It is no secret that the yards surrounding a house can appeal to or repel potential buyers. They can be turned off by an ugly yard that is cluttered with trash, bare and dusty, or overgrown by weeds. On the other hand, they can also be intimidated by extensive flower beds and manicured lawns that look like they require a lot of weekend maintenance and mowing, as well as high water bills and expensive chemicals for fertilizing, weeding, and pest control. If you can create a landscape that is attractive and not intimidatingly difficult to maintain, it can be an amenity that will draw people to the door of your property, extend the living space outdoors, and become a place where people want to gather.
Inexpensive and Sustainable
One inexpensive way to make a landscape more efficient and sustainable in a dry climate is to reduce the area covered by lawn. This will reduce reliance on water, which is becoming more costly as it becomes shorter in supply. One alternative to grass is gravel.
Gravel includes pea gravel, river rock, crushed granite, and slate chips to name the ones that are easiest to get. Lava rock and ground up glass are also alternatives. Gravel is attractive and easy to use to reduce grass by replacing parts of it with walkways, patios, and gardens.
Gravel Paths and Walkways
A walking path from the street to the front door is an easy addition that reduces the amount of lawn that needs to be watered, mowed, or fertilized. Usually, a walking path is 24 to 36 inches wide and set at ground level. To build the walkway yourself, outline the walkway with string or garden hose, giving it some interesting curves. Then excavate 6 to 8 inches below the final ground surface. Pick a gravel that is local (less expensive) and pleasing in color and texture. Add an edging of brick, wood, stone, rubber, or metal and fill the excavated walkway with gravel so that it is level with the surrounding ground. Then compact it by walking on it.
Inexpensive to install, gravel patios drain quickly, require little maintenance, and supply attractive anchors for outdoor furniture, fire features, and pools. They can be of any size, surrounded by raised beds, walls, shrubs, and terraced with steps from one level to another. Like paths, excavate 6 to 8 inches below the final ground surface. Then, fill the space with gravel. The Better Homes and Garden online magazine suggests using gray or tan gravels when you are aiming for a neutral, natural character. They suggest using gold, brown, white, and rust gravels to create higher impact patio floors.
A fire pit or fireplace set on a gravel patio and surrounded by comfortable chairs would provide a gathering place for friends and family. Fire pits are beautiful additions to an outdoor space. They can be made of corden steel, concrete, stone, and stucco. Fire pits add to the price of a patio, but if you don’t have to build and stain a wooden deck for the remodeled house, and use gravel instead, it might be worth the expense.
Don’t feel obligated to get rid of every blade of grass when you add a patio. If you keep grass in your landscape, you might want to consider using a heat tolerant variety. All American Stone and Turf recommends Raleigh St. Augustine, Palmetto St. Augustine, Centipede, Celebration Bermuda, Tifway 419, Tif Sport, Tifdwarf, Buffalo, Palisades Zoysia, Empire Zoysia, Cavalier Zoysia, and Jamur Zoysia for properties in the Brazos Valley.
A gravel garden growing drought-tolerant plants like yarrow, lavender, thyme, and sedum in a soil mix of crushed stone and clayey loam may not need watering at all once established. In a gravel garden, the mulch is the gravel over the soil. It holds moisture and blocks weeds. One trick I found interesting was shared by Ken Druse at garden design.com. Ken inserted seedlings into old tube socks filled with soil. He used seedlings of Sempervivum (hens and chicks) and sedum. As he built a rock wall, he inserted the old socks and seedlings into dry nooks and crannies where they would flourish.
Drought tolerant plants can be recognized by the pungent smell of their leaves and stems when crushed. They also have small leaves that may be covered with hairs or a waxy coating to prevent water loss. Yarrow and lavender are two excellent choices for gardens that are water efficient and easy to maintain.
When you are selling the house you just remodeled, be sure to create an appealing landscape and use a good photographer to take pictures for online listings.
Please give me a call or send an e-mail when you find that perfect investment property for your fix-n-flip project. Don’t forget. I am focused on your success.
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