Spring has officially sprung and lockdown is lifting, but a focus on bringing the Great Outdoors closer to home is still very much where it’s at.
According to a survey of more than 4000 prospective home-buyers conducted by online property portal Rightmove, searches for ‘homes with gardens’ have climbed by 42% compared to May last year (a massive 84% by those searching for rental properties) with pet-friendly properties and homes conveniently located near to parks and green spaces closely following on the Most Wanted charts.
Undertaking a garden makeover could not only get you spring- and summer-ready, but it could raise the value of property, adding increased appeal and giving potential buyers that much sought after ‘wow!’ factor moment. But thinking laterally and getting creative with the little space of greenery that you’ve already got doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to shake the money tree, nor dedicate huge chunks of time and effort to the project.
“Since May 2020, the majority of our applicants are requesting outdoor space ranging from an apartment with a balcony or a courtyard to a level lawn for the children to play on and, in some cases, acres to enjoy the self-sufficiency of home grown fruit and vegetables, and even the odd chicken!” says Sarah Selway, Senior Sales Associate in Cobb Farr’s Bradford-on-Avon office. “Cobb Farr can offer viewing of properties with all manner of outdoor space and gardens of all sizes and style.”
“A typical day of viewings, for me, might include a pretty period property with a cottage garden at the front and camellias and spring bulbs in pots placed either side of the front door, moving on to a home with a south-facing, small walled garden stocked with flowering seasonal plants including primroses, hellebores and fruit trees, and garden furniture painted in garden tones. My final viewing of the day might be a contemporary, easy-to-maintain garden with sunken trampoline, level lawn and patio area for alfresco dining with pizza oven. But even in the smallest of spaces, the beauty of seasonal plants in a window box filled with colourful seasonal planting (as we have outside our Bradford-on-Avon office) adds joy and colour.”
So, whether you have access to green acres, a little patch of yard or merely a potentially-spacious window sill, it’s time to fling your windows open, take a fresh look at what’s going on outside and go wild with some fun quick fixes.
Is your lawn looking a bit forlorn? Give it some TLC asap! Weed out unwanted shrubs, moss and blow-ins, mow the grass and trim the edges, replant bald patches where necessary and treat the whole space to a rejuvenating blast of specialist lawn food fertiliser (fully-organic compounds are readily available.) You’ll have a vibrant natural carpet of green gorgeousness in no time at all!
Regardless of how spruced-up your property may be, untidy bushes, hedges, trees and shrubs create an untidy, unloved personality to your home’s general countenance. Pruning offers the dual benefit of creating more space and encouraging fresh growth.
If you’re not sure how far to take your cutting-back project, there’s a host of reliable resources to be found online – all you need is a strong pair of shears and a pair of sturdy, protective gardening gloves to protect your green fingers.
Scrub it up
While it’s entirely possible to scrub up your decking, patio or driveway with a hose and a good old fashioned stiff brush, pressure-washing lifts out deeply-ingrained dirt, stains, debris and weeds and gives those hard surfaces beneath our feet a whole new lease of life.
If you don’t want to invest in your own pressure washer, you’re sure to find a daily-rental service in your neighbourhood.
Declutter, reuse, recycle
Decaying fences covered in peeling paint; rickety old benches with wobbly legs; garden tables ‘decorated’ by visiting birds… that’s not an inviting outdoor space – it’s a dump! You wouldn’t allow old furniture long past its use-by date to build up in your home, so don’t let it dominate your outdoor outlook either.
But a visit to the tip isn’t necessarily the way forward. The trend for upcycling (breathing new life into old furniture) is gathering pace, as countless prime time TV shows, publications and websites dedicated to the subject can attest to. Garden fences and furniture in particular can respond really well to homespun upcycling projects and, as the majority of the ‘smelly’ work (paint stripping, repainting, revarnishing, etc) can be done outdoors, turning that crumbling old slab of wood into a shabby chic bench of beauty can be a pleasure, not a chore.
As for those lovely decorative planters by your front door: if they’re full to the brim with dusty dead soil, they’re planting nothing on your property except dusty, dead air; tip ’em out and scrub ’em up, ready for useful use.
While a plain brick wall can, to some folk, be a thing of beauty to behold, most of us agree that climbing plants and unexpected, eye-catching features (mirrors, fascinating fretwork, weather-proof artwork, hook-hung candle-holders?) can turn a previously-overlooked blank space into a fabulous feature. Meanwhile, hanging baskets (buy them ready-planted, or create your own), garden sculptures, alfresco lighting and even the simplest water features can enrich, enhance and add unique texture to any outside space, from the tiniest back yard to the grandest stretch of greenery.
It’s also possible to scent your alfresco environment with pots of planted herbs. Lavender is the obvious choice on the fragrance front, but mint, basil, rosemary and thyme are really easy to grow, all smell wonderful… and bring the added bonus of being edible!
Peace, privacy… and pleaching
If your garden feels a little bit too close to the one next door, simple bamboo or trellis screens do a great job of creating beautiful boundaries that double-up as wind screens and offer wonderful opportunities to create a colourful backdrop – climbing plants love trellis, and strings of outdoor, solar-powered night lights can be easily integrated into any kind of screen.
Meanwhile, pleached trees (trees grown with straight clear stems and a head of branches that have been formally trained onto a flat bamboo framework in order to create an elevated, leafy screen) can create almost instant garden magic, lending themselves to more ambitious projects too such as pleached walks, tunnels and arbours.
Several varieties of trees can be pleached, with Tilia (lime) trees, chestnut, beech and plane all ripe for successful pleaching results, along with apple and pear trees too. Pleached trees can also be found in garden centres, ready-trained.
For further bespoke information, advice and guidance on all the subjects raised in this feature, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Selway directly.