Forget the dull gardening shows on Sunday TV, landscaping is highly important for your property’s value. Your Investment Property spoke to professional landscape designer Dave Limburg to find out how you can turn a $1,500 investment into $15,000 equity...


We are often asked how to add value to properties when renovating on a budget, as well as increase your potential rental returns. 

The first key to an effective and profitable garden design is to ensure that you create a garden that is low maintenance and well presented. Today people don’t want to be mowing a huge lawn, or pruning a hedge on the weekend. They want to enjoy their garden space, but not be a slave to it. 

Getting started

As with any renovation, you need to start at the end. Work out your target market that is most likely to purchase your house. Your target market and your property value will mostly determine what elements you add to your garden and how much you spend on it. For the purpose of this article I will assume a median valued house in your average Australian city. Your typical target market for this sort of property will be a family with two kids. 

A family with two kids will have certain needs and wants – An outdoor area for the kids to play; tough, attractive, low maintenance plants and a seating area to enjoy outdoor meals and entertain. Appearance is obviously important, but so is low maintenance. Tick these boxes and you will add instant buyer appeal. 

While the garden needs to look good, it also needs to be functional. The overall layout of the garden is important: ensure that utilities are taken into account. There should be an area to dry clothes, store the garbage bins and park the car. The practical elements are essential to most gardens, but they don’t need to be ugly. Retractable clothes lines are a great idea that is practical, cheap, easy to install and don’t intrude on the visual appearance of your garden. If possible, hide your garbage bins down the side of the house, or otherwise create a low screen to hide the bins from obvious lines of sight. 

Here is a list of some effective value adding elements for landscaping on a budget; 

1. Use recycled paving – buying products such as pavers or bricks from ebay and gumtree is a great way to save some money on materials. Often contractors have left overs from jobs, so you can in fact source new pavers online. Otherwise you can find pavers in good condition from people simply changing their existing pavers. Just 10m2 is enough for an outdoor setting. Ideally a shade sail over the paved area will make the space both more visually appeal, but also more functional. 

2. A shade sail is a simple DIY job, it simply involves installing three timber posts and a shade sail kit can be purchased from most hardware stores and installed for around $500. 

3. Turf – Turf is relatively inexpensive. Couch grass roll can be purchased for about $6 per m2 from most landscaping yards. A small lawn area is almost a necessity for kids, it is certainly a garden element that families will be looking for when assessing a property to purchase. Even a small area of say 15m2 will be large enough to roll around on, set up some outdoor games, or have a splash under a sprinkler. 

4. Screening plants are a great way of softening an outdoor space and making the garden look bigger. Choose hardy plants that don't require too much pruning. Depending on where you live in Australia will determine the species but the follow will grow in most Australian conditions and require minimial care, pruning, grow to roughly fence height and look great year round; Murraya paninculata (Orange jessamine), Photinia robusta (Photinia) Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly) and Viburnum odoratissimum (Sweet viburnum). These plants can be purchased from your local nursery for approximately $20 each in 200mm pots, this pot size should be approximately one and half metres high plants. 

5. Garden plants to fill the garden beds should be selected to look great, hardy and of course low maintenance. The follow achieve of these requirements; Phormium tenax (Flax), Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star jasmine), Ophiopogon japonicus (Giant mondo grass), Buxus japonica (Box) and Cordyline varieties 

6. Mulch – Garden beds always look a lot tidier and more presentable with a layer of mulch on top. Pine bark, or Eucalyptus mulch can be readily obtained for free from local tree removal companies. 

Costing Outline




Value added

Seating Area

Recycled pavers 10m2



Small Lawn Area

Turf 15m2



Plants - Fence

Screening plants along fence line



Plants – Garden Beds

Ornamental, hardy plants




Pine Bark. Increase visual appeal




Shade Sail and 3 timber posts








So for a little hard yakka and some creative sourcing of materials you can add plenty of value to your property and increase the saleability without breaking the bank. The same rules apply when landscaping your rental property. Ensure that you don’t overcapitalise, and you design and build a garden that is both aesthetically pleasing, and low maintenance. 

Dave Limburg is a professional landscape designer, and the owner of Online Garden Design, which offers custom landscape designs and DIY guides.