As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.
That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.
Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.
Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland
‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.
So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?
Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free.
In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.
‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry.
You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).
Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.
‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’
Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house
And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.
‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.
‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’
In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell.
‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’
Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.
This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.
‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’
You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy
He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.
If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.
‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.
‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’
Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.
‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.
‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’
On the market… with kerb appeal
Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000
Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m