Tidying up your yard and garden for a more attractive sell

It is pretty standard practice to tidy your house before resale, so I was surprised when my 30-year-old son, a newly minted professional, emailed me a photo of a house he was buying in Smithers, B.C.

There were clothes on the floor in one shot and people lounging on the couch in another. It didn’t seem like there was any tidying evident, and he wasn’t the least bit worried about it.

“The people here are real, mom,” he said. “They don’t care about stuff like that.”

In the big city, we do tend to care about stuff like that so tend to tidy our homes before resale. We also tidy our gardens. That’s what found us at my stepdaughter’s house for a brief work bee last week. With a limited budget, and using mainly the materials on hand, Stacey was tidying the garden of her tiny bungalow in Inglewood, prepping it for resale.

General Tidying: Before we arrived, Stacey picked up after her two large dogs and put away the outdoor baby gear —  including toys, the baby bathtub and more — into the garden shed. Maintenance: Stacey’s husband stained the front porch to give it a fresh look. My husband Keith offered to trim the large tree because it was obscuring most of the front of the house but Stacey said she liked the tree as is.

Stacey started pulling weeds that were largely ignored since the arrival of baby. That left her backyard with only a few raspberries and a couple of perennials. The rest of the beds were empty.

Re-organize: Without a budget, we made a point of working with what we had. Stacey had a lot of potted plants and they are scattered throughout the beds and on the front deck. We left one pot at the front door and one on the café table with two chairs to create a more welcoming look.

I arranged the rest of the pots in the backyard. Three big ones were arranged in a row at the edge of the freshly weeded bed for impact. In the far back corner, we placed one of Stacey’s bright red petunia pots so the eye will jump from the pots in the newly weeded bed to the far corner of the lot.

A plant stand found in the shed gave the red pot elevation. Things were looking good. We took two chairs from the back outdoor table and moved them to a nook at the side of the house. We popped an existing bird bath between the chairs to create a conversation area at the side of the house.

The portable fireplace in the far back patio was surrounded with numerous chairs of different descriptions. It was a tiny space so we removed all the fold-up camp chairs and left two larger outdoor chairs, to make another intimate conversation area.

Create Impact: The middle of the yard was still weedy. I wanted to weed and add a big shrub for impact, but was outvoted. Another pot on a stand was moved in to fill the gap and this helped to partially screen the back area and increase garden suspense.

An easy way to cover weeds quickly, and buy some time in case the house doesn’t sell right away, is to cut weeds short and place cardboard over them, topping the cardboard with wood chips to make the area look cleaner, and smell fresher, too.

Stand Back: Stacey’s old home is a tiny space but was perfect for her when she was single. Now with a husband, baby and two big dogs she is moving to Silver Springs. Fingers crossed, her tidy, reorganized garden will help get the resale complete.

Donna Balzer is a garden writer and speaker. Check out her blog at  www.gardenguru.net or follow on Twitter @NoGuffGardener.