I’m so looking forward to the end of this wet and miserable winter. As spring heaves into view with the prospect of warmer days and a much-needed splash of colour outside, we’re yearning for a few al fresco evenings. My dear wife Alison spent much of last year redesigning our garden.
It’s a labour of love for her because she’s never happier than when she’s pottering about in her herbaceous borders, tending to the good stuff, digging up old stuff and planting in new stuff. I can’t wait for it all to bloom – enhanced by my expert lawnmowing (the only horticultural task I’m allowed to undertake).
At the end of another hard day’s pottering recently, we were perusing her handiwork and she asked what, if any, was the value of having a nice garden against the effort to maintain it. It’s an interesting question because having a large, beautiful back yard means that someone has to keep it that way.
Learn more: 7 Simple Ways to Upgrade your Garden
So, either the owner is getting stuck in or they’re hiring a gardener. The former is time intensive and the latter a considerable financial outlay. We agreed that a family home would need a reasonable outdoor area, specifically enough room to kick a ball about, but too much could well be a turn-off for some.
We put this to the test when we had our house valued recently. With the two new properties opposite us nearing completion, I wanted to check how the development would affect our home’s value.
As it turned out, the impact was pretty neutral, which was a relief. I then asked how a well-tended garden could change the value of a house. I think the answer was what we expected – very little. The important thing being that there was recreational space in proportion to the size and function of the property.
For a reasonably sized rural dwelling, it’s an essential feature, for an urban area it could be a liability, especially if the house was to be let out. The only advantage our valuer would concede is that photos of a well-tended garden often grabbed the attention of would-be buyers and, subconsciously, suggested that the rest of the house would likely have been well-looked-after, too.
So how much land is the right amount for your property? Big developers will squeeze 10 detached homes into an acre at a push, but if you were to put a single dwelling on the same size plot it’s going to look a little lost and require a huge amount of work to keep tidy.
Even if the whole lot is set to lawn, you’re looking at ride-on mower territory. Given that the average self built home comes in at anywhere between 200-250m2 gross internal floor area, a good-sized plot for such a house would be somewhere between a quarter and a third of an acre.
Any more could be off-putting unless there were a practical use. I would caution against going for the biggest plot you can find unless you have a specific reason for ‘going large’.