A well-designed garden can add significant value to a home, so putting down roots will pay off when you sell up, writes property expert Harvey Grennan.
Recently, I fell in love with a property because of its mature garden - towering pines, established trees and hedges and a drift of azaleas. The house itself was little more than a shack.
The vendor changed his mind about selling us the place and we ended up buying a big red-brick pile that stands out on its block like a sore thumb. What it needs is a well-planned garden with some tall trees to soften it and give its large scale some context.
These two properties are chalk and cheese but together they represent a singular message: a good garden can add considerable value to a property. They are examples of two approaches to making money on the potential of a garden.
Some canny investors look for good homes that have not been landscaped. They spend a few thousand on the garden and then whack the properties back on the market at a higher price. Others buy older homes with overgrown gardens then groom them, fix up the driveway and paths, and add some flowerbeds and small plantings before selling.
The best way to spend money on a garden is on a plan from a landscape designer. For about $1500-$2000, you'll have a basic blueprint to follow, so you can avoid spending thousands on landscaping that may not produce the right result. You don't have to follow the plan slavishly, just stick to the themes.
It can be a mistake to save money by buying small trees. Homes are sold, on average, every six or seven years, so a garden planted with sprigs and twigs will take 10 years to mature and may not be at its best when you sell. However, big trees can make a new home look as if it has been there for 20 to 30 years.
There are some tricks to saving money when you buy advanced trees and shrubs. Larger out-of-town nurseries that grow their own stock have better prices than more boutique nurseries in the city. Finding these nurseries may involve a trip out of town with a ute, but it's well worth it.
Care must be taken when planting larger trees as they need a hole three times the diameter of the pot or root ball. When buying smaller items for mass plantings, assemble the biggest order you can - you may find that a nursery will deliver them free. It's possible to find plants online - nurseriesonline.com.au is a good starting point. Of course, it helps if you use a landscape gardener with wholesale contacts, as the savings can be considerable.