29Apr

Although small garden can be frustrating for eager gardeners, but as with most things in life, small can also be beautiful.

Clever tricks and some careful planning can help you make the most of your outside space, no matter how tiny it may be. Here are a few principles to keep in mind when gardening in a small space.


Make use of your garden's height

What many gardens lack in width, they often make up for in height. Open shelves occupy a small footprint but enable you to display many plants at different heights. For a more quirky look, you could even use a vintage wooden stepladder for a similar effect.

If you are lucky enough to have trees in your garden, try training climbers up their trunks. A climbing rose or clematis will add another layer of colour and interest without taking up any additional space.


Clever planting

The golden rule when planting in a small space is to make every part of your garden work as hard as possible. When planting spring bulbs, try layering tulips, daffodils, and iris in the same area to create a display that will last for the whole season.

Evergreens provide structure, colour and interest all year round, so make a wise choice when you are pushed for room. Try to disperse them evenly around your garden, preferably in positions that can help disguise sheds, buildings, and other eyesores.


Fool the eye with mirrors

Nestling vintage mirrors amongst your plants serves the dual purpose of tricking the eye into thinking the area is larger than it is, as well as adding a romantic, whimsical vibe to your garden. They also provide an extra focal point without taking up much valuable space.


Utilise your surfaces

With the right tools and materials, just about every surface in your garden can become home to a plant. Potted plants can be positioned on windowsills, shed roofs, and tables and chairs. There are even plant pots available for attaching to fences, walls, and downpipes, ideal for disguising ugly buildings and softening any sharp edges.


Choose heavily scented varieties

Filling the air with beautiful scent can help give the impression that your garden contains more plants than it actually does. Just one heavily-scented rose can give your garden a lovely aroma, and positioning a lavender plant close to the door will give a relaxing fragrance every time you brush past.


Get creative

Even in a small garden, replacing annuals year after year can start to get expensive. Investing in a few garden sculptures or simply placing large urns amongst the foliage means that your garden will never be without form, height and year-round interest. When the plants around it die back they can either be replaced, or the space left clear to appreciate your work of art.

With some careful planning and by making the most of what you've got, it is possible to turn even the smallest of gardens into a sanctuary. Whether you have a small yard, a roof terrace or even just a balcony, by following some simple rules you can create a relaxing space that really punches above its weight. Last of all, remember that the silver lining of a small garden is that it is easier to maintain so you space can always be kept looking its best.

Thanks to Homebase for the image

29Apr

The growth in wealth of property investors outperformed the average entrant in The Sunday Times Rich List 2016.

Brothers and property tycoons David and Simon Reuben headed up the list of the UK’s wealthiest people after seeing their net worth rise by 35% to £13.1bn.

Of the 1000 people on this year’s List with property among their investment, 61% saw their wealth increase, with just 12%% of property investors seeing their wealth fall during the year.

Chris Hounsome, director of Mansell McTaggart’s Crawley office, said that “once again we see those investing in property seeing a steady increase in their wealth compared to other forms of asset – whether that is as a property to occupy, or a property to rent out”.

29Apr

New research by Aldermore Building Society shows that over half the UK’s buy-to-let landlords (52%) expect the recent changes to stamp duty and buy-to-let mortgage tax relief to have no real impact on them.

This is even more pronounced among landlords over the age of 55, 61% of whom expect to see little impact.

The research, carried out amongst 1,000 landlords by YouGov on behalf of Aldermore, explores how the recent changes to buy-to-let, which came into force on 1 April, have affected landlords, including whether they would raise rents, sell their properties and what they thought the future was for the private rented sector.

Seven-in-ten respondents expect the number of tenants in the private rented sector to increase over the next five years, but a third (33%) of landlords feel the overall value of the buy-to-let market will decrease over the next 12 months.

Julian Thorpe, director at Mansell McTaggart Crawley, said that “it’s clear that property remains an attractive investment for many landlords, despite the recent changes in tax”.

Meanwhile, in separate research, also carried out by YouGov but this time on behalf of HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance, indicated that 47% of UK adults support the stamp duty surcharge, while 18% oppose it.

Julian added “the Chancellor’s stamp duty reforms were aimed at levelling the playing field a bit in favour of buyer-occupiers and especially first-time buyers and against professional investors, and the public’s support for these reforms seems self-evident”.


See the full article


29Mar

Official data from the Office for National Statistics show that Crawley’s house prices have been amongst the fastest-growing in the five years to June 2015.

Third only to Cambridge and London, Crawley’s prices have risen by 37% over that period, according to the data.

Julian Thorpe, director of Mansell McTaggart in Crawley is not surprised by the data: “with London’s prices booming, people looking to buy are increasingly looking outside of the capital. With its fast trains to London, as well as to the coast and Brighton, its surrounding of the stunning Sussex countryside and access to Gatwick Airport, it’s easy to see why Crawley – and its neighbouring areas – offer such an attraction”.


29Mar

George Osborne delivered his (now infamous) 2016 Budget a few weeks ago. Overshadowed by the all the on-off changes to disability benefits, were some changes that will affect both homeowners and buy-to-let investors throughout the year. 

Among these were amendments to both stamp duty and capital gains tax, while changes to ISA allowances are designed to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder. 

So what exactly do these changes entail, and when will they come into effect? 

Key changes for property owners 

The Chancellor confirmed that a 3% stamp duty surcharge will come into effect on April 1st 2016, and will apply to the purchase of second homes and buy-to-let properties. 

Osborne had previously discussed his plans to levy additional taxes on properties not intended for use as a primary residence, and he confirmed this surcharge despite pushback from landlords.

While Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates were cut, these cuts are not applicable to gains made on residential property. This means that as of April 6, 2016, CGT for higher rate taxpayers will be lowered from 28 per cent to 20 per cent, and basic rate taxpayers can enjoy a lower rate of 10 per cent down from 18 per cent. However, sales of residential property will be unaffected and will therefore be taxed at current rates. 

While buy-to-let landlords may not have welcomed the budget with open arms, the UK’s first-time buyers finally received some good news. The Chancellor announced a Lifetime ISA for those who are under the age of 40 in April 2017. This enables account holders to save up to £4,000 a year, and the government will contribute a 25 per cent bonus (up to £1,000) on these savings at the close of the tax year. 

Tax dodgers penalized 

In what many are considering a positive move, Osborne also announced new legislation that will penalize offshore property developers who are not currently paying taxes. 

With the new Finance Bill in place, any developers building property in Britain must pay UK tax on the profits. The Treasury believes this crackdown will garner £2.28 billion in taxes by 2020. A specially set-up HMRC division will be tasked with identifying and collecting from offshore developers who are currently evading tax payments in the UK.

Chris Hounsome, partner at Mansell McTaggart in Crawley, said that "while buyers of second or investment property will be disappointed to have to pay the higher stamp duty, the higher tax bills will be absorbed by the fast-rising prices in the area”.

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