Front yard — published on March 27, 2008

Front yard landscaping

It’s quit a good feeling to know that someone has found their dream home — your house. It means that you’ve done it right. The home improvements were the right ones. You added the right touches to the yard and landscaping. You created the curb appeal you were hoping would excite potential buyers.

Putting a house on the market can mean facing a lot of decisions about home fix-ups. Make the right decisions and home improvements should pay for themselves. Building strong curb appeal should be the heart of your fix-up plan. Start by getting solid advice about how to create curb appeal that is right for your house and its setting. You want the first view to speak charm. You do this by putting together a good curb appeal plan.

Front yard — Shrubs should be scrutinized now. Ask yourself: do they look healthy and well formed? Generally the tallest plants should be at the corners of the house. Others should be there to soften the foundation but not be conspicuous. Keep in mind that plantings look best in groups. Consider moving some or buying new plantings, if necessary. Groupings of 3 or 5 shrubs, varying in size and height can enhance a house setting.

The walkway — The walkway is the path someone takes to get to the entrance of your home. Its dual purpose is functionality as well as playing a key esthetic roll in the high stakes game of curb appeal. Make sure that someone’s grandmother could make the trip without tripping or wishing for a handrail. Any obstacles should be attended to. But just as important as safety and functionality is good looks. It should send an invitation to any visitor that they are welcome. A border of colorful annuals and ground cover can be a quick fix.

Front entry — Front entrance is all about curb appeal. An attractive, well designed entry will score a lot of charm and beauty points if done right. The first thing to think about is the view from the street. Ideally the view should not be obstructed. You’ll have a more balanced look if the tall shrubs are at the corners of the house. If your not knowledgeable about pruning do some research or hire a professional before grabbing the loppers. Branches of mature trees will offer a more pleasing view if their lowest branches are above eye level.

A focal point — The primary purpose of creating a focal point is to direct the eye to the entrance to the house. Adding a secondary point can be a good idea, if it helps to lead the eye along a visual path. For example, this is very useful on corner lots where the normal entry route is from the side of the house and the front door is not visible from that angle. Adding an interesting, welcoming element is a way to invite visitors to come forward. An attractive garden bench, very large pot or arbor could serve as a target for the eye.

The Rock factor – Rock is for ever, at least that’s the feeling we get. Rock, when associated with architecture and landscaping offers an appeal that carries a lot of weight in our mind. A sense of permanence and property. Once the bane of farmers, we now we see it as a natural element in our home and yard. Sloping terrain is a natural way to put rock to work. Erosion can be contained and beauty added with a graceful curving rock wall. A great way to increase usable space and add charm and curb appeal to any yard.

Entryway — published on March 27, 2008

Entryway Curb Appeal

When it comes to creating curb appeal, your entryway plays a major role. Your entryway should be very attractive, neat and inviting to prospective home buyers. The appearance of your entryway can make or break your curb appeal. And that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to prospective home buyers.

The first step in creating an inviting entryway is the front door. Your front door says “Hello, come on in!” to potential buyers. To maximize curb appeal, paint your front door an imaginative color. This will just light up your entryway! You can choose something that matches or offsets your shutters. For example, if your house is white and your shutters are black, try a bright red front door! It’s cheery, and it will get your entryway noticed! Few colors attract the eye and stimulate the psyche more than red.

To bring a cohesive and charming look to your entryway, add accents that harmonize with the door. For example, if you have a red door, you can paint your mailbox red, too! Or maybe you prefer an eggplant door for your entryway to offset your beige vinyl siding; you can paint your house numbers eggplant, too.

You can also add other elements to your entryway to maximize visual appeal. For example, you can add a large terra cotta planter, and plant annuals in a color that harmonize with your door. Petunias work well in a sunny entryway, and impatiens do well in shade. And both varieties will provide color from spring through early fall. Be sure to choose bright, vivid colors that will draw potential homebuyers’ eyes to your entryway! You should note that pansies, although adorable, will wither by late spring in all but cool, northern climates.

Regardless of what color you choose for your entryway door, go for a storm door with the largest view area possible. A full-view storm door, one whose entire face is glass, can help make your entryway more inviting.

And when you’re creating curb appeal with your entryway, don’t forget that all the elements you use should complement one another. In other words, the style of the door knocker, mail box, lights and any flower planters you use should harmonize with each other. For example, if you live in a Cape Cod house in an historic neighborhood, an antique style mailbox that says “Post” coupled with a flower planter placed on an antique white cottage chair will lend charm.

Now here’s the final touch for your entryway to exude ultimate curb appeal: Add a decorative element, such as a wreath or a flag. A wreath hung on an entryway is very welcoming and reminiscent of the comforts of home. A flag will help attract the eye to the entryway, but make sure it displays an image that appeals to the broadest audience possible; elegant flowers are a sure bet.

01: Impressions — published on March 26, 2008

Point of Interest Curb Appeal

With a few sleights of hand – the gardener’s hand, you can incorporate a point of interest in your landscape plan. When you create a point of interest, you create instant curb appeal, as if by magic!

The idea behind creating a point of interest is to lure the eyes of potential homebuyers. And beyond drawing the eye, it can help break up a rectangular yard, make a small yard appear larger, or even add an element of elevation to a flat yard. Following are some ideas for how to incorporate a focal point into your front yard for maximum curb appeal.

Probably the most irresistible point of interest is a water feature! People are naturally drawn to water. This feature works well in a secluded, courtyard setting. You can use a birdbath with a fountain, a freestanding fountain or a small pond as a focal point of interest. You can even find solar-powered birdbaths, fountains and water pumps so you won’t have to pay another dime on your electric bill. Water pumps and all-natural water additives will help keep your water feature free of algae.

After all, you want a point of interest, not a headache! A water feature will attract some birds, which will lend your yard a Garden of Eden aura of peacefulness. The trickling water sound will also be soothing and relaxing to prospective homebuyers–and what more important factor is there for a home other than being a refuge for relaxation?

Of course, you’ll want to enhance your water feature point of interest by highlighting it with landscaping elements. This can include mulch or landscaping gravel, along with flowers, larger rocks or even outdoor lighting.

And speaking of flowers, rocks and shrubs, they are an effective focal points in and of themselves! Just place them within a landscaping bed composed of mulch or smaller landscaping rocks to create that special look. Be careful not to choose perennial flowers that will only bloom during one time of the year; you want to draw eyes to your point of interest during the entire home selling season. So you should choose low-maintenance annuals that provide a splash of bright color. Better yet, that splash of bright color should harmonize with or offset the colors of your house.

You can even incorporate small ornamental trees in such a point of interest. You don’t want to add a hardwood sapling, as it will just look like a twig with a few leaves jutting out. But for established trees, where grass won’t grow, adding a raised bed and planting an attractive ground cover like Pachysandra, you can transform an unsightly spot. Consider small ornamental trees, such as Japanese maple,they look full grown although they’re compact. And the richly colored foliage will be attractive all season long.

Another highly effective point of interest, although clichéd, is a picket fence! Nothing stirs a prospective homebuyer’s nostalgic sense of “home sweet home” like a picket fence! If it fits the style of your house consider this classic.

Another trick for creating a point of interest is to place a trellis or arbor over your walkway. Not only does this create a visual point of interest for the eye, but it creates a doorway that beckons potential buyers to discover what lies beyond. And if you have with ornamental vines or flowers cascading along your trellis or arbor, it will emphasis the cottage look.

Creating a point of interest to enhance your curb appeal is like waving your magic wand to mesmerize buyers.

01: Impressions — published on March 25, 2008

Creating Front Yard Curb Appeal

Put your skills and resources to work when planning to sell your home. Matching your idea of curb appeal with what triggers buyers’ idea of a dream house can be tricky but getting it right can be very rewarding.

Front yard curb appeal tops the list when it comes to enticing potential buyers to check out your home. If you want potential homebuyers to actually stop and view your house, rather than slowly rolling on by in their cars, front yard curb appeal is where it’s at.

The first very important trick with front yard curb appeal is to realize that flowers and grass are high-maintenance, whereas tree, shrubs and landscaping materials are low-maintenance. Flowers are a wondferful feature but won’t always give your front yard curb appeal. Why? Because they’re not continuously in bloom. Try for a landscape that has year around beauty.

Different types of flowers bloom at different times throughout the spring and summer. For example, if you plant daylilies, they won’t bloom until June or July — which gives you zero front yard curb appeal in March or April, when you’re most likely to put your house on the market.

Plus, flowers have to be watered. And so does grass. Which makes creating front yard curb appeal a headache. Rather, you want to create enticing front yard curb appeal by exerting the least amount of effort necessary. That will give you time to keep your house spotless.

The best bet for front yard curb appeal is ornamental plants — the key word being ornamental. Japanese red maples are always a good bet for an easy, fast way to create front yard curb appeal: they’re colorful, they’re small enough that they won’t obstruct the view, they won’t kill grass with giant areas of shade, and they won’t shed a ton of leaves.

Also, increasing the amount of space in your front yard that features landscape gravel or mulch will also maximize your curb appeal — not to mention time for you to tend to other home selling details.

When creating front yard curb appeal with landscape rocks and mulch, you’ll want to incorporate flowing, curved lines, rather than harsh, straight lines. Straight lines appear harsh and rigid, offering little front yard curb appeal. On the other hand, curved lines lend ample front yard curb appeal by creating depth and exuding a relaxed sense of ease.

Curved lines can gently lead the eye to your front yard’s best feature — such as that Japanese red maple! They can also break up a rectangular front yard and make a small front yard appear larger by suggesting that more lies beyond.

Within your landscape bed, you can place larger rocks and shrubs for visual appeal. If you like, you can also incorporate large flower pots and plant annuals in them; wave petunias are an easy choice that will provide bright, eye-catching color from spring through early fall.

Another trick to make your front yard appear more attractive involves using diagonal lines. For example, instead of placing your landscape bed parallel to the street, place them so they form trianges with the sidewalk and entry walkway. Use low plantings and the illusion will be like having the walkway appear to flair out — a welcoming touch. And for the grass left in your front yard, have a definitive cut or hard edging where it meets the mulch or ground cover.

Walkways — published on March 25, 2008

Design Elements: Walkways

Follow natural access patterns when laying out walks. If you don’t, children or dogs will carve their own paths right through your prize petunias. A straight path, though less charming, is the shortest and least expensive, and sometimes the most sensible.

Use curves, jogs, or steps only where there is a reason, not just to meander. Combine practicality with visual appeal by making walks at least 36 inches wide. If scale permits, 42 to 54 inches is better so two people can walk together. For an illusion of greater or lesser distance, widen one end. Extra width at curves is pleasant.

Ideally, walks should slope 1 to 5 percent, never more than 10. If the entry is steeper, use curves, jogs, steps, or ramps. Let plants make the journey interesting.

Make walls, fences, or hedges near walks less than 2 feet so people can swing their arms or carry packages without feeling crowded. Between the walk and taller verticals, a buffer zone of ground cover, lawn, flowers, or mulch at least 2 feet wide gives more room for movement.

To add interest to walks, choose brick patterns or exposed-aggregate textures. If you have plain concrete walks, cover them with brick pavers, slate, or tile. Loose materials like tanbark or wood chips are fine for natural garden paths farther away from the house, but they result in too much tracking in if used for the front yard.

Window Washing — published on March 25, 2008

Secret Formula for Window Washing

Tools:

  • Squeegee
  • 3 gallon bucket
  • Roll paper towels

Ingredients:

  • Hot water
  • Ammonia
  • Dish detergent

Recipe:

Fill bucket with hot water up to 2 gallon mark.

Add ½ cup ammonia for each gallon hot water.

Slowly, squirt in 3 or 4 drops of dish detergent. Add the detergent after the bucket has filled, you don´t want a pail of bubbles.

Start washin’. Use the scrubber first get all that dirty stuff off then with the blade squeegee side down, wiping the blade with a dry paper towel after each pass. Go over the window with a sheet of paper towel if needed. The real trick here is the squeegee! I’ve washed a lot of windows, tried all the tricks forget about using newsprint to dry the window all that does is get your hands so dirty you can´t touch anything! And the pre-mixed products only leave a smeared mess.

So don´t tell any one — but the real secret is the squeegee! It makes the job go fast and leaves your windows sparkling clean.

01: Impressions — published on March 25, 2008

Tips for Creating Curb Appeal

Attracting Buyers with Great Curb Appeal

When buyers see your home for the first time, their first impressions will be based on curb appeal. As soon as they step out of the car, they will see landscaping, the colour of your home, and several other features. Do you want buyers to see peeling paint, broken steps, and empty flower beds or do you want buyers to see a gorgeous home with fantastic curb appeal? If your home is lacking the curb appeal that would attract buyers, check out these tips.

Curb Appeal Tip #1: Declutter

Many homes being offered for sale lack curb appeal, because owners are so busy with preparing everything else. The owners are so busy painting the inside, decorating, and so on, they fail to focus on the outside of their home. The first thing you must do to your entire home is to declutter. If your yard is filled with toys, hoses, gardening tools, etc. it may scare buyers off. Instead, show buyers how attractive your yard is, simply by cleaning the stuff out of it.

Curb Appeal Tip #2: Pressure Wash

Sometimes all a home needs to improve its curb appeal is a good cleaning. Pressure washing your home will quickly remove dirt and grime with very little work. You can either hire someone to pressure wash your home or you can do it yourself. The cost of hiring someone will usually cost as much as buying a pressure washer. You might as well buy one and do it yourself, and then you’ll have the washer for your new home.

Curb Appeal Tip #3: Fix Problem Areas

If you have broken steps or a mailbox that is leaning to one side, fix these things. Buyers are going to see this and it ruins the curb appeal of your home. Even if you think it’s not a big deal, fix it. If you notice it, buyers will also notice it.

Curb Appeal Tip #4: Paint from Top to Bottom

You may love your ocean blue home, but it doesn’t match other properties in your area. Most potential buyers will want a home that blends with others on the street and looks normal. Also you need to paint your home if the existing paint is beginning to peel. Peeling paint is not good for curb appeal. Buyers will see this and run, because who wants to paint a home they just bought, unless you knock off a few thousand, which poor curb appeal will do.

Curb Appeal Tip #6: Do Some Landscaping

Flowers and bushes greatly improve a home’s curb appeal. Also flowers and bushes can hide parts of your home that aren’t so beautiful. You can either do this yourself or you can hire someone. Either way, this is a step that will improve your curb appeal and create market value in the process. If you do this step yourself, create flower beds on either side of your front entrance and either fill them with flowers or bushes. Potential buyers may love bushes, because they are a great place to hang Christmas lights and they provide privacy. If you hire someone, be prepared to pay hundreds or even a couple thousand for your yard to look amazing.

Tools — published on March 24, 2008

Top 10 garden tools

Behind the doors of an ace gardener’s tool shed lie the secrets to a beautiful garden. Here are 10 tools you’ll need to cultivate a better garden.

1 Trowel. Without a trowel, no perennials would be planted, no containers potted and no bulbs buried in the ground. The strongest trowels are made of steel and the lightest are made of cast aluminum. Handles are fashioned of wood or easy-grip plastic. Those designed with handle and blade all in one piece offer greater durability.

2 Watering can. Whether for spot-watering wilting plants or fertilizing containers of annuals, a watering can is a garden essential. Generally, those with a longer spout are better balanced. Easy-care, lightweight plastic watering cans work just as well as the more attractive brass and copper ones.

3 Transplanting spade. With its long, narrow blade, a transplanting spade gets into tight spots in the garden, reducing the likelihood of damage to nearby plants. It’s also more suitable than traditional spades to dig holes deep enough to accommodate plant roots.

4 Fork. A garden fork is indispensable for safely lifting out the roots of an established perennial, dividing overgrown plants or harvesting root vegetables. Stainless steel blades are the strongest.

5 Utility bag. Sooner or later, you’ll need to weed. As you move through the garden, discard weeds and garden debris into a lightweight bag or basket that’s easy to pull alongside you. Collapsible pop-up styles are popular, as well as fold-down polypropylene bags.

6 Pruners. Keep overgrown shrubs and trees within bounds with a good pair of secateurs or pruners. The by-pass types are better buys than the anvil pruners because they make cleaner cuts. Look for secateurs with a swivel handle – they’re easier on the wrist.

7 Shears or scissors. What’s a garden without bouquets of flowers? Use chichi shears or scissors or pick up a dozen at the dollar store – all work just as well for cutting the stems of perennials or removing dead flowerheads.

8 Soaker hose. Sprinklers water lawns – soaker hoses irrigate gardens. Placed at ground level, this perforated hose trickles water into the soil, slowly delivering moisture to the root zone – just where plants need it.

9 Wheelbarrow or garden cart. Wheelbarrows make light work of trucking through the garden with heavy sacks of soil or unwieldy bags of peat moss. Whether you choose a conventional wheelbarrow, a garden cart, buggy or wagon, it’s sure to take a beating in the garden so buy one of good quality.

10 Edger. Place the finishing touches on your garden with an edger. This moon-shape hand tool slices into the ground to create a clean, sharp edge between flowerbeds and lawn.

01: Impressions — published on March 23, 2008

The all important WOW factors

Number One:  Curb Appeal

There can’t be many people left in the western world who don’t know about the tips of the trade when it comes to interior design. It is almost impossible to ignore the glut of TV shows, magazine features and newspaper articles all telling us how to make the most of our homes.

Who doesn’t know by now that the smell of baking bread, light and airy rooms and neutral colours all help sell a home, but what about the exterior of your property? It’s known as ‘curb appeal’ and if you don’t have it, you need it, and here’s how you get it.

It’s in the details

The attractive features — and the bells and whistles — of your property are what helps set it apart from your neighbours. Curb appeal often comes with a few simple changes.

  • A new front door or even simply painting your front door an attractive, rich colour can help add a sense of distinction and class.
  • Window boxes or shrubs. A window box can add colour and life and implies a well-cared for home. Shrubs can be style statements too, and plants generally turn a house into a home.
  • A distinctive lawn ornament —pagoda or fountain — can add character, charm and personality to a home.
  • Change tired outdoor light fixtures for modern stylish ones or antique reproductions.
  • Tidy up any plantings, or if you can afford it, re-design or landscape your front gardens.
  • Add a fresh coat of paint to window frames – it can make a house look fresh and clean. And do make sure the windows are clean too, so everything sparkles.

It is commonly said that in interviews, employers make their minds up in the first 30 seconds. First impressions count for everything, and real estate experts say that property buyers form their opinion of a house within the same 30 seconds.

It isn’t just the details on the front of your home that you need to consider.

Out Front

  • Make sure the street is as presentable too and is free of litter or debris.
  • Clear any weeds on the boulevard and tidy up in general.
  • If you have a big wheelie garbage can – move it somewhere discreet.
  • If you have a tired old fence, give it some stain or paint. Don’t let a squeaky gate or bit of rust put off your buyer.
  • If your driveway is seriously worn-looking, consider resealing it.
  • The state of your roof will signify the state of your property in general — ensure any loose or missing singles are repaired. Or better yet … replace the roof singles.

Many studies imply and insider opinions suggest that curb appeal can increase the value of your home and help speed a beneficial sale more than anything else. First impressions last. The fact that our homes are so important to our sense of self and our status in society means emotional bonds can be made as soon as you see the front door. So make sure it’s a good, sturdy, stylish front door.

Happy Easter!

Colour — published on March 22, 2008

Colourful Curb Appeal …

Creates Lasting Impressions

Whether you’re putting your home on the market or simply remodeling for your own pleasure, nothing makes a stronger statement than the exterior of your home. Recent studies indicate that most homebuyers decide whether or not to view a home’s interior based on its curb appeal — the attractiveness of a home when viewed from the street. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (American), 80 percent of homebuyers now view a home for the first time on the Internet, making curb appeal an even more critical part of selling a home.

One sure-fire way to increase the curb appeal of your home is to incorporate more color in its exterior. The use of bold, high-definition colors can produce visually striking effects that make a home unique, and, with the growing variety of exterior color options today, you can pick a new hue for the roof and then find a vast selection of siding, trim, fence, deck and railing colors to coordinate.

Choosing the right exterior colours for your home is a difficult decision, but it is getting easier, thanks to the many companies that are broadening the color palette for everything from the roof on down to the deck, to provide homeowners more ways to customize a home and bring life to a neighbourhood.

For example, high-contrast colours have been added to composite decking now to include vibrant shades of chestnut, cedar and redwood. Colour options for cedar-style fencing now to include colours like clay and other natural tones that coordinate well with popular siding, window and trim colors to provide even more options in exterior design.

So while exterior remodeling can be a daunting task, it is the best home improvement investment that you can make.

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