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Archive for the ‘Home Improvement Tips’ Category

Easy Gardening Tips to Improve Your Home’s Value

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

By Mary Martin, SRS
2010 President, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® (WRAR)

Gardening is one of the easiest do-it-yourself ways improve your home’s value and appeal. If you can use a shovel, turn on a hose and prune off dead flowers, you already have the basic skills down. Nevertheless, gardening still requires some difficult judgment calls. Here are some general guidelines and tips to prevent you from making novice mistakes.

Be Patient

For many people, the excitement of buying a home coupled with several days of beautiful weather can create a lot of enthusiasm for doing yard work. That’s a great thing; however, you should be very cautious not to go overboard by jumping into major landscape changes like moving trees and shrubs. The tree you move or vines you get rid of could end up blossoming into a gorgeous part of your yard with the right care.

• Advice: Don’t make any major changes for one full year so you can observe it during all four seasons.

Don’t Plant Too Close Together

After purchasing several young trees, shrubs and perennials, you should plant them in a nice pattern. However, if the spacing looks proper now, they’re probably actually way too close together.

In most cases, the immature plantings will grow into each other in a few years and struggle to compete for sun, water and soil nutrients. You’ll then either have to transplant or possibly throw them away.

• Advice:  Follow the spacing requirements on the plant label—even though the results might look ridiculously sparse at first. If you’re still unsure about how much a particular plant will grow, you should consult your local gardening store or experts where you purchased the plant.

Create a Planting Plan

Creating new flower beds without a long-term landscape plan is like building an entire house without considering your needs three years from now. Doing so increases your chances that you’ll have to undo your efforts in the near future.

• Advice:  Sketch out a simple, aerial view drawing of your yard and figuring out the general location of any future construction—additions, decks, outbuildings, pools—so you can plant around those areas.
One resource you should explore to help you with your planting design is your local nursery or home improvement store. Another option is to hire a landscape designer that’s familiar with your area to create a starter plan.

Don’t Neglect the Root Ball

Even the hardiest plants need a little help getting their roots established in their new locations. Simply turning on the sprinkler every day or soaking the plant is not sufficient enough to ensure that they get the adequate amount of nutrients and hydration. You must get the proper amount of water to a plant’s nerve center—the root ball below ground—or your plant’s days are number.

• Advice:  Deep water your plants by placing a hose near the root ball and setting the water to a trickle for about 20 to 30 minutes per plant. During hot, dry spells, you should do this about twice a week for the first 4 to 12 weeks of the plant’s life. Choosing the right irrigation system can also help with this task while saving water.

Be Aware of Sun Conditions

So many people choose plants solely on looks—not the growing conditions they need. These conditions are almost always indicated on a label wrapped around the trunk or a marker pressed into the soil. Putting a sun-loving perennial under a dense tree or something that likes partial shade out in full-day sunshine could cause the plant to die within a week.

• Advice:  Monitor the place you want the plant to go and estimate the amount of sun it gets over the course of a full day during the growing season. On plant labels, this may be display as follows:
                Full Sun – 6 Hours Per Day or More
                Part Sun/Part Shade – 3 to 5 Hours Per Day 
                Shade – Less Than 3 Hours Per Day 
 Learn to Use Your Irrigation System Properly

The luxury of an automatic irrigation system allows you to keep your yard well-hydrated throughout the growing season with little effort. Unfortunately, if not properly set, it can also promote diseases, root rot and a faster death for your plants.

• Advice:  In general, watering for longer intervals—40 to 60 minutes total only two to three times a week – is the widely accepted standard. Check with the company that maintains your irrigation system for local recommendations as this can drastically vary based upon the composition of your soil. This is especially true in coastal areas like Southeastern North Carolina where the soil base is very sandy and porous. This may require a shorter interval, but higher frequency.

Budgeting for Landscaping During Construction Projects

Whether you’re building a house or an addition, be aware of the heavy equipment such as bulldozers or trucks that might park on the lawn. This will damage the grass, trees, and shrubs. The new building design will also probably call for new plantings.

On many occasions, homeowners don’t often include money in their budgets for this work. Then they end up with a beautiful new screened porch with only a few azaleas thrown in around the foundation as an afterthought.

• Advice:  Landscaping should be factored in as 10 to 20 percent of your construction budget. Plan to spend that money as soon as possible after the construction job is complete to ensure the project gets completed.

To learn more ways to boost your home’s value or about other important homeowner topics, contact a REALTOR® today. REALTORS® are highly skilled real estate professionals that can assist you with any aspect of homeownership whether buying, selling or just protecting your investment.

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