Bespoke Living

Urban Green: The Value of a Private Garden in a City Residence

Exceptional city homes with private green spaces offer luxury in full bloom

The idea of owning a home with a living room or a spacious kitchen opening onto a private landscaped green space while being just minutes from world-class museums and Michelin-star restaurants, provides just the right balance of both worlds: enjoying nature’s peace and quiet without missing out on the convenience of urban living.

The competition for urban green space is fierce in cities like New York—so much so that it inspired the 1990 romantic comedy Green Card, in which the character played by actress Andie MacDowell enters a sham marriage with a Frenchman in order to secure an apartment with a garden. Private gardens in urban residences are relatively rare and highly coveted. In this Upper East Side townhouse, a dining room decorated with hand-painted botanical wallpaper opens onto Jones Wood Garden, a charming Manhattan green space that wouldn’t look out of place in the English countryside.

Great Britain reportedly invests £80 billion (nearly US$116 billion) each year in its gardens, not surprising for a country with such a rich history of designing and cultivating remarkably impressive public spaces. In the United States, gardens are typically valued at between 25–50% of the value of a home’s interior space, according to New York appraisal firm Miller Samuel. This week, Luxury Defined asked a few select experts for their insights into the marketplace for luxurious urban residences with gardens.

According to Marie-Hélène Lundgreen of Daniel Féau in Paris, “a private garden in Paris is what you might call the cherry on the cake for clients looking for either a townhouse, hôtel particulier, or apartment with an outdoor space.” An exceptionally beautiful and well-appointed residence in a prime location—such as this three-bedroom apartment on the Champs-Élysées—is made all the more desirable when it boasts the added luxury of an exquisite garden.

Just how much value does a garden add to a residence? Leslie de Ruiter of Residence 365 in Amsterdam estimates that gardens increase the value of a listing by at least 10%. “It does not just add value,” he notes, “but makes a listing easier to sell, too.” Marie-Hélène Lundgreen recently sold a spacious apartment in an 18th-century mansion with a large, sunny garden in the Saint-Germain area of Paris. “The clients specifically requested a garden as they always lived in a house with a garden on Holland Park,” she said, “and gardens are very rare in this specific area. It is not a question of price as much as finding the right property.” If a residence lacks a garden, Leslie de Ruiter states, sometimes a roof deck or large terrace can provide an acceptable alternative.

Certain cities and particular neighborhoods within them tend to have luxury homes with gardens in greater numbers than others. When an apartment has a garden in a neighborhood not known for outdoor space, this can make the residence especially desirable. “The apartment of Stefano Pilati in Faubourg Saint-Honoré is a very good example of this,” says Marie-Hélène Lundgreen. “It is extremely rare to find a private garden in the Golden Triangle, a neighborhood in the heart of the fashion district and directly opposite the legendary Bristol Hotel. Stefano Pilati bought this apartment when he was the head designer of Yves Saint Laurent because he wanted a location with a garden for entertaining.”

In the Netherlands, luxury homes with gardens are found primarily in the major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, says Leslie de Ruiter. This sleek, contemporary home overlooking a canal in Amsterdam exemplifies the ideal balance of urban and natural living. A light-filled modern interior with huge windows overlooks trees, plants, grass, and the water and offers easy access to the city’s amenities and attractions. In Paris, one is most likely to find an urban garden among the mansions of Saint-Germain and The Marais, according to Lundgreen.

The best features of an urban garden are not necessarily related to its size. “The sun is number one,” states de Ruiter, who notes that privacy and an outdoor kitchen are also in demand. This six-bedroom residence in the 7th arrondissement of Paris has a spectacular 1,400-square-foot garden that’s surrounded by the house on three sides, offering an unusual degree of seclusion in an urban setting.
A spacious garden in the 7th arrondissement offers unparalleled privacy just steps from the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars.
A spacious garden in the 7th arrondissement offers unparalleled privacy just steps from the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars.
Sellers can do a few important things to help maintain or boost the appeal of a private garden. Keeping the grass well cut and plants healthy is crucial, as the sense that a garden is easy to maintain makes it more desirable. Adding lighting in the form of stylish lanterns tells potential buyers a garden is ideal for elegant outdoor dinners or parties in the evening. When such steps are taken, the allure of a private green space to call one’s own can help make an urban garden one of the most prized amenities offered by a luxury residence.