Monday, December 16, 2013

Landscaping is first impression when selling a home

By Debbie Abrams Kaplan, BANKRATE.COM | December 13, 2013

·         When selling your home, landscaping determines whether your home feels inviting from the outside.

Curb appeal is important to 71 percent of home buyers when choosing their abode, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey. Landscaping is a large part of that curb appeal, said Frank J. Lucco, managing director of IRR-Residential Appraisers and Consultants in Houston.

"That first impression is important," Lucco said. "If they don't like the looks of the front of the house, which is mostly landscaping," often they won't even go inside.

A landscaping investment could potentially pay a 215 percent return in home value, said Margaret Woda, a Realtor with Long and Foster Real Estate in Crofton, Md. While you may recoup only 68 percent of kitchen renovation fees, Woda said landscaping is money well spent.
Keeping up with the Joneses is important, Lucco said. If your neighbors' yards are run down, spending a lot on landscaping isn't worthwhile. But if your neighbors have renovated homes with beautiful greenery, you need to do the same so buyers don't move on to homes with better curb appeal.

Here are some things to consider with landscaping:
Planning ahead is important if you want to sell your home.
"You can't just decide to sell your house tomorrow and expect the landscaping to be ready," Woda said. "If you're thinking of moving next fall, (then) this spring, you should be working on your landscaping."
Start by cleaning up the yard, removing dead branches, dog droppings, weeds and anything broken, Woda said, adding, "the most important thing in landscaping is maintenance."

Eric King, of King Landscaping in Atlanta, recommended investigating the unseen, ensuring the downspouts are clean and functional, and making sure drain pipes are properly buried and draining so water doesn't pool. Then make sure your hardscapes (things such as patios, walkways and fences) are level and roots haven't pushed up sidewalks or patio stones. If your deck has wobbly railings or loose steps, fix them, King said.

"People don't want a mystery," he said.

Take a serious look at your plants' health, Lucco said.

"Dead and dying (plants) or things leading to additional maintenance problems need to be corrected," Lucco said.

If you're in an established neighborhood, remove overgrown shrubs encroaching on the sidewalk or ones that are too big, don't flower or are out of style.

"They look terrible to anyone except the owner," Woda said. As an owner, you may have an emotional investment in them, having tended to them for decades, but it's good to let go of them.

In the front yard, landscaping's role is to help people notice the house first, King said. Landscaping should pull your eyes to the front door. While the Realtor is opening the lockbox, buyers will be looking around at the landscaping, so have pots of blooming flowers nearby.
Trees, bamboo and other screening plants can be used to hide anything unsightly, such as your neighbor's garage door or the trash cans, King said.

"You want to make your house look good and hide the ugly views," he said.

Woda said foundational plants such as evergreens are better than those that lose their leaves.

"What if you want to sell your house in the winter?" she said. Also, plants that are beautiful when blooming don't add to curb appeal out of season. Accent plants such as knockout roses bloom all summer.

"They're easy to take care of," she said.

Trees can add value, providing canopy, shade and insulation from sun, but they have issues, too, Lucco said. Tree roots can damage the foundation, die or be too close to the house. Buyers also may not want fruit- or nut-bearing trees.

"Some buyers won't pay one penny extra and might even cut them down," he said.

In the backyard, people like a comfortable spot to hang out, King said. 

Think decks or patios.

Other personalized options, such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens, fountains and lighting, are things that make a backyard more of a paradise, Lucco said.

"You don't just walk out and look at a fence," Lucco said.
Install a fire pit, outdoor kitchen or water feature only if you want them because you likely won't recoup your money, King said.

"A small statue fountain is less money and maintenance and may not be overwhelming," he said.

These features can positively impact an appraisal if they're quality construction and well-maintained, Woda said. Some materials are better than others. A cobblestone patio is better than poured concrete. A stacked-stone retaining wall is more appealing than railroad ties.

"That said, railroad ties and a poured-concrete patio are better than one lacking any patio or any retaining wall where one is needed," Woda said.

Don't waste money buying all mature plants.

"Spend money where you need it," Woda said. "If you have a few spots driving you crazy where you want privacy, buy one or two big specimen trees. For the rest, put in a 3-gallon flowering shrub."
When trying to make a statement by your front steps, spend the money and get a larger plant. Otherwise, put in smaller plants, and be patient as they grow.

Fencing is another asset to buyers, whether they have kids or just want privacy, Woda said.

"I've heard many clients say they'll have the expense of putting in a fence if they buy that house," she said.

Pick the right fence, though. Alternate-board fencing is popular, but you'll be wasting money if you put in stockade and chain-link fences.

Brad Hall
BDH Landscaping

Friday, December 17, 2010

Azalea Care

My azaleas always turn yellow or purple in winter. What's wrong?

Nothing is wrong. Like all evergreen plants, azaleas periodically lose some of their foliage, and the leaves may turn yellow, red, or purple before they fall. Often the only leaves that remain are those that surround the flower buds at the tips of the branches. This characteristic is linked to the genetics of the parents used to breed garden azaleas. The degree of leaf coloration or loss is a function of parentage and not the severity of the winter. In unusually cold winters, certain azaleas may lose more leaves than they would in mild winters.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Plants that continue to grow late into fall such as azaleas, boxwood and holly are susceptible to early freeze damage. When temperatures drop dramatically and the air’s moisture content is low, plants lose their moisture. Withholding water will not aid the plant in acclimating itself to winter, rather it may reduce the plants winter hardiness.

Afternoon sun exposure may also compound the problem ... further drying the plants. Damage from wind, sunscald and/or lack of moisture or “desiccation” injury becomes evident in the spring time. Don’t forget to water and remember soil should be moist but not waterlogged. This winter don't forget to protect: pipes, pets and plants!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Houston Landscaping, Landscaping and Design services in Cypress and North Houston, Texas

Houston Landscaping, Landscaping and Design services in Cypress and North Houston, Texas

"SEPTEMBER Schedule"

*Make pre-emergent applications to control cool season weeds
*Fertilize lawn and bedding plants
*Sod in your lawn before winter arrives
*You may be able to cut back on watering
*Begin scalping in late September for winter rye if rain is adequate
*You may wish to enhance your landscape add security with outdoor lighting as the days grow shorter"

Friday, March 5, 2010

After pruning your Crepe Myrtles, be sure to fertilize them with Crepe Myrtle food....I like the granular version.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Put a good layer of mulch on your beds this will help keep moisture in and weeds out. Also, when it decomposes over time, it provides good organic material for your plants.

Happy Gardening!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010 Spring Ideas

Now is the time to put down weed & feed for your grass. Also time to prune your Crape Myrtles. Happy Gardening.