Landscaping for the Long-Term Rental
Unlike changing colors or metal accents in your home to give a quick facelift, landscaping, especially for a rental, requires planning. Landlords need to think long-term, when it comes to landscaping. Further, they need to consider the lease agreements to lawn maintenance.
Consider what your landscaping should look like, and then what care is necessary to maintain that condition. If it seems quite laborious and requiring systematic attention, consider, then, if your tenants are willing to put forth the effort. While the lease agreement may specify outdoor maintenance is the responsibility of the tenants, some tenants may not realize what is required to maintain a proper curb appeal; further, albeit well-intentioned, life happens and many tenants may not have the schedule to permit such routine care. In this case, you have a few options before you:
- Hire a contractor to maintain your lawn care needs (your property management company will have references)
- Set specific requirements in your lease, and hold the tenant accountable
- Simplify your landscaping to require less tenant maintenance
Here at RM Properties, where we provide property management in DC and Montgomery County, MD, we have excellent landscapers we contract for our properties. (These rental expenses are, of course, deductible to the Owner). In our experience, a combination of options #1 and #3 are best for a rental property. Sure a young family wants a yard and outdoor spaces for their small children, and sure, the young, professional singleton would like a nice patio to entertain and grill, but everyone has limited time, and when you’re renting, much of the obligatory sentiment is lost.
Being that winter is drawing to a close, now is great time to reconsider your current rental’s landscape for the next few Springs. As property managers, we suggest the following considerations in every landscape:
- Xeriscape (zer-ih-scayp)
- Shrubbery color and texture; not just floral coloring
- More patio, less grass
- Above-ground plant beds
- Potted plants
Xeriscaping is a great trend making its way to the Eastern states, and is great for a rental! Typically used in the dry, drought-ridden climates of the Southwestern part of the country, it works in many climates, nevertheless. Xeriscaping uses plants that require less supplemental water to grow and thrive, and in the now hot, dry summers of DC, this is surely the better way to go.
Do you have a lot of sun?
Plants that have chlorophyll require full, direct sunlight. Consider brightly-colored perennial plants, particulary xeric plants, those that require less water and care, during their peak seasons. To give you an idea, take a look at the ophiopogon planiscapus. This type of groundcover blooms for a short period, but changes colors throught out the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons, thus adding a lot of interest to your landscape. They work well in in-ground and above-ground beds. To create dimension, you can choose from a number of ornamental grasses, which can be placed in the rear of garden spaces or to line a patio for added privacy.
Too damp and shady?
Even better—there are plenty of groundcover options that don’t bloom from which you can pick! Non-blooming plants are even easier to care for; there is no pruning, picking of dead flower litter, and no more suffering through the unsightly late stages of the foliage season. Try some evergold.
Now, Get Inspired!
The idea is to have a low-maintenance, high-curb appeal landscape. More clean lines and harder architectural elements, like patio stones and walkways; less grass, intricate flower beds, and ornaments.
In the backyard, try a gravel patio surrounded by potted or raised xeric plants and colorful groundcover.
In the front yard, see if you can remove the grass and replace it with groundcover. To get a nicer look, set it back a few feet from walkways, and fill the space with small rocks or mulch.
Spruce up corners with potted plants, raised flower beds, or large rocks.