With its mild climate Victoria BC is often considered the city of gardens, and there's no doubt that a beautiful yard can be a head-turner. Conversely, ignoring the state of your yard or how well it fits in with the rest of the neighbourhood can cause people to pass right by your home when it's time to sell.
Luckily you don't have to sport a green thumb in order to have an attractive garden. Follow these basic steps, and you'll be well on your way to a flowering wonderland — and increased curb appeal that will bring the buyers running.
Keep It Simple
Choose a single focal point for every main view of your property. In some cases this may only be the front door, but a corner property will have more viewing angles to consider. Think about how trees and shrubs frame your house, or will when they are planted. Make sure they don't take away from your focal points, and be careful not to crowd your lawn or use too many colours. Less is more. If you already have an extensive garden on your property, you may even want to remove some existing plants.
A low-maintenance landscape can be key in a property sale. Even if you're an avid gardener yourself, a lawn requiring a lot of upkeep can be a turn off for a lot of potential buyers. Choose a limited range of plants and flowers that are hardy, don't need a lot of watering or pruning, and that don't tend to shed leaves or petals.
Consider Form And Layers
When planning landscaping for your home, remember to consider the size and shape of your house, as well as the shape and slope of your lawn. As the biggest thing on your property, your house can determine everything from the layout to the colour of your landscaping efforts. If you have a large home, it can eclipse small plantings such as individual flowers, especially when potential buyers are driving past in their car.
Instead try repeating forms with more mass and shape to them, such as a row of shrubs. At the same time, you'll want to be careful not to block any windows, doors, other plants, or the facade of your house. You can do this by layering your plant borders: have a back row with the tallest plants, a middle row with the next tallest, and a front row with your shortest plants. To get an idea for how big they should be, stand back so that you can see your entire house and lawn and squint to blur out distracting details. From there it will be easy to note areas that are too dark, too bright, the wrong colour, or too bare.
Know Your Plants
Know the requirements of each plant your landscape will use, as well as how big it will grow — many plants are bought in small tubs but grow to become huge features once planted. Match flower types that will be in the same space based on whether they have similar light and soil requirements. You'll also want to pay attention to how each plant branches and what the texture of the leaves will be like.
Considering labelling your plants as you go. This will keep prospective buyers informed (as well as yourself) and allow them to research whether they have the means to support such a garden. Alternatively, create a inventory scrapbook of all of your plants and leave it out for buyers to browse during home showings. This is a simple step but can make a great difference in the mind of the buyer.
Plan For All Seasons
Make sure your landscape will provide something of interest in all four seasons for your area. Evergreens provide rich foliage in winter, while deciduous plants supply colour and variety in specific parts of the year, such as autumn.
Well-chosen flowering trees can be a great addition: blossoms in the spring, fullness in the summer, bold colours in the fall, and artistic shapes in winter. But be careful to plant them with an eye on the future. If a growing tree or foundation plant is too close to the house buyers may consider it a liability rather than a selling point, and others may shy away from fruit- or nut-bearing trees.
Learn the difference between perennial, biennial, and annual plants, and incorporate them accordingly. You might have perennial flowers blooming in the spring, with annuals or hardier flowers such as knock out roses to carry your garden on through the late summer months.
With their lower price point, potted annuals can also be an affordable way to add an extra splash of colour in a pinch, and in the mild climates of southern Vancouver Island they often bloom far longer than advertised — sometimes to the point of becoming perennials. Make sure to check with your local garden center about how your desired plant reacts to weather in Victoria.
Use Hardscape Elements
In landscaping, "hardscape" refers to features like benches, paths, fences, decks, arbours, and occasionally fountains. They can be used to spotlight parts of your landscape, as well as create a more pleasant trip to the house.
Paths can be constructed of anything from cement to stone to brick. They don't have to be straight; gentle curves make a route more interesting, so long as the front door remains visible and visitors aren't tempted to cut across your lawn. If you have more than one door, a well-designed path can make it obvious where people should go. In homes where the main path runs to the street, adding a flare at the end can provide more room to unload and get in and out of a car. If your home has a brick or stone facade, you can repeat it in your path's material to create a sense of unity.
Fences add both personality and functionality, and can work as a wind buffer, property boundary, or to keep animals out (or pets in). Wood fences are traditional, but vinyl fences require less upkeep. Make sure to check your fence's warranty before buying.
Using sectional stone such as cobblestone or flagstone on paths and driveways can be particularly helpful in rainy Victoria, allowing water to drain into the ground while making it easy to replace damaged sections without replacing the entire piece. But be careful in your choice — some types of stone become extremely slippery when wet.
Don't Forget Lighting
Landscaping can be emphasized by both natural and artificial lighting. Plant with an eye on how much sun your plants will get, and where, as well how much shade is cast by trees and large shrubs.
Professional outdoor lighting can prevent accidents on dark paths, and improve the presentation of your home during the winter months or for buyers who visit in the evening.
Give It A Good Scrub
Make sure to keep your landscape neat and tidy, especially before a house showing. A messy yard makes your garden look like it takes extra effort to maintain, which can drive off potential buyers.
Rake your grass to remove leaves, pine cones, and other debris. Apply a fresh layer of mulch to your garden beds. Prune overgrown trees and shrubs, especially ones near the house. Remove dead or struggling plants and replace them with new plants or decorative pots. Consider buying or renting a power washer to clean fences, brick, pavement and stone. Stain or paint worn patio furniture and replace the cushions, or buy new pieces.
If you have any water features, make sure to check them. Remove any algae and leaves, clean the water filters, and make sure all irrigation systems are working properly. If you have an automatic system, provide instructions and information on the watering schedule to the buyer. Have any leaking faucets repaired — a prospective buyer might think they indicate plumbing issues, and no one wants to be surprised by a wet basement.
Green up your lawn's grass if necessary. Keep it nearly trimmed and weeded, and follow a fertilizer schedule if you start to see brown or bald patches. If you don't have the time to nurse your lawn back to health, you may want to consider applying sod, turf grasses, or even turf paint.
Bonus Tip: Ask For Help
Making the right choices and using professional services will greatly reduce both the time needed to complete your landscaping projects, as well as your chances of running into future problems. Even a short consultation meeting can help you pinpoint which tasks will bring the greatest return in your home's value. As a real estate agent I can arrange consultations with certified, well-respected landscaping professionals in the Greater Victoria and Sidney areas.
Take a look at some local landscaping projects online, and you will find that even a small investment in your landscape can greatly increase your curb appeal, making it more likely that the perfect buyer will fall in love with your home.