Modernize Your Outdoor Space – The Santa Barbara Independent

Modernize Your Outdoor Space – The Santa Barbara Independent

Q:  Marsha, I recently purchased a home in Goleta. I feel fortunate that I got the home, as there were seven other offers. However, now that I’m in the home I realize the landscaping is horrible. It is dirt and weeds and no design. What do you suggest?

A:  In our beautiful Santa Barbara, with our phenomenal weather, the outside design of the home is just as important as the inside. You will spend a great deal of time outside and you want the landscape design and treatments to be as spectacular as the inside environment. It’s one united property.

Hire a designer who will analyze your premises and bring out the yard’s best features. Cultivate and create a contemporary California garden. Spending money on your landscaping is just as vital as a remodeled kitchen or bath. 

Landscape trends have changed. As a Realtor, a large lawn looks as dated to me as a wood shake roof. It doesn’t fit with the cultural and ecological environment Californians are living in. Invest in making your open-air space as inviting, modern and magical as possible. 

Consider features such as fountains: no plumbing involved, and the same water is constantly recycling. Fountains have the added advantage of peaceful noise abatement. Create interest with decomposed granite (DG) paths, flagstones, benches, fruit trees, raised vegetable or flower beds and potted plant features. Your landscaper will help you become water-wise with modern irrigation. Defensible space against fire will also be taken into consideration. Today you must work with our California conditions and avoid the large lawns our semi-arid environment can’t sustain. California gardens, once established, should need little maintenance, and look fantastic. 



Prior to the last 18 months, the landscaping — including the flora, the hardscape, a deck or patios and water features — were all vital to selling a home at a top price. That truism was suspended for 18 months, but we are now back to reality. Having an outside space is important again. 

When you sell your home, you will reap the rewards of your investment. Before the recent market surge, I had a firsthand view of the value of garden design. The house for sale was gorgeous from the outside. It was lush and inviting. Yet the realtor called the home a “fixer,” and he was right. The home had structural as well as mold issues. Buyers loved the outside so much they kept visiting the inside. The home sold quickly, despite its disclosed issues. It was the magic of the garden that sold the home and all its blemishes.

On a final note, we have extraordinary local nurseries in Santa Barbara and Goleta. La Sumida has sumptuous roses. Knapp Nursery was recently sold and is now Paradise Farms. The new owner, Celeste Burns, is a bundle of information and more than willing to share this with her customers. This is the rule for Santa Barbara nurseries and not the exception. Now go create a gorgeous and sustainable California garden.


Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for over 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps her clients buy and sell homes and with lending services. To read more of Marsha’s Q&A articles, visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or [email protected]


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