2. Clean the siding. Spring clean your home’s exterior by washing it thoroughly. Using a regular hose with an attachment to dispense soapy water is the gentlest option; depending on the type of siding, you may be able to use a power washer for a deeper clean.
Here in MA like other Northeast States most of us have been somewhat dormant for the winter. Outside of maybe our normal every day exercise routine that is. However, now that it is getting warmer outside and the landscape is coming back to life, it is time to get outside and get into our landscape and start our gardening chores. A Lot of the movements that you will be doing while gardening are probably not part of your normal everyday exercise routine or should I say the extended period that you will be in some positions is not done everyday. So, please read below to get some helpful gardening safety tips to help keep your back and the rest of your body free from injury. So, you can enjoy your landscape and all the benefits of your hard work instead of being laid up in bed with a bad back!
1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!! I can’t emphasize this enough. Stretch before and after your gardening work. I have included some pictures above that have basic stretches if you are not familiar with regular stretching. Disclaimer, I am not a physical therapist or a personal trainer but these are some of the basic stretches that I do for myself before I work in my landscape. It makes a big difference in my life and for my back!
2. Plan ahead. Make some reasonable goals and don’t try to tackle it all at once. Say you have weeding, edging, trimming, etc.. Think about how long it will take you to do each task. Plan what the most important thing to do today is and set that as your goal. If you are really good at breaking things down, you really could spend a little time each day instead of doing it all at once.
3. Pace yourself. Do the hard stuff first before you’re exhausted and would tend to overexert. Leave more effortless work for the end of your day. For example, do your digging, trimming and weeding first then at the end of the day when things are cleaned up go around with your granular fertilizers to feed your plants.
4. Help to save your back by using a wheelbarrow or garden cart when moving heavy items. Try to avoid bending at the waist and lifting. Bend those knees, hold the item as close as you can and use your legs to do the lifting instead of your back.
3. Gardening tools can also be your best friend. Make sure the tools are ergonomic and comfortable to use. Use telescopic or extended handles to eliminate any strain from reaching. For example, watering wands are ideal for hanging baskets.
4. Keep digging and cutting tools sharp to cut down on the amount of effort you will have to put forth.
5. Use knee pads or a stool while weeding.
6. Wear gloves and long sleeves, if possible. Especially, if you have rose bushes or anything thorny to trim. Long sleeves can help save you from looking like you were in a bad animal attack afterwards. Gloves can help save your hands from getting hurt as well. These items will also give you extra protection if you don’t know what poison ivy, sumac or oak looks like and you pick it up.
7. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated. I know when I get zoned in a project, I s0metimes forget to eat and drink when I should. But, it is important to stay hydrated. Fill a water bottle before you go outside and keep it near you. That will make it easier instead of having to go in the house.
8. Put on sunscreen to protect your skin and if you are really sensitive to the sun, wear a hat and sunglasses.
9. Take breaks every so often. If you start feeling a muscle being strained, do something else for a while and then go back when you are not feeling the strain anymore.
10. When you are done, stretch, stretch, stretch!! Your body will thank you.
Here is a link to another site that also has some great stretches and tips to make gardening in your landscape much more enjoyable and to reduce your risk of injury: http://gardenmaking.com/stretch-for-gardeners/
Got the spring cleaning bug. Here are some great spring landscape and home clean up tips from an article that I found on Houzz today. Happy Cleaning!
After the grueling winter some regions experienced this winter, many folks are itching to get outdoors and feel a little sun this spring. No matter where you live, answer spring’s siren call with these cleaning, freshening and gardening projects to keep your home in top shape.
2. Clean the siding. Spring clean your home’s exterior by washing it thoroughly. Using a regular hose with an attachment to dispense soapy water is the gentlest option; depending on the type of siding, you may be able to use a power washer for a deeper clean.
I would like to thank everyone that took the time to stop by our booth at the Home and Garden Show in Fall River last weekend. It was great to see so many people excited to get their yards in shape and landscape projects started this spring. Never mind great to see some live flowers! I would also like to congratulate Regina Gilbert for winning our Landscape Design Giveaway at the Show!
I also wanted to share a handout that I gave out during my seminar at the show on Saturday titled: How to enhance your curb appeal and sell your home for more money! Please feel free to contact me anytime firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions. I am sharing the handout here below:
Are you thinking of selling your home? Would you like to sell your home for more money? Then you may want to wow potential home buyers with their first impression by implementing some of these landscaping tips to sell your home for more money. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. So make it a memorable one!
Various studies have shown over the years, an attractive and well-maintained landscape can add as much as 10 to 15 percent to the value of your home. Also, if turnaround time in selling your home is a factor, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers when choosing their home, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey.
Landscaping tips to enhance curb appeal and sell your home for more money:
1. Keep it Simple- As a professional landscape designer, the number 1 priority that I hear from clients is “low maintenance”.
2. Clean it up- Going back to that 1st impression. People want to see a meticulous well-manicured landscape.
3. Think Color- Add some annual plants to your landscape beds if you are planning to sell your home in MA during the spring, summer or fall.
4. Another low cost enhancement is to use planters on front steps and even window boxes.
5. Focal Point- Every yard needs some sort of focal point to create that extra impact in your curb appeal, whether it’s a beautiful tree, island landscape bed or water feature.
6. Install a patio or outdoor entertaining area- It’s a great return on investment!
7. Landscape Lighting- If you think your house may be shown at night what more dramatic 1st impression can you make than a beautiful showing of your landscape lit up at night.
8. Year round visual interest- An easy way to do this is to add some evergreen plants and to also add some plants that will produce berries. These are great effects for the winter months.
9. Appeal to the Masses
10. Don’t be extravagant in your choices! Remember you won’t be living here.
For those of you that don’t know, I am also a successful Realtor with Jack Conway which truly makes me an expert on this topic.
I recently came across this article from Realtor Magazine that shares the best home improvements for 2015 to increase your property value in MA. Notice #4 which is adding a fire pit to your backyard and #6 outdoor kitchens. Two of our most popular landscape items made the list for the best home improvement items to see a return on your investment should you decide to sell! Never mind the enjoyment that you will get out of it while you are living in your home.
BET ON THESE HOME IMPROVEMENTS 2015:
If you’re considering giving your home an upgrade this year, it can be overwhelming to choose what home features need an overhaul. Trends seem to change all the time, and the last thing you want is to spend money on c
Real estate brokerage Redfin recently analyzed home features that are most desirable to potential home buyers. First, they asked local real estate agents to take note to what features were cropping up the most on home tours. Then they searched for those design keywords and took note of what trends experienced the most growth in popularity in the last five years.
So what seven home improvements made their list of the safest bets?
- Quartz Countertops: For years it was all about the granite counters, but it appears that quartz is all the rage these days for buyers. According to Redfin, quartz has experienced a huge increase since 2012, due to its durability and overall buyer granite fatigue.
- Smart Homes: While Smart Home design is overall still a niche with buyers, it’s a phrase that has experienced an explosion in listing mentions since 2012. Redfin agents caution that buyers really need to choose a smart home system with the most up-to-date software since smart home technology is rapidly evolving.
- Stainless Steel Appliances: This trend is here to stay, and it has only increased in popularity since 2011. According to a Redfin agent, stainless steel is “the gold standard for kitchens these days” and it appears to be a very safe home improvement bet.
- Fire Pits: Buyers are still interested in turning their backyards into relaxing areas with multiple focal points that encourages interaction and socializing, and adding a fire pit remains a popular upgrade.
- Tasting Rooms: In the high-end and luxury market, the term “tasting” has slowly increased in listings over the last five years. In the past, buyers hid their wine cellars away from the main focal point of the house, but these days they’re requesting tasting rooms that are adjacent to the main socializing rooms of the house, such as the kitchen and living rooms.
- Outdoor Kitchens: Along with fire pits, outdoor kitchens and multi-use backyard areas have only gained in popularity, especially for high-end buyers who mention socializing in the home as a priority. According to Redfin, “Backyards are becoming places to lounge during the summer, with full kitchens, fireplaces and televisions.”
- Freestanding Tubs: The days of the space-saving combined shower and tub are over, at least for luxury buyers. Redfin reports that the term “freestanding tub” has increased dramatically since 2011, as buyers want a bathroom that’s more reminiscent of a spa.
And lastly, one trend that is seemingly on its way out? Exposed brick. According to Redfin, mentions of exposed brick in listings peaked back in 2013, and they caution that other than loft homes, buyers’ interest in exposed brick is waning.
If you would like to read the whole article please click here:
Will spring ever bloom in MA 2015? Are we going to have one of those years that we skip right over spring and move right into summer? The way things are looking now I don’t think anyone in MA is going to get an early jump on their yard work or spring blooms won’t be out anytime soon.
After just returning from a nice “warm” vacation in Florida and looking at my window to yet another snowy afternoon I can’t help but think of all the beautiful blooming plants in Florida. They are currently experiencing their spring and all the Azaleas are blooming like crazy. So, a little glimmer of hope for us is somewhere in the country they are experiencing spring and sooner or later it will have to get here, right????
Just a little inspiration to get you through yet another snowy afternoon, here is a picture of some beautiful spring blooming Azaleas from a landscape design and installation project that we completed a few years ago here in MA. Enjoy and stay warm!
There are some exciting and beautiful new garden plants and trends for 2015. After being stranded in my house today with a blizzard going on outside it has me desperately wanting for spring and to see beautiful gardens and plants again! I am so excited to attend New England Grows next week and to see some real life blooming plants and new trends for 2015. However, I decided to start doing some on line research to see what I could find for new plant additions for 2015 and I was pleasantly surprised to find this blog from HGTV. Please visit here if you would like to see all 26 of the new plants that they are showcasing http://www.hgtvgardens.com/flowers-and-plants/garden-trends-for-2015
I am going to share a few of my favorites here with the reasons why they are my favorites:
1. ”L.A. Dreamin” Hydrangea
The lush blooms of hydrangea ‘L.A. Dreamin’ allow myriad shades of pink and blue to coexist on the same plant, whether you adjust the alkalinity of the soil or not. I love the fact that you don’t have to change the alkalinity of the soil and they will bloom pink and blue! May have to invest in one for my own yard this year!
2. “Blue Eyed Beauty” Osteospermum
A stunning contrast of purple center and yellow petals distinguish this new BallFlora Plant introduction. Osteopermum ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’ blooms with early spring color and unlike many osteospermum, these blooms stay wide open. I love the color on this beauty. How cool is that purple center and with the yellow what beautiful contrasting colors!
3. “Suncatcher Plum Blast” Petunia
A new trailing petunia introduction from BallFlora Plants, the ‘Suncatcher Plum Blast’ petunia boasts obvious intense color, is fast-growing and early-flowering. Love the beautiful Plum color this petunia has to offer. Can’t wait to add some to my containers this summer.
4. “Snapshot Sunset” Snapdragon
Loads of varied colors define this ‘Snapshot Sunset’ snapdragon from PanAmerican Seeds. I love the rainbow of color in this snapdragon. Sure to be an eye turner in the garden or containers.
5. ”Minifamous Double Purple” Calibrachoa
A 2015 calibrachoa introduction from Selecta, the profuse blooms on ‘Minifamous Double Purple’ speak to a customer desire for lush, rose-like blooms on plants without the rose-like high-maintenance. What’s not to love with this brilliant color and the beautiful double bloom.
6. “Starship Scarlet” Lobelia
Intense color distinguishes this new lobelia variety, ‘Starship Scarlet’, hardy in zones 6-10. I love the maroon foliage on this plant. Will make a great contrast in a typical “green” foliage landscape.
7. ”Blue Marvel” Salvia
Hardy in zones 4-9, ‘Blue Marvel’ salvia, from Darwin Perennials, is all about high-impact color and profuse blooms. The mild purple color and profuse blooms are beautiful.
8. ”Endless Summer Mixture” Lettuce
New lettuce combinations from PanAmerican Seed are tailor-made for containers, heat-tolerant and grow quickly. Even better, they allow small-space gardeners to grow curated salad mixes like ‘Endless Summer Mixture’ from one combination pellet. I love the fact that this lettuce will last longer in the hot months and will grow well in a container.
9. “Patio Baby” Eggplant
What’s hot in containers in 2014 and into 2015? Edibles, and they’re not just for gardeners with sprawling backyard gardens anymore. Varieties like ‘Patio Baby’ eggplant are part of a new trend in mini-edibles that work beautifully in containers. How cool would that be to grow little baby eggplants on your deck or patio. Great color too!
10. “Indigo Ruby” Tomato
Easy to grow in containers, exotic varieties of edibles like these ‘Indigo Ruby’ tomatoes are trending in 2015 as more and more millennials embrace container gardening. I love all the new edible varieties that are coming out and what great color this will add to your outdoor space. Looks similar to the baby eggplant’s but are actually tomatoes. Think about all the colors you could have on your patio this summer!
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of the beautiful new plants and trends for your garden or patio this year. I for one can’t wait to get out into my garden this spring! Need some help planning your new garden, I can help! Visit my design page and see some samples of what I do and if I can help contact me today. http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-design-ma/
It’s November in New England and time to get on the planting bed preparation for winter. Here are a few things that you should get done this fall to get ready for winter and also to prepare for spring:
1. Weed Planting Beds- Weeds continue to set seed late into the fall. To avoid weeds in the spring pull them up now. Bonus, even though some of your deciduous plants will lose their leaves and go to sleep for the winter, the surrounding planting bed will be neat and clean.
2. Clean Planting Beds- Also clean up all the leaves from falling deciduous plants to keep the bed looking fresh and clean throughout the winter season.
3. Remove leaves from the lawn- You want your lawn to be able to breathe and also not to create mold underneath all those leaves. So, in your lawns best interest remove leaves from your lawn this fall.
4. Remove Annuals and Cut Back Perennials- It’s time to remove all the dead growth on annuals that gave you so much color throughout the season. Also, it’s time to cut back perennials in preparation for next springs growth. If you do the work now, you won’t have to in the spring!
5. Water……Water- It was a very dry summer and all those evergreens need to replenish and will give them a good base going into the winter. Evergreens continue to lose moisture during the colder months and trees and shrubs with moister (but not waterlogged) soils survive better than those in drier soils.
6. Tie up or burlap tender shrubs- If you have plants like Sky Pencil Holly, Boxwoods, Emerald Green Arborvitaes or any other tender shrubs or a variety that tend to split, now is the time to either wrap them with twine or cover with burlap before we get our first major snow storm.
7. Plant Spring Bulbs- Want to help shake the winter doldrums in the early spring? Plant some beautiful and colorful spring bulbs now before the ground freezes and reap the benefits in the spring.
8. Empty your planting pots- In preparation for next year’s plantings and also to save your pots if they are vulnerable to cracking, now is the time to empty them out and store them away for the winter. If you leave them full and they get water logged and freeze they could potentially crack and will be no good for next season. So, best to play it safe and store them away for the winter.
9. New Landscape Design Planning- Tired of your current landscaping? There is no time like the winter to start planning a new design for the spring. If you need the help of a professional, now is the best time to get help with a landscape design before you have to wait extended times in the spring. Plus, if you need the work done, you can get it scheduled early in the season instead of having to wait!
10. Winter Decorating- Want to add a little pop to your front steps this winter? Take a planting pot and place some Evergreen Branches, some Holly Berry Branches and maybe a colorful bow or sprigs of decorative branches in gold, silver or white and arrange them in the pot to give your front steps a nice little winter pop of color.
With the news of yet another snowstorm heading our way in MA; I want to think thoughts of spring and summer. So, one of my favorite things to do in the late spring is to plant my planters to not only bring color but also a tropical feel to my poolside. So, I made up a video showing how I make my tropical planters. The items that I used in this tropical planter design were:
- Plastic Planters Potting Soil with moisture control pellets and fertilizer
- Majesty Palms (in pots) Colorful annuals (your lighting conditions will warrant what type of flowers you choose)
- I chose Wave Petunias for this planter as it is in full sun.
- Vinca Vine for a trailing effect
Click on the link here to watch the video and happy planting:
There really is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape. However, it is possible to have an attractive low maintenance landscape that is easy to care for. If you utilize a good landscape design, proper planning, low maintenance plant selections and you adhere to timely maintenance you can achieve a low maintenance landscape in your front yard.
1. Landscape Design- If you have a plot plan of your front yard, this will be of great help to you. Get an extra copy of the plan and this can be your starting base to layout your landscape design. Add any hardscape features such as a walkway or landing at the base of the stairs, planting beds and approximate sizes. Do you want any island beds that will cut down on lawn but also add to mulch and weeding? Can you add any natural areas such as a groundcover area under the canopy of a large tree that would not need mowing or care after the fact.
2. Keep it simple- Don’t get too elaborate with your plantings or you will quickly turn your landscape into high maintenance. Think of groupings of like plants that will require less maintenance. Decide on just a few plant species to keep things simple. The more hardscape features you have, the less mowing and weeding will be required.
3. Planning- Determine what your needs are for the front yard. For example, Do you have children that will need lots of green grass to play on or do you prefer less lawn to mow? Do you have pets that will destroy the lawn or plants? What are the light conditions of your yard? Do you need shade or sun plants? How is the drainage in the yard? If it is poor, you may need to regrade in order to have a thriving lawn or plants that will survive extremely wet conditions. Make a list of the problems that you want to solve. Make a list of your yards assets and what items you can reuse or that you may want to keep.
4. Plant Selections- Try to use at least some native plants. They will tend to need less fertilizer, water, pesticide and overall care than plants that originated in other regions or climates. There are many plants native to MA and the Northeast such as some varieties of Holly, Rhododendron, Dogwood, Viburnum, Junipers and the list goes on. If you are not familiar then you will want to speak to a landscaper or your local garden center. Depending on your style, don’t be afraid to mix some evergreen and deciduous plants. Even some perennials can add color to your landscape without a lot of care. Perennials such as Daylily, Catmint and Sedum can spread, without being overly invasive, and reduce weeding time while adding extended color during the growing season.
5. Plant dwarf species of plants to reduce the amount of trimming time or maybe cut out trimming all together. You may be able to strategically place proper upright evergreen shrubs at the corners of the home or where they won’t intrude in front of windows.
6. Edging- A nice stone edge whether its Cobblestone or a precast edging unit, will add some great curb appeal and also make your planting beds more low maintenance. By adding this permanent edge, you will not have to “hand” edge anymore and it will automatically separate the grass and mulch bed areas. It will also keep the mulch in the beds if you are on any type of slope.
7. Mulch Materials- Your planting bed does not have to have a ”wood based” mulch to be functional and add curb appeal. You can also use a decorative stone. For example, you can use a River Stone. Pick a stone that matches or will enhance the color of your home. Stone is a little more expensive up front but it is much more low maintenance in the fact that you don’t have to replace it every year like you do a wood mulch. There is also a rubber mulch available that like the stone does not need to be replaced. Maybe a little refresher over the years but nothing like with wood mulches. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use groundcovers such as Pachysandra, Perriwinkle, Ivy, etc. It will take a little time for them to grow in together but once they do the rhizomatous root system will help deter weeds and no mulch will be necessary.
Get some ideas here for your landscape design http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-design-ma/front-yard-landscape-designs-m/ or look here for some completed front yard landscape ideas http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-construction-ma/completed-front-yard-landscape-construction-projects/
If you are experiencing any difficulty in the planning process yourself, you will truly save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by speaking with a landscape designer or someone that specializes in landscape construction. In the long run, you may spend a little more up front but it will pay for itself 10 fold when you truly have that low maintenance landscape with the right plants, features and materials in the right place without making all the mistakes.
Are you thinking of selling your home or real estate this spring? Would you like to sell your home for more money? Then you may want to wow potential home buyers with their first impression by implementing some of these landscaping tips to sell your home for more money. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. So make it a memorable one!
Various studies have shown over the years, an attractive and well-maintained landscape can add as much as 10 to 15 percent to the value of your home. For ex. if you have a home worth $200,000 and update your landscape with a 15% return you just made $30,000. Also, if turnaround time in selling your home is a factor, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers when choosing their home, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey.
Landscaping tips to sell your home for more money:
1. Keep it Simple- As a professional landscape designer, the number 1 priority that I hear from clients is “low maintenance”. Homeowners want a low maintenance landscape. So, if you are thinking about renovating your landscape make sure you are installing low maintenance plants and are making the landscape low maintenance in general. This may also include adding more hardscapes, less to maintain, or more lawn which is easier to mow than to weed or mulch.
2. Clean it up- Going back to that 1st impression. People want to see a meticulous well manicured landscape. That will also give them the impression that the home’s interior is also well maintained. Get out your trimmers, trim those shrubs, edge the beds, mow the lawn, fertilize the lawn with nitrogen to green it up.
3. Think Color- Add some annual plants to your landscape beds if you are planning to sell your home in MA during the spring, summer or fall. It will give an added pop of color at a low cost. If you have colored doors or shutters on your home try to use annual colors that will accent and bring out those colors not deter from them.
4. Another low cost enhancement is to use planters on front steps and even window boxes. Again, if it is during the spring summer or fall in MA, you can easily enhance the color and make your home warm, cheery and inviting by just adding this pop of color. Use spikey plants in the center of the planters and trailing vines along the edges to create dramatic effects and uniqueness in your displays. If it’s the winter months
5. Focal Point- Every yard needs some sort of focal point to create that extra impact in your curb appeal. Whether it’s a beautiful tree, island landscape bed, water feature. Some place to again bring in a dramatic effect that will pull a potential buyers eye and reel them into the beauty of your home.
6. Year round visual interest- If you are thinking of enhancing or completely redoing your landscape to sell your home for more money then you want to invest in some items that will give you year round interest. An easy way to do this is to add some evergreen plants and to also add some plants that will produce berries. These are great effects for the winter months. One of my favorite plants to use for the dramatic winter months, also beautiful variegated foliage when leaves are out, is the Red Twig Dogwood. The bark turns bright red in the winter months and really stands out in the landscape. Other items to consider are adding hardscape items such as walkways, to clearly define paths, retainer walls to add another dimension to your landscape.
7. Appeal to the Masses- Just as a realtor will advise you to make the interior “neutral”, you want to adhere to the same concept outside. While planning your landscape design or renovation make sure you are going to appeal to a majority of people not a select few. For example if you love perennial gardening, don’t install a gigantic perennial garden in the front yard that will take hours upon hours weekly to maintain. While it may be a visual enhancement to your curb appeal, you may turn off buyers that want a “low maintenance” yard.
8. Install a patio or outdoor entertaining area- This is an investment that you can’t go wrong with. Ultimately you are creating more living space for the potential buyer. It doesn’t have to be overly costly or extravagant. Just create a space where people can visualize themselves enjoying the outdoors as much as the indoors. Without a lot of cost once the surface, patio, is created you can bring warmth and really dress it up at a low cost with accessory items and planters with beautiful displays of plants.
9. Don’t be extravagant in your choices- If this is a home you were going to spend the rest of your life in then you may choose to spend on the “extras” but if you are trying to make more money to keep in your pocket again make choices that will appeal to the masses without going overboard. Determine a budget then make a punch list of where you want to spend that money. Lastly, determine what items will give you the best bang for your buck. There are some items that you may want to spend a little more money on and areas you can spend a little less. If you work or at least consult with a professional landscape designer they can steer you in the right direction.
10. Landscape Lighting- If you think your house may be shown at night what more dramatic 1st impression can you make than a beautiful showing of your landscape lit up at night. Again, don’t go overboard or over budget but just by adding a few “focal point” lights or lighting a walkway can make a very dramatic presentation.