Designing a garden that adds value to your property
Realizing the potential of an inspiring outdoor garden sits at the heart of good design.
Lush surrounds and thoughtful planning will not only ‘lift your house’ and make it feel more livable – it will also increase its value for years to come.
Start with a good plan
Setting a clear direction and creating a functional concept is the starting point for a well-considered design.
Nicola Cameron from Pepo Botanic Design believes it is important to dedicate as much time planning your garden as your house, right from the beginning. “After spending considerable amounts of money on creating a beautiful home, the outdoor area should not be a ‘tack-on’ which might lower the look and feel of the overall property,” says Nicola. “Ideally, if you are renovating, it is best to work with an architect and landscape designer from the early planning stages to ensure a cohesive result.”
Identifying and appreciating the elements that add value to a garden is part of this process.
It is important to consider:
- Feature trees that anchor the garden and provide shade;
- Clear level spaces, that help to minimize the amount of building and retaining required;
- Existing structures like a swimming pool that could potentially be renovated;
- Tall hedges that provide privacy and block out the neighbours and;
- Healthy topsoil which can be utilized to nourish vegetation.
The Bondi Project
Every landscape is different and aspects such as the topography, existing vegetation and the location of the block combine to create a unique space. The owner of this Bondi property (below) dreamed of maximizing the exterior around her one-bedroom unit. After discussing how the space was going to be used, Pepo Botanic Design assessed the site and the architecture of the property.
A Concept Design was then developed to outline how the area would work, look and feel before the construction and installation drawings were created and work began.
Thanks to this homeowner’s commitment, she now enjoys a tranquil and multifunctional garden and has roughly tripled her living space, while significantly increasing the value of her property.
How to see potential
Seeing the potential in a property can be challenging. Often the house ticks lots of boxes but it’s difficult to determine what can be done with the garden and more importantly, how much an outdoor overhaul will cost.
Nicola Cameron suggests imagining where the functional spaces should naturally be situated. For example, the placement of a BBQ and an outdoor sofa should be positioned logically, and both need to relate comfortably to the interior of the home.
“It’s also important to spend time wandering around the garden to get a feel for the potential,” says Nicola. Often this is best achieved through reflection and considering questions such as:
- What do you want from the space and how would you like to feel when you are there?
- What childhood memories would you like to evoke in your new garden?
- What are your family’s lifestyle requirements right now and in the future?
The Maroubra Project
Nicola and James, (Nicola’s husband and co-director of Pepo), experienced the challenge of leveraging a garden’s potential first-hand when they bought their home in the beachside suburb of Maroubra. “It was the perfect location with the worst garden,” said Nicola. “It was built into a steep slope and didn’t have any functional spaces or a connection between inside and out.”
The garden required major excavation and a semi-trailer load of sand and builder’s rubbish was removed. Hefty new retaining walls were constructed which formed the basis of two gigantic planter boxes that now stretch across the width of the deck at the back of the house.
The transformation of the front garden was equally rewarding. A sense of journey was created by incorporating a concrete path and steps that weave from the street to the front door, through a menagerie of native plants.
The result is a home effortlessly connected with the outdoor space that surrounds it – nestled harmoniously among the greenery.
Nicola describes it as her own ‘restorative sanctuary’ and you can read more in the October 2019 edition of House and Garden magazine.
Be prepared to make the investment
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of money and skill required to undertake a garden redevelopment and it’s not as simple as it may seem.
Investing in a design consultation will provide the opportunity to understand not only the potential, but also the costs associated with the undertaking. Elements such as waste removal can be expensive and discussing the entire project with a trusted designer is imperative at the outset. Considerations such as spatial arrangements, functionality, plant types and forms need to combine cohesively to achieve worthwhile results.
Investing in expert advice has proven to reap both personal and monetary rewards. A Michigan University study found that homeowners achieved a 109% return on every landscaping dollar spent, which was higher than any other home improvement. Meanwhile, Australian research undertaken by the Brisbane City Council found that leafy streets with 50% or more tree coverage added 5.4% to house prices in those areas.
Think long term
Thoughtful planning at the start of your garden endeavour will achieve an inspired result and ensure it evolves beautifully over time.
After all, a garden is much more than it appears on the surface. It becomes part of our soul and has the potential to lift our spirits and keep us connected to nature. It deserves to be nurtured and requires ongoing care and maintenance as it takes on a life of its own, adding value for years to come.
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