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2007 (3)
Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Real Estate Opportunities

 

As December approaches its Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations, you’re probably scrambling to buy the remaining gifts for the last remaining people on your list or going to supermarkets looking for the ingredients to use in preparing your holiday feasts.  There’s also a possibility that one of your resolutions for next year is selling the home you’re currently living in.  December can actually be an opportune time for selling real estate.

 

Behind all the festivities and rapturous celebration lies some great perks you can use to your advantage in getting your home sold quicker.  Among them is making the extra effort to decorate your home to look its best and using this time that is quickly coming to a close to ensure it dazzles when the lights come on.  Particularly during such a time, an elegantly luminous home can sway a buyer who would otherwise not be interested in your home’s visual appeal.

 

So you’re all revved up and ready to astound real estate buyers with a carefully thought out blueprint of how you want to go about decorating your home for the holidays but alas, the price tags on those lights that do twenty different synchronized movements and the giant automated snow globe are simply out of the question.  If the window for selling is short, you may have to scale back your efforts to something closer to your budget.  Otherwise, the answer may be waiting the day after Christmas.

 

Head to any store selling holiday decorum and you’ll notice pretty much anything that has to do with the holidays has had its price chopped almost in half.  Something that carried a price of seventy dollars now costs an inexpensive $28.  You can either save these items for use next year or use them to complement the end of 2007 festivities.  Things are also shaping up to be favorable for the real estate market next year which should also justify these purchases.

 

As long as you’re not putting yourself into any kind of irrecoverable debt or setting back your saving efforts, don’t feel guilty about splurging a little more than you intended in getting your home sold.  December is when people can be convinced to overindulge more on items they’d normally scoff at so the odds of catching the eye of a young man looking to buy a home for him and his fiancĂ©e to live in is much greater.

 
Posted at 10:50:27 AM

Monday, December 03, 2007

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Posted at 11:22:36 AM

Monday, June 11, 2007

High-rises, high hopes

High-rises, high hopes

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI AND MATTHEW HAGGMAN

aviglucci@herald.com

 

COURTESY OF THE TERRA GROUP

BIG PLANS: In 2005, this rendering of the condo tower was envisioned for the area behind the historic Freedom Tower.

In downtown, from Brickell Avenue north to the Edgewater neighborhood, up the Miami River and down historic Coral Way, great chunks of Old Miami are fast disappearing in a cloud of dust. In its place, the New Miami -- a dense, steel-and-glass forest of condo towers -- is rising from the rubble.

 

The scope, scale and speed of the transformation are breathtaking. More than 114 major projects, most of them high-rise condos, are under construction or in the planning stages in the urban core along Biscayne Bay.

 

Citywide, developers are proposing more than 61,000 new condominium units -- eight times the number built during the past decade.

 

The projects encompass the tallest skyscraper in Florida, a 74-story spire higher than any residential building south of Manhattan, almost four million square feet of new retail space (nearly as much as two Aventura Malls) and parking for more than 100,000 cars.

 

''You have a wave of development underway here in Miami that is unprecedented, bigger than anything, bigger than Hong Kong in the boom years of development,'' said former Portland, Ore., councilman Charles Hales, a transportation consultant working on a plan for a Miami streetcar line.

 

Not since the post-World War II housing boom that multiplied Miami-Dade County's population fivefold, to more than one million people, has the region experienced anything comparable. But that took almost 20 years.

 

''We are building an instant city; what should take 15 years will take three,'' said Michael Cannon, a Miami real-estate analyst. The boom struck suddenly, unexpectedly, first a trickle of projects, then a torrent. Cash has poured in from Latin America, New York and, increasingly, Europe, the result of converging market forces -- slashed interest rates, a cheap dollar -- and a worldwide infatuation with Miami among the chic and moneyed.

 

It all amounts to a multibillion-dollar gamble, outdoing in risk and bravado the 1920s boom that made Miami a modern city: That given waterfront location, a sunny climate and a hip, international culture, intensive downtown residential development can catapult Miami into the first rank of world cities.

 

Elected officials, in particular Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, are counting on the boom to reverse downtown's long decline, to turn its seedy blocks and outlying neighborhoods into a scintillating, working urban hub with a vibrant street life.

 

''Just five years ago we were broke; we had zero development,'' Winton said. ``I'm going to bet you that when we're done -- I don't know when that will be -- historians will identify this as the most significant and rapid transformation of an American city.''

 

What precisely will the boom deliver? It's too soon to tell, experts say.

 

But this convulsion of development is already remaking not just Miami's skyline, but its streets and neighborhoods and likely its population, too.

 

If it stays on track, the boom promises a fundamentally different Miami -- more urban and congested, but also more cosmopolitan and, given the high prices the condos command, probably wealthier.

 

It also raises serious concerns. In the absence of a ready plan, how will the city cope with thousands of expected new residents and the traffic they will generate, given antiquated infrastructure, limited public transit and a shortage of parks and open space? Will Miami residents, among the nation's poorest urban dwellers, be displaced or priced out of new housing?

 

That is, if the planned condos actually get built, sold and occupied.

 

As the boom takes on the feel of a gold rush, real estate analysts, bankers and even some developers fear it's a mirage, a bubble fueled by speculators looking to resell condo units for a quick profit, and not by true buyer demand.

 

If developers build too much, and speculators can't find buyers for resale, the boom could bust, leaving Miami littered with vacant and bankrupted buildings or, worse, unfinished towers and bare lots.

 

SIGNS OF FUROR

 

For now, though, signs of the furor are everywhere.

 

Sales centers for multimillion-dollar condos that tout the merits of high-rise living sprout up across the city. Brokers push Miami condos in farflung locales, from Caracas and Bogotá to New York and France's Cte d'Azur. Lavish condo parties are thrown by developers several times a week, and advertisements for the high-rises fill the pages of local magazines and newspapers, including The Herald.

 

Downtown Miami is a thicket of construction cranes. Much of the landward side of Biscayne Boulevard has been razed, and the footings and columns of what will soon be a wall of six colossal condos, each more than 50 stories, are becoming visible.

 

''Where else are you near the water, 10 minutes from Miami Beach, 15 minutes from the airport and have access to public transportation?'' said Daniel Kodsi, chief executive of Boca Raton-based Royal Palm Communities, which plans a high-rise condo called Paramount Park across from AmericanAirlines Arena.

 

There is so much building that developers are struggling to find qualified contractors and subcontractors.

 

Sales and resales in the mid-six figures, and well beyond, have become commonplace. Towers of 300 units sell out in a day, with buyers coming in the main not from Miami, but from other parts of the country and the world.

 

''Miami, New York and Los Angeles have become the three cities in the U.S. where people want to be,'' said Joe Cayre, chairman of Midtown Group, which is building eight condo towers on the site of the old Florida East Coast Railroad yards in Wynwood.

 

They are people like Sal Loduca, who plans to leave Manhattan and his family's Long Island food business to open a brick-oven pizzeria at Cayre's Midtown Miami.

 

''Everyone's making the move to Miami. How could you not? It's a great opportunity. Miami's full of life,'' Loduca said.

 

`CRITICAL COMBUSTION'

 

Real estate broker Philip Spiegelman calls the confluence of factors propelling this boom a ``critical combustion.''

 

Among them:

 

• Across the country, young people and so-called ''empty-nesters'' have been returning to urban centers, in part because of long, wearing commutes from outlying suburbs. At the same time, a dwindling supply of easily developable land in western Miami-Dade and Broward counties has prompted developers to look eastward.

 

• A shortage of waterfront property elsewhere led developers to Miami's acres and acres of vacant bayfront land.

 

• Low interest rates have fueled record home-buying, while aging baby boomers are increasingly seeking second homes in sunny or exotic places.

 

• A cleaner local government has made Miami attractive to lenders and investors who once thought the city too risky, unsafe or corrupt.

 

• The weak dollar has made Miami an alluring bargain for Europeans and Latin Americans. And compared to other urban centers like New York City, Miami remains cheap.

 

Then there is the other factor, anecdotal and unquantifiable: the speculator.

 

''As much as 85 percent of all condominium sales in [downtown Miami] are accounted for by investors and speculators,'' housing analysts at investment firm Raymond James warned in a March report.

 

Banks have started to back off lending on condo projects, or have instituted new rules to avoid giving mortgages to investors.

 

Spiegelman sold the condo units in the Marina Blue condo going up on Biscayne Boulevard.

 

''One hundred percent of the buyers were investors and speculators,'' he said. ``Anyone who tells you their projects are different are deluding themselves.''

 

ZONING-CODE OVERHAUL

 

The pace of development is so furious that it has overtaken the city's planning efforts.

 

Only now is the city getting around to a long-promised overhaul of its outdated zoning code, a complete rewrite meant to ensure that new development produces lively, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and respects open spaces and established neighborhoods, while weaving it all together into a cogent urban fabric. The rewrite, dubbed Miami 21, will be phased in over two years.

 

Yet more than 100 large-scale projects, most of them in and around downtown, have already been approved or are under construction.

 

Public-transit improvements like Metrorail extensions, a light-rail line to Miami Beach and the contemplated city streetcar are years away, raising fears of gridlock.

 

Quipped Cannon, the real estate analyst: ``Maybe we need to give every buyer of a condo in the urban core a Segway.''

 

There are other worries.

 

Some skeptics, noting the high condo prices and the out-of-town provenance of buyers, fear that instead of the diverse, working 24-hour downtown that city leaders envision, the boom will instead create a seasonal playground for the rich, a Monte Carlo on Biscayne Bay.

 

''I bet those buildings are going to be empty a lot of the time,'' said Joel Kotkin, an urban historian and consultant who has written about the rise of what he calls ''ephemeral cities'' -- places like San Francisco, Berlin and parts of New York that increasingly cater to the rich, the childless young and tourists.

 

''Maybe this is Miami's karma, to be this kind of place, a temporary, hip, cool, nomadic population serviced by a poor population,'' said Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History. But, he added: ``History shows a city has to maintain some sense of a middle-class character if it wants to thrive.''

 

`MISSING LINK'

 

Yet there's relatively little in the new downtown priced for working families. ''The missing link here is in creating housing that the middle class can afford,'' said Rafael Kapustin, a longtime downtown property owner who pioneered the conversion of old downtown offices and hotels into modestly priced condos and apartments.

 

In partnership with a big developer, the Related Group, Kapustin developed two affordable loft condos, with units averaging around $150,000, now under construction in the inner core of downtown. But their Loft II project may be the last of its kind because of the surging cost of land and construction, he said.

 

City leaders are sanguine. They say it will take years for all the planned condos to be built and occupied, allowing time to absorb new residents, build public amenities and improve transit.

 

While few city residents can afford waterfront condos, thousands of moderately priced condos and rental apartments are being built by private developers in adjacent Overtown and neighborhoods like Little Havana and Allapattah, many with direct city subsidies, according to a recent report from Miami Mayor Diaz.

 

`SELF-REINFORCING CYCLE'

 

And gradually, as new residents move into downtown, businesses, shops, restaurants, neighborhood retailers and services will follow, said Neisen Kasdin, a land-use lawyer and former Miami Beach mayor.

 

''It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle,'' Kasdin said. ``Yes, there will be a large segment of temporary residents, but as the city continues to grow as an international business city, it leads to the continued growth of a permanent community.''

 

Meanwhile, the city has instituted measures that strengthen the planners' hand in shaping an attractive, livable downtown: hiding parking garages inside buildings; lining sidewalks with shops, offices, dwellings and restaurants; and keeping garage and service entrances off Biscayne Boulevard and other main arteries.

 

'We used to sit here and say, `Someday,' '' said Miami Planning Director Ana Gelabert-Sánchez, alluding to the city's long-frustrated hopes for a downtown revival. ``Well, someday is here.''

 

Herald staff writer Larry Lebowitz contributed to this report. 

 
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Posted at 12:04:07 PM

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Updated: Wednesday, September 30, 2020


A Short and Succinct Guide to Boosting Your Curb Appeal

Make no mistake; curb appeal can be a deal-breaker. The first glance at the exterior sets the foundations for someones feelings towards a property. People will often write a place off based on its immediate appearance, without even setting foot inside and rightly so, as more often than not, the exterior says a lot about what to expect from the interior.nbsp;nbsp;

Dont judge a book by its cover just isnt applicable in the property market which is why curb appeal is essential whatever the size, shape, or >

Whether youre putting your property on the market, sprucing up a home to show off to the neighbors, or looking to give a new lease of life to a long-neglected exterior, you will find the best ways to create a good first impression in our short but succinct guide on boosting curb appeal.

The First Impressionnbsp;

The importance of that first glance at a property cannot be overstated. If well kept, the exterior will entice potential buyers, make visiting friends and family feel comfortable, and even add value to your home. Before the external features are scrutinized, the general feel is absorbed in those first seconds: the design, the layout, the boundaries, the color, and the organization. These are the factors that shape that immediate inspection.nbsp;

The exterior needs to have a picture-perfect postcard look that comes from having a well-maintained and presentable layout. The first thing is setting clear boundaries to the property, so people know exactly what is in the picture. Ensure walls, fences, and surroundings clearly exhibit your propertys exterior space and show-off its organization and security.

Look at the appearance of these features. Make sure the paint is up to scratch, the gate is sturdy, and the fences and walls are well kept and easily observed. They may seem separate from your property, but walls or wooden fences cannot be neglected. A lick of paint on metalwork or a new coat of varnish on a fence can make all the difference and show a home is secure and protected from the elements.

The Natural Necessities: Graceful Greenery

In a world that becomes more artificial and digitally dictated with each day, everybody seeks more of a connection with nature. For that reason, greenery has a huge influence on curb appeal and how appealing people find a propertys exterior.

If a property has a front garden, it goes without saying this needs to be presentable. It doesnt take much to mow a lawn or trim a hedge. The greenery in front gardens whatever their size can be hugely influential on curb appeal and property value. But it needs to be inviting and attractive rather than disheveled and disorderly.nbsp;

A balance in external greenery can be one of the hardest things to get right. A verdant exterior adds vigor to the property but too many overflowing plants can present a burden rather than a benefit for potential buyers and can feel unwelcoming for visitors not to mention anybody who lives in the building.

Equally, a home without any greenery can lack vitality. If a property doesnt have a garden or lacks the space for hedges and a lawn, its not the end of the world. Some well-chosen pots and planters bring ample life to an exterior and can be used to organize spaces for those properties that dont have walls, gates, or fences.nbsp;

The Pristine Pathway: The Journey to Your Front Doornbsp;

Once the design, layout, boundaries, and greenery of a property have been absorbed, the journey from the curb to the front door is the focus. For obvious reasons, the pathway or driveway should be clear and void of obstacles, so entering a property is an enjoyable experience.

Garbage cans positioned on the driveway or outside the front of your house arent going to do you any favors. So if they cant be tucked away neatly around the side of your home or somewhere out of sight, it might be that a garbage storage shed is necessary.nbsp;

Ensure the driveway or pathway are deweeded, flat, and look neat. Sweep away leaves and replace cracked paving stones to improve both the look of your path and its safety. The journey to the door is extra important for those people with buggies, wheelchairs, or children, so the path or driveway should be as accessible as possible.nbsp;

If either your pathway or driveway is looking worse for wear due to dirt that cant be removed, a pressure wash can rejuvenate your driveway and breath a new lease of life back into your exterior. It takes a day and has an enormous impact.nbsp;

The driveway is a practical part of your property, but its often overlooked as a great feature in itself. As a feature of the exterior that directs your eyes towards the front door, the driveway must be kept attractive. Curved borders or patterned paving slab designs add a brilliant touch, as do pots or planters that flank the driveway.nbsp;

The Elegant Entryway: A Fresh and Updated Front Door

A front door is the most important part of a homes exterior. After the general details of the property have been absorbed, it is here the focus ends up. The front door speaks of the homes character and expresses more about the property than the rest of the exterior.nbsp;

The front door is also where people will wait, and you will enter and exit every day. So for everybodys benefit, it should be presentable, warm, and welcoming.nbsp;

Giving the door a fresh coat of paint is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve curb appeal. The gleam of a fresh coat removes any weather-beaten signs. It also gives the exterior a facelift and says a home is clean and comfortable. Black paint looks formal and professional, while blues, greens, reds, and yellows bring a bright and cheerful feel to your entryway. Greys and browns should be avoided for their meaning and mood associations, while whites will easily dirty and are hard to maintain.

Once youre satisfied with the door color and the state of the paintwork, the doors hardware and accessories should be spruced up next. Nobody likes a squeaky door or one that doesnt function properly, so make sure your doors hardware is doing what it is designed to do. Stick with brass, chrome, or another type of metal, get some sturdy door handles, new house numbers, and invest in a door knocker that means business.

As the focal point of the exterior and a feature that buyers will always subconsciously end up over-analyzing, the front door should be customized as best as possible. A canopy above the door adds elegance and stops rainwater falling on the front doorstep while a festive wreath adds charm and comfort.

The Limelight: Important Illumination

Last but not least is the lighting. Garden lighting is essential for those who have one, and the bigger the garden, the more essential it is. A dark, gloomy path up through shrubs and plants is not an inviting sight in the darkness. A property should be approachable day and night.nbsp;

The door should be the most well-illuminated of all with lanterns either above or beside it, so people feel safe and welcomed. A sensor light boosts security and saves on energy and bills. It is a great option in todays market; it makes a home feel functional and safe.

Wall lanterns or fisherman->

Property buyers might inspect a house at any point during their search, so curb appeal after dark must be considered too.nbsp;


> Full Story

Make the Most of Your Backyard or Patio This Winter

Cooler weather ahead doesnt mean you have to give up your precious outdoor space. In this year like no other, extra space is treasured and you need to enjoy your backyard or balcony as long as possible. Here are some tips to make the most of your space this fall and winter.

Warm it up

In this climate, people dont tend to use their outdoor spaces in winter, says Amedeo Barbini of Barbini Design Build in Toronto. However infrared patio heaters free-standing floor versions or the ones that attach to a wall can extend the season. People also like to sit in front of a fireplace, so buy an outdoor version, grab some blankets and a bottle of wine and enjoy. If you live in a condo, check regulations first.

A good plan

When deciding what to do with your backyard, come up with a plan. Make sure the backyard looks as good from the inside as it does outside so youll be motivated to go out, says Red Barrinuevo, property stylist on HGTV Canadas Hot Market.nbsp;

Use it

Instead of putting it in storage, leave your patio furniture outside. Add some cushions in colours such as yellow and orange to warm the space. For backyards, a fire pit is a must. Theyre not very expensive. Some home improvement stores offer fire pits for 500 or less, Barrinuevo says.

Light it up

Barrinuevo says sometimes it seems like it is dark day and night in the winter, so additional lighting is a must. Garden lighting at ground level will illuminate your landscape. String lights with clear white LED bulbs will add a magical ambiance. Try stringing the lights on trees or put them in planters.A touch of green Everything tends to be dull looking in winter. Greenery will add texture. Try three plants of different heights to add interest to a corner, Barrinuevo says. Boxwoods are a good choice. You can even use artificial plants.

Dress it up

Wrap your tree trunks in yarn stripes to add colour or paint part of the tree trunk with horizontal stripes. Barrinuevo says he once painted part of a tree trunk with red, blue and yellow stripes and it became a piece of art. Pick up the colours from the yarn and mimic them on the pillows to tie the space together.

Food for thought

Keep the barbecue in working order. Grill up some goodies, then enjoy them outside. Or have a winter picnic or enjoy a hot chocolate in front of the fireplace or pit.

Renovate

Instead of using a cabana for winter storage, insulate and renovate it into a games room or studio, Barbini says.

Get into hot water

Adding a hot tub is another addition that will make going to the backyard in winter worthwhile.

Back to nature

Invite birds to hang out in your backyard by adding plants that will provide shelter and food. Evergreens, such as junipers, provide shelter and berries. At the end of the growing season, dont cut down tall perennials, such as ornamental grasses, says landscaper

Jacqueline White of Raindrop Gardening in East York, Ont. Ornamental grasses are interesting additions to a snowy backdrop and offer seeds for food and grasses for nesting, she says.

Choose plants for colour and interest. Canadian serviceberry has colourful berries. Red osier dogwoods red branches are a pretty pop of colour against the snow. Witch hazel, with its curly branches, adds interest.

Although it may be harder to find plants at the end of the summer, try to stick with native plants, such as black-eyed susans and coneflowers.

While trading plants with neighbours may seem like a good idea, White says, If they have lots of one kind of plant, you may not want to introduce any to your backyard because they may be invasive. Some invasive species include lily of the valley and Boston ivy.

Once your potted summer plants are finished, remove the plants keep the soil to act as an anchor and add evergreen boughs, red osier and pine cones for a pretty arrangement.

Another nice addition is a heated birdbath. Create a safe backyard by keeping cats indoors, White says. Add a bird feeder and a squir>

Inclusive space

Those with mobility challenges will still want to get outside and enjoy a breath of winter air. But, says real estate broker Jeffrey Kerr of Re/Max Unique in Toronto, Wintertime can be very problematic for people who use mobility devices. Ideally you want a backyard space that is easy to keep clear of snow and ice, and minimizes wet wheels coming into your home.

Kerr, who specializes in helping clients buy and sell barrier-free, accessible houses and condominiums and is the author of Barrier Free Real Estate Achieving Freedom at Home, recommends a low-threshold door leading to a covered patio that is sheltered from the wind as a welcome outdoor space in winter. Try to minimize the slope of your pathways and ensure the material is laid flat with a rough finish for better traction, he says.

Im seeing more and more homes installing heated driveways, walkways and patios to ensure there is no build-up of ice and snow.nbsp;

Activities for the whole family Make arrangements, paint flowerpots, paint a tree trunk or wrap something in yarn. Take up bird watching. Bundle up and have dinner outside. Make snow angels, put shrimp on the barbie and marshmallows on the fire pit.


> Full Story

Make the Most of Your Backyard or Patio This Winter

Cooler weather ahead doesnt mean you have to give up your precious outdoor space. In this year like no other, extra space is treasured and you need to enjoy your backyard or balcony as long as possible. Here are some tips to make the most of your space this fall and winter.

Warm it up

In this climate, people dont tend to use their outdoor spaces in winter, says Amedeo Barbini of Barbini Design Build in Toronto. However infrared patio heaters free-standing floor versions or the ones that attach to a wall can extend the season. People also like to sit in front of a fireplace, so buy an outdoor version, grab some blankets and a bottle of wine and enjoy. If you live in a condo, check regulations first.

A good plan

When deciding what to do with your backyard, come up with a plan. Make sure the backyard looks as good from the inside as it does outside so youll be motivated to go out, says Red Barrinuevo, property stylist on HGTV Canadas Hot Market.nbsp;

Use it

Instead of putting it in storage, leave your patio furniture outside. Add some cushions in colours such as yellow and orange to warm the space. For backyards, a fire pit is a must. Theyre not very expensive. Some home improvement stores offer fire pits for 500 or less, Barrinuevo says.

Light it up

Barrinuevo says sometimes it seems like it is dark day and night in the winter, so additional lighting is a must. Garden lighting at ground level will illuminate your landscape. String lights with clear white LED bulbs will add a magical ambiance. Try stringing the lights on trees or put them in planters.A touch of green Everything tends to be dull looking in winter. Greenery will add texture. Try three plants of different heights to add interest to a corner, Barrinuevo says. Boxwoods are a good choice. You can even use artificial plants.

Dress it up

Wrap your tree trunks in yarn stripes to add colour or paint part of the tree trunk with horizontal stripes. Barrinuevo says he once painted part of a tree trunk with red, blue and yellow stripes and it became a piece of art. Pick up the colours from the yarn and mimic them on the pillows to tie the space together.

Food for thought

Keep the barbecue in working order. Grill up some goodies, then enjoy them outside. Or have a winter picnic or enjoy a hot chocolate in front of the fireplace or pit.

Renovate

Instead of using a cabana for winter storage, insulate and renovate it into a games room or studio, Barbini says.

Get into hot water

Adding a hot tub is another addition that will make going to the backyard in winter worthwhile.

Back to nature

Invite birds to hang out in your backyard by adding plants that will provide shelter and food. Evergreens, such as junipers, provide shelter and berries. At the end of the growing season, dont cut down tall perennials, such as ornamental grasses, says landscaper

Jacqueline White of Raindrop Gardening in East York, Ont. Ornamental grasses are interesting additions to a snowy backdrop and offer seeds for food and grasses for nesting, she says.

Choose plants for colour and interest. Canadian serviceberry has colourful berries. Red osier dogwoods red branches are a pretty pop of colour against the snow. Witch hazel, with its curly branches, adds interest.

Although it may be harder to find plants at the end of the summer, try to stick with native plants, such as black-eyed susans and coneflowers.

While trading plants with neighbours may seem like a good idea, White says, If they have lots of one kind of plant, you may not want to introduce any to your backyard because they may be invasive. Some invasive species include lily of the valley and Boston ivy.

Once your potted summer plants are finished, remove the plants keep the soil to act as an anchor and add evergreen boughs, red osier and pine cones for a pretty arrangement.

Another nice addition is a heated birdbath. Create a safe backyard by keeping cats indoors, White says. Add a bird feeder and a squir>

Inclusive space

Those with mobility challenges will still want to get outside and enjoy a breath of winter air. But, says real estate broker Jeffrey Kerr of Re/Max Unique in Toronto, Wintertime can be very problematic for people who use mobility devices. Ideally you want a backyard space that is easy to keep clear of snow and ice, and minimizes wet wheels coming into your home.

Kerr, who specializes in helping clients buy and sell barrier-free, accessible houses and condominiums and is the author of Barrier Free Real Estate Achieving Freedom at Home, recommends a low-threshold door leading to a covered patio that is sheltered from the wind as a welcome outdoor space in winter. Try to minimize the slope of your pathways and ensure the material is laid flat with a rough finish for better traction, he says.

Im seeing more and more homes installing heated driveways, walkways and patios to ensure there is no build-up of ice and snow.nbsp;

Activities for the whole family Make arrangements, paint flowerpots, paint a tree trunk or wrap something in yarn. Take up bird watching. Bundle up and have dinner outside. Make snow angels, put shrimp on the barbie and marshmallows on the fire pit.


> Full Story



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