Declutter Yard

How to Clean, Organize and Declutter a Yard

With relatively few exceptions, most people aren't looking for ongoing projects when they purchase a home. Yard work is one of those things that everyone knows has to be done, but would prefer not to think about.

Decluttering a yard makes the home look as if it takes care of itself and that there isn't much to do outside. This is perfect - most people would rather enjoy their property than have to think about working on it.

Your property should look like a restful haven -- neat, tidy and alive with the bounty nature has to offer. Buyers will want to see that there are places to play, to relax, to garden, and to entertain.

Home selling tips (staging) that don't address the important steps of cleaning, organizing and decluttering are only doing half a job. Think of your yard as another room in your house and prepare it with our two steps: first start with cleaning, organizing and decluttering, then stage the yard.

Task 1. Declutter the Yard

Just like inside the home, outdoor spaces can accumulate unnecessary clutter.

  • Children's toys and games should be stored away in the garage. If you don't have a garage, then think about getting a small storage shed to shield these items from buyers' eyes. If you have a swing set, then take a good look at its condition. If it is in new or nearly new condition, then you can probably keep it in the yard. If it is older than 5 years and is badly weathered, you should disassemble it and dispose of it. No one will want your tired, old play set and they might worry that it isn't in sound shape if it's older. Don't let worry about anything enter buyers' minds. Eliminate the object entirely.
  • Any evidence that you own pets should be removed from the property....daily. Enough said.
  • Have a boat, RV, snowmobile? If these are in your yard or garage, they need to be stored off-site.
  • Keep a table and chairs for the patio or deck, keep a few occasional chairs if you have them. Other furnishings might tend to clutter the space. Again, a good idea is to send these to storage for your next home.
  • Portable storage containers should never be on your property when your home is being shown. Fill these up and call the moving company for a pick up.
  • Eliminate all statues, figurines, flags, sun catchers, windsocks, flags, etc. from the property. These should be packed up for your move to your next home.

Task 2. Clean up the property

All the curb appeal in the world won't help a home that is dirty - inside or out. Cleaning the outside areas of your home is a great way to suggest to buyers that the inside is in impeccable condition.

  • Porches, decks and patios will need to be cleaned. Start by removing anything (furnishings, planters, yard tools, flags, banners, decorative items) from these areas. Porches and walkways should be power washed or scrubbed down with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) or other cleaner. The same goes for patios and decks, using an efficient cleaning solution that won't hurt the surface. Fences get dirty, too. They need to be clean or freshly painted. Years of grime and mildew are not an appealing site.
  • Your mailbox, house numbers, and light fixtures should also be spruced up with a good cleaning. Also tend to the front door. It will need to be very clean if it's been painted recently. It's usually a good idea to repaint the front door and any trim at the entryway to make a good impression if it's been awhile since the door's last painting.
  • Cleaning up the yard includes picking up twigs, garbage, dead plants, and raking leaves. You don't want litter spoiling the inside of your home, nor do you want it spoiling the outside.
  • Make sure your in-ground pool (if you have one) is in sparkling clean condition and kept this way throughout your listing time. If you have an above ground pool or spa, you probably want to remove it entirely from the property. The open area you will gain will appeal to more buyers. Make sure you don't leave any dead grass spots unattended after removal.
  • Planting and flower beds should be edged. After removing all debris, you should re-mulch these areas for the best impact.
  • Clean out the gutters and remove leaves and twigs that might have gotten clogged there.
  • Windows need to be kept very clean during your listing period. Dirty windows can signal that upkeep has been neglected.Clean windows will let more light into the house and show the house is well-maintained.
  • Take a good look at the house from the curb. Does the siding or brickwork need a good cleaning? How about the trim work? Railings and posts should be cleaned or (preferably) freshly painted. Sometimes the roof can get dirty from mildew or grime. If so, then have the shingles power washed so that they look as new as possible.

Task 3. Organizing the outdoor spaces

You shouldn't be storing anything out-of-doors, so organizing is just a matter of making sure that there aren't any extraneous items lying about. Your deck or patio will have a table and some chairs, maybe a grill, but that's it. A front porch might have a seating or dining area, but no more. The driveway should be absolutely clear. The yard should have neatly mowed grass and attractive planting beds and nothing else.

All neat and tidy? Terrific. Now you can move on to staging the outdoor spaces for maximum curb appeal from Declutter Yard. Or, you can go back to Step 2. Clean, Organize and Declutter and choose another space to organize.

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