Yorkshire Post - Property
Why gardens matter more than ever
News this week from an estate agent reveals that buyers are willing to pay a 12.9 per cent premium to secure a house with its own garden. Sharon Dale reports.
NOW spring is in the air, anecdotal evidence from estate agents in Yorkshire suggests that the market looks set to slowly waken from its long winter’s nap as, despite the cost of living crisis and higher interest rates, those looking to move are no longer prevaricating and are booking valuations.
For the would-be sellers this means a “to do” list of jobs that need tackling before the “For Sale” sign goes up.
This list of tasks usually includes some redecorating and decluttering.
Gardens are often last on the list or even totally disregarded when they should, in fact, be close to the top. News this week from estate agent comparison site GetAgent. co.uk reveals that buyers pay a 12.9 per cent premium to secure a house with a garden. In Yorkshire that equates to an average £27,778 extra compared to properties with no or very little outside space.
Tim Waring of GSC Grays estate agency in Boroughbridge, says that good garden maintenance plays an important part in securing a sale.
“Whether you have mostly hard landscaping or an expanse of lawn and flower beds, keeping it looking tidy is vital. That might sound obvious but it is surprising how many sellers don’t do this.
“You should cut your lawn and power wash the terrace and if you only have a courtyard then make it look appealing by putting some planters and hanging baskets out there.”
He adds: “This could make all the difference as the garden can be the first impression a buyer gets of a house and that counts for a lot.
“If the impression is negative, they will carry that with them when looking inside the property.”
For those sellers who have glorious gardens, he adds that you shouldn’t labour the point that you spend hours on it as your buyer may not have time or inclination to follow in your footsteps.
Claire Kendall, MD of Richard Kendall estate agents, agrees and adds: “It’s good to have outside space but buyers are divided between those who enjoy gardening and those who haven’t got the time to devote to it.
“What we are seeing more of is low maintenance outdoor areas with amenities such as hot tubs, outdoor gyms and garden buildings that can be used for working from home.
"All the above contribute to saleability and if properties don’t have those features, buyers are looking for the opportunity to create them.”
Hebden Bridgebased garden designer Jack Wallington, author of “A Greener Life”, a book devoted to helping people discover the joy of mindful and sustainable gardening, says: “The importance of a garden came to fore during the pandemic and that’s really positive because being outside and interacting with nature is great for well-being.”
For those frightened of gardening because the subject is vast, garden designers are helpful at giving you a jump start but says Jack: “It’s often trial and error, seeing which plants work and will survive but whatever you do, don’t go to the garden centre and blow a lot of money when you haven’t a clue what to buy.
“Spend time researching what might work in your soil type.”
The latest trend is for growing your own food. “It doesn’t have to be hard.
You can plant rosemary, thyme and sage, all of which will last for years,” says Jack, who also loves a lawn as it provides habitat for insects.
He also suggests retaining swapping fencing for yew or hawthorn hedging, if possible, which is also good for wildlife.
Your reward will be in watching the birds that make a home there.
Alistair Baldwin, founder of The Yorkshire School of Garden Design at the Courtyard building at Harewood House, is both a teacher and a renowned designer who has worked in Yorkshire for 30 years.
He runs short courses, a Diploma in Garden Design and has just launched a year-long, part-time Diploma in Planting Design, offering students the opportunity to learn about the craft and science of designing with plants for all four seasons.
He says: “A well-designed, wellkept garden gives the right message to a home buyer.
"It says that the property is cared for, whether they want to keep the garden as it is or not.”
He stresses that the key is getting the structural parts right so the first thing is to declutter and make sure trees, hedges and shrubs are well pruned so they look neat and smart. If you are selling, put flowers in containers near the door. Scented plants such as roses, lavender, rosemary and thyme will also work well at making a property feel homely.”
Alistair also points out that a new garden usually takes three years to settle in so instant gratification is rare but the wait will be worthwhile.
“The pandemic taught us that gardens are good for mental health and that is something that we saw in the designs at the Chelsea Flower Show this year. A garden is an asset in all kinds of ways.”
A Greener Life by Jack Wallington is published by Laurence King. The Yorkshire School of Garden Design, Harewood, www.ysgd.co.uk. There is an open day at the school today, Saturday, March 11, with the event offering a chance for those with a passion for plants to explore the route to a career in garden design. www.ysgd.co.uk