When you sell your house, how important is your garden then?

About garden investments – or “interiors age, gardens mature”

IIn the past I have often read that one can come to a deadlock when spending too much money on a designed garden. There sometimes is the notion that money is better spent inside a house than outside. Is this true?

Firstly, I completely disagree (big surprise for a garden designer) and secondly I strongly believe that this conviction must be either a matter of where the real estate bloggers come from that land on top of Google’s search lists or it’s simply because they write better posts and get read a lot more.

Seriously, if you made a poll in Australia, California, Florida, the Mediterranean or the Carribean, what would real estate professionals recommend? Well, OK, probably something about the right balance between inside and outside, and rightly so!

While some people might overdo their garden investments, others clearly get carried away with their bathrooms and kitchens. I personally think that it’s far riskier to invest 330,- EUR per sqm into a marble kitchen countertop of 3,50*2,50 than investing the same amount into – roughly – three beautiful olive trees.

With these three olive trees you can set the tone for a large portion of your gardens. But that’s a matter of taste. Maybe two trees would do and choosing another stone instead of marble. That sounds like a compromise.

There always remains the question: will the money spent on interior decoration or landscaping be realised down the road when your property sells?

Well, the correct news is, interior decoration ages, gardens mature. Interior decoration is largely a matter of fashion, garden fashions have much longer cycles. Interior decoration is a matter of personal taste, tastes in garden design is something for the specialist. Gardens not only become more beautiful as they grow old, but they also add value to your property, simply because a matured tree costs a lot more when installing it newly, compared to a young one.

In times when tree moving businesses are getting busier and busier, because more and more people like to see their new garden in an already matured state, your trees really are an asset that – theoretically and practically – could be dug up and sold.

Investment into gardens – as into interiors – is always a question of balance, of proportions of course. On both sides it is possible to add costs that do not result in an equivalent value. But I seriously believe – and many realty professionals do as well, that gardens tend to make money over time, and quite successfully so.

Also a garden is – or can be – a very individual creation that is rarely found somewhere else, whilst certain bathroom or kitchen extravaganzas simply become outdated over the years. A designed garden will never be outdated.

Naturally, your garden design should be less for a house that’s worth 500K EUR than it should be if your property is worth 5M EUR. Both, real estate pros and property owners know that a boring and “of the shelf” garden without any special design will rather harm the impression of a house than be just neutral when it comes to an evaluation by possible buyers. Just remember the number of houses with overgrown and neglected gardens you have seen when hunting for a house, gardens that spoke to you, “well you can easily loose a couple of thousands with me, just by clearing me out …”

Interiors depend by nature more on the personal tastes of people than gardens. A well designed and maintained garden will give possible buyers the feeling they would really like to live in this house with this specific garden. People hunting for a house will remember the view from inside toward the outside more than the kitchen floor’s stones or tiles.

Recent surveys have shown that even buyers who say that gardens and landscaping are not very important for them are not only attracted by gardens and the surroundings of a house but that this aspect actually is essential for their buying decision.

Also, uninventive garden design, or even no garden design at all still needs maintenance and will cost money in the long run. So, one might assume that investing in garden design would come naturally to almost every home owner.

The thing about gardens and gardening is that almost everyone thinks he or she can do it on him- or herself. The amount of time and skill proper garden work needs is very often underestimated. It is only when we see the poor gardening skills of some who sell their services (and shouldn’t) that we think, “well, ok, I could do this on my own!”

As a garden designer I can only recommend to hire a pro when it comes to renovating or designing a garden. There is so much to consider that it’s simply not a good idea to design your garden yourself. Even if you are a good hobby gardener, please let the design work do someone who knows how to choose and install plants, how to deal with or establish vistas, proportions, optical weights and how to create a sense of harmony and surprise.