Advice and Opinion

Well-kept, eco-friendly gardens add value for potential buyers

Garden Generic

First impressions are important, especially when it comes to selling property, as most property purchase decisions are made within the first few seconds of viewing.

Jason Shaw, national sales executive at Pam Golding Properties says that the first thing prospective buyers see, before the kitchen, bedrooms or bathrooms, is the exterior and the garden. “The exterior look and feel of a home is usually a good indication of the property as a whole. By having a beautiful, well-kept garden, you will increase your chances of selling your property.”

“While many property owners will not be able to immediately reduce their use of energy for example, we can all consider adjusting the way we garden in order to consume less water.”

“Creating and tending to a garden takes time and energy. It also requires some skill and most of all it needs water, lots of it. If you work long hours, it will be difficult to even look after your pot plants – particularly amidst a nationwide water shortage,” he adds.

“There are many indigenous plants that require little to no attention or water. And no, this does not necessarily mean that all the plants in your garden will be large, ugly plants with thorns. You won’t have to compromise on beauty and style at all. By choosing your plants wisely and designing your garden accordingly you can have the best of all worlds: beauty, low maintenance and eco-friendliness. These are all becoming increasingly attractive qualities for home seekers,” notes Shaw.

“Remember, the people viewing your home might not have the time and energy it requires to take care of a lush garden either, so you may well be doing them a favour as well. Modern, clean and sleek gardens are very trendy and examples of such gardens can be found in most leading garden and décor magazines.”

“Many property owners view the areas outside their boundary walls as being of lesser importance,” says Shaw. “While it is understandable that people choose to devote most of their attention to those parts of the garden in which they spend time, these external areas make a positive first impression on potential home buyers and can enhance the appeal of a property and the neighbourhood.”

“The first thing you need to look at is the layout of your garden. The following tips will assist you in restructuring your garden’s layout to minimize water use and maintenance,” suggests Shaw.

Reduce the size of your lawn

Not only will you spend most of your Saturdays mowing it, a lawn requires lots of water. Instead, consider replacing part of your lawn with stepping-stones or decorative pebbles. You can add greenery in between the stones by making use of indigenous grasses, succulents or ground covers.

Make use of mulch

Using mulch in your garden will keep the soil moist and your plants happy. Not only will it reduce the water needs of your garden, saving you time and money, it will also add wonderful texture and colour to your outdoor area. Consider making your own mulch or compost using garden and household waste. Do your research, as there is a great deal of good information available on this subject. If you prefer to buy your compost or mulch make sure that it is environmentally sound and appropriate for your garden.

Watch the sun

Take time to observe the sun’s location in your garden throughout the day. Identify where the sun is between 11:00 and 15:00. This is considered the hottest time of the day. Water will evaporate the fastest in these areas due to the high exposure to heat, which will result in unnecessary high water use. For a low maintenance and water wise garden, you should not be planting anything in that area and your garden layout should be done accordingly. Rather use that space to create a paved entertainment and braai area. You can create artificial shade with a stylish outdoor umbrella or patio roof. If you want to add greenery, try to use succulents, cacti or indigenous grass that can endure hot and dry conditions.

After you have decided on the perfect layout for your garden, you need to start thinking about what you are going to plant. What you choose to plant will play a vital role in keeping your garden eco, water and time efficient. Seeing as not all of us are botanists, the following tips can help you to identify the correct plants for your garden.

Local is lekker

You should always choose plants that are indigenous to your area. It is simple logic that a plant that has been thriving in a certain area since the beginning of time, will continue to thrive in that area. These plants have also adapted to the climate, humidity and soil quality in the area, making them the perfect fit. By choosing local plants, you will save time and water and ensure a thriving garden.

Grassy pastures

Indigenous grasses are normally heat and drought resistant. As they come in various shapes, colours and size, they are a fantastic way to provide your garden with depth, texture and definition. They can also be shaped into hedges to provide natural fencing or trendy dividers.

Grey, hairy, tiny and few

This is your ultimate checklist. One of the best ways to identify low maintenance, water wise plants is to look at their leaves. When deciding on which plants to choose, carefully study their leaves and ask yourself the following questions:

Are they grey? Plants with grey or blue coloured leaves are usually expert water savers. The coloured foliage reflects the rays of the sun, keeping the plant cool and reducing water loss.

Are they tiny and few? Many plants loose moisture through their leaves. Plants with smaller and fewer leaves have less surface area from which water can evaporate, thereby reducing their water requirements.

Are they hairy? We all know that moving air can dry things out. Think about how you would blow on wet glue to make it dry faster. Hairy leaves counteract moving air by creating a micro climate over the leaf that slows down the flow of air, reducing moisture loss.

Your new garden is nearly complete. Now, all you have to do is add a personal touch. Transform your garden into a personal retreat or a family haven by adding personal and unique items. Do not be scared to add bits and bobs that do not “traditionally” belong in gardens. You will be surprised how many indoor décor items work wonderfully outdoors. Mirrors, portraits and even family photos can add an artistic edge to your garden.

And there you have it: a stylish, easy to maintain and water-wise garden. Not only will your new garden increase your property value, you will also be making a valuable contribution to the environment by planting and gardening responsibly. Best of all, you can have a beautiful garden and still put in a full day’s work, avoid a degree in botany play your part in reducing the impact of the national drought.

Shaw says that as a residential property company that has partnered with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), Pam Golding Properties is actively driving a better understanding of value in the residential property market with regard to a more environmentally aware, green approach to residential property development.

“We aim to integrate a ‘green agenda’ into the future of residential property in South Africa, as well as a brand dimension of the Pam Golding Properties,” he concludes.