Georgia Gardener Newsletter Design Tip: May 1, 2008
|Selling Your House: Preparing the Landscape
An attractive landscape is a plus on the real estate market
I've decided I'm going to quit watching the news. It all seems bad and getting worse especially the recent problems in
the real estate markets across the country. I can't remember a time when so many houses were on the market for such
an extended period of time. With so many houses available, you can bet that prospective buyers can be extremely choosy even
deciding whether or not to look at house simply by doing a drive-by.
When buyers go to look at houses on the market, the first thing they will see is the front landscape and it plays the most
important part of what agents refer to as "curb appeal." The landscape can be a make
or break item and in a fiercely competitive market it can be a major factor that gets people at least in the front door.
The good news is that even in this depressed market, you can expect between a 100-200% return on the money spent for landscaping.
Of course, I would add that this would apply to "reasonable landscaping" and would exclude items like outdoor kitchens, pools,
extensive retaining walls, or other high-end features.
The longer the lead time you have before putting your home on the market, the easier it will be to "fix" an established landscape or
allow a new landscape to mature. Below are some pointers to consider based on how much time you have.
6-12 Months Before
You may want to call in a landscaping professional at this point to give you a detailed "to-do-what-when" list.
- Repair/replace any hardscaping: driveway, walkways, decks, patios, raised beds, retaining walls, irrigation, lighting,
exterior painting, etc.
Do this before you tackle the plants.
- Remove/replace any dead or poorly-performing plants. Think drought-tolerant replacements.
- Prune overgrown trees and shrubs. Keep shrubs below the windows (if feasible) by pruning each branch at random heights 1-3 feet
below the shrub's desired height. Avoid "meatball" pruning.
- Put the lawn on a proper maintenance schedule for mowing, fertilizing, aerating, weed control, etc. See the turf maintenance calendar links
at the bottom.
- Go on an aggressive weed control program to clear overgrown areas, control weeds in beds and lawns so you can avoid the
3-6 Months Before
- Keep the lawn on the proper maintenance schedule.
- Stay ahead of weeds with the proper use of pre and post-emergent herbicides (read all labels).
- Keep the trees and shrubs pruned as needed.
- Fertilize new plants to stimulate growth (as long as it's not the dead of winter).
- Repair/replace the mailbox and have your street number prominently displayed in at least two places with one set on the
mailbox and the other either on the front of the house or painted on the curb.
- Caution workers doing other tasks to stay out of the new landscape - especially painters who like to wash out their equipment
where it will be the most visible. Assign them a "cleaning" area.
- Add new mulch so that you have a total depth of 2-3 inches.
1-3 Months Before
- Keep all lawn maintenance chores on track.
- Stay on track with your weed control program.
- Prune trees and shrubs lightly, if needed, to avoid the freshly shorn look.
- Plant brightly colored seasonally-appropriate annuals. Summer annuals should not be planted before April 15. Plant winter annuals sometime
in mid to late September. If you have to wait until it's closer to the listing date, put in the largest annuals you can find, at
least one gallon in size.
- Avoid the junky look - buy an attractive pre-built shed to house yard equipment and get it out of the garage or from under
1 Month (Or Less) Before
- Keep all maintenance tasks going, especially weed control.
- Replace any poorly-performing annuals - buy one gallon plants.
- Have your windows cleaned and especially focus on the exterior which may have spider webs or other debris.
- Set out containers and/or hanging baskets of fresh seasonally-appropriate annuals in highly visible places: front porch,
walkway, deck, patio, etc.
- Keep the driveway, walkways, decks and patios clean by sweeping or blowing - avoid outdoor water use.
- Apply a fresh layer of mulch over the old such that the total depth is 2-3 inches.
- Remove any piles of yard debris or cleverly hide them. This unfortunately also applies to compost piles.
- If your house is on the market during the fall - keep the leaves picked up.
Be sure to perform all the necessary maintenance items while your house is on the market. Hopefully you'll have it sold before
you have to change to the next season's annuals.
Neighborly Tip: If you live next door or near someone who has their house on the market, try to keep your landscape tidy. The more money they
get for their house the more it may raise the value of yours.
Turf Maintenance Calendars (pdf) from the University of Georgia Extension Service:
Bermuda Maintenance Calendar
Centipede Maintenance Calendar
Fescue Maintenance Calendar
St. Augustine Maintenance Calendar
Zoysia Maintenance Calendar
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