10 Tips to get a garden ready to sell the house
Selling your house? You’ll want to get the most you can for it. And you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about how it will look on the inside. Maybe some styling and professional photography. But think about this. What’s the first thing someone sees when they pull up outside your home? Your garden of course. If it doesn’t look like a million dollars, you might be hard pressed getting that figure at sale, even if the inside does look fantastic.
With a lot of competition and many people looking to sell, buyers can pick and choose. When you’re in a buyers’ market like this, you have to do everything you can to make your property as appealing as possible. The garden is one of the most affordable parts of your property to invest money in to create a positive impression and boosting your sale price.
So, what are our 10 tips for getting your garden ready when you’re selling your house?
This article is drawn from decades of experience helping Melbourne property owners prepare their gardens for sale. We have helped thousands (we counted) of people with garden makeovers as part of our Free Garden Design service with Chris! If you are considering selling a property, find out more about this service here.
- Know when to start
- Set a date
- Step back and take a good look
- First impressions count – don’t forget the nature strip
- How’s the lawn looking
- Get help to make a plan
- Map out the garden beds
- Set a realistic budget
- Getting the agent in
- Don’t forget the finishing touches
1. Know when to start
Getting your garden ready for selling your home can take time. Gardens aren’t as easy to change overnight, like a room. We’ve worked with contestants on reality TV shows like the Block doing garden makeovers, and the five star service, big budgets and magic of television can make it seem very rapid. In an ideal world, you should start work on the garden 3-6 months before you plan to sell your property.
This gives you the time to be able to prepare the garden for sale. It takes time to do things like repair your lawn, get rid of the weeds and fill out the garden with new plants. The plants themselves take time to grow and flower and become their best.
Plus, if you leave enough time before you sell, you can be looking around for bargains in your local nursery that won’t blow your budget. You can also economise by buying smaller plants that will be nice and bushy once auction day rolls around.
If you have left it to the last minute, we can assure you it can be done (so don’t panic). We always have great bargains available and can help you out with the plant choices that are going to look the best, even if you didn’t leave quite enough time. Consider taking advantage of our free garden design service if this is you.
2. Set a date
When Chris is doing a garden design for someone planning to sell their property, the first question he asks is “when?” Knowing when to start getting a property and it’s garden ready for selling, and exactly what to do with the garden, has a lot to do with the date and season you will be selling in. When doing that long range planning, remember you’ll be selling in a different season to the one you’ll be working in. So how your garden looks now, compared to how it will be looking in 3 months or 6 months’ time, could be very different.
The flower bulbs you plant today might be dead in 3 months. But conversely the shrubs you plant today will be in full bloom then. Or its autumn now and you’re looking at a beautiful red maple but you’re going to sell in June and by then that maple will have dropped all its leaves so it won’t look as gorgeous. So don’t focus on making your garden look wonderful now: think and plan ahead for the season you will be selling in.
3. Step back and take a good look
Now you’ve set a date and before you start actually doing anything to get the garden ready for selling the house, do one thing (but do it carefully). Take a big step back from your house. Stand across the road from it and try to look back at your house, like you’ve never looked at it before. We all get used to seeing our place day after day but try and imagine you’re a new person seeing it for the first time. Try and get the big picture.
What is really obvious about your place and your garden? What really stands out about it? What’s the first thing everyone will see. Is there a big tree that perhaps looks a bit ugly but actually hides an even uglier corner of the house? You might decide that even though it’s ugly, the alternative is worse.
What else do you see? A ratty old rose bush? If you trim it up now, will it be in full bloom when it comes time to sell?
You have to be a little ruthless at this point. You can’t keep things just because you like them if they don’t really do anything for the place. But equally, it’s expensive to buy in a fully grown new tree to replace one you chopped down. Better to plan around keeping it, as once you chop something down, it’s very hard to put it back up again.
4. First impressions count – don’t forget the nature strip
You might think that the first impression someone else makes of your property is your front garden. But there’s something else out in front of it that often gets forgotten – your nature strip! So think like this – the front of your property actually starts at the kerb.
Are there big patches in the nature strip that could do with repair or reseeding the grass to get it to grow. How does the grass look? Does it need weeding? Are the edges neat and trim?
What else could you do to make it look even more appealing? It might be something simple like plant some flowers in it. How does the tree on the nature strip look? Is it some terrible old thing the council planted years ago but it looks neglected. Could you shape it into something better, or even rip it out and replace it with something nicer (in consultation with your council of course)?
5. How’s the lawn looking?
If you’ve got a big front lawn, it’s often the thing that most dominates how your front garden looks. Therefore, repairing or replacing it is vital to get your garden ready to sell. This is another reason to start months ahead, because repairing a lawn can be very cheap if you have plenty of time.
Repairing your lawn
If you have given yourself some months to prepare, you can repair your lawn a couple of ways. The first method is using lawn seed.
- Get some topsoil and rake it over the lawn.
- Then stab it with a fork to aerate it a bit.
- Sprinkle some seed and fertiliser over it.
- Bingo, you have repaired your lawn.
After this, the next trick is to get your lawnmower out and cut it nice and high. Most people cut their lawns way too short. If you cut it high, it will be green and luscious after a couple of months. It will also help to even out all the dips and lumps in your lawn.
The second method of repair is great if you have some sections of your lawn that are really bad, Lay some strips of turf in them, and in a few months’ time they will have grown into the lawn and it will all blend together. Again, this is why starting to prepare your garden to sell with plenty of time to spare pays off.
Replacing your lawn
If you want a to create a big impact or don’t have much time to prepare your garden for selling your house, consider replacing your lawn with brand new turf. Some people also opt to replace lawn areas with new garden beds or alternatives such as groundcover lawn alternatives.
6. Get help to make a plan
After you’ve worked out what to do with your lawn and nature strip it’s time to start planning the garden itself. This is where it really helps to get some advice, because it can be a little overwhelming and there are many ways to go wrong.
Once you’ve worked out what you’re going to get rid of and the key assets you’re going to keep, you need to think about what might fill the gaps. Talking to an expert at your local nursery can be vital here, because they can tell you the RIGHT plants to plant, based on your budget, timing of the sale, etc. You won’t waste money on the wrong plants, or get plants that won’t in their best condition for sale day.
We do have a FREE Garden Design Service which many of our customers use at this stage of getting their garden ready for sale. This provides you with expert advice at effectively no cost.
But before you book in for a garden design consultation, there’s one little step you need to do.
7. Map out the garden beds
Mapping out the garden beds is an important part of your planning. You need to know how much space you have to fill, and different plants have an ideal spacing. Knowing the size of the beds is key to knowing how many plants you will need, so they don’t look either too empty or too crowded.
Having a sketch of your garden beds with measurements will ensure that any nursery person helping you can give you the best advice. So take a walk around the garden and say to yourself, “OK I’ve got a 3 metre bed over here, and an 8 metre bed down the fence line there and another 2 metre bed over here”… etc etc
Draw out a little plan so that when you do go to the nursery, you can work methodically through what you need for each bed. If you come to see us at Hello Hello Plants for a Garden Design, Chris will happily walk around the nursery with you and show you options for the various different garden beds. If you’ve done a map or sketch it will help you visualise “well this could go there and that could go here”.
If your local nursery person can’t picture how your garden looks it’s harder for them to give you the right advice. Take some photos too, so they can see how it looks now and the gaps or holes you are trying to fill, etc
8. Set a realistic budget
When you’re preparing your garden to sell your house, it’s important to set a realistic budget. If you’ve got a property that’s in the range of $2 million, you’re not going to do it justice with a budget of $1,000. But if you’re just selling a 2-bedroom unit with a very compact garden, that would be more than enough, even too much.
You need to set the budget according to both the quantity AND quality of the plants you might need to buy. Given the total value of your property, the garden is often the best return on investment you’ll ever get. This is because you can spend a comparatively small amount of money and make your place look fabulous from the outside, but you might need to spend 10 or 50 times as much inside to get the same impact.
If you’ve mapped out your garden beds, you can basically work out the key types of plants you’ll need. You don’t have to know exactly which plants you’ll be buying, but you should have a good idea in broad terms– something small and pretty here, something big and bushy over there. When you get to your local nursery they will want to know a budget.
If you browse through our website to find plants you like and add them to your cart with roughly the right quantities, it will tally a total for you and you’ll start to see whether or not your budget is realistic. Keep in mind that you may have to opt for larger size plants if your sale date is close.
9. Getting the agent in
Another critical aspect to your timing when getting your garden ready to sell your house, is when you get the agent in to take a look at the place. And remember, the first thing they will see is your garden too. So they will form a very quick first impression of your place and this will influence what they think you can get for it, possibly setting their expectations too low. If you get them in when the garden hasn’t had the work done, they are likely to be a bit down on your place.
The risk here too is that agents will often give you advice on the garden, and sometimes agents don’t make the best gardeners and they might not offer you the best advice.
However, if you get them in when you’re closer to being ready to sell and the garden is starting to look close to its peak, then they will be more optimistic about the sale and set their expectations higher.
10. Don’t forget the finishing touches
Once you’ve done everything you wanted to do in the garden and you’ve got the lawn looking great, the nature strip too, the garden beds all planted out, don’t forget the little touches as well.
How’s the driveway looking? Could it do with a pressure wash? How about the fence? Any repairs needed there? Missing boards? A coat of paint? The rocks or bricks around the garden beds. Is there some brickwork that needs repairing? Rocks that need replacing or even cleaning?
Just look for anything that brings down the quality of your garden. Sometimes those little extra touches, those 1% things can add 10% to how the whole thing looks.
So here you have it: Our top 10 tips for getting your garden ready when you are selling your house. Remember that a buyer is going to see your place and quickly form an opinion. First impressions count, and they will quickly pick and choose. If the garden doesn’t look good then you might not even get to first base.
They’ll be thinking “gotta fix the bathroom” “gotta fix the kitchen”… “oh and I gotta landscape the garden… ah too much work!” If you can fix up your garden economically and quickly, a potential buyer can roll up to your place and think “well at least the garden’s done” and hopefully “WOW!”
Gardens don’t fix as quickly as a kitchen or bathroom does with a quick coat of paint and some new handles for the cupboards, so start early. And if you have left it all to the last minute, it pays big time to get some professional advice on the best things to do to prepare your property’s garden for sale.