If you’re buying property, there’s a good chance a garden is going to be on your wish list.

We all have our own ideas about how we should use that space; for some, it’s a bit of room for a kick around; for others an exercise area for the dog; an oasis of peace surrounded by the scent of flowers; a blank canvas for our own horticultural designs; or just somewhere to potter with pot plants and our own veg.

But, whichever one best describes you, you don’t really want to be starting life in your new home with an undiscovered nightmare lurking outside – so perhaps a few tips will help:

The Lawn

If you get the chance, before you buy a property have a closer look at the green spaces. If they’re patchy, you can always lay a bit of new turf but, if the lawn is rife with dandelions, you could be meeting a new nemesis. The yellow bobbing heads add a splash of colour in the spring and early summer but dandelions are weeds which don’t know where they’re not welcome – and they get everywhere. Once they’ve found a crack in the drive, between the block-paving or on the patio, they dig in like ticks and work away at widening the gap. It may not be enough to persuade you to give up on a house you like, but it’s best to know what you’re starting out with.

Flower beds

The question you have to ask yourself is do you know what’s in there? Are the flower beds home to anything exotic or high-maintenance. It’s less of a problem if you have green fingers and you know what you’re doing but it’s a bit of a disappointment to move into a new home and watch the garden wither around you as you don’t know what the plants and shrubs require. Why not ask the seller for a few tips or, even better, a “map” of the garden so you know what’s what?


A tree in the back garden some distance from the house can be an attractive and versatile feature which changes with the seasons. If you don’t mind raking up leaves, it can offer shade in the summer and colour in the spring and autumn. In the front garden, though, it can be a different matter. Roots can interfere with sewers and water pipes, so check where they are if you can. Sap can find its way all over the car on the driveway while trees are useful roosting spots for birds who seem to take great delight in pooping on the car you’ve just cleaned. Leylandii is a popular tree for screening but be warned; it seems to grow almost as soon as your back is turned. Expect to be busy with the shears or the hedge-trimmers at least three times between spring and autumn.

The Shed & The Greenhouse

It’s great to have them but, just as you would look at a new home with a critical eye, try to do the same with any outbuildings. Check the base for signs of rot at ground level and the roof for leaks or signs of weakness. You don’t want to be retrieving the shed or the greenhouse in kit form from the neighbour’s garden after the first gales of the autumn.

Timber fencing

It’s the same with fence panels; if they’re attached to rotting wooden posts, it’s not going to be long before you’re repairing storm damage. If the garden is enclosed by timber fencing, it’s best if the panels are designed to let wind blow through but to still to allow a degree of privacy. Solid wood can offer quite a bit of wind resistance and, if they’re not properly anchored, the panels will soon be horizontal in anything more than a stiff breeze.


Again, for some, it’s a desirable feature – but is it sound? If it’s a bit creaky you may want to take a closer look. A little bit of give isn’t necessarily a problem but, if the wood looks a bit corky or is showing signs of excess weathering, it’s probably a good idea to be sure you’re not going to be up to your knees in broken planks after your first winter.


The best advice we can give is mind the gaps… There are bound to be some places where the seal has gone, letting in water or weeds. Too many though and you could be looking at some substantial repairs in a few years’ time.

If you have any other worries about buying property, why not have a flick through some of our earlier blogs? But we’re here to help and, if you there’s anything we haven’t covered on our FAQs page ( ) or in our “How To…” videos ( feel free to give us a call or drop us a line.

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