The Mohnani property at Villa Lantana has been transformed with effective landscaping Image Credit: Supplied

Before moving to a villa, the first thing we were excited about was building our own garden. After living in an apartment for over 20 years, we were looking forward to having our own space where we could host friends and family for sundowners and barbeque parties.

We knew we wanted a contemporary, modern looking backyard that is functional, with no energy wastage. We used LED lights to enhance the landscape features, installed an automated sprinkler system set on a timer that enabled us to save water and added a water feature akin to a waterfall with a well-lit back drop.

From selecting what parts of the garden should have turf and what must have tiles to the kind of LED lights to use and the size of the pergola, to even choosing a furniture, we were guided by our friend and landscape architect Sejal Nagjee.

Our landscaped garden today houses a mini herb section consisting of curry leaves, mint, lemon grass, rosemary and basil leaves, which we use regularly to flavor our dishes. Flowers adorn the sidewalk and the pathway to our garden – oleander, sunflower, bougainvillea. Lord Buddha with his serene and calm look, is there to welcome everyone into the garden, thus creating positive and peaceful vibes. At the entrance of the house, there is a Laughing Buddha to welcome you.

Our dinner during winters is usually outdoors. We love our weekend barbecues on our outdoor grill or piping hot pizzas in the wood fire oven. A small dinner table with comfortable seating is sheltered by a contemporary rock solid pergola. There is ample seating arrangement, and yet the furniture is spaced out well, giving people giving guests ample room to move around during a party.

Based on research, the value of a property is enhanced by approximately 8-10 per cent when the landscape is attractive as well as functional. In a villa, the garden or landscaping becomes an integral part of the house. Thus, when an individual is looking to buy a house, he visualizes it in its entirety. The landscape therefore becomes a vital extension of the house. As a family, we strongly believe that our landscaping makes our house a home.

5 ways to maximise the value of your villa

The outdoor lifestyle we enjoy is one of the major benefits of living in Dubai, and well landscaped gardens and pools always add a premium to a villa, says Richard Waind, group managing director of Betterhomes. That has never been truer than this year as outside space has become such a focus during the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen demand for villas in the secondary market sore as residents reassessed their living arrangements post lockdown with many citing gardens and pools as key criteria. The result has been a rush to buy, and rent, in well-established villa communities. 

LED lights are used in the Mohnani villa to enhance the landscape features Image Credit: Supplied

So, with prices for sales and rental properties at levels last seen in 2009, what can sellers and landlords do to maximise the value of their properties and utilise their best asset- their gardens? While wow properties should have a wow garden to go with it, all villa owners can take some simple steps to make the most of their outside spaces and capture those vital tenants and buyers?

1. Do the basics. Most villas in established communities will have a mature garden, but this can quickly go to ruin if left unattended while the villa is vacant. A weekly visit from a gardener would be a great investment for those trying to make the most of their garden during viewings. For villas in new communities where the garden tends to be a sandpit, some basic landscaping prior to viewings is especially important when attracting tenants. Some artificial grass and some pot plants are a cost-effective way to leave a strong first impression and set your property apart from others in the community that have likely also just hit the market.

2. Make sure you have curb appeal. First impressions are so important, so don’t neglect the front of your property if you are priming your property for sale or lease. At this time of year some hanging baskets or well potted plants can really bring the entrance of a property alive and give that great first impression that can lead to an offer.

3. Splash out on a pool. A pool is a must for some buyers and tenants and can be a relatively cost affective way to increase the value of your property. Pools, and even frame pools, can be the difference between attracting a sale or tenant at the price you want. The value add may be less if your villa is adjacent to a community pool, and if your property is in a particularly popular area for young families, it would be wise to childproof the pool.

4. Landscape for Love. Extensive landscaping should be done as a labor of love and to be enjoyed, rather than for the sake of adding value. While that swim up bar and yoga pagoda will certainly attract buyers and set you apart from your neighbors, you may find the increase in the value of your home is not fully a reflection of the money spent. Similar to the advice against adding an expensive designer kitchen to increase the value of your property, buyers will often have their own tastes and ideas which they will want to bring to the property. So to avoid seeing your hard work outside in a skip after sale, I would recommend investing to make the outside space a great “canvass” for the buyer to add their own special touches to, rather than going all out pre-sale. But if you are looking to live in your property and enjoy the garden yourself over the coming years, let your imagination go wild! Get the swim up bar!

5. Ensure you get the correct permissions. If you are going to do any major work in your garden that involves erecting structures or digging pools, ensure you have engaged with your local community management and acquired the necessary NOCs and approvals. Over the years we have seen many sales run in to difficulty as pools have needed filling or pagoda’s needed demolishing as approvals hadn’t been sought.