Most of us have spent at least some time renting a house where the landlord expected regular rental inspections. The closer the date came the more our throats would become parched, knees begin to knock wilder than a deserted saloon door and our bodies tighten stiffer than a stick insect resigned to rigor mortis. It drove fear into the heart of every member in the family.
I would get the outdoors assignment, which suited me fine, but looking after a rental garden is hardly a dream come true – if you know what I mean. I didn’t want to spend a fortune keeping someone else’s asset ship-shape but then again I did want to leave our rental having improved it somehow.
So I devised a mental checklist that assisted me in the garden before our rental inspection became due. Here are some things that I put in place;
- Mow the lawns 2 days prior – if you mow it on the day, or even a day before, brown spots will show because where you cut it probably hasn’t seen the light of day for a few weeks. Mow it two days before will give you a chance to water it twice (each day) before the inspection and allow some green to come back.
- If you mow it out of its growing season, raise the height of the blades so that you are only cutting the very tips of the lawn.
- Effortlessly rid the garden beds of weeds – RoundUp™ will become your new best friend, especially if couch grass has invaded the beds. Spray the weeds one week out from your inspection and they should have started to die back in time.
- Then mulch your garden beds – mulch is the perfect weed suppressant for most weeds. It won’t halt couch but most of your other insidious plants will be stopped dead in their tracks. Plus, landscape mulch can often be sourced for free, or very cheaply.
- Plant some cheap annuals – landlords always like to see renters who take a little initiative when looking after the gardens. For $20 you could easily add some colour into the garden without too much effort. Snapdragons, pansies, petunias are great colour additions that will brighten the most drab garden beds.
- Invest in some containers and hanging baskets – mobile gardening is the mantra of gardeners who rent. You can instantly increase your garden without having to spend money on someone else’s property. Start gardening in containers and hanging baskets and you will be able to enhance the owner’s property while you rent but take it all with you when you leave.
- Buy yourself a garden vacuum – keeping paths and driveways neat and tidy is one expectation that a landlord will have upon inspection. You could manually sweep it with a broom, show your eco ignorance by hosing it down with precious water, or vacuum them with one of the many power blower vacs available. On vacuum setting, you could even keep the plant materials – leaves and twigs – for composting.
- Prune some of your bigger plants – for the renter who does gardening out of necessity rather than has a passion for it, this task may seem really daunting. The rule of thumb is this;
If it’s flowering, leave it alone. If it’s dead, rip it out. Otherwise, prune it back by a third.
If you stick to this you shouldn’t have too many problems and your plants will love you for it.
This checklist should keep you in good stead with the landlord and make your rental inspection a breeze. Here’s to passing it with flying colours…