Maintaining a rental property can be difficult on its own, and maintaining the landscaping is even more of a challenge, especially in the East and West Valley, where grass is nearly impossible.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your outdoor space.

Every rental property will have a different exterior. Maybe there’s no more than a courtyard for you to manage at your rental property, or a small patio with no trees, grass, or bushes. Great. But, what if you’re renting out a single-family home that has some outdoor space? How can you manage the landscaping in a climate like ours?

Simplicity is the key. You want to install and maintain landscaping that’s easy and natural. Whether you’re investing in the type of landscape that requires mowing the lawn and pulling weeds and planting flowers or you’re mulching the walkways and calling it a day, it's essential that you keep your outdoor space as well-maintained as your indoor space.

This does not have to be as complicated as it may seem. With a bit of planning, a preventative approach to maintaining your outdoor space, and some handy tips on selecting low-maintenance plants and trees for your rental home, landscaping does not have to be an additional chore

Here’s what you can do to make it easier on everyone.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR LANDSCAPING AT YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY?

You’re responsible for all landscaping before a tenant moves in. When your property is vacant or in the process of turning over between tenants, the landscaping is all yours. You’ll decide how it looks, what it involves, and who is taking care of it. You’ll want to create a sense of curb appeal so you’re able to attract great residents.

You’ll also need to make sure the landscaping isn’t so complex that you scare tenants away. Don’t put on such an ornate display that they worry about how they’ll keep your property looking good. They don’t want to be thinking about how to keep a koi pond thriving.

Beyond preparing the property, you’ll need to decide who is responsible for the landscaping during the tenancy. Will it be you or your tenant or a third-party landscaping service? Your best choice depends on a few things.

Make Tenants Responsible for Landscaping

It’s not always a great idea to put tenants in charge of landscaping; unless they really want to do it and they’re excited about the opportunity. This makes the most sense when you’re renting out a single-family home and your tenants are hoping for an experience that’s close to owning their own home. They’ll enjoy taking care of your property. They might want to mow any lawn space that you have, take care of the gardening, and enjoy having their lawn look good because of their hard work.

Allowing tenants to maintain the landscaping will probably work best when you have a small, manageable yard. If you’re willing to let tenants take over the landscaping, keep the option open as you pre-screen applicants and show your property. Try to get an idea of their level of interest. If you’re going to make tenants responsible for landscaping, you might also want to indicate this in your advertising and marketing. You want tenants to understand the responsibility before they see the property or apply for the home.

Tenants who are left in charge of landscaping can always hire professionals. They don’t have to do the work themselves; they’ll simply be responsible for finding and paying for a service.

Landscaping as a Landlord Responsibility

If you have high standards for how your landscaping looks, it’s a better idea for you to keep that responsibility for yourself. Tenants are never going to care about your property in the same way that you care about your property, so if you are attached to a certain aesthetic, make sure you remain responsible for all landscaping. This will be preferable to many of your potential residents, too. In many cases, tenants rent so they don’t have to worry about things like maintenance and landscaping.

When you have the time and the passion, you can do the actual landscaping work yourself. Generally, however, landlords in the East and West Valley will hire a landscaping service to take care of the yard maintenance for them. You can always do the work yourself, but think about the privacy of your tenants. If you’re showing up every week with a lawnmower, it could be invasive.

The better option may be to hire professional landscapers who can tend to the property in a way that meets your standards. You can be sure that everything is clean, healthy, and looking good. Tenants who don’t want any lawn responsibilities will be attracted to this setup as well. You can always build the monthly landscaping charges into the rental amount to keep your own costs down.

Let the Lease be Clear

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you include the lawn and garden maintenance in your lease agreement. You need to be clear and specific about what you expect from your tenants and what they can expect from you. Let tenants know who is responsible for it logistically and financially. You don’t want your tenants to assume it’s not their responsibility, and you also don’t want your tenants to be out there sweating and struggling if you’re already paying for a professional service.

Open communication and understanding expectations will always make landscaping - and everything else - easier.

DESERT LANDSCAPING BEST PRACTICES

Landscaping in the desert can be a bit challenging, as the unique climate and geography can make it difficult to grow and maintain grass, plants, and anything that requires regular water and shade. That doesn’t mean you can’t create an inviting oasis with your outdoor space.

  • Choose native plants. The plants and trees you install will need to survive in harsh conditions. Drought-resistant plants like succulents, cacti, and agaves are ideal for the hot and dry desert climate, as they require very little water. Additionally, they are already well-adapted to the local environment, and they’ll require less maintenance.
  • Make use of mulch. Mulch is essential for retaining moisture in desert landscaping. When properly applied, mulch can hold water in the soil, reduce evaporation, and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch like wood chips or leaves is a good choice, as it can also provide nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
  • Keep irrigation efficient. Do you need to water the plants and bushes you have in your landscaping? Remember that in the desert, water is a precious resource, and you want to use it wisely. Drip irrigation systems are a great choice for desert landscaping, as they deliver water directly to the plants' roots, minimizing evaporation and runoff.
  • Create shade when you can. The desert sun can be relentless, so it's important to provide shade for your plants (and your tenants!). Planting trees strategically can create a cool, shaded area for your tenants to enjoy. If you have the space, consider shade structures like pergolas or umbrellas, which can provide relief from the sun's heat and provide a welcoming and inviting look and feel to your property.

Desert landscaping requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. Have your landscaping service prune your plants regularly to promote healthy growth and remove dead or diseased branches. Keep an eye out for pest and disease problems, and address them promptly to prevent damage. And finally, make sure your irrigation system is working properly and adjust it seasonally to accommodate for changes in temperature and rainfall.

CONSIDER YOUR HOA LANDSCAPING REQUIREMENTS

If your East or West Valley rental property is in an HOA or part of a condo association, you may be limited in the way you maintain the outdoor space. Those decisions may be made for you. In some associations, there’s landscaping provided, and you’ll pay for that with your HOA fees. In others, everyone is on their own. Sometimes, you’ll have partial landscaping provided. There will be restrictions and/or requirements on fencing, whether or not gardens are permitted, and what kind of plants and bushes are allowed and not allowed at your home.

Outside of who is responsible, remember that your HOA will likely have its own standards that need to be met. Those standards are certain to be stricter than your own. They won’t tolerate messes or breaches in uniformity. Keep this in mind as you’re deciding who should do the landscaping and how you want it handled.

Put together landscaping that works with and not against our harsh, desert heat. This will make everything a lot easier on you, your tenant, and your rental property. Low-maintenance landscaping is always a good idea. It’s cost-efficient and it keeps your tenants happy.

Would you like some additional information on your landscaping, specifically? We’d love to take a look at your rental home and tell you what we think. Please contact us at TCT Property Management Services. We manage homes in the East and West Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.