Designing a low maintenance garden for your rental property
Low Maintenance Garden

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It’s a no-brainer that low maintenance gardens are best for rental properties. Everyone loves a manicured garden, but that doesn’t mean that they want to be responsible for maintaining one. And while you might enjoy spending time in your backyard, it might be a little too optimistic to expect a renter to care as much about your garden as you do.

With investment properties, it’s best to aim for a garden that looks good but is easy to keep looking good. While renters are obligated to maintain the yard, most of them aren’t inclined to win awards for keeping your garden for you, so it’s best to keep it simple. You want to strike the balance between low maintenance and aesthetic appeal, which hopefully we can help you with.

1. Work with what you have

While you might have grand plans for your yard space, try and keep yourself grounded. The garden that you plan has to be realistic for your property’s backyard.

There are likely parts of the yard that are in full sun all day, and there may even be parts that never get full sunlight. This will depend on the orientation of the block, the size of the house and the position of the fence, among other things. Instead of fighting against these features, work with them. Think about each section of the garden and how you can improve it, bearing in mind what the space is used for, and what kind of light it gets. This will depend on the property and your ideal tenant but thinking strategically upfront will make planning any change or maintenance much easier.

2. Save the trees

If your garden has any established trees in it, try and work around them rather than removing them. Not only is proper removal expensive, but an established tree can be a feature that you work with rather than around. Shoddy tree removal might be cheap as a short solution, but stump removal is often very expensive, and bare stumps, even at ground level, are unsightly tripping hazards.

If, however, the tree is unhealthy, it’s probably worth getting rid of it sooner rather than later. Unhealthy or dying trees can cause a lot of expensive damage, and carry the risk of injuring someone. Hire an arborist to regularly check out established trees to make sure they are still healthy.

3. Go low (maintenance) and slow (growing)

There are lots of plants that are easy to grow, require very little maintenance and still look great. They’re probably in a lot of gardens you’ve looked at before as well. People don’t think that plants are boring or too common so long as they’re inoffensive. You don’t have to create a garden fit for a cottage in the English countryside. Keep plant varieties down to a minimum and focus on balancing low maintenance with visual effect. Focusing on plants that provide ground cover rather than planting a long row of standard roses is one example. If you have established trees, you can have garden beds around the base of the tree to make it easier to mow. 

Basically, keep it simple — you can even make its minimalism a selling point. It doesn’t matter whether you plant something green and drought-proof like Agapanthus or focus on something that has a little colour all year, like lavender. So long as it’s easy to maintain, and right for where it’s planted, it will make everyone’s life easier while looking great.

4. The grass is always greener when it’s synthetic

If you want to keep the grass green and don’t want to risk it looking brown and crispy, consider synthetic grass. It’s easy enough to clean out, as you can just rinse it with a hose, and it can help stop pets from destroying the grass as well. 

But don’t be too in love with the idea of a grassy yard. If your property only has a tiny backyard, don’t be afraid to pave it all in or put paths in between the garden beds to reduce the need for maintenance. Think about the property as well. If you have a townhouse with a strata-managed nature strip, no one wants to have to pull out a lawnmower for a one-by-one metre real lawn feature. Make it a garden bed, or make it synthetic grass instead.

4. Pave with good intentions

Don’t make life harder for people. You might love the look of those raised pavers but they’re probably going to be a pain to mow around. The larger the feature, the easier it is to work around. Also, the more preparation you do with paving, the easier it will be for your tenants to maintain. Doing the proper groundwork and preventative prep work (like laying sand) when putting down paths or brickwork will help stop the weeds from comings up through the cracks.

Of course, if you’d like a nice garden but don’t want to leave it to chance, consider hiring a gardener. Not only will that help to maintain the street appeal of your property, but it will also provide some added value to your tenant. A house in a nice area aimed at working couples will definitely look better if it saves them time in the garden that they’d rather spend entertaining instead. 

Garden maintenance is the last thing on a lot of people’s minds. The easier you make it for your tenants, the more likely they will be to maintain the property to a higher standard. 

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