The lawn is for playing with the kids, maybe leave a football or something out to let families get comfortable and imagine themselves living here. The patio area is for outdoor eating, pull out the barbecue (dust off the cobwebs if it hasn’t been out in a few years) and leave it by the table along with some plates, napkins and maybe a barbecue tongs. Is there a spot that gets a nice bit of evening sunshine? Place a deck chair or bench there. Couples viewing homes like to have a private word with one another about their initial feelings and giving them a sunny spot to do it in can only help.
Get out the paintbrush
Don’t start huffing and puffing about me about effort and time and expense. I don’t mean paint the whole exterior. Get a pot of the existing exterior paint and patch up a few spots that are noticeably discoloured. If you have any large electrical boxes or fans on the outside of the house, now is the time to paint them the same colour as the house. Giving the whole place a uniform appearance will give the right first impression.
And that’s all you’re looking for.
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