Having The Garden You Want In A Rental Home

It is sometimes a challenge for an avid gardener, especially one who wants to grow his own food, to find a rental property leasing location with an amenable landlord. While most landlords balk at the idea of major changes to their landscape, there are ways to turn them around and make them see that your gardening is an asset, not a liability.

Getting Permission

If you know you are going to want to plant a garden, ask the landlord or rental agent before you look at the home. If the yard is overgrown and barren, point out that landscaping will increase their property value in the long run. Understand that the owner may be protective of the lawn, or limit areas where you can garden.  

Get It In Writing

For any agreement in real estate to be binding, it must be in writing, so be sure to add any agreement as to gardens or landscaping to your lease. If your landscaping raises the property value, add a clause to protect yourself against unscrupulous landlords who may try to raise your rent significantly based on the new property value. If your landlord won't put agreements into writing as part of your lease, you're wise to walk away, because he may be unreasonable on other issues in the future.

Adding Permanent Plantings

If you add permanent plants, such as fruit trees or hedges, try to work out an agreement to be able to deduct the cost of the plant from your rent. Make a written provision that you are to care for and keep the plant alive and healthy, stipulating that if it dies while you are still under the lease, you will replace it at your own cost or remove it and repay any amount deducted.

Choose Edible Ornamentals

If your rental property has existing garden beds, but city ordinances do not allow vegetable gardens, use edible ornamental plants to stay within the law. For example:

Purslane is a beautiful flowering edible plant perfect as a ground cover or in a hanging basket. Cranberry hibiscus is a striking ornamental plant with edible maroon leaves and edible flowers. Many peppers are ornamental as well as edible. Most herbs can be tucked in here and there in a cottage garden style bed.

Contain Your Garden

If you can't work anything out with your landlord, look for a rental where you can grow your garden in containers on paved areas, porches or patios. If there is fencing, you can use gutter gardens or hanging planters. Shade-tolerant plants can hang from trees. Small pallet gardens can be leaned against walls and fences. Also, there are many creative ideas online for vertical garden planters that do not damage turf.

Having the garden you want in a rental home is sometimes challenging, but with a cooperative landlord and creative planning, it can be done. Be sure to protect yourself by adding any gardening or landscaping agreements in writing to your lease. Talk to your real estate rental agent about landlords they represent who are amenable to having a gardener in their home.