We’re partway into summer and the grass is beginning to feel it… The weather has blessed us with a lot of sunshine so far, which has been lovely, but this means that our lawns are requiring a bit more care than usual.
As well as providing specialist Landlord Insurance, our team also enjoys spending time in the garden, so we’ve put together the following guide. Whether you are a tenant looking to prepare the garden for the next periodic inspection or a landlord wanting to get the presentation right before opening the property up for tenant viewings, these tips will come in handy:
1. Clear the clutter
- Before getting started, assess how much rubbish might need clearing away. If there is a lot, hiring a skip will make the job quicker and easier, unless you have a vehicle suitable for driving the waste to a suitable disposal centre.
- Consider what needs chucking and what could be reused. Discarded flowerpots may still have some life in them and planks or scraps of wood can be used for features such as flowerbed borders.
- Any waste vegetation should be added to a compost bin to provide a long-term supply of compost, as this will save you money when preparing for planting!
2. Assess your garden’s potential
- Take a look around and decide what you want to do with the space. Do you want to keep it simple and straightforward or be a bit more ambitious with your design plans?
- Be honest with yourself about your own capabilities. If you feel confident you can handle the project and do a professional job, this will make your budget stretch further. However, doing a poor job laying a patio is only going to lead to a waste of time and money, when you could have simply hired a professional.
- If you do decide to get in an expert, be sure to do some research. Look at reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations. Once you have a shortlist, invite them round to talk through your vision. If they have a clear idea of what you want, you will be able to get a more accurate quote.
- If you decide to go it alone, take time to write down your ideas and even sketch out a garden plan. By noting down exactly what you want and where you want it, you will be able to use your time more efficiently.
3. Remove all weeds
- Pull up as many weeds as you can, to clear the flowerbeds. Remember to add them to the compost bin. Turning the soil over with a garden fork will help to get the little ones and break up the roots. Don’t forget to check between any paving slabs and around decking.
- Look out for Japanese knotweed, as this can cause a lot of trouble – call in a specialist to remove it if you do find an infestation. If it grows too near the house, it can cause severe damage to the foundations, walls and drainage systems. During summer months it can commonly grow by one foot per week and sprouts clusters of cream flowers, so it’s not too difficult to spot.
- Use weedkiller to get down to the actual root of the problem – pulling up a weed may leave the roots behind to regrow, so this can provide a longer solution. There are sprays available that are labelled not harmful to wildlife and pets.
4. Branch and bush control
- Next, take care of any overgrown trees, hedges and bushes. Either with pruning shears or a hedge trimmer, neaten up the border around your garden. This can greatly open up the space available, providing more room and light for the flowerbeds.
- Removing any dead or diseased branches will help trees and shrubs to stay healthy, as will cutting away those that are overgrown and rubbing together.
- Cut back any that are growing too close to fences, as they can eventually cause damage from leaning against the panels.
5. Fence maintenance
- Have a look at any fences surrounding the property. Identify whether those that are your responsibility need fixing or replacing. If any belonging to a neighbour are damaged, you are within your rights to politely request they see to them. You can check who owns what by looking at the property deeds.
- Having matching fence panels and a fresh coat of paint can complete the overall look of the garden. Paint manufactured specifically for outdoor use on fences and sheds etc. helps to protect the wood and prevent rotting.
6. Give the lawn some TLC
- It goes without saying that you should cut your lawn, but during hot weather, you need to take more care. Watering the grass can help, but this should only be done when the ground is dry. Overwatering can also affect the health of your lawn, so only do so when necessary.
- In rainy weather, you should avoid mowing when the ground is wet, as the blades will chew up the grass.
- Be aware that lawnmowers have different settings for the position of the blades, so be sure to adjust them as needed, to cut the grass to the right length.
- If you find your mower isn’t cutting quite as well as it used to, it may be time for new blades, so take a look (with the power off!) to check their condition.
7. Arrange the flowerbeds
- If you’re feeling creative, then you can take the time to plan out a beautiful landscape in your garden. Start by picking a colour scheme – you can either place plants of a similar colour together or have a mixed selection for a bright and vibrant look.
- If you decide to go for flowering bushes or shrubs, be aware that some will only bloom at specific points in the year and will do so for varying lengths of time.
- Add solar-powered lights along the flowerbeds to provide a peaceful glow in the evenings. We’ve found that having lights on in the garden after the sun has set encourages us to sit outside for longer and take full advantage of the beautiful paradise we have prepared!
8. Aftercare for tenants
For the landlords reading this article, the following tips may come in handy:
- Include a clause in the tenancy agreement, requiring tenants to maintain the upkeep of the garden.
- Also include that garden checks will be part of your periodic inspections. Set out exactly when you plan to visit, so that they can prepare, and be sure to send them a reminder email nearer the time of the appointment.
- Providing tenants with a lawnmower and other basic gardening tools will leave them no excuse!
- Remind them that regular weeding takes a lot less effort than leaving it to do all in one go before an inspection.
With these tips, not only will you be able to create the perfect outside area to relax in, but you will be able to keep the garden looking neat and fresh throughout the summer. This will not happen with the majority of tenants, as most simply want to find a place to make their own, but in the case that they fail to maintain the property, as stated in the agreement, you can look into making reasonable deductions from the tenancy deposit to pay for repairs.