Property experts estimate that an attractive garden can add thousands to the selling price, while a neglected plot can knock money off, so find out how to maximise the value of your garden.
Get some kerb appeal
First impressions count, so make sure your front garden will entice potential buyers through the front door, rather than send them heading in the opposite direction. Fortunately you don't need to spend much as the problems are usually cosmetic. Trimming the hedge, tugging out weeds, sweeping the path and removing any rubbish that has blown in from the road will make a massive difference.
If you grow plants in containers, make sure they are healthy and replace any that are on their last legs. Flaky paint will make a property seem shabby, so if necessary treat walls, fences or gates to a fresh coat. Finish by squirting a few drops of oil into the hinges of your gate to eliminate unwelcoming, piercing squeaks.
Related: spruce up the front of your house.
Add a patio
Although a lawn is considered the most desirable garden feature among house hunters, a patio or place to sit is not far behind. If you have made a spontaneous decision to put your house on the market then it's not really feasible to add a patio to your garden, but if you are planning on selling within the next couple of years then it may be worth considering the investment.
Dull gardens can be given an instant pick-me-up by filling containers with seasonal bedding plants bought from the garden centre or nursery. Placed near the door, on windowsills or in a spot on the patio where they can be seen easily from the house, colourful containers will add a homely touch and a bit of cheer - essential if you are trying to sell in the middle of winter. You could also consider hanging baskets, which will help to break up the monotony of walls or draw attention away ugly finishes, such as pebble dashing.
Related: using colour in your garden.
While estate agents will do their best to sell your home by promoting it on their website or sending out detailed listings to prospective buyers, some of pictures they use do not do a garden justice. Taken at a time of year when the garden is not looking its best, the shots will fail to help with any marketing. Ideally plan your sale well in advance and ask your estate agent to take pictures of the garden when it's at its peak (usually in mid-summer). These pictures can be put on the listings whenever you sell.
If a survey picks up problems with your property then a buyer could be put off or may ask for a reduction in the asking price. To prevent this, ensure that any new paths or patios are not built above the damp proof layer course of the house and consider whether it is cost effective to rectify any existing problems yourself.
Thanks to a glut of television shows on how to sell our homes, most of us are aware that a minimalistic look is more likely to appeal to buyers than rooms full of clutter. The same goes for outdoors. You may love them, but a garden full of knick-knacks, object d'art, gnomes, empty pots, tools or toys will make it look untidy and will have the effect of making a small garden seem even smaller. My advice? Stash it all in the shed.
Last minute jobs
Before potential buyers arrive, nip outside and do some last minute jobs. Dead head flowers in pots, water flagging plants, hoick out any obvious weeds and remove any pet mess from the lawn. If you're selling in autumn, it's a good idea to sweep up leaves from paths and patios. Finish off by cleaning the windows so the garden looks great from the inside.