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December 3, 2011

Q & A Saturday - Buying a house with an established garden

- by Debra Anchors

Gardening questions answered by Debra

Q:  "When one buys a house that includes an established garden, how should the new owner deal with this bonus? Should you leave the area untouched for 12 months to see what grows there already? Does a ready-made lush garden influence the choice of a new home buyer? Should the new owner dare destroy that 50-year old azalea planted by the former owner's grandfather? Razing the old garden and starting from scratch should not be an option! How can a new landholder adapt personal ideas to the newly adopted garden?"  ~Bonnie B, New Jersey

This is indeed a dilemma for new homeowners, but a bit of background information is always valuable. Assuming that the buyers looked at the house before the sale, they should have gotten some idea from the current owners, who would no doubt have mentioned the garden as a selling point. Some sellers even include a planting plan of the garden if it is exceptional and this truly raises the value of the property. If potential buyers are gardeners themselves, they will recognize the difference between a property planted up with colorful annuals to enhance a sale, as opposed to a garden that has been nurtured over the years and includes trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials. I suggest that you leave well enough alone for a full season, perhaps with the addition of annuals for the first summer if the property lacks color. Take photographs frequently and otherwise document the gardens so that you will have base to work from. If the 50-year old azalea isn't to your liking or is diseased or overgrown, the new homeowner should feel free to remove it.

Happy gardening! 

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  1. Hi Debra, thanks for popping over to my blog. This post of yours was of particular interest to me as we are planning to move next year, and I only hope that if we inherit an established garden I have the patience to wait and watch through each season before weighing in. Mind you, I haven't quite decided whether I would prefer an established garden or another blank slate.

  2. I vote for the blank slate, Janet; you garden beautifully! Our planet needs more gardens, so why not choose a space which cries out your talent?

  3. You give some very good advice. I would wait for a full year before deciding what to do.

  4. We bought our neighbour's back vegetable garden. As we worked on our panhandle, we had to remove some of their shrubs to lay out the driveway. We had lots of friendly neighbourly time to ask - what is that one? And that? So we have called our 30 year old mountain ash trees Dolf and Anna. And I have my 'Anna's Red' rose! We did take down their pecan tree - blocked our view and the nuts were a troubled story.

    I would definitely vote in favour of keeping MATURE trees and shrubs, unless you know they are invasive, or you have another good reason.

  5. The established garden was a huge selling point for our buying our house. Although I kind of feel like its all done and I am here to just maintain! I have to be honest though, when something dies I do get a little to excited by the prospect of putting something new in and planning a new space, something which I wish I could have done from the get-go!! The next time we buy I would love a place with mature growth trees, but the rest a blank canvas so I can create!

  6. If I were the new owner of the house, I'd leave the garden as it is if it doesn't look all that bad. Reshaping the garden would cost even more money, after all. I'd probably wait for a few months and save some money if I do decide to do a bit of garden landscaping.

    Calvin Mordarski


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