Entry — published on March 29, 2009

Secrets to Curb Appeal

What kind of first impression does your front entry make? We will be bring you some quick-fix ideas to transform your home.

front-porchWhat constitutes true “curb appeal”? While the term embraces everything between your front door and the street, it doesn’t take much to make dramatic style improvements, whether by adding flower boxes, sprucing up the mailbox, or constructing an elegant driveway.

With a little faith in your vision, and a few tips, you can transform a dowdy exterior to an inviting, welcoming entranceway.

01: Impressions — published on March 26, 2009

Dogwood Trees: Spring Blooms, Fall Foliage

Landscaping with Dogwoods gives you “2 for the price of 1.” Best known for their spring blooms, they also provide fine fall foliage.

Kousa Dogwood Trees (Japanese Dogwood Trees)

Japanese, or “kousa” dogwood trees (Cornus kousa) can be grown in zones 5-8. Their usually white, star-shaped blooms appear later in spring than do the flowers on other dogwoods. Fall foliage is purplish-red. The red berries of kousa dogwood trees persist into winter and are eaten by wild birds. Average height and spread of 15′-30′. dogwood

A variation is provided by the “Satomi” kousa dogwood tree (Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’), which bears deep pink blossoms in spring. Height 25′.

Flowering Dogwood Trees

Cornus florida is the indigenous flowering dogwood tree in the U.S., where it is commonly referred to simply as, “flowering dogwood tree,” as if there were no other. Such is the fondness for this fall foliage standout among landscaping enthusiasts in the U.S.

“Cherokee Chief” flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’) offer an impressive array of landscaping benefits. The lower branches of this “bird magnet” have a horizontal branching pattern, which in itself lends interest to the landscape. “Cherokee Chief” dogwoods grow to a height of 20′-25′ and a spread of 12′-15′. This dogwood tree puts out red blooms in spring, while its fall foliage ranges from reddish-bronze to purplish. Zones 5-9.

01: Impressions — published on March 20, 2009

Landscaping for Curb Appeal

Maintaining and improving property values is essential for every homeowner. Knowing tips and secrets about landscaping to improve values can make a big difference.

Economic turmoil and the declining value of houses has a lot of people worrying about their personal property values. We continue to experience uncertainty as we look at the current status of our country’s economic health. Instead of worrying and obsessing over what’s happening to property values, it’s time to take active steps towards improving value today and for the future.

Adding attractive landscapes and improving the curb appeal of property can enhance the property’s value overnight. It may not fetch the optimal asking price right now, but landscaping can be a valuable asset today and tomorrow. The great thing about landscaping is that a large space is not necessary to enhance property value. A small garden area or several small areas are just as good as one big open area.

How to Maximize Curb Appeal of Your Home

Curb appeal is what attracts visitors and potential buyers to your home. They are interested in what they see and the landscape makes a big difference in their opinions. When a home has attractive curb appeal, it draws visitors and potential buyers inside if a home is on the market. If the home is not for sale, the curb appeal still adds tremendous value to the home and creates a welcome message for visitors and family members. Either way, it’s a great way to enhance property values.

Some ways to optimize curb appeal for personal property include:

  1. Aerate soil at least annually to allow fresh water and nutrients to reach deep down into the roots of your grass. You’ll have healthier, green grass.
    De-thatch the lawn to remove those dead grass clippings and other debris that create a barrier between thirsty roots and fresh water and oxygen from the air and sky above.
  2. Don’t water too frequently. Instead, consider watering less frequently but allow the water to flow slowly for a longer period of time. This allows the roots to absorb the water better and leads to healthier growth.
  3. Make sure to fertilize twice each year – in the spring and again in the fall. Depending on the geographic location and type of soil, there are different types of fertilizer from which to choose. Check with a local nursery, home and garden stores, home improvement store, or other experts to help determine the best type to use.
  4. Assess the lawn and determine a plan for spots where grass refuses to thrive such as shady areas or places with lots of tree roots. Constantly replanting and working an area only to find the grass dead again is no fun. Instead of grass, consider other decorative types of plants, pots, or garden elements and avoid the hassles of stubborn spots.
  5. Compost is a good product to help improve the nutrient levels in the soil and will help grass grow healthier and greener.

Once a plan is in place to prepare soil and the lawn for better curb appeal, it’s time to think about getting started with some plants and other things as points of interest.Consider the following tips for added curb appeal that also increases property value:

  1. Plant trees where it makes sense – but not too close to the house. Over time, a tree can add tens of thousands of value to property! Although it may not seem very worthwhile today, young trees planted today will be extremely valuable in years to come.
  2. Create focal points of interest that fit the size of the lawn. Don’t overdo it with over-bearing plants, hanging vines, and shrubbery. The focal points should always be appropriate for the space.
  3. Use potted plants for variety and to spice up smaller areas of the lawn, or use them on porches, decks, steps, and other places throughout the yard. Plants nestled in mulch, wooded areas, or around steps and patios can be very attractive.
  4. Consider plants that come back each year so you don’t have to replant. Then use them as the backdrop for annual plants and potted plants added to the area.
  5. Don’t forget about the value of rocks, stones, pebbles, bricks, arbors, and other elements that add interest and can be used as a focal point in a small or large area. Stepping stones add a quaint, welcoming feel to most any yard.
  6. Paths throughout a wooded area or around a yard can be quite inviting. They are alluring and add a sense of mystique and calm to an outdoor space.
  7. Unique elements such as bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, wind chimes, ornamental garden statues, benches, and other things can heighten the welcoming effect of a home.

Bring the outdoors inside too – when it comes to curb appeal, make sure to take advantage of indoor spaces where gardens and lawns can be viewed. Create conversation spaces indoors around windows and areas that expose the outdoors and draw it inward.
Before deciding nothing can be done to improve curb appeal, increase property values, and enhance a home’s existence, take a look around at the landscape. Consider how small areas can be enhanced and create focal points that create a welcoming feeling to visitors. And don’t forget how valuable landscaping can be when it comes to helping reduce air pollution – contributing to the health of the environment.

Property values are an important part of owning a home – but enjoying a home today while living in it is just as important. Leverage curb appeal today for more home equity and increased property value tomorrow.

Fencing — published on March 19, 2009

Fencing for adding curb appeal

A fence around the outside of your home can act as a barrier for pets, but it can also dramatically increase the value of your home. There are many new options for fencing that are currently available and you might be surprised to find out just how economical they are. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of fencing you can get, and learn how to pick the one that is right for you. Please keep in mind that you may need to get permission from neighbours or your city’s zoning commission before you get started.

Living Fence

This is a great option that works well on small lots or large lots. A row of shrubs or bushes can serve as a great privacy divider, and this type of fence works well if you don’t want to have any maintenance beyond occasional pruning. While this fence does not work for pets, it does look nice and will help ramp up your curb appeal quite a lot. Look for colorful bushes, or if you want a year round fence, evergreen shrubs are a great solution.

PVC Fencing

This is quickly becoming a favorite alternative among many homeowners. PVC fencing can range in price, but it is generally cheaper than other materials. The maintenance level for this type of fencing is very low, and you won’t ever have to worry about painting it. Keep in mind however, that in extreme cold, PVC may crack on impact.

Wrought Iron Fence

If you’ve got a lot of money to spend and you’re looking for a great vintage feel to the outside of your home, a wrought iron fence is the perfect solution. These now come in many styles and colors and they are very easy to install. However, they may rust or corrode, depending on how well you take care of them.

Wooden Fence

A wooden fence is a cheap alternative, at least at first, but beware, there is a lot of maintenance involved with them. You’ll need to either paint or stain the boards right at first, and then redo it every few years. If you live in a particularly windy area or where inclement weather is common, you may even need to fix the fence every year.

Brick Fence

This is probably the most expensive fence you can get, but on the plus side, it will last for many years, if not decades. This is a great fence if you need a lot of privacy, but it will be labor intensive to install if you decide to do it on your own. Bricks can crumble, but generally, brick fences are durable, long lasting and guaranteed to look nice for a long time.

These are just a few of the options that are currently available for fencing. If you’re unsure of which material is right for you, let your budget and the amount of work you want to do on the fence be your guide.

01: Impressions — published on March 19, 2009

Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Woody plants are a permanent, year-long presence in the landscape. This permanence helps determine their major uses.

Consider the landscape as if it were a living room. The floor would be formed by low-growing plants and ground-hugging constructions, like lawns and ground covers, patios and pavement. They form the base of any landscape. But what about the rest of the landscape, the walls and ceiling? That’s where trees, shrubs, and climbing plants come in.

Walls

Shrubs and vines, as well as related constructions such as fences, form the walls of the room. They help define its boundaries, separating your yard from your neighbor’s and one garden area from another. This is most obvious when plants are grown as a hedge, but even informal plantings of shrubs will help define bounds between various areas.

A simple cluster of shrubs, for example, can separate the children’s play area from a quiet rest area or the service area with its shed, garbage cans, and clothesline. Formal hedges, because of the obvious barrier they create, are most often used to define property lines.

Shrubs can also offer a screen for privacy, or they can block unsightly views. Deciduous shrubs are good choices for screening: They offer privacy during the summer months yet allow a maximum amount of winter sunlight to penetrate your yard at a season when light is at a premium. If the goal of the screen is to block an undesirable view, evergreens — both conifers and broad-leaf — are the plants of choice, since their cover is permanent. Taller shrubs can also be used as windbreaks or to create a bit of shade in an overly sunny spot.

Vines are used much like shrubs, except they must grow on some sort of support, such as a fence or trellis. A hedge may need many years to grow high enough to block a view. You can create the same effect in a year or two by planting a vining plant at the base of a fence. If you can’t put up an attractive fence, a simple chain-link one with vines planted at the base will offer security without being obtrusive.

Vines are also useful in places where space is lacking. Most shrubs quickly attain a diameter of three to five feet; this can seem a waste of space in a tiny urban yard. Vines grow vertically: Most cling so closely to their support that they take up only inches of horizontal space.
For security purposes, you might want your wall to be composed of plants with spiny leaves or branches. A fire thorn or barberry hedge, for example, can be as effective a barrier as a chain-link fence but far more attractive.

Ceilings

After the “floor” and “walls” have been taken care of, the outdoor living room needs a ceiling. Although the sky can serve as an outdoor ceiling, it can be too much of a good thing. The vastness of the sky keeps a garden from feeling intimate.
Trees block out part of the sky, defining the sky’s borders. Trees also contribute structure to the garden. Trunks and branches act as posts and beams to bring the sky down to a more human scale. For this management of the sky, trees have a purpose in every landscape, even the smallest one.

Trees have other uses as well. No other characteristic of trees is as obvious in the landscape as the shade they provide. Through their ability to filter sunlight and to cool the air through evapotranspiration, leaves can reduce the temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot summer day. Shade also protects from excess sun that can annoy your eyes and be dangerous for the skin. So every garden should have at least one shady nook. Some trees are known as “shade trees.” These are usually taller trees with a broad crown. Smaller trees can also provide plentiful shade, although you may prefer to remove some of the lower branches for sitting.

Putting It all Together

With the structure of your “living room” — floor, walls, and outdoor ceiling — now clearly defined by the lawns and woody plants it contains, you have the base on which to build your landscape. All you have left to add is the “furniture”: flower beds, accent plants, and the like.

Defining Woody Plants

Woody plants come in all shapes and sizes, from tall and upright to low and creeping. Aside from producing wood, these plants have one thing in common: persistent stems, meaning the stems survive from one year to the next. This distinguishes woody plants from herbaceous (nonwoody) plants like perennials, which die back to the ground each year. Although many woody plants lose their leaves in the winter or dry season, the stems survive and produce new leaves the following year. Trees, shrubs, and most vines are woody plants, but the boundaries between each group are not always clear.

Trees Versus Shrubs

Although most people recognize a tree when they see one, defining what does and does not constitute a tree is not easy. This is particularly the case when distinguishing between a tall shrub and a small tree.

One common definition of a tree is a perennial plant that bears only one single woody stem (the trunk) at ground level. Size is not a determining factor in this definition. A tree can reach 100 feet or more in height or only one foot for miniatures. In practice, however, a very small tree is likely to be treated as a shrub. Woody shrubs have several stems rising from ground level. Shrubs are also usually smaller, often 3 to 12 feet tall. There are many obvious exceptions, such as trees with multiple trunks that can be very hard to distinguish from tall shrubs. Other plants can be either trees or shrubs depending on how they are grown. These general definitions, however, do help to distinguish between the two groups.
Humans also influence plant growth by pruning and other practices. For example, a gardener may prune off all the secondary stems of a shrub, leaving one to three main trunks, thus creating a “standard” (tree-form shrub). A gardener may also repeatedly cut back young trees, forcing them to branch at their base, turning them into shrubs. Nature does the same thing. Some plants that normally grow as trees will take on a shrub form at the northern limits of their range. Each winter their top growth is pruned back by cold, causing them to develop multiple branches rather than a main trunk. Subshrubs are plants with woody stems, yet they die back at least part way to their roots each year. Subshrubs are usually treated as perennials. Some true shrubs, such as butterfly bush, will behave as subshrubs in cold or extreme climates.

Vines

Vines can be separated into three main categories: woody vines, with permanent above-ground stems; perennial vines, which die back to the ground each winter and then sprout again in spring; and annual vines, which start anew from seed each year. A woody vine can be considered a shrub that needs some sort of support to grow well. Some woody vine (including many types of clematis) die back to the ground each year, just as subshrubs do, especially under harsh climatic conditions. Only woody vines are covered in this section.

Deciduous or Evergreen?

Trees, shrubs, and woody vine are classified as either deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous woody plants usually lose their leaves in the fall. In warmer climates leaf loss can occur at other times in the year, notably at the onset of the dry season. Evergreen plants remain clothed in foliage throughout the year. They do lose their leaves, but gradually rather than all at once; they are never completely barren. Some woody plants are classified as semievergreens. Their leaves are persistent in most conditions but fall off in harsh ones, especially in cold or very dry climates. Deciduous plants often have attractive fall colors. Evergreens present a continuous display of green foliage, even when deciduous plants are bare.

The term “evergreen” is often mistakenly thought to pertain strictly to conifers (cone-bearing plants). This is not the case. There are broad-leaf evergreens, including boxwoods and most rhododendrons, and deciduous conifers, such as larches and bald cypress. In many plant catalogs, woody plants are divided into three categories as to their foliage: deciduous, broad-leaf evergreens, and needled evergreens.

Source:Dutchmaster Nurseries Blog

01: Impressions — published on March 16, 2009

25 Biggest Landscaping Mistakes

Tips on how to avoid common landscaping disasters and what to do to fix them if it does happen.

25. Excessive Lawn Ornamentation

People often make the mistake of putting too many decorative items in their front yard, which can be a distraction from the beauty of the natural landscape. Before setting out that lawn ornament, ask yourself why are you putting it there and how it fits in to the context of your overall design and plant materials. Stick with one crisp choice, even if it is a little silly. One little whimsical statement goes a lot further than ten.

24. Forgetting to Recycle

Yard projects tend to produce a good amount of waste, which most people don’t realize when they set out to do the work. Instead of tossing out the branches, clippings and other debris, dispose of them in an eco-friendly way. Rent a shredder and turn them into mulch, and put lawn clippings back on the lawn — they are both great fertilizers. Another idea is to create a compost pile. Compost containers have gotten more attractive. Some almost disappear into the landscape.

23. Planting in the Wrong Place

Improper plant placement is another common mistake. People often do not take into consideration the proper sunlight and exposure for their plants. Be sure to pay attention to the little tag that you get when you buy the plant. When it comes to planting trees, you need to remember how big they could get and how much space they are going to need. Also think about focal points — choose something that’s going to look good year-round.

22. Planting Too Deeply

One of the quickest ways to kill a tree is to plant it too deeply. Some folks figure the more soil they can put around it, the better. But doing so can actually choke the tree to death because there is no air allowed to go to the root system. Going too deep can also encourage root rot. Avoid these scenarios by looking at the main stem, where the largest branch is and then where all of the tentacles come out. That’s the root ball, and that’s what you want to meet, right along the surface. A good rule of thumb with plants is to dig to the actual height of the container in which it came.

21. Cutting Grass Too Short

It’s a common myth that cutting the grass shorter means you have to mow it less. That’s actually not the case, and you can do more harm than good. If you scalp the lawn, it could result in a bare patch, which could make it too inviting for insects and/or susceptible to disease. The key is to cut the lawn different lengths throughout the year. During the summer, the lawn needs a little more shade, so let the blades grow just a little bit more. That way the water doesn’t evaporate so quickly. During the winter, cut it a little bit shorter so that the sunlight can actually get into the soil.

20. Forgetting the View From Your Window

It may seem like common sense to think about the view from inside the house, but a lot of people forget it. Keep in mind what it looks like from all angles. Place your containers where you want them, and then go inside and look look through every major window to see what they’ll look like before you plant. It should be like a painting. When you look out, you should see the glass framed with beautiful trees and foliage.

19. Using the Wrong-Size Pots

It is best to start a plant in a larger pot than it comes in to allow it to room to grow. However, if you put a plant in a pot that is too large, it can shift, sink down into the soil, get too much water or dry out too fast. Also, remember that you are going to have to re-pot it, eventually. It’s easy to tell when that’s necessary because little roots begin to stick out at the bottom. A word of caution related to re-potting. Be sure to give a plant plenty of time get acclimated to its new pot before re-potting again.

18. Failing to Fertilize Properly

There are two ways that fertilizing can be a mistake. The first one is not doing it at all. The other is fertilizing too much or fertilizing improperly. Ask someone at your garden center to recommend a proper fertilizer for your yard. It’s a good idea to do it at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. You should never do so in the bright sun, and watering always needs to follow. It’s also a good idea to mix in fertilizer when planting new plants. Make sure that, when I dig the hole, I mix in new soil and I also mix in fertilizer. So the plant, over the period of a year, is going to have a nice time release of fertilizer.

17. Picking the Wrong Plants

Just because a plant looks pretty doesn’t mean it actually belongs in your yard. You have to take into consideration your particular backyard, with filtered light or shade, and what’s going to work best for you. If it’s a really hot, sunny spot, maybe you want to go with a succulent. Get a great landscaping book for your area to help you figure out what to plant and when, as well as how and when to fertilize.

16. Not Accounting for Wildlife

Before you decide what to plant in your garden, think about what pests you have in relation to what you’d like to plant. For example, pretty flowering plants can attract deer, so you might want to throw in some bitter-tasting ones among them. Once they taste the wrong one, they are likely to stop coming around. If there are wild rabbits around, you may need to shelter your garden bed by building a small fence. Chicken wire is another option.

15. Being Shortsighted

Being shortsighted is a common problem because many people don’t know what the eventual growth of their plants will be. You need to find out how they spread, how they reproduce and what type of maintenance they require. There are actually software programs available where you can design a landscape and then click a button, and it will show you the growth rate of those plants over a year or two years and so on.

14. Improper Pruning

Pruning can be just as much of an art form as it is a technique, but when pruning is improperly done, you can do more harm than good. In fact, in some cases, it’s better not to prune at all than to do it improperly. Every plant has a different pruning process. The fall is usually the best time of year to prune, but be sure to find out for sure. There are great books and manuals as well as websites that offer tips and explain proper pruning techniques.

13. Scattered Color

Before making a trip to the nursery, you need to know what palette you’d like as well as is which colors work well together. Look at the color of your house and then choose one color that really frames it. Try to stay semi-monochromatic for the most part because if there is too much color and it’s too strong, it almost can become a distraction. Repetition and some harmony in a garden goes a long way.

12. Irrational Irrigation

Use the correct amount of water for your plants and lawn. A lot of homeowners make the mistake of over-watering. Most lawns just need about an inch of a water per week. The best time of day to water the lawn (and usually any plant) is early morning so that way it has all day to dry. You can buy a sprinkler with an automatic timer to reduce water waste, or even put in an irrigation system in.

11. Using the Wrong Tools

Having the right tool ensures your safety, maximizes your time and is more efficient in the long run. Think about the size of the job and dictate the size of the tool, accordingly. Some must-haves are safety goggles, gloves, a solid shovel and a good rake. Keep them organized, and keep them clean. For specialty jobs, you might want to consider renting a tool, and not just power equipment, but hand tools. Maybe you don’t need that tool for the rest of your life, but you need it for that one specific job.

10. Failing To Be Family-Friendly

A lot of people get carried away with the theme of their yard. They don’t think about how they are going to use the lawn or the area — they just think about how they want it to look. For example, a rock garden is really attractive, but probably not the best thing for a family with small children. Sit down and make a list of what you want to do in your yard, making sure to look at the needs of everyone in the household.

9. Impulse Buying

Do a little research before you reach and grab. Have some sort of a shopping list in mind and then get what you want and leave. It’s very hard to return flowers, so this step is imperative.

8. Too Much of the Same Thing

Intermingle various shapes and sizes to give you interest in your yard as well as bringing the right kind of insects. Certain plants need certain nutrients, and if you plant all the same plant, then it’s sucking all of the nutrients out of the soil.

7. Overlooking Maintenance

Part of planning a garden is also planning time to maintain it. Make up a maintenance schedule and abide by it. Garden beds need to be weeded at least once or twice a month, minimum. If you don’t have the time to take care of your garden, make sure you have enough money to pay somebody to do it.

6. Ignoring the Seasons

Plan out your garden with regard to the seasons. When homeowners go to a nursery or plant yard, they often just buy what’s in season at the time. Various flowers bloom at certain times of the year. If you’ve got a lot of plants that are blooming in the spring, remember that in the fall you’re going to need some other plants, if you want foliage. Select plants look good in the winter and in the spring, if possible.

5. Underestimating the Cost

There is a lot of sticker shock in the world of plants. People often think “it’s just a couple of plants, how expensive could it be?” Landscaping is actually 30 percent more expensive than any other type of home improvement project. Another area that gets underestimated is the budget, and one of the biggest factors in a budget is the labor involved. It always costs more, and people cost the most. When you’re starting a landscape project, make sure you have enough budget, because you want to do the job one time, and you want to do it right.

4. Overlooking Exterior Lighting

The biggest mistake people make when they think about planning out their yard is that they only visualize it during the day. Just adding some exterior lighting not only helps with vision and movement, but it also really makes the garden pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive or entail a lot of effort. For instance, there are a lot of good solar lights that can easily be stuck in the ground. The sun heats them up all day and then at night they come on with a nice soft glow.

3. Neglecting Curb Appeal

Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. A lot of homeowners put all of their energy into the backyard, but the front of the house is where first impressions are made. There are three simple improvements you can make that make a big difference out front. Paint your door a contrasting color than what is at the base of your home, keep the grass trim and green and plant colorful flowers.

2. Mismatched Style

When selecting plants, you should match the architecture of your home with the theme of your garden. Besides the plants in your garden, you need to think about your hardscape. If you are putting in a deck, for example, you need to make sure those elements of your garden also reflect positively upon your house.

1. Not Having a Plan

Don’t start a landscaping project without a plan. Decide on a specific theme or look and then draw it out on paper. Figure out where you want to put your plants and shrubs in relation to the shape and style of your house. Examine ways to bring the inside out so that when you are finished, you have a nice, harmonious design. Don’t forget to factor in your budget, and when you hit the nursery, stick to it. If you follow the plan, you (and your landscape) will reap the rewards.

01: Impressions — published on March 16, 2009

Creating Curb Appeal

The home selling market is a tough nut to crack these days and first impressions are everything. Creating curb appeal is the key to getting your home noticed as the buyers drive around the neighborhoods to find their perfect place to live. Curb appeal is the look and feel you get from the outward appearance of your home and the property. It’s a first impression to what’s to come inside, and with a good curb appeal presence, you set the stage for an inviting place to call home.

Some aspects to consider when working your curb appeal:

  • neat and classy landscaping with some splashes of color and a neatly mowed lawn
  • freshly painted home and/or fencing, including clean or freshly power washed siding
  • clear and large house number and neat mailbox that matches the outside look of your home
  • inviting entryway with a nice door matching the decor of your home
  • proper outdoor lighting for evening visitors
01: Impressions — published on March 6, 2009

Little changes can create big appeal

Some suggestions for giving a home some instant curb appeal:

Front door. Consider your front door the focal point and give it fresh paint in a color that is harmonious with your home’s façade and shutters. Keep debris and clutter off the front porch. House numbers, kick plates and door knobs should be clean and in good condition. The front door mat should be new and a welcoming sight.

Lawn and beds. Ninety percent of Hampton Roads front yards consist of mulch beds and turf grass areas. Green grass and brown mulch with well-defined bed lines are always more appealing. Keep 3 inches of mulch to deter weeds, thus creating a neatly maintained look. To emphasize a crisp look, place a 4-inch “v” trench between turf and mulched areas; use large arching curves to define your beds.

High impact color. Masses of colorful annuals at the base of your porch help to pull the eye to the front door. This also can be achieved with colorful container gardens on the porch.

Shrubs. Never allow shrubs to grow in front of windows; overgrown shrubs age a home and reduce its perceived size.

Walkways. Wide, sweeping, level walkways set an inviting stage for guests arriving at your home. A 4-foot to 6-foot width is usually recommended for front walks. Walks should be finished in a complimentary color and pattern to your home’s architecture.