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Increasing value of a house by improving the garden

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Hi,
I have moved into a new build house recently. The garden is currently 60% ditch and 40% flat grass. It is approx 10 metres long by 5 metres wide. You step onto the grassed area and look down into a steeply sloped ditch which is 6 feet deep and is basically just soil. No bushes, weeds, grass etc, just soil. The ditch does collect water in heavy rainfall. The ditch runs lengthways through the garden.

As it is, the ditch part (60%) is not suitable to use for standing, sitting etc, you can only really use the grassed area. The options for me are to:

-Just turn the slope of the ditch into a wild meadow to make it look better. (Cheap option).

-Erect raised decking so that you can walk from the grass onto a raised platform. I'd only have it so it goes out 1m to 1.5m, not all the way across the width of the ditch which is approx 2.7m. It can be anything from 4metres to 8 metres in length.

-Put in a retaining wall of some sort approx 1m to 1.5m out, maybe steel posts with railway sleepers and infill the gap with soil.


Would either of the 2nd and 3rd ideas amount to much of an increase in the value of my home? Both would add a decent amount of extra walkable/usable space to the garden, but I just don't know if it's worth the money and hassle.
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  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Usually, unless you have a much larger area than average and spend much time on it, a garden won't add value to your house, but a good one will make it easier to sell. Hard landscaping is expensive, so on a modest house its cost might not even be recouped, but people don't spend on such things for investment.
    Why didn't you include a couple of photos? People could then see easily what your garden looks like now and you'd be more likely to get replies.
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  • FarwayFarway Forumite
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    Photos would help, but on a practical note the ditch serves a purpose with drainage for the whole of the site.
    Any reduction of it's sole purpose  could result in us seeing your neighbours being rescued by dinghy

    Round here they have built on a flood plain, and the estate has extensive drainage ditches & ponds incorporated
    Should these fail the area will be under water in winter as it has been for centuries past
    I'd check the flood maps before you think of any in filling

  • RelievedSheffRelievedSheff Forumite
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    I would certainly check any covenants relating to the ditch before you carry out any works in it. It is there for a reason and you cant just reduce the capacity of it because you feel like pinching a bit more garden!
  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
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    Steep slopes to mow reduce the number of people who would be interested.
    Decking is a potential money pit in the future.
    Some imagination here is what's needed. Is it a house you'd be marketing to families? Or is it more general.
    From what I can hear I'd be inclined to turn the ditch into a water feature that would still take the run off, wide steps going down perhaps with a place to sit half way down with lots of flowers and shrubs.
    I did a lot of looking at gardens online for ideas. Copying photos to a folder to look at as I got to each stage even if it only showed me what I didn't want
    As said, a photo plus where is sunny or shady will help.

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well

  • WeAreGhostsWeAreGhosts Forumite
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    In my parents last house they had four estate agents round for valuations - not one of them even went into the garden, or remarked on it.  My mum was furious as she'd spent the weekend before weeding like mad!
    Dave's right in that a nice garden makes in easier to sell, but doesn't necessarily add value. If it were someone like me I'd want to do my own thing and would be glad of a blank canvas.
    If it's really an issue then you could mock up some plans like you would for a house extension showing what could be done to the garden in terms of landscaping. There are people out there who don't have any imagination, so they'd probably welcome the ideas.
  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
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    My last house all estate agents said that it would be the garden that would sell the house. Mind you it was a huge corner plot so it may have been the land they were really thinking of.
    It wasn't immaculate but I did have areas for seating and such and I tidied up the garden furniture to give an idea of how it could be used.
    And it worked a dream in that I had offers on first viewings. For odd reasons it had to go on the market 3 times but it wasn't withdrawal of offers.
    Now the bungalow opposite me clean to within an inch of it's life, in one of the most sought after areas has been for sale with no offers. Apart from the updating needed the garden is dully paved with no plants. It sits looking unwelcoming and it's not drawing in the interest it should. People drive up and move on. It's neither a doer upper nor homely.
    We're not talking garden makeovers. Just some bright pots, hanging baskets (£5 from Lidl) table and chairs to make it look bright and welcoming as though it's loved.

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well

  • olgadapolgaolgadapolga Forumite
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    The garden of our current home may have been one reason why it didn't sell for months and had a price reduction of about £50k before we decided to take it on, although the house itself was not well presented and looked unloved. 

    The garden was really awful. Think Mirkwood from 'The Hobbit' but more overgrown, dark and gloomy. It took three months but we cleared everything and now have an open, spacious, light garden, which I am looking forward to developing over the next few years.

    With our last house, the garden was definitely the biggest selling point as the house was a repossession and the former owners had wrecked it on their way out.
  • DaftyDuckDaftyDuck Forumite
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    From your description, you may improve the saleability of your house, but probably not the selling price. But a quicker, easier sale is sometimes worth the effort.

    Since you've just moved in, you should probably be doing what you want, not what you think might sell in a few years.

    It's not a big garden, and not a unique property, so it won't heavily affect the price.
  • MoneySeeker1MoneySeeker1 Forumite
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    Personally - I'd not go for the decking option - as that's a bit of "fad of the moment". I'm still receiving postings through of houses in a couple of different areas and it put me off rather on an otherwise perfectly decent house to see that they'd built out a decking area (on stilts) out from what was really obviously supposed to be a 1st floor window. To me - I just thought "Wait till wear and tear rots that decking away then" and how the garden "ground floor space" underneath it would be impacted by that. End result being - I'd rip that decking straight out personally if that house was mine.

    To me - I think you are probably best to try and make it look like you "meant it that way" and just put wildflowers down in the lower area. Scatter a couple of packets of suitable wildflower seeds around and it would make it attractive and a good resource for pollinators. I've got a particularly awkward bit in my current garden and decided that would be my best bet for that bit of ground to do just that - ie packets of wildflower seeds and it will look pretty/be food for pollinators to be attracted in for the rest of my garden.

    Retaining wall = agh! The expense of it for a start-off - as retaining walls are not cheap.

    There are trolls around - unfortunately - but I wait for them to go off and "self combust" or have a go at someone else to fulfil their hobby they have - rather than doing "feed the trolls".

    Please bear in mind these people exist - and take it into account.



  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    With our last house, the garden was definitely the biggest selling point as the house was a repossession and the former owners had wrecked it on their way out.
    Surely the price was the greatest selling point if the house was a wreck?
    I wish our vendors had wrecked the place. It upset me greatly, demolishing tens of thousands of £ worth of 'improvements,' but there was nothing else for it. Outdoors, it had been 'let go a bit,' as the agent put it. Yes, let go long enough to hide 2 x 15' pig arks for 3 months!
    Anyway, the OP has just moved in, so they should do whatever they like. A small garden can be made conventionally pretty in a matter of weeks when/if they want to move on. I think a seating place on the side of the slope sounds great and I doubt if it need interfere with the workings of the ditch. It isn't likely to be like the Grand Canyon!





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