Spring is in the air and gardens will soon be buzzing with the sound of lawn-mowers as homeowners give their grass its first cut of the year.
This is more than just a satisfying annual ritual — a carefully tended lawn pays financial dividends.
And the benefit is far more than you might expect if you listen to Ed Jephson, of Stacks Property Search.
Verdant: The lush green lawn is a feature of this pretty cottage in Somerset. Getting your turf is an easy way to add value to your home
‘An impressive lawn can add up to 5 per cent to the sale price of your house,’ he says. ‘That makes it the easiest way of adding value, without breaking the bank.’
How to go about creating an attractive lawn that will entice buyers? Gardening expert, author and broadcaster Martin Fish believes in a softly, softly approach.
‘Choose a dry day and first give the grass a light rake to clear it of debris like twigs and any rubbish,’ says Martin, who has a vlog called Pots and Trowels.
‘This will lift the grass, so you are effectively grooming. Then get the mower out and give it a light trim. Take the top off but don’t scalp it as that will weaken the grass.’
He has words of comfort if the winter leaves your lawn looking like a scrubby piece of wasteland.
‘Lawns are resilient so by mid-summer you should be able to restore it to its former glory,’ he says. ‘Mow, scarify and apply weed killer.
‘If it has deteriorated beyond the pale, perhaps due to dogs using it as a toilet, then you may consider re-turfing it.’
For those seeking more advice on lawn care, the Lawn Association offers an online course for £39.99.
An impressive lawn can work wonders for the saleability of a property.
‘I had clients in two minds about buying a house,’ says Carol Peett, of West Wales Property Finders. ‘Then they looked out of the window, caught sight of an immaculate pinstriped lawn and fell in love with the place.’
For those seeking advice on lawn care, the Lawn Association has an online course for £39.99
For those who don’t want the bother of tending their grass, an alternative is available – an astroturf lawn.
Purists can be sniffy about what they consider to be ‘fake’ lawns, pointing out that they destroy habitats for insects, bees and birds and reduce storm water run-off. Yet they are burgeoning in popularity.
A survey conducted by Rated People showed that last summer requests for astroturf lawns grew by 188 per cent.
Sean Flitter is a landscape designer in the Newbury area and many of his clients now favour astroturf over grass.
‘Families where both partners are out working all week often just want to light a barbecue and relax at weekends without the bother of mowing the lawn,’ says Sean.
‘Astroturf lawns look good and they are great for children, who can play football outside without bringing their muddy feet into the house.’
If you are thinking of astroturf, it’s best to hire an expert. Think of spending about £3,000 for a smallish suburban garden.
However, if you are a skilled DIY enthusiast Sean’s game plan is to firstly clear the area of turf and weeds to get a soil base before digging down 10cm and covering the ground in 5cm of skelpings — tiny limestone rubble.
He compacts this with a heavy bit of machinery. Sean then puts down a membrane, on top of which he scatters sharp sand before laying the false grass like a carpet. He finally trims to finish.
Astroturf doesn’t work so well as a big lawn but it can look great in smaller gardens,’ says Sean. ‘Always choose a good, mid-price astroturf like Verdeluxe, not the cheaper types.’
Although astroturf lawns are low maintenance, nobody would claim they match the charm of the best real lawns.
‘There is nothing like approaching a gravelled driveway with perfectly tended striped lawns,’ says Edward Heaton, of Heaton and Partners property search agency. ‘To be known as “the house with the wonderful lawn” is a huge selling point.’