Outdoor space is highly prized by home buyers, but there’s no need to spend a fortune on professional landscaping. Our seven simple projects can add value to your lifestyle – and your home.
Don’t underestimate the value of your home’s outdoor area. One in two home buyers rate a garden or backyard as the most desirable home feature, followed by a deck or pergola. So no matter whether you have a suburban garden or an apartment balcony, it’s worth giving your outdoor area some special attention with seven easy projects.
1. Have a clean up
A top-to-toe tidy up can deliver big results at a next-to-nothing price. Remove dead plants, weed and mulch garden beds, trim bushes and shrubs, throw out broken pots, toys and general junk and mow the lawn. Voila! Instant makeover.
2. Fix the fencing
Dodgy fencing can be a safety hazard and a security weak spot. Broken palings can be replaced for as little as 85 cents each so it shouldn’t break your budget, but the repairs can improve the look and feel of your yard.
If you’re thinking about replacing the fence altogether, talk it over with neighbours first. In states like NSW, neighbours are legally obliged to contribute equally to the cost of basic fencing, but if you want anything special such as higher than usual fencing, be prepared to fork out the difference.
3. Love your lawn
A luscious lawn can boost your home’s value by around 12% and make your outdoor area more comfortable. And as an added bonus, grassed areas can be 10-40 degrees cooler than concrete surfaces on a hot summer day.
If your lawn’s looking a little worse for wear, show it some love with a three-pronged approach – feed, weed and water.
A slow release fertiliser can give your lawn a nutrient boost lasting three months. Water well, preferably early in the morning as evening watering promotes humidity that can lead to fungal problems, and pull out weeds or apply a combined fertiliser/weed killer.
4. Create an outdoor gallery
Garden art can reinvigorate a backyard, deck or balcony, and simple wall features can be picked up for less than $30 or get creative and make your own.
To really sooth the senses, think about adding a water feature. For under $150 a simple fountain can create a focal point for your balcony or backyard. If there’s room, consider a pond; prices start from around $150 for a basic patio pond. It may also be worth investing in a filtration and pump system – without aeration ponds can become a breeding ground for mosquitos.
5. Plant some trees
Trees bring far more than shade to your outdoor area. A study by the University of Western Australia found having broad-leaved trees on a street verge can add almost $17,000 to a property’s price. That makes it worth picking up some saplings, grabbing a shovel and adding trees to your garden.
Apartment dwellers don’t have to miss out. Add some potted trees to your balcony – ficus and palms are low maintenance options.
6. Revive the deck
Deck timbers can easily be given a new lease of life. Hire a high pressure water cleaner (allow about $100 for four hours rental) to remove grime and stains, allow to dry, then apply decking oil. Four litres can cost from $20 and cover up to 40 square metres.
7. Let there be light
Lighting is more than a security feature. It can be used to showcase unique aspects of your outdoor area.
Options can be as simple as adding budget-friendly solar lights from the local discount store, or for a truly dramatic effect, go all out and hire a licensed electrician to uplight mature trees – the effect can be very dramatic. Expect to pay upwards of $500 but the cabling can be concealed below ground, the fittings should all be weatherproof and it’s even possible to create an illuminated colour scheme. Electrical work calls for a tradie’s involvement, so talk to your local sparkie about what’s possible for your budget.
If you have bigger plans in mind for your outdoor area, talk to your local Aussie Broker about accessing equity.
You may also be interested in 10 low cost, low-effort hacks to transform your home, 5 tips for home renovations and Refinancing v personal loans for home renovations.