If you’re looking for a new rental property and you've got your heart set on finding one with a garden, you may think ‘the bigger the better’ when it comes to outdoor space. But looking after a garden can be much more work than you think; and it’ll likely be within the terms of your tenancy agreement that you must look after it and keep it neat and tidy.
In fact, in October 2015 we surveyed over 1,800 landlords and, of those landlords who’d ever withheld a tenant’s deposit at the end of a tenancy, 49% said it was due to the state of the garden; so you need to be prepared to put a little work in to ensure you don’t lose any deposit when you leave.
If you’re lucky enough to find a great, affordable property with a big garden, we wouldn't blame you if you snapped it up as soon as possible!
But (and we’re not trying to be huge spoilsports) you do need to think carefully about whether you have the time, and inclination, to keep a large garden well-kept and maintained – as your new landlord might expect you to.
If the idea of hard work hasn't put you off, scroll down for some handy garden maintenance tips for beginners.
If you’re not a green-fingered sort, a smaller garden could be much easier to manage, while still giving you space for garden furniture and that all-important barbecue.
Likewise, don’t be put off by a gravel or concrete yard – they can look great once you've added some seating, colourful plants in pots and fairy lights; and they’re pretty much maintenance-free.
When viewing the property, make sure the garden’s secure. Look for things such as lockable gates, fences without gaps and a security light.
If you've got small children, take note of the height of the latch on the gate and whether or not the garden backs onto a road.
Likewise, with pets (if you’re allowed to keep them in your new home), look for any potential escape routes ahead of time.
If any of these things are missing don’t worry, you can ask the landlord if they’d be willing to install them for you, for your peace of mind.
See your garden as an extension of the house, in that it’s likely your landlord will stipulate that it must be kept tidy and looked after.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure you do a bit of weeding every time you’re out in the garden, it will take just minutes and saves you hours of hassle down the line.
In the summer months, mow the lawn fortnightly and remove the dead heads of flowers regularly - this will help the flowers regrow and keep them looking beautiful for longer.
Finally, make sure hedges, climbing plants and bushes don’t become overgrown or encroach into a neighbour’s garden.
Do you have a lawnmower, spade, trowel, clippers etc? If not, ask your landlord if they’ll be providing them for your use or if you need to buy your own.
Basic plastic gardening tools can be bought from the pound shop, while you can pick up a cheap mower on eBay.
Check for storage too – as you’ll need somewhere to keep them, such as a shed or garage. Make sure any outbuildings are secure, with good locks, and check your contents insurance will cover you in case anything’s stolen.
5. Garden waste
It’s amazing how much garden waste builds up from something as simple as weeding, trimming a hedge or cutting the grass.
Many councils operate a garden waste service, where you can pay for a special wheelie bin. If there’s not one at the property already (again, ask your landlord if they’ll pay for this). Otherwise, you can buy big, purpose made garden waste bags and take everything to the tip.
Whatever you decide to do when it comes to choosing a house with a garden, enjoy your outdoor space and make the most of it. Who knows, you may even find a hidden talent for gardening that you never knew you had!