Erin Newell wrote: I don't want to sell this place and find that it's all been ripped out a year later. I don't want to spend the next year making it look more conventional, because I don't even know what that IS any more (and what if I sell it to someone that would have ripped it out anyways?!). I suppose I'm looking for stories from people that have done similar things, and had it turn out ok, or sold a place and were somehow able to never look at it again. Argh!! Help me decide what to spend my energy on, in the last year I'll be here? Please?
I joined specifically to put in my 2 cents. I think about the same thing, imagining that the people who move in were like my last tenants or the neighbours on either side: consumers, thoughtless energy users...not averse to gardening but overenthusiastic with the "control of nature" impulse.
I think that this year you need to divide your energy between growing/installing only stuff you know everybody can enjoy, and finding the legal instrument in real estate law that makes it clear that the sale is contingent upon agreement and continuation of the principles you've identified apply to the particular plot of land, the house structure, and neighbourhood. Oh, and yeah, document everything you've done, why, and how, as an instruction manual for the new owners because they will need to maintain and repair -- and the "simplest" thing is (something you figure out for yourself) usually marketed to you for $29.95 and has no concern for long-term impact, and may require getting rid of the complex, thought-about solution that you custom-installed instead.
In other words, with a legal instrument (a contigency), if they rip out what you've done, you sue for all the time that you put into the improvements and the value of ecosystem/neighbourhood services that these improvements provide. So find out how much your efforts have benefited the whole, especially compared to the most consumerist, manicured people on the street, who give the old-time impression of being good neighbours by criteria that I can only describe as antiseptic.
Talk to the urban planning dept of your neighbourhood and see what their values and plans are, and see if there is any possibility that you've pre-configured the place and saved the new owners money or trouble in advance. Or at least see if there's current or future possibility of including the "coercive power of the state" to the threat of suing.
The goal is to make sure that the prospective buyers are not fearful of buying your house because they understand what it is you have done and they intend to enjoy, maintain, and perhaps extend it. This will send away anyone who says "my house I can do whatever I want" so you won't get top market dollar for it, but it won't frighten people of good intent and it may challenge a few assumptions of the people who at least come to the open house. Education helps.
Hope this helps