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Property Management Blog

Some thoughts about landscape maintenance for your rental property

Mendell Gosnell - Wednesday, April 15, 2020
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Landscape Maintenance for Rentals

There are many reasons to maintain a clean, neat, and attractive landscape on an investment property. When a unit is vacant, it helps to attract good tenancy. While occupied, it helps maintain neighbor relations and reflects the tenants’ care. Later, when it is time to sell, the property looks well-kept instead of like the local derelict. 

So why do many properties turn into eyesores? While residents want to rent a nice looking home, they often have no interest, time, or knowledge on how to maintain the property. They may agree to landscape maintenance in the rental contract, but it can be difficult for a property manager or owner to enforce. 

You can charge the tenant for maintenance or include landscape maintenance, but it is not always practical to increase the rent for the full cost of the work, particularly if the landscaping on the property is extensive.

In addition, water is a key element of landscape maintenance. Many properties that are eyesores do not have an irrigation system. In a dry climate, water can simply be the issue, but even wet climates can suffer a drought. And if a tenant is not diligent in watering, the landscape suffers or dies despite a working irrigation system or the climate. It is even more difficult to maintain watering when a property is vacant.

Neither you nor the tenant wants high water bills. When the property is vacant, you’ll want to minimize the cost to maintain the property and yet keep it looking its best. When occupied, the tenant may reduce watering to avoid the expense, stressing the landscape in the process. During drought conditions, the utility company may charge a penalty for too much water usage, causing you or the tenant to curtail irrigation. 

What can help solve this issue? Installing a low maintenance landscape whenever possible. That keeps the property easy for tenants or landscapers to maintain, water-wise, and looking good. 

How can you provide an attractive low maintenance landscape? We’re not looking for a gravel pit that will be a neighborhood eyesore or discourage any possible renters. It does take thought and planning, but the results are worth it in aesthetics, ease of maintenance, and water conservation. Here are some tips for an attractive, low maintenance landscape. 

  • Plan an irrigation system that is appropriate for the landscape and the native area. Today’s systems are cheaper and easier to install than old systems.
  • Be sure the watering system has a programmable timer system so it can be set to water automatically and adjust to the seasons and water needs of the landscape.
  • Plan a natural landscape instead of a formal one. This will require less trimming and pruning.
  • Use plants indigenous to the area, and when possible, use those that require very little water or maintenance. Succulents can often be a good choice.
  • Use shrubs, small ornamental trees, and perennials for color instead of flowers. When possible, plan for color in different seasons.
  • Plant ground covers to reduce weeds or eliminate grass areas.
  • Avoid plants that need major pruning or extensive deadheading.
  • Avoid plants that can cause serious allergies and difficulties with tenants.
  • Consult with area nurseries for practical suggestions or hire a company that knows how to plan and install a low maintenance landscape.

Planning and installing a low maintenance landscape requires an up-front monetary investment, but the return on your investment will be positive and long-lasting. 

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