A vacation rental garden or yard can be a massive plus point for properties. But only if they are tended and looked after.
One idyllic place I stayed in Long Island, NY, was the exception that proved this rule. It had one of the most guest and owner-friendly arrangements I’ve come across. It was a ranch style house set on a woodland hillside with an extensive decking area overlooking untended woodland.
Perfect for guests relaxing and enjoying the outdoors ambiance. And great for the owner who had only the deck to maintain!
A vacation rental garden needs time and attention
But most gardens and yards will need more of your time and attention unless they are to become liabilities. Keeping everything in a vacation rental garden looking lovely is labor intensive. Some owners – those with a villa in a resort or a condo, perhaps – won’t have to face this problem. They have jointly-owned communal facilities whose upkeep they pay for through a central fund.
Others though, will need to decide how their vacation rental garden, yard or grounds will be maintained. Particularly if they live away from the property and have neither time nor inclination for gardening and maintenance.
I’ll put my own hand up here as I have neither the time nor the skills required to achieve the level of attractiveness I like to see in the yard of my Florida property. Thankfully, it’s on a resort and the grounds are maintained centrally to a high standard.
Devise a year-round garden
Elaborate cottage gardens of the type you might find in the English countryside may be a big attraction for guests, but can provide problems for the absentee owner. They need planting, pruning and tending. Unless you have a gardener living nearby, they will often look less than lovely. If you rent all year round, you’ll need to think about how your vacation rental garden will look in off-seasons and perhaps devise a garden that will look good all year round.
Unless you’re going for the feature garden, practicality, simplicity and ease of maintenance are the order of the day. Lawns are lower maintenance than flower beds and some areas can be graveled or paved to be used as suntraps. Concreting over is not a good look – although it may provide more parking space for guest cars.
Don’t rely on guests to water plants
If you do decide to cut down on the greenery, relying on a few potted specimens to brighten up the space, don’t forget that most plants need regular watering and you cannot rely on guests to do this. When guests arrive it’s a real downer if they are greeted by a dying pot plant on their sunny vacation.
A fellow owner who loves plants and green gardens admitted to me that he never has plants indoors for this reason. ‘Fine while they’re fresh and healthy and in full bloom. But how are you going to keep them looking that way?’ The same guy offers this other tip for newbie owners: don’t have too many ornaments indoors – they simply gather dust and make the place look cluttered.
Garden ponds, fish pools and ‘water features’ are favoured in some places, though these are not practical for several reasons. They need constant attention and can be a danger to small children and toddlers wandering around the property. Any fish you keep will need care and protection from predators such as cats and (in my neighbour’s case) marauding herons.
Monitor maintenance via CCTV
So, assuming that you’ve decided on a green vacation rental garden and found your local gardener who will look after it, how do you know it’s being looked after if you’re 4,000 miles away? A friend of mine had this exact problem. His solution? A small CCTV camera pointed at his garden. It’s important that this should respect the privacy of any guests, as mentioned in my earlier blog about vacation rental security.
It may sound extreme, but it works well for him. There may be certain local restrictions about whether or where you can place a camera, depending on the country or state your property is in. In Florida, for instance, you can place the camera so that it shows only those areas which can also be seen by someone outside the property.
If you worry about your vacation rental garden or yard being well maintained while you’re not there, this may be a good solution.
So, if you’ve just acquired your property and it has a garden or yard, then you have a great asset if you make plans now. Decide what you want and how you will maintain it and it should continue to be an asset. Who knows? If your plans are clever enough, your vacation rental garden could create a major selling point for your property.