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how to create a low maintenance yard for a rental property

how to create a low maintenance yard for a rental property

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  #1  
Old 08-02-12, 02:02 PM
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how to create a low maintenance yard for a rental property

We own a rental property with a relatively small front yard, but we are having major issues trying to get our tenants to even mow the are, to the extent where we've even had complaints from the HOA. The grass isn't great, we originally planned, on putting down fresh sod, but we just don't want to throw down a pile of money only to watch the new lawn go to seed through lack of care.

We're just sick and tired of dealing with it, and short of simply getting a cement truck to come along and dump a load of concrete in the area, we'd like to eliminate the lawn if possible and lay down something in place that will make it a bit easier to do the upkeep. The area is about 30' x 35', bordered to the front and one side by a sidewalk and driveway, and on the other and at back by shrubs. We've thought about Xeriscaping the area with gravel, even looked at the notion of maybe creating a little Japanese stone garden, but the problem is that there's a slope at the front, and I think gravel needs a level base to work effectively. Maybe I build it up by a couple of feet at the front with a small retaining wall to level everything out?

Anyone have any suggestions or thoughts on what we could do - other than get new tenants!

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 08-02-12, 02:21 PM
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I take it it's not reasonable for you to assume the mowing? We mow our lawns but basically have all of the residential stuff in three separate areas with all the lots in each area abutting the others.

What will the HOA allow you to do? There are growing ground covers which require little maintenance and rock or mulch could also be good choices.
 
  #3  
Old 08-02-12, 06:59 PM
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Hi Mitch,
Actually, I've had to take over the maintenance because we were starting to have issues with the local HOA over the lack of care by our tenants. It's not very convenient though, as we live some distance away.

We could of course add lawn care maintenance into the lease next time around and get a professional to care for it, but I think the extra hundred or so per month would end up costing us in terms of making the house seem a little more expensive than others. What you actually see in the picture is the end product after I'd mowed the jungle down and edged the area.

I never thought of ground cover before, even though we're considering it for our own property. I'm a total newb to this kind of stuff - given the size of the area, how would I go about it, what kind, and can we lay it over the entire area? Plus the big one of course - would it need maintenance, like occasional trimming, etc?

The reason I thought of gravel of course is that the only issue would be the odd weed or two coming through, which would be easy enough to spot and eliminate.

Thanks....Tim
 
  #4  
Old 08-03-12, 04:53 AM
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We could of course add lawn care maintenance into the lease next time around ...... but I think the extra hundred or so per month would end up costing us in terms of making the house seem a little more expensive than others.
You can add a clause in the rental agreement that says if the lawn isn't cut and weedeated as needed, it will be hired out and the cost added to their monthly payment. I'd bet that would incline them to cut the grass every week

Be sure to run any major changes of the landscaping by your HOA. Some can be very strict when it comes to altering the look of the front yard/house.
 
  #5  
Old 08-03-12, 05:07 AM
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I have a number of rental properties and grass is the least expensive and most easy to maintain. Yes, creating planted areas and mulching sounds like it would cut down on maintenance because you cut down on mowing but you trade mowing for pruning, weeding and applying fresh mulch. Basically you are trading something that can quickly and easily be done with a machine to something that must be done with manual labor. Your odds of finding a tenant willing to take care of a landscaped area are even slimmer than finding someone that will push a mover.
 
  #6  
Old 08-03-12, 08:07 AM
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@Marksr. That's an interesting point about adding in that clause. I'll run it by wife and see what she thinks about it as well. Could work.

As for the HOA, the one in this area isn't bad, though we do have the problem that the woman running it lives directly across from this particular house!

@Pilot Dane. Mulch would never be an option I'd consider, because as you say, it requires constant replenishment. I do actually like Mitch's suggestion of ground cover. We have a neighbour who's entire front yard is all ground cover (no idea what it actually is) and it looks good - plus I hardly ever see them having to take care of it other than pull out the odd seedlings once a year.
 
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  #7  
Old 08-03-12, 09:03 AM
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I have a clause in my lease about lawn maintenance and in many cases it's useless. What if the tenant does not pay? Will you evict them? In some cases you can get lucky and threaten the tenant with that clause but if with many tenants that are paycheck to paycheck they know it's a hollow threat.

Judging by that photograph (with is beautiful by the way) I assume there is maintenance going on whether or not you see it. Everything in that photo is beautifully maintained so somebody is doing the work. My in-laws community only allows "service" people in during certain hours of the day. Basically the lawn care & construction is done while everyone is at work so it goes mostly unseen.
 
  #8  
Old 08-03-12, 12:44 PM
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I actually went over and had a chat to the neighbor this morning. He said it's called Asiatic dwarf jasmine, takes about two years to give good coverage, doesn't need to be watered once established, is completely resistant to RoundUp so you can spray to your hearts content for the few weeds or suckers that might poke through, and only needs some trimming along the edges now and then to keep it looking tidy and stop it from spreading. He said you can mow it every few months if need be, but that it looks fine without it as well. I might look into it a bit further!
 
  #9  
Old 08-03-12, 03:36 PM
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Boy it sounds great. I just looked quickly online and it can handle from shade to full sun.
 
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