After purchasing a property, Emma Bangay and her husband made external renovations a priority. And they have watched their investment grow as a result.
I married a green thumb. There’s no doubt about that. But recently I realised my husband is also a genius. By putting his love and passion for gardening to good use immediately upon purchasing our property three years ago, we have seen its worth grow year in, year out.
But his first move wasn't to knock down internal walls or rip out the old bathroom. Instead, he drafted, planned, dug and planted a garden that would give our family joy, and reap financial rewards when we eventually sold.
Real estate trends show that gardens can increase the property price by 10 per cent. Therefore, as long as our home had good bones to work with (it did), then it was the garden that was going to become its crowning glory, and hopefully, the best investment.
Here are some tips to ensure your investment value grows through your garden.
Check Plant Health
My husband spent as much outside as inside at our first property inspection. By monitoring the health of the plants, he could gauge whether things were flowering and if the soil was healthy. If the garden is not thriving, chances are it may never do so.
Do Your Drainage Homework
Although the land may look workable, if it doesn’t have a good drainage system, you won’t be able to plant a thing. Ensure there is a drainage system in place if you have a large area and that the space captures adequate light. My husband visited the property at different times of the day before we bought it to ensure it got good light all day long.
Work With Scale
You may dream of a water feature, but if you have a tiny courtyard to work with, then this will only devour space. Work with the space you have. If you want to create a bigger looking area, then keep the central space clear (either with lawn or pavers) and plant around the perimeter.
Plant Established Trees First
After planning and clearing out space on the land, established trees were planted immediately. Mid-size magnolia and fruit trees offered immediate interest, with the potential to grow and develop into beautiful, statement trees over time. The key here is to do your research on what trees will grow the fastest and thrive the longest.
Work From The Outside, In
We wanted a ‘living fence’ of hedge and steel work, so this had to be done straight away as hedges can take years to grow and thicken up. So, checking fence restrictions was our priority, as was building the steel fence. In only a few years, both have created a lush, aspirational aesthetic and have weathered beautifully, giving character and a lovely ‘lived in’ look when we haven’t lived here for that long at all! This dense privacy is attractive to us now, but more so to other family-minded potential buyers in the future.
Re-jig Your Address
The pathway to our home came directly off the main road, which was something I always hated. As we are on a corner block, my husband quickly reconfigured our entry area by fencing off the old entrance and opening it up on the quiet side street. This established a more enclosed and private address, without playing havoc with the street numbers. Best to check with the council if you’re looking to do this. We got lucky, although the postman was momentarily confused!
If you have kids, you may be thinking about clearing the land to create a bigger garden to play in. However, sometimes the trees are the pièce de résistance for kids. So don’t fell them immediately, as a childhood with a tree to climb is a magical thing. Maybe put a five-year plan in place for your garden, allowing it to mature with your family. One day the tree may not be needed so much, so you can deal with that then.
Go With The Wind
Ever the romantic, my husband wanted me to be able to smell the citrus hedge coming through the kitchen window of a morning, fall asleep with a fragrant frangipani tree outside our bedroom window and be welcomed at the gates by cascading jasmine. I thought he was crackers planting all of these at the time, but now they have all blossomed and kicked in for another spring - and it all makes sense! He worked with the wind direction so that the effect would be maximised and the garden would always smell as beautiful to the visitor as it looked.
Define Your Garden
My husband wanted a functional garden that would not only engage the kids with planting but also offer future buyers a fruitful source of food. Therefore, he kept all companion plants and trees that enable new plantings to thrive through cross-pollination including lavender and any existing fruit trees.
Choose Your Battles
My husband did our whole garden himself. It’s a miracle he – and our marriage – survived! In retrospect, he should have outsourced all the ‘hard’ work and retain the ‘soft’ work. So, paving, pouring fence foundations and moving earth should have been left to the professionals, while soft landscaping such as choosing trees, creating garden beds and planting is something anyone can do, and he still does!
[Images supplied by Emma Bangay. You can also follow her on Instagram.]