(no, not THAT kind of grass....)
I have an end unit rowhome that will be up for rental shortly that has about 2 feet between it's exterior side wall and the tall chain link fence for a truck depot facility that is down behind it. There is a small, approx. 4 x 5 patch in the front that used to be grass and then the back yard. The house is about 33 feet deep and the property is about 70 feet deep, so there is definitely some "yard" back there.
The side area I can clean up and I think pretty much leave it. It gets walked on and is pretty much trampled down. I thought about doing some colored stone on the front patch and sort of caging it with chicken wire (to hopefully prevent people from picking up the chips and throwing them, etc). That way no worries on having to weedwhack/mow the front. The back is what I'm most concerned with.
This is going to be a section 8 rental in basically a C, C- area of Baltimore. When it's ready for occupancy, I just want to do serious tenant screening and get it rented. Should I really care about the back yard? Around here it's mostly concrete but I'm not going to spend the $ on concreting the entire yard areas (at least not at this point). I'm still having a hard time looking at this first project without my homeowner glasses on....
Any suggestions on what to do? Thanks in advance for any replies.
Is there any grass what so ever back there. If so and its in decent shape leave it. If it's grown over with weeds, trim it up and throw some weed killer on it and make it the tenants responsibility. If it's just dirt sod is a fairly cheap option, you could even DIY? I think your on the right track with the front and side areas. I definently wouldn't leave the back bare dirt.
If you have a bit of green in the city leave it be. Everyone enjoys a small patch of nature, even in the concrete jungle. I'll bet you get a comment on it 8/10 times you show the place.
If the areas get enough light and is suitable for a lawn, make it a lawn. If it's not suitable for a lawn, consider cedar bark chips (the type they use in playgrounds). We did that in the back of some units and it looks good, does not attract bugs and does not cause splinters. One thing not to do is cover any of the areas with river stone, because kids love throwing them.
I was walking the other day in our neighborhood and saw a lawn done with ARTIFICIAL GRASS. It looked almost like the real thing. That might be the best option! (low maintenance, drought tolerant, durable, does not attract bugs, less likely to be damaged by digging, and is not easy to steal or throw!)
I have a similar rowhome outside of Philly (Conshohocken), and did half patio / half grass. The grass patch is similar, and all I have to do is weed whack it once in a while. Home Depot makes a $40 weed whacker that uses the same 18V battery I have in my power drill, so the frustration associated with maintaining it is minimal.
I would second the wood chips, fake grass, and would also throw in pebbles or gravel. Since it's section 8 tenants I wouldn't put too much money into it.