Photography Andrew Hulsmeier Story by Laura Henderson

Adding Value to your property with a well maintained garden.

A great example of adding value to your home is this stunning garden on the South Coast of Barbados. Owned by Steve and Marquita Thomas, it features tropical foliage, coral ponds, meandering walkways and gazebos which add interest and areas for entertaining and relaxing… Caribbean style.

Local landscape architect Steve Thomas has been contributing to the development of the house and garden product in Barbados through the design and construction of gardens on the island for some thirty five years. We were thrilled when Steve and his wife Marquita allowed Living Barbados magazine to cover their beautiful garden at their home in Rockley New Road, Christ Church. 

Investment in your garden can provide you with the benefits of an attractive outdoor area and financial gain when you come to sell, says Laura Henderson. “One of the most delightful aspects of a garden is the anticipation it provides,” wrote the famous English author and illustrator W.E. Johns in 1937. Today, the words might be more fittingly adapted to read, “One of the most delightful aspects of a garden is the added value it provides.” Up to 15 percent more, to be exact, according to a recent Gallup poll, that brings together research over the previous decade. “These days, outside space however small, comes high on most buyers' wish lists,” says Suzanne Davis of Barbados Realtors. “Beautiful landscaping not only enhances value and sale-ability of a property, but with overseas clients in particular, captivated by a beautiful garden, it can often also be the deciding factor between properties.” It’s a finding backed by global research from market intelligence agency Datamonitor, which shows that today’s home owners are not just gardening as a pastime, but rather enhancing their outdoor space as a home improvement exercise. 

Even for those not planning to move any time soon, landscaping – both with greenery and with structures like arbors, trellising and barbecue pits – can also be a value-added investment in terms of intangible benefits – top of the pile being the feel good factor. “Nature has a huge part to play in healthy brain development and socialization,” stresses UK landscape architect Nancy Somerville. “We’re hard-wired to respond to it in good ways, without realizing it, so it’s a healthy influence for us to be around.” 

So what elements should homeowners look to incorporate into their garden design for added value? For mainstream appeal, UK garden designer Javier Lozano advises mixing different varieties of plants which offer year-round colour, while balancing trees with vegetation, and allocating designated areas for recreational use. “Buyers today tend to be on the lookout for outdoor space that has multiple applications, a courtyard that doubles as a sun terrace and outdoor dining area for example.” he explains “Non-gardening buyers might not be overly focused on the design, but they will care about size, so give a thought to scale. Open space is good, but a huge acreage can be a turn-off, especially if it lacks the basic ingredients, so have well-marked, attractive boundaries and keep lawns tidy.” 

Most agents agree that a patio area and defined walkways can also make a house appear bigger. It’s not actual living space, but it feels like it. Providing an entertainment area while extending the home’s apparent square footage, cost the same per square metre as patios and gives the front of the house crucial curb appeal. Garden enthusiasts will always be on the look-out for special features such as a pond or interesting gradients. By setting the scene outside, you’re sowing the seeds for a positive experience when you head indoors.

As for vendors keen to stand out from the competition: “A piece of sculpture or bespoke outdoor furniture, are good talking-points,” adds Lozano. “Choose one or two unusual plants of exceptional quality for their form, texture and growth habit. Anything different, that’s timeless, is a winner. Small trees also don’t suggest a garden with any depth. So where possible, invest in a few mature plants and trees to give a more established, age-mellowed feel. The key is creating good karma – achieve that and green fingered buyers will come flocking.”

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