Gardens are an enormous contributor towards a home’s curb appeal, a term which has been around for centuries. One could imagine that as real estate trends change, this might have as well, but it is still very much a huge determining factor when buying a home.
The busier we are, the less time we have, the more our attention span decreases, leaving visual aspects a primary element in today’s busy lifestyle. Just look at your social platforms or how general marketing & communication has changed – photos are key, and that is true in property as well. A well-established and maintained garden is always considered an asset, unfortunately not everyone has the time to tend to a garden, and with recent water restrictions it’s not always possible.
Statistics show that the demand for water wise properties equipped with boreholes, smaller lawn areas or with small gardens has escalated. Online searches for “borehole water” and “eco estates”’ have also increased steadily. “The prolonged drought, especially in the Cape, has home buyers thinking twice about the choices they make when buying property. Homeowners that have an alternative water source or low water consumption on their property definitely have an excellent selling point, not only do buyers hope to conserve water, they are also hoping to reduce their bills” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
Buyers have become more informed when making property purchases and are ensuring they have some sustainability in their homes; it is not only in the sales sector but in rentals as well. Landlords are starting to invest in implementing rainwater-harvesting systems and adding water wise indigenous plants, considering artificial lawns, and water and electricity saving mechanisms. This ensures that they offer tenants the opportunity to live in a place where the utilities are more controlled and properties equipped with these elements are more marketable.
Water wise gardening
In the past having a lush green garden was no problem, this is not the case anymore and we need to ensure we can adapt to still deliver a pretty picture but while saving water. We look at garden trends we can expect to see this year, to help create a water efficient garden.
- Lawns guzzle plenty of water, so some consideration should be given to if you really need one. Reduce its size or remove the lawn completely and replace it with paving, decorative stones, ground cover, gravel, pebble paths, succulents or a mix of all, which will provide inexpensive and low maintenance solutions. If you keep some lawn, don’t mow it too short, as this lets the roots dry out quicker. For smaller areas artificial grass can be used.
- Replace all plants that need plenty of water with low water users. Look for plants that store water such as succulents and aloes. Plant a xeriscape succulent garden – xeriscaping is a landscaping style and method that was developed in arid areas that uses a lot of stone and a succulent plants. A xeriscape is very low maintenance garden and will actually die from over watering. Remember to go indigenous, planting what occurs naturally in your area – exotic plants often need more water.
- Use mulch to stop moisture escaping, preferably organic, such as pine needles, bark, and straw or wood chips. Apply a 5cm-thick layer to soil that’s already moist. Check that water is able to penetrate; simply loosening the mulch can improve its porosity, reapply periodically.
- Build a water conserving rock garden, which can take many different forms and can be a great way to showcase different and unique plants. Rock gardens can be designed with shade or sun tolerant plants. When selecting plants consider choosing plants with the same sun, water, and soil requirements. Ground covers can create a cascading or trailing effect; succulents thrive in hot, dry sites and high elevation wildflowers can create a beautiful bloom effect.
- Check whether your garden has bore water and whether a simple spore and pump can be installed to access it.
- Install a grey water system to capture and recycle water from baths, showers and washing machines. Make sure you use cleaning products that are safe for garden use. You’ll also need a booster pump to operate the irrigation system and have your grey water connected and filtered in to the irrigation system.
- Don’t waste rainwater; harvest it from the roof, the driveway and patios. Direct it into water tanks or reservoirs which can be hidden underground.
- Install a water wise irrigation system preferably fitted with a controller, soil moisture sensor and rain sensor. This ensures that plants will only get water when they need it.
- Resurface driveways, yards and paths with porous surfaces or paving blocks and plastic grid systems filled with plants.
- To save water, change your swimming pool into a wetland pool which can be used to water the garden during periods of drought.
Even with the blessing of the needed rain, it is still going to take the country some time to restore itself, and even if we were to reach this point, being water wise will always remain a positive point. In the long-term, small changes could save you money and ensure your property is always market -ready and appealing to buyers.