by Françoise Murat (Françoise Murat & Associates)
It is often said that there are three things that sell a house – the kitchen, the bathroom and the garden.
It is essential to create a good impression of your property from the outside – often referred to as ‘kerb appeal’. If the buyer doesn’t like the property from the outside, they won’t even consider viewing the inside. Here are a few tips and ideas to ensure that your garden gets people through the front door and making an offer.
The front garden sets the scene. Obvious I know but de-clutter! All rubbish needs to be cleared away; it is not appealing and puts people off. No one wants to move in and clear the garden of rubbish! If possible park your car on the street for the viewing to allow the garden and entrance to be seen in its best light and not obscured by your pride and joy.
The front garden should be kept simple. If you have a path leading up to the front door make sure it is clean and not slippery for potential buyers. Edging with plants is always a good idea and at this time of year shrubs are readily available at nurseries and can be planted up until the end of November (depending on where you are in the country). Evergreens such as Box or Photinia are always a good bet should you have visitors throughout winter – they will look architectural and give texture. In the front garden it is very much a case of less is more. Use three to four different plant types only depending on the size of the front garden. Gravel is always an elegant and sustainable feature for paths and driveways. It is very cost effective and saves time on weeding. Make sure it is not too deep – 30 to 60mm is fine. When used as a border around the walls it can really make the house stand out. If you pave more than 5m2 of the drive and front garden by law you must install permeable paving to ensure adequate water run-off. Remember – the front garden is the first thing the buyer sees and also the last, so make sure it is a positive memory!
The back garden should be an oasis of peace and calm away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Tatty fences and decrepit sheds do not create this serene idyll! Fences and sheds should be repaired and re-painted with any proprietary weather-proof paint. Choose softer colours such as estate colours for an elegant modern feel or wood enhancers for a more natural look.
Paths and decking or paving should be clean and clear of weeds and moss. Borders must be weed-free. Here you can plant some inexpensive shrubs again keeping to three or four varieties and creating blocks of planting. Do not plant in straight lines but try gentle wave-like patterns to create a natural flow. A wide diversity of flowers and plants in a garden creates a busy, jumbled-look which is unsettling for buyers and also screams “maintenance heavy”. If you do decide to enhance the garden with new planting make sure that the plants are not all the same size. It will be all too obvious that it has been newly planted. Ideally you are looking to achieve an established look. Vary the height of plants too. Tall vertical elements in your design will break up the space, add volume and prevent the garden looking flat and devoid of interest.
Place some pots and containers near the kitchen door or patio doors. Different sizes are good but always use the same pot style as this has a unifying effect. Herbs are cheap and scented and always look and smell great near the kitchen. If your back garden or yard only allows for potted plants ensure they are grouped together in coordinated colours or styles. Simple is always best.
Lastly, put away the washing line, paddling pool and the children’s toys when showing potential buyers around.
If you do nothing else, ensure the grass is cut and the paths are free of weeds.
Next time we will be looking at creating a simple design for your garden as well as setting up a garden office.
Françoise Murat & Associates specialise in interior, garden & landscape design. .