Friday, April 20, 2012

“Spring has sprung – the grass is riz….. I wonder where the birdies is?”

 “Spring has sprung – the grass is riz….. I wonder where the birdies is?”  
This is a poem I grew up with and have taught my daughter and soon my granddaughter.  It made me think about those of you getting you house ready to sell and thinking about putting it on the market for the spring traffic in our real estate market.

Your REALTORS® are very likely suggesting you do everything possible to make that good ‘first impression’ on potential buyers.  Helping a future buyer to see how great their future yard can look – with ease – is one good idea. – Street appeal is huge – don’t discount it or the advice from your  REALTOR® .  Traditionally in the spring – the real estate market sees an influx of inventory – you have to do what you can to stand out in the crowd.  A little gardening can go a long way – really.  And it doesn't have to be a huge job.

I know what some of you are thinking, “this woman is crazy, the words low maintenance and gardening go together like orange juice and toothpaste (not well)!” I have tried this before and wasted my money. I am not home enough and simply do not have the time to pay attention to a garden. Excuses Excuses, this time is different. Don’t miss out on the benefits of gardening!  Check out these tips from Coldwell Banker® and give it another go:

Face the Facts: There’s Good News & Bad News
Bad News: Maintaining a beautiful garden often takes hard work. From planning, to planting, to proper maintenance, gardens require one of the most valuable things you have…your time.

Good News: Well thought planning prior to planting can save both time and money and we have the tips to do it!

Do Your Homework
The first step to planning a garden is deciding how you plan to use it. Will you be growing your own vegetables (there is nothing like fresh basil, YUM) or do you simply want a flower garden that will add beauty to your yard? Keep in mind those who will be sharing in the beauty of your garden. Do you have kids or pets that may affect the area where your garden will grow?

After you decide what function your garden will serve it is important to study your yard prior to planting. Note the health of your yard, where do current plants thrive? Do certain areas receive more sunlight than others? Are there any weeds? Is there a place where water accumulates?
Once you assess the current status of your yard, jot down some notes and head to the store to seek professional advice on which low maintenance plants fit the following criteria:

  • Thrives in soil, sun and your climate 
  • Looks good for more than one season 
  • Perennial (A plant that has a life cycle that lasts more than two years) Personally, I've slowly turned my yard into mostly perennials and what a difference it has meant to my time and the success of the plants. 
  • Will not outgrow the space you plant it into 

Keep in mind that native plants grow on their own and don’t require a lot of attention.

Make Smart Choices
Here are ten perennial plants that blogger Marie Ianotti from Gardening suggests as smart choices for a low maintenance garden. (Check with a local garden centre for availability & suitability for your area.):

  1. Blazing Star: Blooms: Mid-summer through fall  Colors: Purples or white 
  2. Coneflowers: Blooms: Summer  Colors: Purple, white, orange, yellow, pink & red 
  3. Coral Bells: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer, but grown for its foliage. Colors: White, pink or red 
  4. Foam Flower: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: White or pink 
  5. Globe Thistle: Blooms: Early summer to Early Fall Colors: Blue or white 
  6. Hosta: Blooms: Generally mid-Summer Colors: Purples or white   (MY Favorite for shady spots)
  7. Peony: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: Pinks, white, reds or yellow 
  8. Russian Sage: Blooms: Mid-summer to Fall Colors: Blue (be careful – this will take over it’s area – I pulled mine out)
  9. Sea Thrift: Blooms: Spring to Early summer Colors: Pink, rose, lilac, red or white 
  10. Siberian Iris Blooms: Late spring Colors: Blues, purples or white 

Consider Container Gardening
A great solution for a “wannabe green thumb” that doesn’t have hours to spend on their garden is opting to use the container gardening method. Let your creative juices flow when selecting your container and think beyond planter boxes and hanging baskets. Some of the most beautiful container gardens are grown out of household items that you may look at as junk. A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle  or use that big broken pot – tip it on its side and let the plants and dirt ‘spill’ out of it..

Other fun ideas include cowboy boots, wheel barrows, bird feeders, dresser drawers and rain barrels.

One benefit of container gardening is that you don’t even need a yard. Decks, windows, balconies and front porches (another personal favorite of mine) can all be used as a starting point for your garden. For more information on container gardening check out “What is container gardening?”  by TLC.

Adding containers or features (like the old stained glass window or concrete piece add character to the space so you don’t have to plant so much to make it look ‘full”                                      

Stick With It
Commit to giving your garden the TLC that it needs and deserves. Be patient and give your garden time to grow before giving up on it. If you see your garden going downhill don’t give up! Seek the help of fellow gardeners in your neighborhood, local nursery or go online and reach out to the garden community.  Share your passion for your garden with a family member or neighbor. Hobbies that are shared with loved ones are always more enjoyable.  The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

Good luck and happy planting! The photos in here – I’m proud to say – are from my own garden! – I work a lot and still have time to keep it maintained – the number one must have though is automatic sprinklers.

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.
Susan Tough

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