As a property manager, landscaping is generally considered one of your responsibilities, and if you’re trying to sell or rent one of your properties, great landscaping is also key to increasing curb appeal. Beyond planting a few new shrubs, though, what can you do to make your property stand out to potential tenants? As design trends shift, you just might be surprised by the property styles that are creating a buzz.
Create A Firm Foundation
No matter what you plan to do with your property’s yard, the first step is to craft a sturdy foundation. Houston has been suffering major flooding over the past few years, and even if your home isn’t in the heart of the flood zone, things can get pretty wet during hurricane season. That means your yard needs proper drainage.
For yards with clay-heavy soil or if the lawn tends to flood, the best option is to install a French drain system, which funnels water away from the surface and into an underground trench. You’ll need professional help to install one, but it’s a classic solution to an age-old problem.
Another option that can help keep yards dry while creating a more natural look is a stone swale. Swales are ditches that follow the natural curve of the ground like streams, and can also be used to carry water away from gutters or other especially wet areas of the yard. Many landscapers place swales along flowerbeds, gardens, and other natural arrangements, but remember they need fast-draining soil or another drainage option near their endpoint in order to prevent flooding a different part of the yard.
Keep It Cool
If you’ve ever fussed over a lawn through the Houston summer, when highs are typically over 90 degrees, then you know it’s nearly impossible to keep your grass green. And, even if you could, the fact is that most Houstonians aren’t spending much time lounging about in that extreme heat. No, if they’re going to spend time outside, your tenants want an outdoor space that will keep them cool.
One way to cool down the yard, and cut back on maintenance, is by transforming any backyard spaces into a covered patio. Light gravel or stones minimize heat absorption, while a simple pergola or overhang provides shade, lowering the temperature even on the hottest days. Such a design meshes well with heat-loving shrubs and will attract tenants who like to entertain, or who simply want a practical yard that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance to be attractive.
The entertainment-focused patio space also presents extensive options for high-end properties. Besides providing the perfect poolside retreat, such areas may play host to an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, or bar. While landscaping has historically been about gardens and grass, in 2019, the trends slant more towards patios and parties.
Envision An Edible Landscape
We’ve already addressed the difficulty of keeping grass alive through the Houston summers, but that challenge isn’t the only reason to ditch the lawn. No, property owners around the country are tearing up their lawns in favor of edible landscapes – essentially, vegetable gardens.
From the perspective of these landscaping revolutionaries, lawns are a waste of space and, more importantly, a waste of water. Homes across the US use 9 million gallons of water per day for outdoor maintenance, mostly to water grass, and with Houston often mid-drought, that’s water waste we just can’t afford.
The good news about ditching the lawn is that creating an edible landscape is easy for you, and appeals to tenants, who benefit from the output. And in addition to traditional vegetables, they also incorporate plenty of tree cover, in the form of popular fruits, as well as shrubs and native pollinator species which are good for the bees. Houston even has its own edible permaculture expert in the person of Joshua Reynolds, founder of Texas Edible Landscapes, who helps design and install just this type of functional garden.
Know Your Neighborhood
Finally, as you consider your options for a low-maintenance, sustainable yard design, be sure that you fully think through what your neighborhood needs and who your primary tenant audience is. If you primarily rent to seniors who snowbirds who are only around part-time, then an edible landscape is unlikely to be a beneficial option, as it may be too labor intensive for your tenants. Similarly, neighborhoods with a lot of young families might prefer a simple lawn or an optional play structure rather than an over-the-top entertainment patio.
The fact is, while landscaping is often focused on beauty, as long as the front yard is well-maintained, what happens around back should first and foremost be functional. If there’s not enough street parking in your neighborhood, then, tenants might prefer to have extra parking that runs to the back of the house. Or, if you’re renting a home or multi-family unit with limited storage, consider installing individual storage units or locked sheds out back so that tenants don’t have to rent a separate storage unit for extra possessions. The self-storage industry has been growing steadily over the last few years, so why not make added space an amenity?
Make It Work With Green Residential
There’s no one right way to handle landscaping for your rental properties, and sometimes giving your tenants some flexibility if your best bet. However, if you own a large number of rental properties, it’s important to keep things under control with a uniform approach – and that’s where Green Residential can help.
With over thirty years of Houston-area experience, our team at Green Residential has an intimate understanding of what tenants want, as well as how to support owners, which is why we offer a full suite of services. That means, in addition to promotion, screening, and rent collection, we also handle any maintenance and eviction needs. And with connections throughout the Houston area, we always choose experienced and trusted contractors to serve your property.
If you’re interested in working with Green Residential to meet your property management needs, contact us today to learn more about our services. Whether you’re new to the real estate industry or have been renting properties for years, we want to help you landlord less so you can live more freely.