landscaping ideas & gardener recommendations

8 Replies

Hi BP-ers,

I have a 4 unit apartment in the San Jose area that has 3 lawns.  I am tired of the maintenance of it and the constant sprinkler issues to repair, not to mention the water bill in our drought afficted area.  I'd liket to take the lawn out and put something that's requires less maintenance and water.

I am unimaginative so I'd love to get some ideas from landlords out there and names of some gardeners who can do the work.  



Cover the grass with heavy black plastic to kill it, then cover with small rocks. Zero Maintenance. 

Purple Fountain Grass grows HUGE, is drought resistant, and looks great. Water it like 4 times to establish, then no more maintenance.

Salvia produces brilliant purple flowers, and also needs very little water. 

I can't kill my lambs ear no matter how 'never' I water it. Ditto my lavender plants. 

Hi @Ann Nguyen

Have you thought about xeriscaping your yards? Many homeowners and landlords alike have converted their traditional lawns to xeriscape (xeros = dry, -scape => landscape) in recent years, both for environmental and cost savings reasons.  The conversion might cost you a bit upfront, though it should eventually begin to pay for itself since it is quite low maintenance.  If done right, the results are equally as impressive as a well kept and maintained traditional lawn, in my opinion.  Here are some ideas for Northern California xeriscapes. Btw, since I had a minute to spare, I just called the first landscaping business I found on Yelp in the Mountain View area, "Total Landscape." I inquired about xeriscaping a yard, and the guy I spoke with pretty much blew me off. He wouldn't even offer me a quote. He also said they're booked until September.

Out of curiosity, how did you acquire your apartment? I'm on the market for a multiunit myself and am not totally convinced I should work with an agent.

Google alternative front lawn, permaculture, meadow lawn, no grass lawn etc. There's an entire initiative towards more sustainable lawn alternatives AND you get paid to remove your lawn. You can plant thyme, microclover, etc etc. CA is running some incentive reimbursements and tax credits so get on that and get paid to remove your lawn. If you use reddit, check out r/nolawns and look into books on the topic of alternative landscaping. I'm sure your local library has some for free. This is a great 20 minute podcast by Invisibilia, episode Lawn & Order (lol) all about how stupid lawns are. If you find a local landscaper with a permaculture focus, you'll be able to get alternative methods to have your investment property lower maintenance, less expensive, more aesthetically pleasing and more environmentally friendly. I've been toying around with the idea of intersecting permaculture/meadow lawns with REI and I'm going to do it in my first property once I close on May 10th. Grass is the first thing to go, I don't want to waste time or money maintaining it. If you have any questions, lmk, I think this is an overlooked area of investing.

Lawns are expensive but tenants like them. They're pretty and people do occasionally use them, kids all the time. 

I'd keep at least one lawn. Redesign the sprinklers ! Design it so you need only 2-4 sprinklers. You can do this by putting the 40 ft ones on the corners. Now you have reduced your expenses. Also plant a crawling grass in there they need less water but are hard to establish. St. Augustine is my favorite stay away from Bermuda. 

Plant trees in the lawns. Get a fast grower like maple or california sycamore. They have decent canopies and in 5 years you can reduce watering by 50-75 percent because the grass will be in the shade. 

Sure you might get roots into plumbing one day. But you are helping the environment and my only root repair on a property only cost $1000. They then put a root barrier around the pipe and it hasn't happened again. People also like trees so you get your money back. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here