Outdoor space comes into its own at this time of year - when the country erupts in BBQs, garden parties and impromptu football matches. However, this garden-related activity is highly unusual. In fact, the average person uses their garden just 20 times a year - so it's astonishing just what we'll pay for a patch of green space.
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A study by Hatched.co.uk analysed the asking prices of properties with and without gardens, in order to discover the premium we will pay for some outside space. Astonishingly, it found that on average properties were worth 44% more if they had a garden. In some places the difference was even more striking. In Preston, for example, people will pay 50% more for a home if it has outdoor space.
This figure is higher than previous studies, including the one last year claiming gardens added 20% to a property - unless they faced south in which case they added 37%.
This is despite the fact that gardens are getting less and less expansive. The researchers found that the average garden in 2015 was just 14 square metres - compared to 16.8 square metres in 1983.
Given how little we use our gardens, it's bizarre how much we are willing to pay for them. There are three reasons why we value gardens so much - and only one of them is terribly sensible.
1) Some people actually use them
The study found that one in ten people use their garden more than once a week. The most common uses were for children, pets, socialising and gardening. 10% is a large enough percentage of the population to create a premium on gardens - but not a premium of 44%.
2) We worry that we'll regret going garden-free if the weather suddenly cheers up
Some 14% of people said they wanted a garden in order to be able to enjoy the weather - despite the shocking reality of a British summer. We're gripped by the fear that when we do eventually get a reasonable day of sunshine, we'll be stuck indoors, watching other people enjoying their gardens. We forget that it's sunny and warm for fewer than 10 weekends a year - and that it's perfectly possible to pop to the park for those days.
Gardens have always been tied up with status in the UK. The landed gentry had land, the working classes lived in back-to-back houses opening directly onto the road. Your garden elevated you in the social strata, and the size, design and maintenance of your garden spoke volumes about who you were, and where you fit in the pecking order. The reason we value a garden we hardly use is the same reason that some people buy expensive jewellery they only wear once every few years - so that other people can see they are posh enough to own it
If you're a keen gardener with kids, pets, and a passion for keeping up with the Joneses, it seems worthwhile paying up to 50% more for a nice garden. If, however, you don't have any real need for a garden, and you aren't terribly bothered about what your garden says about you, this could be your chance to cash in.
Your dream garden-free property could be much cheaper, and you'll never have to weed the borders or mow the lawn ever again.