Every property owner or professional maintenance company would love to be able to charge more rent for a property or sell a property for a higher price when the time comes. Would you trade $5 for $10 in return? Some “investments” may cost more than they return to your pocket in the future and would hence not be investments. This article will dive into the home’s exterior, primarily the landscaping, and how money spent can be made back and increased with specific enhancements.
Start From Where You Are
If there is no current landscaping, then there will be more options. This article will examine how to best manage the present landscaping, without notable changes, to increase the rent or sales price on a particular property. Tearing out trees and grass to put in xeriscaping or hauling out rock to put in the grass will cost enough upfront that the money will likely never be made back. (This isn’t always the case but to do this takes more skill and experience than this article will provide.)
The Myth of Xeriscaping
Xeriscaping has become popular lately due to the water and maintenance savings compared to a traditional landscaped yard with grass or lawn. Does xeriscaping save water? Does xeriscaping save on maintenance? When it comes to water, yes, it does conserve water. Barring an extensive oasis of trees and bushes, most xeriscaping includes only a limited number of shrubs and bushes and does use less water than the average yard with a lawn. When it comes to maintenance, however, after the first year, the time and money required for maintenance are higher for a xeriscaped yard than a grass yard. Why is this the case? Weeds.
Paying for Professional Landscape Maintenance Versus Tenant Provided Landscape Maintenance
There is an age-old question of landlords renting single-family homes, wondering who should take care of the landscaping. Do you take $50 off the rent each month if the tenant will care for the yard? NO! That is a recipe for disaster. The owner gets less rent, the tenant generally provides poor service, and month by month, the income received goes down with the potential for higher rents/sale prices. But $50/month is less than paying $150/month for professional care. Wrong. You should charge $100 more per month in rent and include the landscape maintenance in the package. You are now receiving the same rent per month, and the professional landscape maintenance where rent can increase over time, and a potential sale price as the curb appeal will be higher. You will make more money, attract higher caliber tenants, increase your landscape’s or dwelling’s life expectancy, and enjoy other upsides if you pay for professional landscape maintenance.
Replace Annual Plants with Perennial Plants
While flower gardens can provide color and character, they are not worth the care needed. Perennial plants (plants to regrow every spring) are tremendous and should be kept and used in place of annuals. Replacing annuals with perennials is worth the upfront cost. Once done, less maintenance is necessary. That will save on the landscape maintenance bill.
Establish Well Defined Barriers
Separate all areas of the yard from one another. Use decorative concrete edging, metal edging, bricks, retaining blocks, or other items to separate grass and beds. Also, use a mulch-filled tree ring or colorful rock to separate trees from the turf. Garden areas should be separated by railroad ties or retaining blocks. Having barriers will decrease the cost of maintenance, increase the visual appeal as the yard will look neat, and eliminate issues such as rocks getting thrown through windows by a string trimmer or the lawnmower running over vegetable plants.
Automatic Watering is a Must
No rental property should have any living plant if there is no automatic watering. It is only a matter of time before a tenant forgets or does not care to water and the plant(s) die, which will become an eyesore, a fire hazard, and a cost to clean up. In the event of existing plants without automatic watering, the options to consider are installing an automated irrigation system or removing the plants. The existing plants should be the determining factor.
While there are many options, and some yards might be easier or harder than others, a little planning upfront can significantly affect the long-term success of a rental property or lead to a higher sale price. In summary, the main points of consideration are:
Avoid a dramatic full-yard re-landscaping if possible.
It is more expensive to maintain a square foot of xeriscaping than a square foot of turf.
Hiring professional landscape maintenance will put more money in your pocket in the long run (and often in the short run).
Install barriers between landscaped areas.
Add water or remove plants.