This past weekend I attended a garden tour in the area where I own my weekend escape, Greenwich Connecticut. The gardens are truly magnificent at this time of the year and vary dramatically from adorable cottage gardens to massive horticultural extravaganzas.
While in real estate we are obsessed with interior design - especially when it comes to marketing - a garden represents a tremendous opportunity for EXTERIOR design. There are so many styles and types of garden designs. But the ones I have found to be the very best are:
1. Be True to the environment. Using plants that thrive in your area and are designed to work well in your climate - indigenous plants - not only succeed but also broadcast that unique look of the area you live in. Celebrating this fully just looks......natural, even when combined with a tightly clipped hedge!
2. Gardens are useful in many ways: often they can create a controlled view from inside where chances are you will enjoy it all day, every day year-round. Then there are garden 'rooms' those places designed as a destination to enjoy while outdoors.
3. The introduction of water features installs the sound of a garden and often attracts birds that add to the allure. These sounds have the ability to muffle less pleasant sounds (air conditioning condensers, road noise, etc)..
4. Many forget that green is a color. While some gardens are a profuse display of multiple colors, sometimes an all-green garden can be very enticing too. All white flowers are magical at night: moonlight or just a little outdoor lighting makes them highly visible at night......as well as their daytime display.
5. Gardens need to become more water-wise, especially in areas where water shortages are becoming a real problem. A desert garden can be beautiful too.
6. Gardens that message 'high maintenance' can be a negative for some. Anyone who hires people to maintain a garden knows the costs can be prohibitive. I love gardening myself: many don't, or simply don't have the time or energy to maintain a garden.
7. Gardens should reflect the architecture and design of a house in my opinion. They don't have to replicate one another but when they are designed in harmony, they flow best.
8. Of all the gardens on the tour, the biggest mistake I observed was too many ideas thrown together with no cohesive plan. Starting with a master plan and slowly building it out over time can be a good idea.
9. A newly built or renovated home with zero budget for landscaping often shows awfully.......drive-up appeal matters and no one likes looking out of a property towards a barren wasteland.
10. Gardening is good for the soul. Many have been introduced to this old hobby in the past 18 months and love it. While pools, putting greens, screening rooms, barbeques, etc are great home amenities, a garden can prove to be one of the most enjoyable amenities of all, not only providing a place to enjoy, relax, play, entertain, unwind, meditate, etc, but also one that delivers a great hobby and activity that is both healthy and rewarding.
The visuals of a garden can add tremendous value to a home. Mature trees and plantings are expensive, but often enhance the mood and feel of a property adding real value to the bottom line. A neighborhood with well-maintained gardens usually is a more valuable one, and often the best gardens are NOT mega-extravaganzas. Those simple cottage gardens in Sag Harbor or Nantucket with roses, hydrangeas, etc, and a clipped hedge are as meaningful to valuation as the more grand versions. A beautiful garden demonstrates care and highlights the one esthetic none of us can beat: nature!