Operating a short term rental property can be time consuming. Most operators maintain full time jobs, families, and other obligations outside of being amazing hosts and providing a 5 star experience to every guest that walks through the door. Maintaining a 5 star short term rental landscape is often one of the last items on an operator’s to-do list. Taking care of one’s own yard is a challenging enough, but keeping two yards garden tour-worthy becomes a project rather than a chore. Here are a few tips to help keep the curb appeal of your short term rental landscape beautiful for both guests and neighbors.
Five tips to improve your short term rental landscape
1) Clean Up. This sounds like an easy step, but it is often forgotten. Simply cleaning up the yard can have a profound impact on the overall look and feel of the house. Fallen branches, litter, and leaves congregating in the corners of the fence can lead to an unkept look. Spray weeds growing through cracks in the pavement or sidewalks with weed killer, and use a broom or leaf blower to quickly remove dust and debris from all hard surfaces and the exterior of the house. Taking a few minutes weekly to clean up can go a long way in your short term rental landscape.
2) Weeding. NOTHING grows faster than a weed. Hence the often-used phrase: “growing like a weed”. And weeds are one of the most unsightly and detracting elements of any short term rental landscape. The biggest problem with weeds is that they tend to show up overnight and seem like a never-ending battle to eradicate. Here are a few tips to help keep weeds to a minimum in your short term rental landscape
- Weed Barriers – If you don’t want to spend all spring and summer dedicated to the tiring art of weed pulling you will have to put in some hard work and sweat equity early on to inhibit weed growth from the source. Applying a weed barrier throughout the landscape produces the best results. Be aware that a weed barrier product is not a set-it-and-forget-it fix all. The product will deteriorate over time, allowing weeds to grow through. Additionally, the mulch you put on top of the barrier will compost and turn to nutrient-rich topsoil, which is a great place for nice, healthy weeds to grow. Weed barriers are only one step in a multi-step system to keep weeds at bay
- Weed Preventer – Another weapon in the arsenal against weeds is a proactive weed-preventing agent that can be applied to the landscape. Several products exist on the market, most recognizable of them being Preen. One application can last for up to three months. Apply in March, June, and September and reduce the time spent weeding the yard significantly. This step is cost effective ($14 for 800 sq. ft. of coverage) and requires little effort. One thing to note: remove all existing weeds from the landscape before applying a weed-preventing agent. They will not kill existing weeds, jut prevent new ones from growing.
3) Mulch The Landscape. If you enjoy the feeling of instant gratification, applying a fresh layer of mulch to the landscape is on of the best things you can do you’re your wellbeing and the curb appeal of your short-term rental. Many choose to apply mulch in early spring to get the yard off to a good start, but you can lay mulch anytime during the growing season. Mulch will tell guests that the property is well kept and that the owner cares. It also does double-duty to prevent weed growth and keeps moisture in the soil to help protect plants during periods of drought. Hardwood mulch comes in a variety of colors and can be purchased by the scoop or by the bag. Look for a good quality mulch to ensure it maintains its color all season.
Some homeowners prefer a more permanent solution and look with hardscape, such as river rock or pea-gravel. Although hardscapes do not provide the same soil protection as mulch, they help prevent weed growth and require less maintenance and reapplication. The initial cost of the hardscape option is higher than mulch, but the return on investment may be better.
4) Keep it simple. One of the most important elements of a short-term rental landscape is to keep it beautiful but also low maintenance. This often comes with simplicity. When designing the landscape, look for shrub and tree species that are slow growing and native to the area. Slow growing is important to a simple landscape because they require less attention and pruning. Drought-tolerant grasses and perennials will help ensure your yard is green and in bloom throughout the summer without the need of watering. Thoughtful selection of the plant material will help reduce overall maintenance costs and improve the satisfaction of guests.
5) Hire A Professional. There is a reason you see so many landscape companies with clever names. A Cut Above and Best Buds Landscaping thrive because many people do not enjoy yard work, or do not have time to invest. Several landscape jobs are worth hiring out because the overall cost is palatable, the work is completed faster, and there is an elevated level of expertise. One job that is often hired out – routine cutting and edging. There is nothing like a freshly cut lawn with a professional edge. Guests recognize the detail when they first arrive at the property.
I recommend a weekly yard service between March and August, and a bi-weekly yard service in September and October. This recommendation is for USDA zones 6 and 7. Other areas may require more or less service. A weekly lawn service should cost between $35 and $55, depending on the size and complexity of the yard. If you value your time and sanity, consider investing in a consistent weekly lawn service to keep.
Please note: If you maintain your lawn and are not using a trimmer and blower EVERY time you cut the grass, you most likely do not have a 5 star lawn.
Maintaining an exquisite lawn for your guests does not have to be a daunting task. And simply ignoring the responsibility will lead to a diminished guest experience and less than 5 star reviews. Follow these very easy steps to achieve a beautiful lawn all spring and summer. Your neighbors will than you too!