FANS of property shows will have heard the likes of Sarah Beeny or Phil Spencer say it time and time again: kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.
But there is another, often over-looked “room” that could add thousands to the value of a property – the garden.
New research has shown that outdoor space is big business, with two fifths of people living in the UK saying they would refuse to even consider a home unless it had a decent garden. Furthermore, one in seven homeowners claim a few garden improvements have added more value to their property.
So how do we make our outdoor spaces pay dividends without having to spend a fortune on landscape gardeners and posh water features?
Andrew Ford, plant specialist at Dobbies in Livingston, says a few simple steps and clever planting can lead to a massive transformation of a garden and earn you big bucks at the same time.
“Having a nice garden can actually add thousands to the price of a house”, he says. “But the trick of it is not to have anything too fancy.
“If you have it like an absolute dump, it’s going to detract from the price, but at the same time, if it’s too fancy, people might be overwhelmed and think it’s too much.”
Andrew points out a few commonsense approaches go a long way – having a well-kept lawn and keeping rubbish bins out of sight are simple but effective techniques.
“Think of your garden as an outside room of your house – when you’re having viewings, you make your house as nice as possible and you want to do the same with your garden.
“There are a few simple things that you can do to make your garden attractive to viewers.
“Make sure it’s nice and tidy and that the grass isn’t overgrown. If you have a patio, make sure the weeds are taken out of all the nooks and crannies. Any rubbish bins you can maybe put behind a panel just to hide them.”
He adds: “Make sure there are nice lines of sight so people can see the whole garden. Look out of the kitchen or living room window and put a feature plant or container in front that will draw the eye to that part of the garden.
“A cordyline is a nice upright plant with long, sharp leaves – it’s something that’s going to catch the eye.”
A little bit of investment in plants and garden decoration can also go a long way, says Andrew, as it can create a vision of a lifestyle, and give potential house-buyers something to “aspire” to.
“If you want to add colour but don’t want to spend lots and lots of money to make it really nice, containers or hanging baskets are a cost-effective way to do that,” he explains. “They are seasonal and you can make features of them.
“Little ornaments, like an urn or a statue, can also be a good investment.
“You want your garden to show a bit of character as it gives the impression that this is an outdoor area that can be used. A little patio table and couple of chairs is a good idea so people can picture themselves sitting outside having their breakfast and give them something to aspire to.”
Selling the idea that a garden is an extra room to be lived in can also be achieved through a few nice-smelling flowers, including honeysuckle, sweet pea and rose.
A small herb garden will also give off some interesting aromas, while again giving it that “homely” feel.
Andrew adds: “If people are able to see that they can make use of a garden, and if it’s already well-maintained, then they will fall in love with it.
“Like any other room in the house, you’re trying to display it at its best and give the viewer the idea that they can really live in that house.”
David Marshall, business analyst with ESPC, agrees that having an attractive and functional garden can help a property to stand out and help buyers form an emotional bond with a property.
“When you think of the old adage that first impressions count, gardens and the general exterior of a property will play a big part in that,” he says.
“Choosing a home is something of an emotional decision as well as a financial one, and people do form first impressions that play an important part in how they decide which property to choose.
“You wouldn’t want to be giving anyone a negative impression, so if you can do a little bit of work to the exterior of the property, it’s going to be of benefit.”