By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe Practical holistic gardeners authors and broadcasters living in Spain for 25 years.
Gardens help in hard economic times
The housing market in Spain certainly continues to be deeply in the doldrums. Houses in many areas, new and re-sales, being reduced by up to fifty percent or more to get even a sniff, and when a sale is negotiated and closed it is can be the garden that finally tips the sale . But perhaps that is not surprising when one considers that one of the main reasons people buy in Spain is the weather that allows one to live a very much outdoor lifestyle. A good garden can therefore result in an exquisitely designed decorated and furnished house only being used for a few hours a day from Spring to Autumn and for entire days only on the colder wetter days of winter – provided the garden is designed for outside living and does not require substantial maintenance activity every week of the year. So what can you do to prepare and modify your garden to give yourself a better chance of a fast sale at an attractive price to both the seller and buyer. We highlight some tidying tasks, likely attractions and improvement needs.
Basic tidying needs
As with the interior of the house potential buyers will be attracted by a tidy uncluttered garden that suggests that maintenance will be very manageable with or without the help of a gardener.
So as a minimum ensure that the following are done and maintained so that you can present the best image to unexpected visits by potential buyers.
1. If you have a lawn ensure it is regularly cut even in the winter months if sunny weather stimulates growth and treat it to a combined weed killer fertilizer mix.
2.Ensure that the swimming pool and jacuzzi are kept pristine even if you normally give it little winter attention.
3.Keep all paths and terraces swept and edging plants trimmed neatly back. If the surfaces look a little dirty and mossy clean them with a pressure hose.
4. Re-point damaged surfaces and the facing of garden walls, and repaint garden walls.
5. Prune back straggly plants and deadhead plants that continue to flower.
6. After Christmas do the major winter cutback as normal explaining to visiting potential buyers that you are doing it to improve the shape sizes and Spring/Summer flowering potential of plants. What to do is explained in Chapter 6.9 of ‘Your Garden in Spain’.
7. Tidy the garden shed , clean tools and remove smelly out of date and or leaking chemical products.
8.Check that the watering system is working effectively. Turn of unnecessary tubes and drip jets and stop leaks..
9.Clean up potted plants and their pots/containers.
10. Prepare a tidy hidden area for the compost heap, leaves rotting down in bags, logs etc.
Beyond a tidy garden what other things might be attractive to potential buyers recognising that some will look for simplicity and minimalism and others a more complex holistic style of garden. In many cases the former being non gardeners and the latter gardening enthusiasts.
- Evidence of all year round colour.
- Evidence of all year round perfume.
- Well framed vistas beyond the garden and strategically placed seats.
- Winter sheltered sunny spots and shade for hot sunny days.
- Large terraces for entertaining and an outside kitchen.
- An interesting network of paths and internal vistas.
- As well as flowering plants shrubs and trees a collection of fruit trees and the facilities for a comprehensive herb collection and the growing of some vegetables especially if the potential buyers did this previously in the UK or other European countries
- .Established plants and shrubs that don’t require lots of watering.
- Colourful window boxes and containers with no tired plants.
- Water features and sizeable terraces.
Other things to consider
The following are among the most common important issues.
1. Is your current gardener really up to maintaining and implementing the next stage of the development of your garden. If not would it be wise to change the gardener now in order to ensure that the garden is as good as you can get it in a few weeks or months and you can , with confidence, recommend that a buyer retains your gardener . If you are unsure of the quality of your current gardener use the ‘Gardeners Audit Questionaire’ found by clicking ‘Evaluate the Gardener’ on the home page of www.gardenspain.com .
2. If you have no water feature establish a fountain or pond with natural looking spring fountains or waterfalls. The sound of water, sight of fish frogs dragon flies and drinking birds can be both relaxing and stimulating and add a touch of nature in an urban as well as rural situation.
3. If space plant some more fruit trees and bushes. There are over seventy to choose from in our book‘ Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’.
4. Establish a raised bed or vegetable plot planted up seasonal vegetables and culinary herbs.
Provide buyers with useful information and effective tools
As a final touch in the negotiations indicate that you plan a special moving in kit to smooth their take over. This could include the following.
- A month by month resume of the essential maintenance that you have been carrying out.
- If you employ a gardener a resume of their month by month or seasonal duties and your basis of payment.
- A new set of the most important ergonomic tools that you have been using and a years supply of the eco insecticides fungicides and fertilizers that you have been using and a list of addresses where they can replenish their supplies. For us this would include a bottle of neem oil insecticide, propolis fungicide and a box of Neudorff ecological snail killer.
- A set of the most useful quartet of gardening books published in Spain ‘Your Garden in Spain – From planning to planting and maintenance’, ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ and ‘Living Well from Our Garden in Spain’.
We hope the above ideas speed your property sales and help the purchasers of your property soon have an enviable year round garden that confirms that they made a wise choice of property.
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe February 2012.