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  • Buy-to-Let

    Gardens and interiors

    Nice one Brian! Just logged in after several days out on the more physical aspects of property and seen your post. Could definitely make a real 'feature' out of this!!! Not sure about raised rents, but definitely raised eyebrows ;o)
    Jayne
    Brian Heath said:
    Good decision, Jayne.If you want to be really trendy, perch the bath and loo out in the garden, fill with flowers and trailing plants, (or turn them into miniature ponds with fountains), take lots of photographs, and contact the local press with a drafted editorial script,"Chic contemporary garden, a hidden gem in the midst of local terraced housing drabness, available to rent to the most trendy of tenants in .... Jayne Owen, local home owner, passionate about anything living, is looking for an exceptionally keen garden lover for her lonely house, which is surrounded on all sides by terraced drabness".You might not get a tenant, and you might not get a higher rent - but you will get a lot of smiles and goodwill where you are :)BrianJayne Owen said:
    Brian, thanks for such a comprehensive reply, your help and some really good ideas.Thank you to everyone who has replied. All the comments here have been valuable, and have helped me come to the conclusion to leave the plants in situ for now. When we have a tenant and they have settled in, I'll review it with them in the autumn, and remove the plants if they want an easier maintenance area.Now all we need to do is find a home for the outgoing turquoise bathroom suite and burgundy loo ....Brian Heath said:
    Hi Jayne,I am a garden designer, craftsman gardener (Cannington College) and horticulturalist. As far as property investment is concerned, I am a novice. What a great question, though. If you would like to send me digital photographs of the plants you have, I could give you fairly specific advice. I would recommend you take a good set of photographs of the garden anyway, in all it's pristine glory, and try specifically marketing the house in post office windows locally - your photos would 'sell' it, without a doubt. If you get several people contacting you, then most likely the person who expresses the keenest interest in the garden is likely to be your longest-serving tenant, who looks after the whole property the best out of everyone: if they care that much about plants, they'll also care that much about their home, one thinks.You may well have a 'marketing niche' opportunity by offering your house to a garden lover. People are motivated to make use of a garden in many different ways. I can talk to you about this on a separate occasion, perhaps. I feel that this aspect could best be addressed within a separate thread in its own right - and others may well have plenty to say about this, too.Sometimes people want to keep a dog or other pets in a garden. This might be the garden's best use from your point of view as owner/investor, as you could get a very loyal tenant, paying a premium, this way.Here are a few specific thoughts for you to consider:The best times to move plants are autumn and spring (in that order) as then they recover best from the damage and stress of being moved, and need the minimum of 'nursing'.It can make sense to lift certain plants, plant them in a pot, box or tray (plastic, wooden or other), and re-bury or part re-bury them in the same ground they came out from. This makes them portable. In situ, they get bigger and become more valuable as a result (especially perennials).Most likely, certain plants in the borders you mention would be best removed, and others left.The most valuable use for surplus garden plants, to my mind, is to offer them as gifts to those who would value them for what they are. You could consider using them in bartering, too.In my own case, I allocate special propagating areas in my own garden and other land I use, for growing on surplus garden plants which I can recycle later. If I am renovating someone's garden, for example, it is helpful to have a supply of garden plants to hand for creating an 'instant' effect, which can be impossible to achieve if one were to try to buy plants in.As a rough guide, allocate a value of £1 per square foot of boxed up garden plants if you are using them in these ways. They need no special treatment - just fill the box with garden soil and freshly-dug plants, cut down the foliage of the plants you place in these boxes (to prevent fast drying out), put in a sheltered place, and take steps to prevent them drying up (mulch them, for a start, with grass clippings, newspaper, plastic, bark chip, stones, anything at all).I regularly collect up old tomato boxes, plastic vegetable trays, and polystyrene boxes from greengrocers and fishmongers locally as season-long makeshift, robust, free, plant containers for this kind of purpose.Many garden plants produce flowers (and foliage) which are good for cutting. This might be of use to you.Many established gardens contain scores of bulbs. These are easy to move of course, and are worth 5p - 10p each, even if you use them somewhere else, or barter them.You can let many plants propagate themselves and produce scores of offspring, simply by spreading coarse sand underneath them, which seeds fall into and then germinate. You can have shallow trays hidden under the sand, so the whole trayfull of seedlings can be quickly picked up and removed when ready.You could contact the local WI or gardening club, and offer your plants for free to anyone who would like to remove them, in return for their leaving the garden tidy for you. This could lead you directly to a good tenant, by the way.Consider whether the erection of any of these structures would add value: lockable shed, large weather-proof storage box, pergola, shade canopy, retractable drying line, or linhay.Erection of a framework with clear plastic roofing is cheap and easy to do. The weather protection this provides can serve as extra rentable space - enclosing an outside storage area, for example, or a utility room.Planning permission is not needed for free-standing structures in your garden if no more than 50% of the garden space is covered by them. Neither is pp needed for any structure which is not entirely weather-proof (so, for example, you can create a large area sheltered from rain - think in terms of an outdoor 'room', storage space, utility room, etc).Raised beds are good for growing vegetables, herbs and cut flower material. These can belong to you or your tenant. All have value. If you mulch the beds, with natural or man-made materials, little if any maintenance is required; particularly with certain kinds of plants (which I can advise you about if you wish).A pond liner (often available for free in a local area), even a small one, acts as a water reservoir for irrigation by gravity (use a siphon and/or micro-irrigation tubing) if set up on the highest point of your raised beds. It can be kept continually filled automatically by a pipe feeding in from the gutter of any roof space (a shed, for example)Have a look a YouTube videos on 'square foot gardening' for an idea of how productive a small space can be.There is a lot more that could be said on this subject, but I trust this gives you something to go on.Brian
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    Another great idea, which I may well incorporate. Thanks Roberta!
    Jayne
    Roberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps.Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win.RobertaBrian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that SmileI think we'd better draw the line there, thoughVanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.
    The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.
    Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).
    If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor Wink
    Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.
    Brian
    Roberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps. Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta

    Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that Smile I think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    I love the idea of the hidden plunge bed. Unfortunately the only "higher up" bit of the garden is the roof of the extension! It's quite a small area. Still, could be a good talking point for the neighbourhood!

    Brian Heath said:
    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor ;)Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.BrianRoberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps.Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that SmileI think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    Jayne, if there's one thing about garden design, it's creative Wink
    Nothing daunted, how about:
    Making a shed roof garden (all 6' x 4' of it!) out of old polystyrene plant pot trays, scrounged from a garden centre, filling them with any old soil, and planting a Houseleek in each one. Tack a wooden batten across the front of the shed roof to prevent the trays falling off. Paint the trays brown first with a mixture from all your old paint pots (dark colours mixed together always make brown, you'll find) for disguise. Houseleeks spread sideways, thus covering the entire tray. They can be grown from seed, thrive on hot dry roofs, grow quickly, flower spectacularly, deter cats, require minimal weeding, , and look great all the year round, are edible, and are worth £1 each after one year's growth.
    Yield: 10 plants per square foot x 24 sq feet = £240 per annum per roof face (x 2 = £480). Bonus: fresh veg every week, a beautiful roof, and more publicity in the local rag.
    Next instalment - how to hide a toilet (sorry, 'header tank') in a garden.
    Smile
    Jayne Owen said:
    I love the idea of the hidden plunge bed. Unfortunately the only "higher up" bit of the garden is the roof of the extension! It's quite a small area. Still, could be a good talking point for the neighbourhood!

    Brian Heath said:
    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor ;)Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.BrianRoberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps.Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that SmileI think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    0
    I'll extend the notion of how to use spare roof space in another instalment: maybe the shed analogy gives a taster towards this.
    Brian Heath said:
    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.
    The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.
    Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).
    If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor Wink
    Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.
    Brian
    Roberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps. Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta
    Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that Smile I think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    All the more relevant as this is in Wales .... :o)

    Brian Heath said:
    Jayne, if there's one thing about garden design, it's creative ;)Nothing daunted, how about:Making a shed roof garden (all 6' x 4' of it!) out of old polystyrene plant pot trays, scrounged from a garden centre, filling them with any old soil, and planting a Houseleek in each one. Tack a wooden batten across the front of the shed roof to prevent the trays falling off. Paint the trays brown first with a mixture from all your old paint pots (dark colours mixed together always make brown, you'll find) for disguise. Houseleeks spread sideways, thus covering the entire tray. They can be grown from seed, thrive on hot dry roofs, grow quickly, flower spectacularly, deter cats, require minimal weeding, , and look great all the year round, are edible, and are worth £1 each after one year's growth.Yield: 10 plants per square foot x 24 sq feet = £240 per annum per roof face (x 2 = £480). Bonus: fresh veg every week, a beautiful roof, and more publicity in the local rag.Next instalment - how to hide a toilet (sorry, 'header tank') in a garden.SmileJayne Owen said:
    I love the idea of the hidden plunge bed. Unfortunately the only "higher up" bit of the garden is the roof of the extension! It's quite a small area. Still, could be a good talking point for the neighbourhood!Brian Heath said:
    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor ;)Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.BrianRoberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps.Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that SmileI think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    My apologies, though, Jayne, for going off on a tangent about sheds. Let's stick to the garden you actually have.
    You mention the house has an extension roof. I will assume, until I know better, that this is pitched slate roof.
    First, Houseleeks (Sempervivum tectorum, and other species) need only be pinned underneath a slate, with no extra soil, compost, water, fuss, or bother. If you can find a clump from a kindly old Welsh lady somewhere, just pull off a 'pup' from the side of the parent plant, and tuck it underneath a slate for safe-keeping. They live off the dust that settles naturally into cracks between slates (same as they would do in the wild, growing between shattered pieces of rock on a dry scree slope). There are other plants you can use in the same way, but I won't trouble you with those - you are a time-prescious investor, no doubt, not a botanist cum plant collector, I'm sure :-)
    So, back to the point - how to hide your water storage device?
    possibilities:
    Collect up old header tanks as people update their properties, and install them in the roof of your extension if you can. You can link them together with a self-siphoning system, and then an overflow into the garden. Divert water into them from the main roof of your house (which should be higher than the extension, I guess). Attach a scrounged hopper to the wall of your extension, and connect a gravity-fed micro-irrigation system to it, which forms a 'watering ring main' round the whole garden. Research by Googling 'micro-irrigation + Youtube'
    Build up a 'false wall' in one corner of the garden, with old scrounged bricks, and create a platform high enough up behind this to perch your header tank (sorry, old toilet pan) onto. Make a gravity-fed irrigation system from the outlet pipe of this (Google 'gravity-fed irrigation + Youtube' to see how this is done, in principle as well as in practice).
    The false wall also can be a useful extra storage area in its own right, and/or act as a support pier for home-made 'roofing' which might be of use in this garden in any number of ways.
    Simplest way of all to hide a header tank - make any kind of screen, using wood, stone, brick, or bamboo canes, and grow plants in front of it. Which brings us back to where this all began - what to do with the plants in your garden? Wink
    There you are (as the Welsh say); after many weeks and many words, there, m'dear, be your answer - make screens.
    All this, though, I must say, excrutiatingly, is beating around the bush somewhat, most likely.
    If you would seriously like more input and advice from the horticultralist/environmentally friendly/sustainable/DIY/low cost/low maintenance/pseudo-profitable or plain outright whacky angle, drop me a private message, and I'll oblige without high-jacking your blog to do so.
    Happy investing,
    Brian

    Jayne Owen said:
    All the more relevant as this is in Wales .... :o)

    Brian Heath said:
    Jayne, if there's one thing about garden design, it's creative ;)Nothing daunted, how about:Making a shed roof garden (all 6' x 4' of it!) out of old polystyrene plant pot trays, scrounged from a garden centre, filling them with any old soil, and planting a Houseleek in each one. Tack a wooden batten across the front of the shed roof to prevent the trays falling off. Paint the trays brown first with a mixture from all your old paint pots (dark colours mixed together always make brown, you'll find) for disguise. Houseleeks spread sideways, thus covering the entire tray. They can be grown from seed, thrive on hot dry roofs, grow quickly, flower spectacularly, deter cats, require minimal weeding, , and look great all the year round, are edible, and are worth £1 each after one year's growth.Yield: 10 plants per square foot x 24 sq feet = £240 per annum per roof face (x 2 = £480). Bonus: fresh veg every week, a beautiful roof, and more publicity in the local rag.Next instalment - how to hide a toilet (sorry, 'header tank') in a garden.SmileJayne Owen said:
    I love the idea of the hidden plunge bed. Unfortunately the only "higher up" bit of the garden is the roof of the extension! It's quite a small area. Still, could be a good talking point for the neighbourhood!Brian Heath said:
    Tip: Yours is definitely a good idea, Roberta. Just to take it a slight step further - it is worth making a temporary raised bed to contain your potted plants. All you need is a few spare blocks or bricks. Old bricks are nice, and they don't need to be stuck together - if you make a latticework of the bricks, with gaps between them all, it looks surprisingly interesting. With blocks, you can lean old roof slates up against them, or use stones instead if available.The point is: pots plunged in behind this frontal screen, with packing in between as you say, benefit from protection from the sun's rays - and thus stay cooler, which is better for plant roots, and slows down their drying out, of course.Crushed slates on the top can look very good. This is also functional; though of course, as you say, bark is OK (though maybe not so nice, and it can be thrown about by blackbirds looking for worms).If Jayne gets really inspired, she could use the old toilet, hidden higher up in the garden (screended by plants?), as a header tank providing drip irrigation to every potted plant in your plunge bed. Automatic watering for the passive investor ;)Result - an ornamental plunge bed which saves a lot of watering.BrianRoberta Ward said:
    If this was my property I may have done a bit of a compromise in that I would have moved some of the plants into pots with some of that gel stuff inside to help them stay hydrated. Then I would have used some bark or pebbles or similar to fill in the gaps.Then if the tenants dont look after the plants in pots you can remove them easily and sell or use them elsewhere. If by removing some you create a big enough area for small table and chairs-all to the good! Win-win. Roberta Brian Heath said:
    Well, somebody said that property investment should be fun. So should having a bath outside be, come to that SmileI think we'd better draw the line there, though Vanessa said:
    Brian, you are a ray of sunshine, as always! Love your recycling idea. Thank you for making me smile! x
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    Having a small garden within house is good feel always, at least for me. There are so many sites and books that may guide you thoroughly to maintain the garden. You can invest your personal time, may also ask other members to share the tasks. Such gardens don’t need too much investment. But lawns always add value of your property.
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