Updated: Sunday, April 26, 2015
Five Landscaping Ideas For Sellers
Youve probably heard how important curb appeal is when youre trying to sell your home. The first thing buyers look at when they pull up to your home is the big picture -- the house, the yard, the trees, the flowers. Its the impression that counts, and all it takes is one thing to ruin the effect -- a cracked walkway, dead branches in the trees, leggy bushes.
As you look around at all the things you need to fix or update to sell your home, it can be overwhelming. Many sellers struggle with the costs, the decisions, and the time it takes to market their homes. Since most landscaping isnt permanent, you may think its not as important as other projects that need to be done, but you should strongly consider putting it in the marketing budget.
You can do some of the work yourself or you can get help. But here are five jobs you can do that help you make the most of your homes drive-up appeal.
1. Get rid of anything dead. Dead leaves, flowers, and trees do nothing for your curb appeal. Snip it, rake it and bag it. As you finish, youll see blank areas. Fill these in with fresh flowers, small bushes, potted plants or yard art. No Gnomes or flamingoes need apply.
2. Cut and weed the grass. If you mow your own lawn, make sure its freshly mowed every week. Pull or spray weeds so the texture of the grass will be more pleasing.
3. Replace or hide leggy bushes. Nothing makes a front entry look more dated than bushes with longer legs than torsos. Pull them out and replace them, or if its more expedient, plant boxwoods or other small bushes in front. You can also cover a lot of blank areas with mulch, wood chips or gravel.
4. Improve both hardscapes and softscapes. Decorative stone, tile, brick, concrete or wood can add a lot of appeal to the softer elements such as flowers, plants, grasses and ground cover. Landscaping doesnt have to end at the porch. Bring color and vitality to the entry with potted plants and flowers.
5. Light the way. Landscape lighting doesnt have to be expensive. Lanterns to line the walk, or the occasional uplight for the trees can have a glamorous effect on the exterior of your home. Lighting provides security as well as spotlights what you want to call attention to -- a beautiful tree, a flower bed or an architectural element of the house.
If youre not sure where to begin, go to your local supply with a sketch or photo of your home and ask for ideas. Explain that youre selling your home and you need help with curb appeal. You may get a lot of free advice thats really helpful.
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Earth Day Special - 10 Easy Ways To Go Green With Little Effort
Earth Day always makes us recommit to eco-friendliness, but I dont think were alone in saying that many of our grand efforts can be short-lived. Thankfully, even if youre not ready to start compositing or devising an elaborate rainwater catching system, you can still have an impact. Another benefit to being nice to the Earth - green measures are also money savers Ready, set, go green
1. Change your light bulbs
What could be easier than swapping out a few bulbs? Choose compact fluorescent bulbs CFL to see the biggest change.
"They consume about 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer," said Better Homes and Gardens. "Replace one 75-watt incandescent bulb with a 25-watt CFL and save up to 83 over the life of the bulb."
You dont need to lay out some complicated assembly line to dispose of every piece of trash. Start small by setting aside your plastic bottles and glass containers. If you have a recycling bin, use it. And if you live in an area where you can get money back for your recyclables, by all means, take advantage of it.
Recycling glass alone can reduce ">
3. Ditch the bottled water
Remarkably, close to 90 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled. A pitcher with a filter can make a huge differenceyou can conserve up to five gallons a day with this one little change.
4. Shorten your showers
Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. If you live in California or another area being impacted by the drought, this is probably already on your mind. For everyone else, shortening a couple showers a week is a start.
5. Turn off computers at night
"By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day," said 50 Ways to Help the Planet. "That adds up to 4 cents a day, or 14 per year."
6. Turn off everything with an LED
Why stop at the computer? "Anything that has an LED light emitting diode that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw energy," said Better Homes and Gardens. Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Unplug appliances and electronics that glow and you could save 200 a year."
7. Dont forget about video games
Getting the kids into the habit of flipping the games off when theyre done is another easy way to save energy and money.
"Youll win back about 100 per year," said Good Housekeeping.
8. Slash your junk mail
50 Ways to Help the Planet estimates that the average American gets 40 pounds of junk mail per year. That equates to 100 million trees Take an afternoon and go on an unsubscribing spree. Youll save some trees, some space in your mailbox, and your sanity
9. Stop paying your bills
Its estimated that almost 20 million trees could be saved every year if Americans paid their bills online and opted to receive e-statements. We would also eliminate more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste, said 50 Ways to Help the Planet.
10. Buy some new appliances
Heres one more reason to go get that French door refrigerator youve had your eye on: it could help save the Earth and save you money.
"When its time to replace a household appliance, choose a product with an Energy Star label," said Better Homes and Gardens. "A household with Energy Star products uses about 30 percent less energy than the average householdan annual savings of about 570. You may even be eligible for a tax credit when you purchase an Energy Star product."
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6 Water-Saving Landscaping Ideas
With the sun shining down on your lawn this spring -- and the chance you could be facing days without rainfall -- youll probably be watering or turning on the sprinklers more often. Rather than watching your water bill dramatically increase, take this opportunity to look at how you can make your landscape water-efficient. Water-efficient landscapes can:
Reduce how much water you use outside by 20 to 50
Help you save almost 10,000 gallons of water per year
Decrease your bill by 30 to 70 per year
Here are some tips on saving water this spring and summer with your landscape. And dont worry, none involve a complete overhaul
1 Choose native plants.
Native plants are the better choice for your landscape because they:
Dont require a lot of watering
Are resistant to pests and diseases in the area
Dont need a lot of fertilizer
Rather than going wild and planting non-native species that could require a lot of watering and attention, focus on the plants that thrive in your climate. Check out local nurseries and speak to landscapers in the area who know what species to look at. If you really want to add exotic plants to your landscape, do not touch invasive species as they could hurt your natives and cause a headache by the end of the season.
Photo courtesy of Green Touch Enterprise, Inc. in Bellflower, CA
2 Put plants into groups.
Once youve selected your plants, its time to group them together. If you put plants together by how much water they need, youll cut time and water use down. By putting the plants that need less water together, youll avoid under or over watering. Do the same with the plants that need a lot of water and plant them in the same area.
- Your thirstiest should go together, potentially near the house to take advantage of rainfall coming off the roof.
- Put plants that need drip irrigation or sprinkler water further out from thirsty plants.
- The furthest away from the thirsty plants will be plants that need little to no watering.
Photo courtesy of Senn Lawn Care, LLC in Chalfont, PA
3 Mulch, mulch, mulch.
Mulch -- whether organic or inorganic -- helps save water by keeping soil cool, reducing evaporation and helping roots stay healthy. Mulch needs to be replaced on a regular basis, 2 to 3 inches at a time. There are two options to choose from:
- Organic mulches like compost, bark chips and pine needles. These break down and add nutrients at the same time.
- Inorganic mulches like landscaping paper, rocks and pebbles. These are permanent but can fluctuate more in temperature.
Youre usually better off applying organic mulches because of their added nutrients. You can also save some money by using your grass clippings as mulch after mowing.
4 Water efficiently.
Watering should be done efficiently and at appropriate times, so your plants get the most water absorption. You should water early in the morning when temperatures are at their coolest in the spring and summer. If you have new or transplanted flowers and shrubs, they will need less water. Never water in the middle of the day or at sunset--middle of the day is the highest evaporation time and dusk will encourage fungus and mildew growth overnight.
Photo courtesy of Dixon Teter in Paoli, PA
5 Minimize steep slopes.
If you have a steep slope in your yard, theres a chance all the watering you do will be pointless. The water will run away from your garden and down into the sidewalk. To avoid this problem, you have a few options.Install deeper root plants like native groundcovers and shrubsHave your lawn resloped professionally for 900 to 2,400.Install rocks, pebbles and other permanent fixtures around the plants to trap the water.
6 Shrink the lawn.
Depending on the size of your lawn, theres a chance youre going to spend a lot of money on watering regardless. So why not look at making your lawn smaller? You might not need to have grass everywhere. Restrict it to areas where you actually need it -- the front yard or under a kids playground, for example -- or think about xeriscaping instead. Xeriscaping is a great idea in climates with very little rainfall, like the West and Southwest. Instead of green grass, a xeriscaped yard includes rocks, pebbles and sand. Its not a traditional yard in any sense, but its easy to maintain and you can still have flowers and shrubs sprinkled in.
For those who still want a lawn, you can plant types of grass that are more drought-resistant. These types include bermuda and buffalo grass, which use 20 less water than other types.
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|Andrea Davis is the editor for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.|