While searching for a new home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the beauty of a perfect porch or fancy fireplace. We can become so focused on that one perfect thing that we can lose sight of other important things, like landscaping.
My husband and I fell in love with the interior of our home when we purchased it a few years ago. We were so much in love with the inside that the outside didn’t matter – until we began the long and grueling process of trying to keep up with the jungle that was our yard.
Year after year, our yard grew thick with flowers, shrubs, vines and a whole bunch of other green stuff. It became way too much for us to manage, so we made the decision to downgrade to a simple, clean look with mulch, rock and a few bushes. Despite having all of the vegetation dug up, treated and replaced by a team of professionals, it still continues to come back years later. Had I not been so overwhelmed by the porch and fireplace, I may have paid more attention to the yard and asked a few more questions about what was growing there and for how long.
If you’re on the hunt for a new home, here are some common landscaping problems to look for, according to some experts.
Paver Patio and Steps
While a paver patio may add a cool and welcoming look to a backyard, it needs to be maintained. Duane Draughon, co-founder and designer at VizX Design Studios, LLC in Chicago, says home buyers should pay special attention to steps.
“A lot of times paver steps are not built correctly and they start falling apart or start moving,” he says. “Sometimes homeowners will try to have a simple patch fix to sell the property, but never fix the real issue.” Steps can be a costly repair, especially if you’re not expecting it.
Exposed Tree Roots and Limbs over the Roof
Trees with exposed roots aren’t unusual, but they’re worth taking a closer look at. “Depending on how close they are to the foundation of your home, they can cause structural damage now or in the future,” says Owner of American Turf &Tree Care, Brad Woods.
He also suggests checking out any limbs that hang over the roof, as they can damage shingles and make it easier for pests like squirrels and possums to get in and cause problems.
Watering your lawn can be time consuming, especially if it involves standing outside with a garden hose. An irrigation system can save you time and is ideal when it comes to keeping your lawn watered and well-maintained. However, these systems do come with their disadvantages.
“I have seen many homeowners get burned after purchasing a home because they failed to check over the irrigation system the home had before they bought it,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO of Greenpal, in Nashville, Tennessee.
“A system that has not been installed improperly or hasn’t been maintained over the years will have dozens and dozens of leaks in it, costing thousands of dollars to repair and potentially thousands of dollars and wasted water,” he says.
Clayton suggests spending the money to have the system inspected by a professional before the sale of the home takes place. An inspection can help identify any issues or surprises with the system, and it may save you money down the road. Clayton says to spend the money – you’ll be glad you did.
Landscaping Against the House
Landscaping can be used to hide or disguise problems that’s why it’s important to look closely at anything that sits close to or against the home. “Some prospective buyers love discovering bushes, shrubs and flowerbeds in the backyard, but be aware that any
foliage that comes in direct contact with the house can pose a risk to your siding,” says Woods. “It can also make it easier for insects like carpenter ants or termites to find their way inside.”
He also suggests taking a closer look at the soil grade around the home. “If the ground slopes downwards towards the home, water probably pools against the foundation when it rains or when the lawn is watered.” He says this can lead to mold and other problems.
Buying a new home is exciting and it shouldn’t be filled with grief or regret. With that said, these landscaping issues shouldn’t be a deal breaker when it comes to buying a home.
Woods offers up this suggestion, “After the home is inspected, make a list of any issues or concerns with the landscape and request that the sellers complete the repairs or offer a lower price to allow for those repairs to be done once you’ve purchased the property.”