Inside Selling Houses Australia

Hoarder Heaven: Charlie's Transformations

Take a walk down memory lane and relive some of the gardening horrors from series 1!

Check out some of these memorable outdoor transformations from resident gardening expert Charlie Albone!

House 1 – Oxley Park:

The front of Oxley Park would lure any buyer into thinking this was a normal neat little house, but around the back told a different story. Like the inside, it was filled with “useful items”, such as broken washing machines, old sinks and piles of pavers that were kept just in case they were ever needed. In and amongst the junk was a stunning productive veggie garden, the pride and joy of owner John and something Charlie admired greatly.

But this job was less about the plants and more about seeing what the cluttered back yard had to offer, so Charlie and John set to work clearing the space out. Charlie employed a couple of little diggers to help him with this task. You don’t require a license to drive one, they can be hired for a few hundred dollars each day and make short work of big clean out jobs.

Tip – Hire a machine such as a dingo digger to do those big jobs. It saves time and your back.

Once the space was clear and level Charlie laid lawn all the way to the back fence, retaining just a few raised veggie plots. This allowed the eye to see the true size of the garden. Then he set to work relocating the huge selection of plants John had around the yard. He did this by separating and relocating large clumping plants to fill out the beds. Not all plants can be separated, but most tolerate this quite well. In particular, fleshy leafed varieties such as agapanthus and bromeliads. Charlie also relocated a huge strelitzia (bird of paradise) into the pool area as a feature, and finished the coping around the pool using John’s piles of left over pavers.

Tip – Separate and relocate plants in the cooler months so the plants don’t become stressed.

House 2 – Chatswood:

This 1920’s house had little going for it when Charlie first arrived. It was painted a hideous mustard which severely dated the exterior, and it was slap bang on a busy road. Charlie decided if buyers were ever going to be lured inside, he had to spend his budget on street appeal starting with screening out the road.

Charlie used a fast growing sweet viburnum hedge. The hedge wouldn’t stop the traffic noise (apparently you need about half a kilometere of woodland for this!) but it would create a visual barrier and soften the look of the front of the house.

Next on the list was planting and here Charlie took his lead from the house and stuck with a traditional theme. This is the safest bet when creating a garden in an older house, and involves a formal symmetrical layout and traditional varieties such as magnolia, which Charlie used as a feature plant.

Finally, he painted the awful mustard out with a more contemporary cream to complement Shaynna’s colour scheme inside.

Tip – When choosing plants its easiest to take your lead from the age of your house - a traditional garden for older homes and contemporary for new. Juxtaposing a modern style with old architecture is best left to the professionals.

House 3 – Ashbury:

The garden of our next hoarder house was nowhere near as bad as the inside. The back yard had some old lawn mowers scattered about, but the front was tidy, featureless and boring. The 70s architecture of the house meant it had little street appeal, so Charlie had to somehow make it look more like a cute cottage in keeping with the district and less like a lego box.

First on his hit list was covering up the ugly red bricks. Although the house was a semi, the other side was set back, so painting half of the building was easy. Charlie thought he’d try a clean white, but the rough texture of the bricks made it look like lego blocks, so he changed tack and used a contemporary coffee colour, teaming it up with smart white trims.

The garden was just a patch of lawn with no plant features whatsoever. Charlie had precious little money to buy additional plants, so he had to use his money wisely. He splashed out on a couple of camellias which he planted either side of the main window and filled the bed under the window with low shrubs. It softened the boundary between the boxy building and the lawn and by grouping his plants into one area it gave the garden a focus.

Tip – If you are on a limited budget, group your plants for maximum impact. Also try and stick with just one or two varieties to give a coherent feeling.

The house didn’t have a front fence, so Charlie took his lead from the other fences in the street and used old-fashioned pickets. This helped the ugly house blend in, and the detail in the pickets gave the house a cute cottage feel.

Tip – If you are not sure what to use as a boundary fence, its best to take your lead from your neighbours. Generally fences over 1.8 meters will require council permission, but always check with your local council for the rules in your district.

House 4 – Granville:

Daphne from Granville was more of a collector than a hoarder, she liked to adorn every square inch of her property with nick nacks, and that included the garden. There were gnomes, statues, wind chimes to name a few. This created a cluttered unfocussed look that Charlie had to remove under Daphne’s watchful and disapproving eye!

After de-cluttering the back yard, Charlie discovered a nice little BBQ area that just needed fixing up. He painted the bricks, added wooden slats and a new plate for just a couple of hundred bucks, but it went a long way to smarten up the back garden. The other dominant in the back garden was an above ground pool. This was a huge asset, but had been “plonked” into place and was sitting uneasily in the space. Charlie put some planting in front of it to give it a sense of belonging.

Tip – to integrate structures such as above ground pools, garden sheds or garages, put in a border of shrubs or plants to disguise the base of the building and visually help soften the edges.

Charlie then turned his sights to the front garden. The biggest issue here, aside from yet more nick nacks, was 3 huge bushes that obscured the house and cut out natural light in the lounge room. Charlie ripped them out, much to Daphne’s dismay, and replaced them with smaller shrubs. The garden looked neater, more balanced and most important of all, buyers could actually see the house from the street.

Tip – When selling put street appeal, ahead of privacy. Make sure your house is clearly visible from the street and prune / remove large overgrown shrubs and trees. When planting a new garden near your home, make sure you research how tall and wide the plants will grow, and avoid planting large species near walls and windows.

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