Landscaping A Tenanted Property
A low maintenance strategy with clean lines and defined spaces is a good start when planning a garden, writes Caleb Pearson, of Pearson + Projects.
2 September 2023
Spring has arrived and, while it may not feel like it yet, the warmer weather will soon be upon us.
With the days lengthening and the weather beginning to improve, it’s a great time of year to be thinking about landscaping, giving you time to take action before the summer and allowing plants to take root before giving you the benefits over the longer days.
I love being outdoors and appreciate good landscaping, but I don’t want to be pulling weeds or pruning plants every other weekend, so my personal approach to landscaping is what I would also apply to an investment property.
A low maintenance strategy with clean lines and defined spaces results in a smart looking exterior with practical elements that require less ongoing upkeep. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Here are some ideas to strategically plan your landscaping.
Keep things simple with defined spaces that don’t need much maintenance and are more practical for upkeep.
A minimalist design gives clean lines without needing much attention.
Work with what you have: It’s unlikely you are starting from scratch, so take stock of what you have to start with and the current layout of the outside areas. Mature trees, fencing, driveways, access to doors, or the lack of these items. They may be good features to have, or things you want to remove.
Start here, then create a simple plan with a vision for the space. It does not have to be drawn on a plan (although a simple sketch or plan is very useful) but do have a picture for it so it can be executed by yourself or a landscaper.
Clearly defined borders makes your space easier to mow and weed.
Minimalist Design: While a personal preference, I have always leant towards a minimalist approach to landscaping, with clean lines, defined spaces, and a well organised layout. This avoids plant overcrowding and is a safe approach that won’t overwhelm tenants or require constant attention.
If your budget allows consider practical hardscaped areas.
Practical Hardscaping: Where beneficial to the property and budget permits, look to incorporate practical hardscaping elements. Hardscaping is the manmade features in your exterior (as opposed to softscaping which is plants and vegetation). Hardscaping might include a fence to enclose a yard or create privacy, a retaining wall to create level areas, paths between spaces or paving under the clothesline.
Hardscaping adds structure, visual interest and definition to your garden area.
Hardscaping adds structure to a yard, visual interest, and definition. It also reduces the amount of upkeep.
Start with the big items: Prioritise the significant elements before getting into the smaller items. If you are working with existing gardens, trim and prune the big trees and hedges. If you are planning a larger or staged project, address the hardscaping first before softscaping, as you may need to make mess. This approach includes drainage. If you have water runoff issues or you are planning to add impermeable spaces, make sure you have adequate drainage before you get into softscaping.
Talking Of Hedges: They are a great plant to create height and presence in your yard. A wall of green can create privacy or hide an ugly fence, reduce wind and noise, and provide shade. They do require bi-annual pruning, but in the right yard they have a lot of benefits. They can take two to three years to establish height, but spring is a great time to get them established in the ground.
Hedges make great borders providing a wall of green.
Low-Maintenance Planting: For a low maintenance garden, it’s key to have low-maintenance planting. This means if your tenants are not looking after it, you don’t have to be out there every month to keep on top of it (lawns aside). Native plants and shrubs are always a good start as they survive the climate and require less care.
There is a good variety of no-mow grasses and ground cover, which will provide low to no maintenance. For smaller yards, these have the ability of completely replacing grass. Adding in mulch is a great way to support your plants as well as minimising weeds.
Native shrubs survive the climate best.
Planter Beds: While many tenants won’t want to maintain a backyard or have the equipment to do so, there will also be many who do, or at least like to be able to care and grow their own plants. Adding a dedicated planter bed for tenants allows them to have their own vegetable patch or grow their own plants.
Plants, grasses and greenery provide life, colour and an improved living environment to a home, as well as other environmental and practical benefits. But by nature, they are constantly growing and changing, and ongoing maintenance is unavoidable.
So, if you’re looking to landscape, start with a plan and strategy so you can create an improved living environment for your tenants, while being mindful of the ongoing maintenance that’s required.