Selling your house? Let your garden make a great first impression
If you're hoping to sell your house this summer, remember that first impressions count. If you have a front garden, this is the first thing potential buyers will see, so it's worth making sure it looks its best.
It doesn't have to cost a fortune to spruce up your space, though. A few large strategically-placed pots brimming with colourful annuals can make all the difference, as can the use of greenery and climbers to hide unsightly dustbins or other eyesores.
Gardening trends expert and author Kendra Wilson, who has teamed up with eBay to advise gardeners of the best solutions, says: "An enviable garden needn't be an expensive garden. Create your own oasis with a few simple tricks and keep an eye on the latest trends."
So, how can you add value to your front garden to help sell your property?
1. Tidy up
If you have tools, buckets, outdoor toys and other ephemera peppering your front garden area, move them out of sight. You might need to invest in a low, unobtrusive storage shed to store the clutter, but that will look better than leaving out footballs, bumper-sized bottles of car shampoo and buckets for all to see.
2. Sort out quick planting
If you have harsh concrete steps, soften the look by lining the path with evergreen plants in pots, and place container plants around the front door to make the entrance look welcoming and cared for.
Bear in mind you may not sell your house immediately, so permanent plantings which will provide interest in the cooler months may be a better bet.
Include shrubs and small trees, such as lavender or camellia, in 'dead space'. And take heart that, if you get a quick sale, you can take plants you've put into pots with you.
If you're on a budget, you can buy strips of annuals at this time of year which are pretty cheap and will provide instant colour.
3. Watch the parking
If you park your car in the front garden, don't try to enhance the area with fiddly little plants which may flop over the parking space and end up being squashed. Instead, group a few plants strategically – taking account of the movement of cars – to create a bold and practical effect.
4. Keep it simple
Quick-fix planting should be low-maintenance. Shrubs and conifers add stature and texture, and can virtually be left to their own devices once you've prepared the soil. Plants like chrysanthemum, gardenia or jasmine can retain moisture longer and therefore require less watering.
No-fuss planting for those with little time for maintenance include euphorbias and phormiums for strong structure in a sunny garden, while variegated ivy and hostas in pots are ideal plantings for a shady area around a front door.
5. Make the most of climbers
If you already have climbers such as wisteria and clematis, make sure they are tied in and neatly pruned, which will give a great impression before any potential buyer goes over the threshold.
Want to hide eyesores like dustbins or drainpipes? Hide them with climbers such as cultivars of the honeysuckle Lonicera japonica, which will be fine in pots if you keep them well-watered throughout the summer.
It may be worth erecting a trellis frame around the dustbin area then tie in the climbers as they grow. For a really quick fix use variegated ivy, which shouldn't take long to create a screen. You can buy semi-circular trellis specifically designed to frame the drainpipe and attach climbers to train up it.
If you don't have soil, you can always plant climbers such as Clematis armandii in pots and – provided you keep them well-watered and shade their roots by topping the pot of compost with decorative stones or gravel – they should soon start climbing.
6. Soften paved areas
If your front garden is just paved, lift a couple of slabs to make space for creeping plants such as thyme, which will also attract bees and other pollinating insects.
7. Use evergreens
There are some great evergreens you can put into pots and place either side of your front door which will create a grander entrance. Dwarf conifers are ideal and you could use topiary or standard box, laurel or holly.
8. Think about plants you can take with you
If you want to add instant impact, plant a tree in a pot, which you'll be able to take with you. Consider where you're moving to and where you'll house your potted plant. Will it thrive in sunshine or shade, does it need a sheltered spot or will it thrive in any condition?