Can a garden be too big? And when is a garden too small?

Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search says, “We often hear that ‘a garden should be the right size for the house’. We’ve done our best to establish exactly what that means”.

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When it comes to gardens, size is very important. A good starting point is to establish a stand-out example of what isn’t big enough. A garden that is smaller than the footprint of its house for a rural or edge-of-village new development is not big enough. Yet this is what many new developers provide.

It’s incredible that a developer who goes to enormous lengths to provide every high-spec finish in a property, will think it’s alright to squeeze it into a tiny overlooked plot. Gardens in new developments started to feel uncomfortably small in the late ’90s and have become increasingly inadequate.

So how big should a garden be?
Stacks Property Search has established some rules about the minimum requirements:

  • “Urban flats and apartments don’t need a garden, but their value will be enhanced if they have some outside space in the form of a balcony, roof terrace, or communal garden.
  • “The less rural a property is, the less garden it needs. So a townhouse garden can be substantially smaller than the garden that goes with a rural property of the same square footage.
  • “The closer to the centre of a village, town or city, the smaller the garden can be.
  • “Houses in prime central London (e.g. Mayfair, Knightsbridge) don’t need a garden, but outside space will add value.
  • “Houses in prime non-central London (e.g. Fulham, Clapham), town centre or village centre properties need a minimum of a small patch, enough space for outside entertaining, or a small dog to do the odd circuit. Think of it as an outdoors room.
  • “Houses in prime outer London (e.g. Wimbledon), edge of town and edge of village houses should ideally have a garden that is at least the same size as the square footage of the property.

Rachel Johnston says, “Rural properties, outside town or village boundaries, need a great deal more space. A six bedroom rural house should have an acre of garden, five bedroom house should have ¾ acre, and a four bedroom house should have ½ acre. It’s important not to get ‘garden’ confused with ‘land’. Any land should be in addition to garden space”.

Rules of course are made to be broken. But buyers of property who are prepared to accept less rather than more should be prepared to also accept that they are compromising, that the value will be affected, and resale may be more difficult.

Can a garden be too big?
Rachel Johnston says, “In my opinion, a garden can’t be too big. If it’s too much for the owner to maintain, it’s an easy task to rearrange the space so that the excess is permitted to go wild. There will be some related expenses, but I would rarely suggest that a too large garden is a reason not to buy a property”.

While size matters, it’s not everything. Shape and access are also important. Small gardens will, ideally, be equally wide as the property itself, and will be accessed from the rear of the property. Front garden space is good if it’s in addition to rear garden, but compromises a property if it’s the only garden it has. The best gardens wrap around the property on three or four sides.

Other issues that play an important part are aspect and gradient, whether a garden is overlooked, and how it integrates with the property.

One of the most vital aspects of any rear garden, regardless of size, is that it can be accessed without having to go through the house.

A good communal garden can make amends for a compromised private garden. One of the most attractive arrangements is a small patch of private garden opening directly onto communal gardens. The advantage is your own perfectly small patch, and wonderful views of green space maintained by somebody else! But check rules and regulations relating to communal gardens – some don’t allow dogs, barbecues, music, and all sorts of the kind of things that most people want to do in gardens!

Buyers basing their out-of-London buying decisions on their young children’s requirement for large quantities of outside space should remember that they will soon be teenagers and will prefer to spend their leisure time a little further from home, returning only to be fed or driven somewhere more interesting.”

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Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, 01594 842880 / www.stacks.co.uk

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