4 Landscaping Improvements for Maximum Impact
Landscaping is one of the most commonly put-off projects for potential sellers.
While a put-together yard does wonders to enhance the curb appeal of your home (and can boost the value of said home up to 12.7%), the procrastination comes down to misconceptions about timing. Namely, that spring is the only window of opportunity to redo anything having to do with your landscaping.
While spring is ideal for establishing certain types of plants, there are many landscaping projects that can be done right now — even when temperatures reach their summer peaks. No matter what the weather is like, here’s what you can do to improve your landscaping this weekend.
Fix Up What You Already Have
Before you undertake a big project, take stock of what you can work with right now. Dig up any sun-scorched annuals, and weed your garden. For fuller, thicker grass, be sure to set the lawnmower on a higher setting to help grass retain moisture. If you need to water, about one inch of water per week will suffice (the equivalent of about sixty minutes). The best time of day to water is early in the morning to keep your grass cooler during the hot summer sun. Many people water their lawn later in the day, which increases the lawn's risk of developing harmful fungus during the overnight hours. My irrigation system is set to water three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday) at 5a, with each zone getting about 20 minutes of water. If it has rained over 1.5" in the last week, or if it's windy, our irrigation system does not turn on (the wonders of smart home tech....).
Apply mulch, which will keep the soil cooler, prevent future weeds from growing and give a refreshed look to your landscape.
Tip: Make sure to keep the mulch away from plant stems and tree trunks. Mulch increases moisture retention and when it’s up against stems and trunks, you run the risk of root rot.
What you don’t want to do, though, is prune trees. August is likely the time when trees are preparing for the dormant season. Pruning now deprives the tree of nutrients needed to go into dormancy and also makes trees more vulnerable to infestations. The only exceptions for giving trees a trim is in places like Florida or California (which have year-round growing seasons), your tree has dead branches, your tree limbs present a hazard for wind or storms, or an arborist gives you the okay.
Plant What You Can
This one will depend on your gardening zone, of course, but you will be surprised at what you can plant in August. For example, in Arizona, you can plant Queen Palm trees. In much of the south, you can plant Crepe Myrtles that are already in full bloom.
In most of the country, you can plant kale, marigolds, alyssum, and evergreens. These plants are exceptionally hardy and will pay off almost immediately by offering lush greenery or bright blooms.
A visit to your local nursery will give you an idea of what you can plant right now. Since this is generally the “end of the season” for most spring and summer gardeners, you can also find a lot of plants and trees on clearance, helping your budget go farther.
If you’re looking to spruce up a side or backyard, you can also start establishing a fall garden. Cucumbers, beans, squash, lettuce, spinach, and radishes will thrive if planted now.
Opt for "Hardscaping"
In landscaping lingo, hardscaping refers to the non-living elements in an outdoor space. Retaining walls, stone paths, water fountains or ponds, outdoor lighting, decks, and your driveway are all hardscaping elements. If you don’t have quite the confidence in your green thumb abilities, focusing on the “hardscaping” improves the look of your yard without having to fuss with a lot of upkeep.
It’s the upkeep factor that might also appeal to potential buyers. While most love the look of an elaborate garden on their property, there’s a certain level of commitment to keeping it gorgeous that many won’t want to do (or outsource). Adding a stone border to set off no-maintenance shrubs, creating a welcoming patio with stylish pavers, adding millwork, or repainting an existing porch or using outdoor lighting to highlight architectural elements of your home have the same wow factor as a well-designed “living" landscape. The options alone for gravel and stone are worth getting excited about too. Crushed landscaping seashells, smooth river rocks, polished pebbles, volcanic rocks, and even tumbled glass in a rainbow of hues (to add a bold touch to fire pits and ponds) all add a dramatic element to your yard instantly.
Fake a Garden With Potted Plants
Another instant way to perk up your landscape fast is to rely on potted plants and blooms to give the effect of a garden. There will be some upkeep here, of course, but it’s less than you would have to do to establish a tree in your yard. The beauty of potted plants is that the vessel you choose will also add a decorative touch to the whole look. For example, sleek concrete planters give a modern effect, especially when you pair them with sculptural succulents.
While most potted plants and flowers can thrive temporarily, for longer-term potted gardens you’ll want to seek recommendations from your local nursery. As a blanket rule, you will want to choose plants that are hardy for two zones cooler than your hardiness zone. (This is because a container won’t offer a plant the same insulation as the ground.) Greenery tends to have more latitude than blooming plants — yucca and boxwood can thrive in a range of zones, for example.