Owning a home is that never-ending list of things that need to be repaired or replaced. And just when you think you’ve conquered the list, you put a foot through a rotten floor board, the garage door breaks (AGAIN) and the wall you swear you painted “just the other day” starts to flake. This seemingly-circular process is often frustrating. On the other hand, it can also be extremely rewarding as your time, effort and money starts to add value and improve your living space. The age-old question though is “is it worth spending X amount to fix this?” and particularly “do we fix the roof, renovate the bathroom…or put in a pool?”. So, what if I told you one of the areas that you should definitely be focusing your money is your garden? Here’s why:
1. Increase the value of your property up to 20%
No, I didn’t just make that up. Studies have found that the impression of an outdoor garden can define a potential buyer’s initial feelings towards a house. Furthermore, the investment into renovating an outdoor area has seen dramatic increases in the selling price of up to 20% of the original estimate. Something as simple as laying new lawn and adding some splashes of colour into a garden bed can dramatically change the perception of the property. For long term investment, the introduction of elements such as decking and braai areas create the illusion of more value beyond the 3 bed, 2 bath scenario. That being said, the design of these elements is critical as a bad design could detract from the value while a good design can improve it by responding in an appropriate aesthetic and functional manner. Just remember that the cost of a professional design might seem expensive, but it’s just a tiny drop in the overall cost and future benefit.
2. Increase your living space
South Africa is blessed with a climate that provides us with an abundance of sunny days and warm evenings, making our outdoor spaces the perfect extensions to our indoor spaces. By investing in these areas, we can create outdoor rooms, spaces to braai and entertain, spaces for children to play and spaces to sit quietly and read. One simply has to type “Outdoor living” into Pinterest and begin to yearn for our own fire pit or pergola draped with fairy lights where we can breathe in fresh air and stare at the starry sky. Yes, it all sounds very romantic, but the benefits of creating these spaces can maximise every inch of your investment.
3. Benefit the environment
What if we all saw our gardens as tiny biomes with a unique set of living organisms and environmental processes? From providing trees for the birds, to planting flowers for the bees, the garden’s environmental potential is endless. In South Africa we are blessed with numerous indigenous plants whose roles in combating air pollution are incredible. Spekboom for instance has the ability to capture 4 to 10 tons of carbon per hectare – that’s 100 times more than a Pine Tree! How’s that for your return on your investment? We also need to see our gardens as part of the larger environment and the role each property has in absorption of water back into the ground water table, the impact on bird flight paths and other aspects such the control of invasive alien species. With that in mind it’s easy to see that our investment in our gardens isn’t just for our own benefit.
4. Improve your quality of life
Did you know that being in positive outdoor spaces has proven to reduce stress, improve creativity, fight depression and reduce anxiety? Not to mention the physical benefits of breathing cleaner air and the benefits of sunlight on blood pressure and our immune system. Numerous studies have proven that humans are simply not meant to be indoors all the time – we need and crave the outside air. That means that by investing in a garden space we are not just creating a pretty rose garden to be admired from the kitchen window, but a space that has the potential to improve our physical and emotional states. Add to this the benefit of social spaces to connect with friends or play areas away from indoor screen time and we can begin to see why our gardens provide such important places in our daily lives.
5. Reduce your grocery bill
No, I’m not saying turn your entire garden into and urban farm, but no matter how big or small your garden is, an investment into a few pots of herbs or even a large raised vegetable garden can go a long way to reducing the amount of fresh produce that we buy. There’s nothing better than being able to go outside and pick a fresh bunch lettuce for a salad or rosemary for the braai. What better way to fill your garden with greenery than with something that you can actually eat? Advice on where and what to plant is always helpful in this case to prevent a case of “crop failure”, but the benefits of having organic nutrients and rich, flavourful produce are definitely worth it.
So maybe now is the time to go outside and begin to imagine the potential for your garden. I can guarantee you that it will always be money well spent!