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Latest research has revealed that a big garden was the main driver of sales during the pandemic, and the popularity of rolling lawns, expansive borders and hidden corners shows no signs of falling away.
The report by The Cumberland Building Society looked at more than a million private property transactions in the UK and found that places with large gardens were the most likely to see a boost – both in the number of houses sold and prices paid.
On this proviso, the UK’s three property hotspots are Cilgerran and Crymych in Pembrokeshire, Wales (median garden size 528.1 sqm), Mundford, Weeting and Forest in Breckland, Norfolk (484.2 sqm) and Tuxford, Markham and Rampton in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire (401.1 sqm).
'A garden has always been a desirable asset for any homeowner,' says Will Park, The Cumberland Building Society (opens in new tab)'s cluster manager for Carlisle. 'And the advantages of having your own private, outside space were never more clear than during the lockdowns of the last two years.
With large gardens so in demand, Will adds that it's important to make sure yours is looking in the best possible shape if you want to guarantee a sale. 'We would encourage people to bring their gardens up to the best standard possible, particularly if they are looking to sell their house.'
Maximize the potential of your large plot
A large garden gives lots of opportunity for expansive planting. In fact, you’ll need to think big to fill the space. You can introduce striking specimen plants such as Gunnera – otherwise known as ‘dinosaur food’ – which can grow to a height of more than two metres tall.
'A good structural backbone should be in place to support the more showy displays of grasses and perennial planting,' says garden designer James Beadnall (opens in new tab). 'The presence of large structural shrubs will bring year round stability and balance to your borders. Plants such as Taxus baccata or Viburnum tinus are great for this.'
It's also important to think about how to plant a border for year-round color to ensure you can keep a larger area looking vibrant, whatever the time of year. Bulk buys of spring and autumn-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and stately gladioli are an inexpensive way to add interest to huge spaces.
Estate agent Edward Church, head of Strutt & Parker’s (opens in new tab) office in Canterbury, Kent, says that a large garden will add value and holds endless potential as an additional room: 'It can be an extension of dining, entertaining and, since the onset of the pandemic, even work-space. Increasing numbers of buyers are keen on garden offices – it seems that the desire to commute, even if just a few strides across the lawn, to a purpose-built office or reconfigured summer house, is very much there.
'There’s much to be said for the Arts & Crafts garden landscaping, made famous by notable designer Gertrude Jekyll,' adds Edward. 'This saw the advent of garden rooms, portioning of gardens into smaller, useable and attractive areas to showcase paving, plants and water features. Many of these same lessons can be applied to modern landscaping ideas too.'
He suggests creating a zone for dining, children’s activities, a space for planting fruits and vegetables, flower beds, and paths connecting these parts seamlessly: 'Just as open-plan home layouts need zoning, gardens do too. Especially gardens that are particularly large, for it makes them more manageable and ultimately a more productive space.'
Perhaps it's time to rethink your large garden design ideas if you're hoping to sell your home this spring.
Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.
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