Modernize Your Outdoor Space – The Santa Barbara Independent

Q: Marsha, I recently bought a house in Goleta. I feel lucky to have gotten the house, because there were seven other offers. However, now that I’m in the house, I realize that the landscaping is horrible. It’s dirt and weeds and no design. What do you suggest?

A: In our beautiful Santa Barbara, with our phenomenal climate, the exterior design of the house is just as important as the interior. You will be spending a lot of time outdoors and want the landscaping and treatments to be as spectacular as the indoor environment. It is a united property.

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

Landscape trends have changed. As a real estate agent, a large lawn seems as dated to me as a wood shingle roof. This is inconsistent with the cultural and ecological environment in which Californians live. Invest in making your outdoor space as welcoming, modern and magical as possible.

Consider features like fountains: no plumbing involved and the same water is constantly recycled. Fountains have the added benefit of reducing peaceful noise. Create interest with decomposed granite (DG) walkways, flagstones, benches, fruit trees, raised vegetable or flower beds and potted plant elements. Your landscaper will help you control water through modern irrigation. Defensive space against fire will also be considered. Today you have to work with our California conditions and avoid large lawns that our semi-arid environment cannot support. California gardens, once established, should be low maintenance and look fantastic.



Before the last 18 months, landscaping – including flora, hardscape, a deck or patios, and water features – was essential to selling a home for the best price. This truism was suspended for 18 months, but now we are back to reality. Having an outdoor space is again important.

When you sell your home, you reap the rewards of your investment. Prior to the recent market surge, I had a direct view of the value of garden design. The house for sale was beautiful from the outside. It was lush and inviting. Still, the realtor called the house “fixer,” and he was right. The house had structural and mold issues. Buyers liked the exterior so much that they kept visiting the interior. The house sold quickly, despite its revealed problems. It was the magic of the garden that sold the house and all its imperfections.

Finally, we have amazing 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 wealth of information and more than willing to share it with her clients. This is the rule for Santa Barbara nurseries and not the exception. Now go create a beautiful and long-lasting California garden.


Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for over 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps clients buy and sell homes and with loan 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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