There’s something very special about spending time outdoors and when you create a lovely garden space in your own property, it’s something that adds value in many more ways than mere finances.

Well-designed outdoor space makes a perfect place for entertaining and it can also add a wonderful calmness to your home – the ideal spot for reading, relaxing and enjoying.

But creating a garden doesn’t have to be a huge, ongoing chore. With some careful planning, making a low-maintenance garden space will improve the way you feel about your property – and the way potential buyers think about it, if you’re putting it on the market in the future.

 

1. GROW PLANTS TOGETHER

Those lush gardens that you love? The plants are grown together. It’s a way of maximising the space you have but the main thing is that it’s actually very healthy for your plants. By exposing less soil to the sun and wind, moisture is locked in and it also minimises the growth of nasty weeds. And some plants benefit from being together for other reasons, such as natural pest control (do a search on companion planting to learn more…).

 

2. SHAPE YOUR GARDEN

Want a good-looking garden? Pruning is a must. Yes, that takes time but it’s time with obvious benefits.

As dead and damaged branches emerge, trim them off. Lawn care is also key to a good-looking garden. If you have not got the time to do the work yourself, outsource it. If the financial resources to have a regular lawn maintenance specialist are not in your budget, your path to a low-maintenance garden must include reducing lawn space and looking for other alternatives (mulch, landscaped paving, etc).

 

3. FEED Your SOIL, instead of the PLANTS

Your plants need nutrients, just like you do. Because the health of your plants relies on healthy roots, when you add plant food to your garden you will get the most out of your investment if you ensure it is the soil that is being improved, for long-term garden health. Investing time and money in quality soil enrichment (talk to your local gardening specialist about the specific nutrients your particular plants will benefit from best) will help you create a low-maintenance garden in the long-run.

It’s a great reason to create a compost bin at home (and do your online research to get easy tips about how). By having a compost bin, you’ll minimise rubbish and help the environment AND provide a fantastic home for your plants to help you minimise the need for regular watering.

 

4. WIDE BEDS are best

Planting flowers and herbs in wide garden beds give your garden an order and rich depth. It also helps minimise weed growth (perfect for any low-maintenance garden).

Create your garden beds by edging them with large slabs of stone, or timber – after the initial hard work, you’ll halve the amount of gardening maintenance work you do by helping maximise water retention and minimising weed growth to create a garden you’ll be proud to own.

 

5. ADD colourful bursts

Greenery is great. But if you prefer a tropical feel, look at colourful flowers to make your garden pop.

Remember that herbs and vegetables are a great addition of colour too and the added benefit is that they help make your garden practical by providing food for you and your family.

Choosing the right plants for your garden depends on your climate and local environment, so be sure to talk specifically about your low-maintenance gardening dreams to your friendly neighbourhood nursery/garden centre to ensure that the plant choices you make are best for your property. To minimise watering time, choosing native Australian plants that are indigenous to your local area will help reduce water usage and form the foundations of a garden that looks good, without the need for intense garden maintenance.

 

Creating a great garden is a smart way to add value to your home – and even if you have no plans to sell your property this year, time and money invested in designing a low-maintenance garden will reward you in years to come.

Planning to refinance to improve your home with the addition of a swimming pool to while away hot summer days?

Be sure to take the time to research what swimming pool is right for you to ensure your investment is rewarded with years of happy use.

 

Planning Your Pool

Before you take the plunge? Consider this…

Installing a swimming pool is a significant investment.

And it’s not just your finances – a pool in your yard takes up time, space and maintenance dollars too.

Before you book your appointment with the swimming pool specialists, ask yourself some key questions.

 

Above-Ground Pools

Above-ground pools are a lot more affordable but they still require installation, landscaping, maintenance and safety checks.

The most basic above-ground model pools don’t use filtration equipment. But that does mean adding fresh water regularly and keeping the pool clean.

Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1000 or more.

For a more substantial above-ground pool, with its own filtration equipment, expect to pay between $1,000-$10,000 – and that doesn’t include landscaping and accessories.

Don’t expect it to add value to your home.

The reality is that, without some lovely landscaping and quality materials, a cheap looking above-ground pool might even detract from your property. To know if it’s the right move for you, ask yourself why you want the pool and if the level of your enjoyment will outweigh the potential hassle of owning it.

 

In-Ground Pools

Go professional with an in-ground pool and the costs can soar.

Begin with the most low-key landscaping surrounds and basic safety fencing and that alone can cost around $20,000.

The more design elements you add, the more the costs increase. A stunning pool with gorgeous landscaping can definitely add value to your home but be sure to choose a well-known pool company to ensure a great job.

You might get into the market at around $40,000, but be aware that some pools cost more than $100,000 – and beyond.

The extra costs of landscaping, accessories, lighting and building materials all add up. Be realistic about what you need/want and can afford. If you have young children, make sure you plan a pool design that can carry you through their teenage years too.

 

Your Property

The more difficult your property is to access, or if the property has sloping ground or rocky soil, the installation of your dream swimming pool will be more difficult.

Difficult conditions can also mean a longer construction time.

 

Pool Safety Is Key

Be aware of the laws around pool fencing – they are rigorous and must be adhered to prevent accidental drownings, even if you don’t have children of your own. Always check with your local council and pool contractor to be sure that your swimming pool fencing meets Australian safety standards.

Once your budget is set, that’s the ideal time to talk to your mortgage broker about the best deal to refinance and improve your property.

By next summer, you could be enjoying your home in a whole new way.

 

 

As the holiday season approaches, many home-owners are keen to find extra ways to earn some much-needed additional income.

And with much media about Airbnb, there are an increasing number of property owners exploring their options.

But before you jump into what can be very murky waters, it’s important to understand the risks – as well as the potential benefits.

If you are considering letting strangers into your home, taking steps to protect your most valuable financial asset – your home or investment property – is critical.

 

Extra Income Opportunity

In San Francisco, Airbnb statistics reveal that around 56% of hosts claim to use the additional income to pay towards mortgage debt or rent.

If you’re hoping to do the same, try these practical tips:

 

1. Clear Communication

Be honest. If your swimming pool is really a small spa, it’s important to make that clear.

And your convenient washer and dryer? If they’re really in a shared laundry at your apartment complex, it’s vital that your listing reflects the truth. Not only will it help attract the right tenant, it will also help make your temporary tenant feel happy in your home. If they are happy to be there, they are more likely to look after your property.

 

2. The Ideal Hotel Host

Hosting an Airbnb home takes some care.

And for good reviews that will keep others coming back? Don’t skimp on essential amenities.

Without Wifi, these days, your home doesn’t stand a chance. Be prepared to provide the password so visitors to your home can access their online worlds – even easier to post your property a positive review.

Offering fresh towels is also vital.

Car spaces and free parking is another bonus for would-be holidayers in your home.

Other specific offerings, such as an ironing board, can help make that business trip to your city or town run smoothly for your guest – after all, nobody likes being out and about with crumpled clothing.

 

3. Time is Money

If this is an important income stream for you, treat it like a business and run it professionally. By managing your calendar well, you can keep vacancies to a minimum – and that means more guests and more money for your mortgage. Potential guests get very frustrated if they see calendars that haven’t been properly updated. Invest the time in maintaining yours for the best possible Airbnb success. It’s not just manners – it’s marketing. The less guests you decline, the higher up on the Airbnb search listing your property will appear.

Remember – Airbnb isn’t for everyone. Before considering offering your own home as a potential rental, become a tenant to someone else’s Airbnb listing to see how they do it. Also, it’s smart to talk to your accountant about tax implications – and some advice from a professional insurance specialist will make sure you’re property protected.

 

If you need advice for a personal loanhome loan, business or commercial loan, self-managed super fund loan, or an investment home loan, speak to a broker at Lending Specialists. We have a wealth of experience under our belt and a robust network to connect you to the right industry professional for the loan you need.