New Zealanders just love property - buying it, renovating it and Tony Murrell’s favourite…landscaping it.
With many years of experience, Tony has built up a wealth of gardening and landscaping knowledge around some of the best ways to enhance your property to maximise full-sale potential along with enhancing the integrity of your home.
“When you realise the investment in outdoor enhancement, the rewards are exponentially reflected when marketing property for sale,” he says. “The gardening and landscaping industry in New Zealand has never been stronger, and as a result, trained, talented trade and crafts people are embracing projects with a new valued and appreciated authority.”
Here are some of the ways you can do it.
1. Cleaning, painting and repairing outdoor features
Hard landscaping is often one the first things people notice about a property.
It’s the gate and path that leads you to the front door, the fence that surrounds the garden or the deck that you step onto when you arrive.
If the paving is covered with mildew, the paint on the fence is flaking, or the deck stain is faded, the house won’t look well maintained no matter how nice it is inside.
An annual house wash after winter helps to keep moss and mould at bay, before the warm, humid spring encourages it to thrive. This is a good time to do the paths and decks too. Try to use a gentle water nozzle and a soft brush on the house and decks rather than a water-blaster.
These are often too harsh, and can damage decks and expose splinters. Driveways and concrete paths may benefit from the stronger force of a water-blaster. If using chemicals to wash the house, always read labels and wear appropriate safety clothing. Also, be careful not get chemicals on the plants near the house. Rinse off immediately if they do get splashed with cleaners.
Decks and fences are best painted on an overcast day than a hot sunny one. This lets the paint or stain dry at a normal rate which helps the product adhere to the surface. It’s better to do thin coats of any product than one heavy coat.
I prefer to stain wood than paint it. Paint eventually flakes and often needs to be sanded prior to another application. Stains fade over time, but generally just need another coat to intensify the colour.
Don’t forget about your outdoor furniture too! If it’s wooden, chances are that it’s faded as much as the deck, so staining furniture is an option. Wooden gates are exposed to weather extremes, and over time the contraction and expansion of the wood can make gate latches move out of alignment. It’s often an easy fix to make adjustments to the latch to make it work like new again.
2. Clearing old planting and installing new to create visual distractions and attractions
As a garden develops it's important to maintain it by feeding and pruning.
If this hasn't been done for some time it's often very hard to revitalise the plants to look their best. Although some plants can be pruned back hard to reshape them, most often it's better to start again with healthy specimens. If this is the case, and the garden hasn’t been professionally designed, take the opportunity to plan the features of the garden.
Use interesting plants to draw the eye to different parts of the garden. A tree with different coloured foliage, like a red leaf maple can add interest to a backdrop of green. Think about adding interest to the garden for each season.
Deciduous blossom trees for spring in a sunny part of the garden can offer shade in summer, leaf colour in autumn and allow the sun to reach the house during winter. Add a garden seat under a shade tree. Sometimes it's a matter of disguising less attractive parts of the property. Covering an old shed with a climbing plant can help it blend in.
Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) can make the ugliest structure appear tasteful and sculptural with its fresh green leaves, that turn red in autumn.
3. New screening fencing / hedges and instant hedges
By adding privacy to your property, you can add value.
There are numerous types of plants that make good hedges, depending on the height required. Some can be clipped to create the manicured garden look, while some can be left to grow naturally, and they can still look neat. Fencing off the road frontage can add an area of your property where you might not consider sitting if it was open to the street.
Some of the native corokia family make great hedges that can be clipped or left to look more in formal. Native pittosporums can be used for fast screening, and Murraya paniculata has dark green leaves, an upright habit and highly scented flowers.
Instant hedges are also an option, as some firms grow them in pre-planted rows that you piece together to make hedges of any length required.
4. Fixing paving stones and timber decking
Neat paths and decks are key to making a property look well-maintained. Pavers can get chipped and cracked over time. By replacing the pavers when required, the stone can weather and fade, making the pavers look natural and add character. By leaving them cracked and replacing large amounts at once eg: prior to selling, the newer pavers will just make the paths and driveway look blotchy.
Decks are fairly easy to maintain, however they do need regular cleaning to keep them looking good. If there are planters on the deck be sure they can be easily moved. Bases with wheels are good for this.
Leaves and moisture get trapped under them easily, and the sun and air can't dry the wood out. Within a short time they can start to rot.
5. Mulching gardens and adding stepping stones to big garden beds to create paths
Spring is a great time to add mulch to the garden.
Mulch can be purchased in bags or also delivered in cubic metres from landscaping supply yards. A well mulched garden always looks neat because there is no bare soil and it helps to suppress the weeds. It feeds the plants when they need the most nutrients for new growth and also helps the soil retain moisture during the summer.
By adding slate pavers or stepping stones through garden beds, it provides access without the cost of adding paths.
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