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For sale! One low-maintenance garden

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Kevin Smith Kevin Smith | 08:20 UK time, Sunday, 6 March 2011

We put our house on the market a few weeks ago. It's the usual story - we haven't got quite enough space, we'd like to be closer to a good school for our daughter and, high up on the list, we'd like a bigger garden. Of course, this wish list is exactly that - a wish. The housing market is totally stagnant in Westcliff on Sea, Essex and we've only had one viewing in the six weeks we've been for sale. Somehow, I think we'll be staying put.

Kevin Smith's 'low-maintenance' garden

But let's pretend we are moving, and that we've had masses of viewings, because that gives me lots to say about my garden. First of all, and this is something I guess we all know, estate agents do not understand a thing about gardening. The particulars outlining what our house has to offer describe the back garden as 'commencing with a paved seating area with low-maintenance shrubs and a raised fishpond'. What a complete load of old rubbish. I told the agent, Scott I think his was called, that the garden was anything but low maintenance but he seemed to think that no lawn means no effort. There's no lawn because there are lots of plants. A lot of plants that need a lot of effort. I do have a raised fishpond, and I do have a seating area, so I'll concede there.

Of course, Scott didn't venture outside in his shiny suit and pointy shoes to take a proper look at the 'low-maintenance shrubs' he describes, and if someone does buy our house expecting a low-maintenance garden they're going to get a shock come the summer. The copious herbaceous plants, giant gunnera, even more giant tetrapanax and the towering arundo donax will all spring to life, transporting the new owners to Jurassic Park in no time at all.

raised fish pond

Of course in reality this won't happen, because I'm going to dig up all of my plants and take them with me to my new garden, leaving the new owner with nothing but a gravel path and bare borders. Ha, that'll teach Scott. I think there might be rules that say I'm legally bound to leave my 'low-maintenance shrubs' where they are, but as I don't have any of those I reckon I'll be fine. And I'll leave the pond and the seating area, meaning I'm fulfilling two thirds of the deal anyway.

massive pot

But can I be bothered with the faff? How on earth will I begin to lift and pot up countless plants from the ground, not to mention move several huge containers, a massive potted olive tree and an equally massive potted trachycarpus? There'll be loads to do indoors, and I can't imagine my wife will take too kindly to me diving into the garden every five minutes to dig up a few plants. And will I need an extra removal van just to shift them all? If so, how much is that going to cost? And will they all survive the move anyway?

It's probably a good job we've had zero interest. The thought of shifting an entire garden, low-maintenance or otherwise, is enough to put anyone off moving.

What are you experiences of moving garden? Have you got any advice to share?


  • Comment number 1.

    My house has been on the market a lot longer than yours! The one consolation is that it looks all green and leafy rather than the Scottish winter look! My estate agent was actually really good and I thik made it look better than in reality. Good luck!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have just moved house, and I think I was the worst customer my removal men had ever had! Alongside the van for furniture, I filled a transit van, our car, my Mums car and a very helpful neighbour's car with plants! I moved from a patio flat into a bungalow with a large garden (already filled with plants) but I couldn't bring myself to leave a single plant behind. I took each and every one. Moving day was very tough, not helped by torrential rain, but I have to say I'm glad I brought them all. It's lovely walking through my new garden and seeing my old plants nestled in there somewhere! The other half was not very happy that I was more worried about the plants than how wet the mattress was getting but there you go! I asked the people who were buying our flat if they were at all interested in gardening and their response was a firm 'No' so I don't feel guilty about leaving it empty - just guilty about the birds that will probably go unfed since we left. Good Luck!

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah, it's so nice to hear I'm not alone on this one. Muddy Boots, I think I'll be similar to you, asking every Tom, Dick and Harry to help me shift stuff if we do ever sell!

  • Comment number 4.

    Our local pointy shoed chap, also called Scott (or was it Rupert?) was not impressed with our garden as a selling point at a recent valuation, despite much love and attention lavished on all 220 ft of it. 'Hmmm, people don't want a garden', he said & valued our property at less that a similarly sized house but with midget garden, down the road. I guess gardens are very personal spaces and worth more to the owner than anyone else. So- yes - take it with you!

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Kevin,we have recently moved and my husband decided to take our beautifully landscaped garden with us. He labouriously dug up the boarder and then sank the pots back into the ground until we were ready to move. The plants appear to have survived well and are now awaiting replanting. I think that the new owners of our ground floor flat had a bit of a shock when they moved in as the boarder was a lot emptier than when they initally viewed it!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello again,

    I just wanted to add that when we came to view the bungalow, the estate agent told us what a low-maintenance garden it was which made me laugh out loud. Low maintenance - are you crazy? If you think looking after trees, hedges, veg patch, borders, lawn, pond, shrubs, climbers and the rest is low maintenance - I will eat my boots. I couldn't resist telling the owner about his remark to which she replied 'What would he know? He wears pointy shoes'. They had tended their garden for 15 years and I think they were happy to know that I was going to carry on rather than rip it all out and concrete the whole thing.

    If someone who has a mature garden moves, I wonder if they are ever tempted to go and have a peek at what it looks like 5 years later?

    I just read Helen's post and had to respond - Estate Agents really don't get they? And what is the deal with the pointy shoes?

  • Comment number 7.

    You poor devil...then theres the planting at the other end. I reckon go for the big ones, the ones that have something attached to them emotionally and the ones you might find hard to replace then allow the rest to be part of'll free up some space the other end for you to get busy with too...but then you'll just feel like a cup of tea and a rest after the move!

  • Comment number 8.

    Helen, I can't believe an agent said that about your garden. What on earth was the twit thinking? And 'people do want a garden' - I for one want one.

    And I have to admit that I had some pointy shoes once. Eek...


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