Whether you own a long or short-term rental, landscaping is highly important to keep your business going. A good-looking yard boosts the curb appeal of your property, and makes it more desirable to renters. On the other hand, a high-maintenance landscape can end up being a major headache — both for the landlord and the tenants. To help you avoid costly mistakes, we’ve put together gardening and landscaping tips for your rental property in Charlotte.
Define maintenance duties
Spell out any tenant responsibility for landscape maintenance in the lease. Tenants are often in charge of lawn-mowing, but you may want to contract out annual maintenance to a professional lawn care company. If you use a property manager, make sure you have a clearly defined maintenance schedule in place. No matter which route you choose, check with your HOA or city government to make sure your lawn care plan complies with the rules or ordinances.
Keep it simple
Grounds maintenance is the last thing you need to worry about as a landlord. Before renting out your property, map out your yard and make a plan. Choose low maintenance, shade-tolerant turf for areas that don't get much sun. If your yard slopes, consider adding a rain garden or water-absorbing plants to avoid runoff.
The best landscape strategy is to focus on quality rather than quantity. A handful of strategically placed shrubs and trees can help screen undesirable views, and add shade and privacy. Flowering perennials and native grasses can add color and seasonal interest, and you won't need to replace them each year.
Instead of planting fussy hybrid ornamental plants, install native plants on your rental property such as Eastern blue star or Carolina lupine. These flowers have adapted to Charlotte conditions and need less water, fertilizer, and care than non-natives. You won't need much water to keep the landscape looking healthy. Choosing native perennials also means annual maintenance will be limited to cutbacks in the late fall and a little mulch and fertilizer in the spring. Invasive species need more trimming and work to keep a property looking tidy and well-kept.
Don’t leave watering the lawn and flowerbeds to chance. An irrigation system on a timer with a rain sensor can protect your landscape during drought conditions. Even if an irrigation system seems expensive, it's nothing next to the expense of replacing plants and a lawn that suffers from lack of rain. As resilient as trees may seem, they'll also need extra irrigation during long, dry periods. If the tenants are responsible for the lawn, remember to outline proper use and care of the irrigation system within the lease to avoid damaging your investment. Similarly if you choose to use a professional service to take care of your lawn, make sure they are vetted and insured so that you don’t carry the cost in the event that the irrigation system is damaged.
Make use of hardscapes
Hardscaping adds elegance and beauty to your landscape, reduces soil erosion, and can address those muddy or heavily trafficked areas. Patios, walkways, borders, and driveways can consist of wood, stone, concrete pavers, concrete, and even gravel.
The right hardscape requires little maintenance and can extend the living area to the yard. Patios and pathways are attractive to would-be renters and dramatically boost curb appeal. Hardscaped areas reduce the amount of turf to mow, fertilize, weed, and water. You'll still need to maintain your hardscape by either power-washing it or weatherproofing the decking. Make sure you protect your investment by scheduling the annual care it needs.
Find a good property manager
You can save yourself a lot of work and headaches by hiring a property manager who can protect your investment. An experienced property manager knows exactly what type of maintenance your rental property landscape needs to maintain its value. Don’t be afraid to hand someone else the reins so you can enjoy the downtime you’ve earned.
Follow these guidelines to maximize your return and keep your maintenance manageable. Remember, boosting curb appeal will help you to attract good tenants. Maintaining your rental’s landscape will help keep those tenants, and your property will keep its value.
Guest Blog post by Alexia Jones from Lawnstarter.com.
Alexia Jones owns a landscaping company whose services include repairing and winterizing sprinkler systems. She is an expert in sustainable lawns and landscapes and efficient irrigation systems.