10 Landscaping Tips for a Family-Friendly Rental

by | BiggerPockets.com

Renting is on the rise for both Millennials and families. Furthermore, research shows that homeownership for families is actually decreasing. According to The Guardian, over the past 10 years, 912,000 more households with children have started renting privately

There are many factors at play here, but one is a lack of family-friendly amenities in homes. Parents can often find everything they want for their children in a rental community, including nice neighbors, playground equipment, pet-friendly apartments, and necessary safety features.

Selling a single-family home to a family with children is easier than selling it to a single individual or a couple without kids, but you’ll still want to highlight all the right features to sell your single-family home. Families like square footage, extra bathrooms and bedrooms, and a child-friendly design on both the inside and outside.

One of the primary pulls for families with homeownership is the idea of a private yard that’s landscaped for play and family time. There are several updates you can make to your yard to attract these family-friendly buyers and raise your property values.

10 Landscaping Tips for a Family-Friendly Rental

1. Add a backyard play set.

People love that rental communities often have play sets on the premises. Kids need a place to run around outside rather than being glued to their electronics. As the Backyard Guys share, “Things like sand boxes, clubhouse spaces, steering wheels, and telescopes all provide great avenues for kids to let their imaginations take charge, while features like rock walls, rope ladders, monkey bars, and climbing ramps provide a challenge for kids to overcome, keeping them engaged as they play.”

2. Create a parent seating area.

With kids enjoying the play set, parents need some form of comfortable seating where they can watch. If you don’t have a patio, add a comfortable bench positioned near the play set for parental comfort.

3. Fence in the yard.

Security and privacy are of the utmost importance for parents, particularly when their children are young. A fence in the front yard isn’t usually important to homeowners, but they will want something enclosed and secure in the backyard where their children will play. It provides both intrinsic and monetary value to a property, as it can raise values by about $2,500.

Related: Landscaping: 4 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Yard’s Curb Appeal

4. Offer toy storage areas.

Bicycles, beach balls, sandbox shovels, and sporting equipment are hazardous and unsightly when strewn across the yard without a home. A storage shed provides a tidy space for them to rest when not in use. Storage is always a huge factor for homebuyers, whether it’s meant for toys or garden tools, and you can raise buyer interest significantly with this tasteful addition.

5. Grow healthy grass for play.

Kids need plenty of grass to play on, and the healthier and greener the grass is, the better. Carefully trim your lawn before any showings, and fertilize your grass seasonally to keep it strong and healthy. When the grass is strong and well-maintained, kids can play without damaging it.

6. Cut down on hardscaping.

Many backyards have concrete and pavers, but that’s not very attractive to buyers with kids. Hardscaping means more opportunities for children to fall and hurt themselves. If you’re targeting family homeowners, replace some of the hard surfaces with soft sod.

7. Plant climbing trees.

These can be a conservative, eco-friendly addition to your playset. Climbing trees not only provide another place for children to play, but they also offer cleaner air and more shade to your property. You can cut down on utility bills, increase privacy, and benefit residents significantly.

Related: 3 Curb Appeal Tips To Attract More Buyers to Your Flips

8. Hang a tire swing.

After your climbing tree has grown to full height, hang a tire swing. It not only makes the home feel more cozy and quaint, but also offers entertainment for families.

9. Install pool-safe features.

A pool or hot tub is a welcome addition in any backyard, but it brings some safety concerns for families with small children. You can increase the safety of your pool and the goodwill of the homebuyers with a fence and a pool cover.

10. Put in a fire pit.

What family doesn’t want a lovely night in the backyard around an open fire, telling stories and roasting marshmallows? This is one feature that will create family memories and entice buyers.

Any tips you’d add to this list?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing.

16 Comments

  1. Robert Steele

    I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but I will be anyway.

    1. Add a backyard play set.

    I am worried about liability if some kid injures themselves on it. Either through defect, neglected maintenance, or just child stupidity.

    5. Grow healthy grass for play.

    Unless you are paying for full lawn service and timed irrigation, my experience is that tenants cannot keep a healthy lawn to save their life.

    7. Plant climbing trees.

    Another liability risk.

    8. Hang a tire swing.

    Another liability risk.

  2. Linda Hastings

    I have to admit that I’m a little confused by the article. The title implies the suggestions are meant for a rental property, but the text mentions several things like “homeownership”, “family friendly buyers”, “homebuyers”, etc.
    The suggestions all sound great if you are doing a flip or selling a home, but I’m with Robert Steele that things like a play set or tire swing in a rental seem to open you up to greater liability risks. I do agree that fencing the back yard and storage solutions can be great additions for family-friendly rentals.

  3. I agree with Robert. We have raised two kids and a backyard play set is extremely expensive and something they will only use for a few short years. Also a liability issue. They also get weathered and worn out looking pretty quickly.

    My two kids NEVER climbed a tree in their life. They loved the monkey bars at the neighborhood park. I strongly discourage my renters\’ kids from climbing my trees. That\’s how my trees get destroyed and people get hurt.

    I am ok with a nice yard. I make my renters cut their grass. They are simply not going to spend time and money fertilizing a yard they don\’t own.

    Not a big fan of installing fire pits. Pretty expensive. You can buy a fire pit at Home Depot or Costco for about $100. If my renters want a fire pit, they can go buy one.

    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, put a hot tub ( what is this, the 70s) or a pool in a rental home. Especially a pool. I have bought rentals with the tacky above ground pools and I pay somebody to tear it apart and chuck it in the dumpster. People around here (Chicago metro) will spend $ 25,000 to FILL IN an inground pool. That\’s how bad they are to maintain and insure. Never have a pool in a rental unless you are in Florida and I would not even do it there.

    I was hoping to see some solid ideas about how nice landscaping can improve the curb appeal and the backyard fun of a rental house. Sorry to dump all over you, but this is a really bad article.

    Tire swings, hot tubs, pools, fire pits are terrible ideas for a rental. I simply refuse to believe you have pools and hot tubs at your rentals out there in Des Moines, Iowa and you find that they are valuable. They are money sucking disasters.

    These are both liability and maintenance disasters. I am on the warpath about people posting really dumb articles on Bigger Pockets and leading investors astray.

  4. You just mentioned 10 suggestions about rental properties. Several of those are great ways to get yourself sued. Falling off a swing set, tire swing breaking and hurting a kid etc. Bullet proof your rentals. IF they put up a swing set, let them do it. The first time a kid breaks the swing, guess who they call? The grassy area is nice looking until the weeds take over!!

    • Lucas Phelps

      I have to agree with Herb, this article baffles me a bit. The thought of ever installing a tire swing or playground equipment at a rental property is just asking for a law suit. Why not install a pool while you’re at it?

      I used to install nice looking plants and flowers around rentals until I learned that tenants 90% of the time will not take care of them or even maintain them. I’ve learned that the best landscaping is the no to little landscaping. Eliminate work that you’ll have to do in the future.

  5. Jerry W.

    I agree with Robert, in fact the insurance agent I use has sent me letters requiring me to remove a tree swing one of the renters had installed as it was too great of a liability, or I would have to buy a special rider for it. I have also uniformly had a horrible time with most renters keeping the lawn watered enough to keep it alive.

  6. John Daley

    I am forced to conclude that the author here is not an actual landlord, or at least has not first hand landlord experience. Besides the liability issues, any ‘amenities’ you add to the property will not only require the up front expense to install, but only add to the ongoing expense to maintain and I don’t see them adding any real value when it comes to increasing the rental rates. I was hoping to get some ideas about how to make a rental property landscaping attractive yet durable for tenants (unfortunately most any kind of landscaping requires regular upkeep or else it simply turns into a mess and additional expense down the road to either remove or restore), but am sorely disappointed. Not only are there not any good practical tips, but the ideas stated here will most certainly be a detriment to the owner in one way or another down the road. I read tons of good articles here on BP, but I can’t imagine how this one got published and picked to be included in the newsletter.

  7. John Daley

    After re-reading the article, I feel that it was originally intended to address SELLING a home to family oriented buyers, but the titles and headings and introductory paragraphs were edited and changed to address rentals. I may be wrong, but that’s my take on what happened here.

  8. julie oldham

    The author bio-blurb at the bottom of the article clearly states that this guy is a “professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to online media outlets and news sources.” I really prefer the by landlords/for landlords format I’ve come to know and love from BiggerPockets. Are we buying content now? Shame if you are. Even your occasional reruns of older articles for new readers is far better than this sort of thing. The previous commenters are right, this is all terrible advice for rental properties, in my opinion. And yes, I’m really a landlord, I don’t just play one on tv. 🙂

  9. Patrick Liska

    As I was reading this I felt them same as all the other posters, all Liabilities and would not do any of them. Having a lawn is nice but I wouldn’t go crazy putting and maintaining one. The only thing I would do, instead of taking out a patio, is install one, if you do not have one, so the family has a place to sit. This article is all bad advice for landlords

  10. Deryk Harper

    Great feedback on this story from BP community. Would have to agree with all about expense, liability and maintenance. Just don’t see the upside/ROI for an investment property. One of our owners just had to pay over $250 to have an old wooden playset dismantled and hauled off. Not worth it and just one more thing to keep track of. This is also the reason we do not invest in, or manage. properties with pools. Again too much risk/liability.

    This may be a copy/paste of a story that was meant for sales vs rentals. It reads that way in the beginning.

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