As Pretty As A Picture

26th April 2013

If you’re trying to sell your home, kerb appeal is crucial. Believe it or not, it apparently takes potential buyers no more than eight seconds to decide whether or not they like a property, so often it’s the outer appearance that’s the deal maker (or breaker!) in the sale. And even if your house isn’t on the market, it lifts the spirits to come home to something that looks neat and bright and smart. Improving a property’s outer appearance needn’t be costly, complicated or time consuming, and with these helpful tips, from Squire’s Garden Centres you’ll be able to make an excellent first impression.

1. Have a good tidy up

Remove fallen leaves and other detritus from the lawn, paths and borders. Once you have cleared the backlog it is really easy to keep on top o it with a five-minute sweep as required, to ensure your front garden stays looking immaculate.

Go around your borders and dig or fork over the soil around your plants and if your budget allows, add organic matter such as compost or rotted manure. Adding organic matter helps to introduce air and nutrients into the soil, which is particularly important this year when so many nutrients have been washed away by the extraordinary amount of rain over the last 12 months. Finish off with a mulch, perhaps some bark chippings, in order to withstand weeds, enhance the visual appearance of your garden and to keep the moisture in, in case of drier spells. These few steps ensure a low-maintenance garden in which weeds are supressed and plants can flourish, giving you plenty of time to work on sprucing other areas of the house!

2. Brighten up bland walls, fences and boundaries

Almost every front garden will have a fence or wall separating it from its neighbour, so how can you make yours stand out? Climbing plants are the perfect way to transform a garden fence from the ordinary to the interesting. It is important to make a note of the direction your fence faces (north, south, east or west) and then seek advice at the garden centre as to the most appropriate climbers. North-facing fences are suited to a climbing Hydrangea, for example, whereas popular choices for other aspects include Clematis, Jasmine and Honeysuckle. If you’re after something prickly, yet attractive, look out for Pyracantha, Holly and Roses which are often used as a burglar deterrents. A few low-cost fillers will take your fence from drab to fab with minimal effort but maximum impact.

It is also important to consider your garden’s boundary with the pavement. It is a good idea just to cross the road, stand back and take a look to make sure your boundary is neat, tidy and in good repair. If you have a gate, ensure it too is well-maintained and clean, and maybe even treat it to a fresh lick of paint in a neutral colour.

3. Keep your lawn luscious

If you are lucky enough to have a front garden that boasts a lawn, make sure that it really is something to boast about. In the spring give it a good feed, weed and moss treatment. Keep it mown regularly but ensure you don’t mow too short in the spring or autumn or during periods of drought. It is also important to treat your lawn again in the autumn with an autumn feed to help it withstand the harshness of winter.

4. Dress up dreary driveways

Unfortunately the modern front garden often has to accommodate a car or two but that doesn’t mean the driveway needs to be a concrete wilderness. Design should be simple, functional and easy on the eye. Keeping some borders or even a lawn not only looks good but also helps rain water to return to the ground rather than run off across pavements or roads. Some well-chosen plants in pots not only add colour and texture to your driveway but provide a haven for wildlife, creating an even more welcoming feel.

5. Get planting!

Now to the plants. Here are a few easy to grow, low maintenance suggestions, that anyone can make flourish!

For an instant pick-me-up and warm welcome at your door nothing ever beats a pot or hanging basket bursting with seasonal colour. In the spring it can be filled with bulbs, primroses, bellis and pansies; in the summer there are bright geraniums and petunias; in the autumn fill it with chrysanthemums or outdoor cyclamen. Make sure you feed and water it well, especially at the height of the summer growing season, and you will be rewarded with months of colour, creating an attractive display. Hanging baskets are perfect small investments to make when selling a property, allowing you to show potential new owners how the house can look, and they have the added beauty that you can take them with you to your own new property!

To give structure to your borders look for shrubs that provide interest but that will fit the bill size-wise. It’s important that your plants are in proportion to the size of your plot to avoid any looking too dominant. Perhaps consider Cornus for bright winter stems or Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) for early fragrance.

Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centre, recommends Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (contorted hazel), one of her favourite shrubs, as the perfect addition to a front garden border. It produces interesting stems in winter and pretty foliage and catkins later in the year. The Viburnum family comprises good reliable low maintenance flowering shrubs. A Camellia or Magnolia stellata make a wonderful spring splash, followed by scented Lilac and Philadelphus, and later in the year in a moist semi shaded area try a magnificent Hydrangea.

You may also want to consider a Fig, Olive or Bay Tree in a sizeable pot. These plants are chosen not for their flowers but their architectural qualities including height, great foliage and an undeniable touch of class, again with the added bonus of being relocateable with you.

And there you have it: a front garden that is practical, bursting with interest and as pretty as a picture. Following all these little tips will make a huge difference to the outer appearance of your house and – crucially – entice the potential buyer through the door.

www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk

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