Maintaining A 5 Star Short Term Rental Landscape

Maintaining A 5 Star Short Term Rental Landscape

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.

Short term rental landscape hardscape

 

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!

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Short Term Rental Winterization

Short Term Rental Winterization

Every homeowner knows that as the weather gets colder, there are a few projects to add to the to-do list to be sure the home is ready for the chilly months ahead. But what about those who own short-term rental properties? What needs to be done to those homes? If you let maintenance get away from you, you’re in for some hefty repair bills, so skip the headache and use this list to check off those tasks that are all too easy to forget. It will increase the longevity of your property while also ensuring your guests have a completely problem-free stay.  Here are a few steps to help with short term rental winterization. 
 
1. Clean Out Those Gutters
It’s one of the most common projects of the season but sometimes also one of the most dreaded. However, by removing leaves from your gutters, you prevent the later formation of ice dams, which occur when water cannot drain through the gutters and instead freezes, leading to the water and snow being trapped on the roof through the winter. The accumulation can eventually seep into the home and cause water damage. However, this can all be avoided with a quick clean-out of the gutters.
 
TIP: Take this time to cut down overgrown brush or tree limbs that may be close to gutters. Use this inspection time to look for openings in the house that could be an access point for small animals or rodents that will be seeking refuge from the elements. Not only can they disturb guests, but they can eat electrical wiring and insulation.
 
2. Give the Furnace a Checkup
It’s been a long, hot summer where the HVAC system hasn’t had to do any heating at all. Before you kick it on for the first time you have guests this winter, consider calling in a professional to make sure everything is in good, safe working order and save yourself the frustration and embarrassment of a guest calling in the middle of the night saying there’s no heat.
 
TIP: HVAC issues are the most common source of bad guest experiences in cold months. Keep 2-3 space heaters in a closet for guests to use in the event of an HVAC issue. Look for one that doesn’t have exposed heating elements that can cause burgs or are a potential fire hazard. I like ceramic heaters that automatically shut off if they turn over.
 
3. Replace Furnace Filters
Furnaces need regular maintenance in addition to their once-a-season tuneups. Find time between guests each month to go in and change furnace filters so that airflow stays clean and energy-efficient. This should be done every 2-3 months. 
 
TIP: Be sure to set a reminder on your calendar and keep a supply on site so your cleaner or property manager can handle the replacement for you. 
 
4. Reverse the Ceiling Fans
This one’s easy: when the cold weather gets here to stay, go in between guests and reverse all the ceiling fans. By having them run clockwise through the winter, they will circulate the hot air through the room, keeping the house warmer and the guests comfier for cheaper.
 
5. Caulk It Up
Walk through the space and determine if there are any drafts or gaps around the windows and doors. If there are, bring in some caulk to seal it, preventing brisk breezes and a loss of heating. 
 
TIP: Don’t forget about doors and windows as well. Draft stoppers and new weather stripping may be needed in places to help keep the heat in and the cold out. Guests like to be comfortable during their stay, and sometimes that means turing up the heat.  The more heat we keep in the house the more money kept in the wallet. 
 
6. Run the Pipes
If you know it’s going to be a literally freezing night and you don’t have guests, go to the property and run some water through the pipes to ensure they don’t freeze and cause massive damage. It can be hard to remember, so set a reminder on your phone the moment you learn that temperatures are plummeting.
 
7. Keep It Leaf-Free
Fortunately as we progress into winter, this task becomes less and less necessary as all the leaves finish falling, but for now, it’s a job that must be done. Prevent your property from looking like the Addams family manor by raking up and disposing of all leaves. A clean exterior makes an unequivocal impression on guests, so get those leaves up to guarantee a pleasant entry.
 
8. Stock Up on Snow Equipment
Depending on the exterior driveways/walkways, think about stocking the property with snow removal equipment so guests don’t wind up snowbound. Shovels are the obvious choice but also consider stocking salt to prevent pavement freezing. If we’ve had a major snowfall prior to a guest’s arrival, stop by the property and be sure all walkways are clear of snow, reducing liability risks and ensuring guest safety.
 
9) Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors
In winter months, windows and doors are kept closed as much as possible. This can cause the air inside the house to become stale, which is a perfect way for carbon monoxide fumes to accumulate.  Be sure to test carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. And know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning incase a guest becomes ill. 
 
10) Turn Down The Heat Between Guests
If your short term rental is not located in an urban area or in a popular winter or ski destination, chances are that winter months can be slower, which means time between guests may be longer than high season. Be sure to adjust your thermostat accordingly by turning the temperature down to a low, but comfortable setting between guests. Smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature remotely. But for those who have traditional thermostats, make sure to talk to your cleaners about adjusting the temperature for you.  I prefer 65 degrees. This temperature will protect your pipes, and guests can make adjustments when they arrive. 
 
Bonus Tip: Batteries
This isn’t so much weather-related as it is general maintenance that easily falls out of mind. Every so often, go to the property and change out batteries in all remotes, smoke detectors and small battery-operated appliances to keep guests annoyance-free during their stay.
 
TIP: Keep an extra supply of AA and AAA batteries in a kitchen drawer for the late night calls when TV remotes stop working. 

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