How to Keep Your Oh-So-Perfect Landscaping From Scaring Off Buyers

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For many buyers, a beautifully landscaped yard with show-stopping curb appeal can seal the deal. After all, who doesn’t want cascading blooms, immaculately trimmed shrubbery, and a carpet of emerald sod with their new home?

keep your landscaping from scaring buyers

Surprise: As it turns out, there are indeed some buyers who might take one look at your sprawling outdoor oasis and think, "It will take a ton of work to maintain all of this!"

“I see many home buyers looking for yards that don’t require a lot of maintenance,” says Monica Kemp, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and accredited real estate staging professional in Leesburg, VA. “It can be generational—a lot of younger, first-time buyers don't want to be home all day gardening or dealing with the lawn.”

Your garden should feel inviting and relaxing, not overwhelming, says Andrea Duane, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in the El Dorado Hills, CA, area.

“A beautiful garden is more of a benefit to sellers than a deterrent, but there's definitely a percentage of buyers in the marketplace that don’t feel comfortable with that amount of landscaping," Duane says. "It may feel daunting because they’ve never owned a home before or they just don't have a green thumb."

So if you’re selling a property with lots of lovingly tended flower beds and veggie gardens, how do you leverage your landscape—and not scare people off? Here’s how to reassure buyers that your yard will bring enjoyment, not exhaustion.

Declutter Your Yard

Be sure your outdoor space is sending the right message to buyers, Kemp says. You want your yard to say, "Sit down, have a cold beverage and relax," rather than, "Please weed me."

So stage the outside areas as you would the inside of your home: Declutter so that the essential elements can shine.

“Make sure trees and shrubs are trimmed, whether you hire a professional or do it yourself,” Kemp says. “Remove anything that’s dead or dying or doesn’t give you a positive first impression.”

Divide overgrown plants, so your garden looks neat instead of needing attention. And lose the whimsical gnome statues, tacky lawn ornaments, and noisy wind chimes in your garden that won’t let buyers imagine themselves in that space.

Hide The High-Maintenance Plants—And Pack In The Perennials

If you have rare heirloom roses or other specialty plants requiring extensive pampering, you might want to scale back before you put your house on the market, Kemp says.

Dig up rare or hard-to-care-for plants, and put them in pots to take with you. Be sure to exclude these on the listing, so buyers know they are not part of the sale.

But you don't have to strip everything bare! Gardens consisting of perennial plants that grow back year after year can be a huge selling point, says Kemp, who points out such flowers and shrubs during house tours. Annuals, on the other hand, often are more vibrant and colorful but last only one year. A savvy buyer could see annuals as high-maintenance feature.

“Annuals can really make your house look nice, but I wouldn't do an entire yardful—maybe just along your walkways, with some planters on your front stoop, or by the slider doors on your back deck, just for pops of color,” Kemp says.