Outdoor Living

The Avid Gardener's House Hunting Checklist

  • Houzz_GardenHouse1

     (A3 Architects, Inc./Houzz)

  • Houzz_GardenHouse2

     (Dear Garden Associates, Inc./Houzz)

  • Houzz_GardenHouse3

     (Crisp Architects/Houzz)

Have a green thumb? As a gardener, you know that when you buy a house, you’re also buying a garden. And for some garden lovers, the outdoor area can be just as important as what’s inside. Here are 10 things to consider putting on your home-buying wish list if you love to garden.

1. Not-just-for-looks landscaping. Sometimes well-meaning homeowners update the landscaping to boost curb appeal for a sale, without realizing that the plants they put in are far too close together for long-term growth or are inappropriate for the climate. Be sure any new landscaping was done thoughtfully and wasn’t overcrowded just to look good for staging purposes.

2. Ample sun, fertile soil. Aim to visit the homes on your short list at several points during the day to get a feel for how the sun reaches each part of the yard. You can also use your GPS to check the orientation of the house and get a better sense of how the sun moves across the property. If there is already a flourishing garden on-site, this is a good sign that the yard gets adequate sun and has rich soil.

3. Garden shed. A sturdy shed with room to store tools and supplies makes a practical addition to any garden. Look for a shed that is in good condition, is large enough to store all your tools and equipment, and has a door that latches to keep out curious pets and kids.

4. Potting area. A shed may be used as a potting area, but sometimes it’s easier to work out in the open. Look for a sheltered outdoor area with room for a work surface. Does it have easy-to-maintain flooring and an outdoor faucet within reach?

5. Healthy trees. Mature trees are a wonderful feature, improving air quality and providing shade to the yard. But sick trees, or those that have been neglected or improperly pruned, can be costly to treat (and may even need to be removed). Be sure any trees on the property are healthy and have been regularly maintained by an arborist.

6. Well-maintained hardscaping. Retaining walls, patios, decks, fences, water features, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces — basically any permanent feature that is a part of the home’s landscape — should be inspected to ensure that they’re in good condition. These features form the backbone of the landscape, so you should also like the design!

RELATED: Fire Pits to Enjoy Your Landscape Longer

7. Greenhouse or conservatory. Whether it’s an elaborate conservatory attached to the house or a basic greenhouse in the garden, some kind of protection for young and overwintering plants can be a big boon to a serious gardener. Look for a free-standing greenhouse (or room to add one) if you plan to use the space to cultivate a large number of seedlings each spring. However, even a small sunroom can provide a handy spot for starting seeds and sheltering sensitive potted plants in winter.

8. Working irrigation system. A good irrigation system can save you time and usually uses less water than watering by hand. If the home you are considering has an irrigation system, be sure to give it a thorough test. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it works!

9. Critter-proof fencing. If the current owners have fencing around their garden, that’s a pretty good sign that critters are a problem. Of course, if you’re moving to an area where wild animals are prevalent, you’ll be thankful to have the fencing already installed! See what you can find out from the owners about the types of animals spotted around the property and what methods seem to help keep the critters away from tender plants.

10. A place to enjoy a good view of your handiwork. Whether it’s a spacious porch or an outdoor dining room, a comfortable area to kick back and relax is the ultimate retreat after a hard day’s work in the garden.