Yards in the Greater Boston area are beginning to green-up, now. They also are entering the season when regular care matters most.
Landlords understand that the yard is essential to a rental property’s curbside appeal. But it also is a long-term investment. Beautiful yards can require years to come fully into their own. It makes sense to maintain them rather than repair them when the damage has been done.
Mostly, caring for the grounds is a landlord’s responsibility. Yes, tenants may take on the job, for a consideration—or even because they love gardening. But that does not relieve the landlord of final responsibility.
The first step is not working on the yard. It is making an annual schedule of the care needed. State-of-the-art lawn care involves seasonal fertilizing, for example—usually late fall, early spring, and summer. In each case, the fertilizer formula is different, of course.
Then, schedule two annual examinations for problems. That could mean pests like moles and voles, invasive weeds such as dandelions, erosion, or build up of thatch. Most of these problems are known to landlords, but the point is to schedule them and stop worrying about them.
Then, there is mowing. In general, the less you frequently you mow, consistent with esthetics, the better for your grass. Once every two weeks at the height of summer might be needed.
And, of course, there is watering. In a way, regular and adequate watering is a matter of life and death to a lawn. It can pay to get that hassle out of the way by installing an automatic sprinkler system. The system can be set for any schedule—days of the week, times, duration. Schedule checking the system and turning it on for late spring, then checking and turning it off in early fall. In New England, mostly sprinkler systems get “blown out” when they are turned off in the fall.
So how to get all this done? Some landlords do it themselves and even like it. They get to check not only the lawn but the condition of the house at regular intervals. But if rental properties aren’t your “job,” then taking on lawn care, especially if you have more than one property, is asking a lot of yourself.
Once you have a definite list of maintenance steps, you are in a much better position to get a firm estimate from a landscaping company. You know how many days are involved, what equipment, and what supplies. With a known annual cost in mind, you can adjust the rent accordingly.
It is worthwhile, by the way, to look at “sole entrepreneurs” (a.k.a., handymen and ambitious high-school/college kids) as alternatives to a landscaping firm. You know the drill: no overhead, lower costs, lower prices. The “added” cost to you, however, is finding the right person instead of falling back on the professionalism of a landscaping firm.
In the longer run, a good schedule, well implemented, is like all on-time maintenance: cheaper in the long run than deferred maintenance and catch-up.
Time to make that schedule.
Leaf Management & Funding rehabilitates houses to beautify neighborhoods and resells or rents them. The company also provides capital to those who wish to take on the same challenge of purchasing houses in need of serious repairs and investing in creating homes livable and attractive for future inhabitants.