By the time fall rolls around, some fair-weather gardeners have tucked away their tools and retired to the indoors to let storm season run its course.
Spring and summer tend to be the most popular times for yard-work, while fall and winter are all too often the most popular for clogged gutters, untended plants and, in Oak Bay, substantial tree shedding.
But fall lethargy can result in a home selling for less than its top dollar, according to local RE/MAX Camosun agent Phil Warren.
Certified in landscape architecture, and with more than 45 years of experience in the real estate field, Warren has seen the impact proper yard and garden maintenance can have on potential buyers. Fall isn’t time for sellers to step away and let the wet and windy season take its toll; it’s time to manicure, plant and give a home the proper attention it needs to sell for its highest price.
“Most summer gardens last up until the end of September. After that time they are generally cleaned up and cleared out,” Warren said. “So, you need to freshen up the garden.”
Along with planting bulbs for spring during fall, Warren encourages the reverse: planting flowers for fall during spring.
Chrysanthemums are one such species which thrives during fall and often lasts until Christmas, Warren said.
Though it’s too late now to plant chrysanthemums and be sure they’ll withstand the fall and winter, winter pansies are best planted in the fall and can provide a different but equally cheerful show of colour during the drearier season. Warren suggests planting flowers in the warmer colour range, such as oranges, reds and yellows this time of year.
“The entrance to the home is very important. If you don’t have flower pots, make the investment of 200 dollars, get a couple of really nice ceramic pots and fill them up with fall flowers or winter pansies,” Warren said.
As for the garden, most plants are generally not planted during fall, but basic landscaping and upkeep remain highly important. As always, weeds should be pulled, borders kept clean and the yard tidied.
“Rake the leaves constantly, make sure the garden looks pristine … I have 16 oak trees in my garden, and it is a constant battle for me because I’m a gardener. I’m on my hands and knees picking up leaves between all the plants,” said Warren. But maintenance doesn’t have to be hard. Staying ahead of the game often means the difference between big work and small work.
“Upkeep is minimal because I’m at it once or twice a week. It never gets out of hand.”
Beyond the rake’s reach, gutters should be cleaned, and, as soon as a storm passes, fallen branches should be collected and disposed of. Automatic sprinkler systems need to be drained for winter.
Even things like potholes in driveways are important to look out for, said Warren.
Investing in paving a pothole could be worthwhile in the overall price of the house, as the more damage a buyer sees to property, the more likely they are to bid lower.
“It’s a wow factor for most people when they come up to a house with an amazing garden. Even a well-manicured garden … is indicative of how the house has been looked after,” Warren said, adding that indoor plants count in terms of proper upkeep and care.
If they’re wilted, replace them. If no plants are present, greenery might liven up a space.
“If you want to maximize your house price, you’re going to have to put a bit of effort in and clean it up and freshen it up,” said Warren.
He suggests that those unable or unwilling to do physical yard-work hire a gardener to come out and work on the property for several days.
“It’s going to be well-worth your investment. You’re selling an $800,000 to $1-million home, or plus, in Victoria. A $200 to $300 investment to get your garden cleaned up is not big,” he said.
“You don’t need to be the prettiest house on the market, but street appeal is important.”