Property Editor Tommy Barker reveals how gardens add value to your property.
A few things collectively helped to save the nation’s sanity during the strictest times of the national lockdown.
Apart from family and friends (if you were lucky), or the calm, positives-seeking demeanour of Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ Radio One and the Late Late Show, our lifesavers were the good weather, and outdoor spaces, be they access to public parks, empty streets to roam, even emptier beaches (for the fortunate few within the 2kms radius) and, most widely of all, the life and sanity savers were Ireland’s gardens.
For the fortunate many, that is. Covid-19 has tilted the world on its axis, and while we all hope a vaccine, or a retrorviral, will see it off in a short while and banish it to the realms of history like previous plagues and exotically-titled flus, we won’t forget its brutal impact on our lives, on our freedoms, on our loved ones, on our society.
Among those salutary lessons is the essential need to bond with our wider environment, to be in spaces unlimited — ones not a boxed-in 10’ by 12’ with an 8’6” ceiling — right up to the sky. In the domestic life of individuals and families, and most critically on the home front, that means things jump up the wish-list scale such as access to both public and private outdoor areas, sanctuaries..
At Ireland’s most locked-down moments, there emerged a clear “haves” and “have-nots”, along the lines of access to parks and gardens, while media, from newspaper features to radio and TV, all showed the release valve from stress that is the pleasure of a garden, however big or small.
Undoubtedly, the nation’s gardens came under scrutiny, and intense new uses, as never before.
Cocooning older people relished them, woke up and literally smelled the roses.
Others stood by lawnmowers, waiting for an unfortunate weed to show its face, before cutting off any suspect heads with French Revolutionary zeal.
Gardens became outdoor gyms too, with athletic-minded types training and exercising there.
At-risk folk did laps of their gardens and stepped up and down anything vertical that wasn’t going to topple over, in a bid to keep limbs mobile, and lungs aired.
Parents concocted garden games, bought Swingball, goal nets, and paddling pools (this was just before the hosepipe bans. And those hosepipe bans were just before this week’s torrential thunder and lightning-enhanced downpours).
And for the more green-fingered, access to compost and plant and flower seeds to sow was almost up there in the Klondyke goldrush-like surges, with a fervour that just fell shy of the hunt back in March for elusive toilet rolls. Folk bought seed of any and all varieties and hues and got sowing with a vengeance.
Hmm, wonder what’s coming up as planned and planted?!
When Covid-19 impacts lessen, as they surely will, things that should remain in our lives should be an appreciation of home, of what constitutes a home, a realisation of what a privilege it is to have a home. And a garden. Or a balcony. Or a terrarium, at a push.
Looking forward, who wants to be a parent of a young child, or a few, in a city apartment, with a north-facing aspect, and no balcony or roof garden?
Who’d like to be selling the concept of co-living right now? Or, houseshares and the gamut of other set-ups with private, en suite spaces of maybe just 20 square metres per person, and otherwise shared amenities like kitchens, couches and TV remotes? Especially while half the country is afraid to grasp the handle of a supermarket trolley without hand sanitising, and fretting while tacking up and down the shop aisles, wearing face masks?
So, what a blessing is a garden, a private retreat space/gym/site of a home office/ repository of nature, home to birdlife, flora and fauna!
Accepting all of this now-obvious appreciation, we should expect the quality of a garden to feature more highly on the scale of what we’d like in our domestic set-ups, surely higher up than things like granite worktops, central vacuums and wired for sound fandangles?
We’re likely to prize good gardens and interesting features and planting more highly than ever before, both for living in, and when buying and selling, so we should all be thinking of planting, and landscaping, right now. How hard is it to plant a tree, shrub or bulbs?
How sad is a garden with a fence, a back wall, a straggle of grass and a moss–covered “patio”/slab of concrete? Dispiriting, is what that is.
Even €100 will get things going and growing. €500 will go a lot further. €1,000 if you do the work yourself will prove magic, and will repay a dividend ten-fold if/when you come to sell a property.
Give a stand of trees in even the most suburban or gardens ten years of growth, and you can sling a hammock between them for happy days of garden balming. Then, when you come to sell, framing your prized asset (your home, that is) with a colourful hammock in the foreground will be the ultimate “money shot”.
Put them down now; and maybe some ivies and fragrant climbers on boundary walls too; enjoy them in the interim, with every change of the seasons, and know that if/when you are moving on, what you leave behind will put money in your pocket in hard-nosed terms of sale returns.
Even if you’re not naturally green, know that money does indeed grow on trees, in gardens.
When browsing these Irish Examiner Property & Home pages for a desirable residence, or scanning property site like Myhome and daft.ie, you’ll appreciate that a good garden encourages online visitors to linger that bit longer, and yearn that bit stronger. After Covid-19, and with a new Government in the offing, we’re all heading that bit greener.