Planting and gardening is typically thought of as a retirement activity, but investing in good landscaping can increase the value of your home by up to 15%, or tens of thousands of dollars. But to achieve this increase in property value, there’s more than just sticking a couple flowers in the ground and calling it a day.
Make a Plan
Other than a barren, patchy lawn, the worst look for a house is slapdash crowding. Take time to plot out where things will go and how big they’ll be once they reach maturity (e.g. an oak tree won’t do so well planted under your kitchen window, nor should you plant them five feet apart in a row.)
Understand the Weather
Plants use the sun as their source of energy to photosynthesize, or to live. Some need more than others, but you can’t grow plants in the dark, no matter how much you want them to: it’d be like suddenly cutting off your own food supply and still expecting to survive. Take time to learn what grows where and how to pair plants. For example, hostas prefer shadier conditions, while grasses generally like the sun. Phlox doesn’t take a lot of water, but daylilies do.
Cascade the Plants
Novice gardeners want their yard to be filled with plants that bloom all season long, but that’s rarely possible, while veteran gardeners fill their yards with a succession of blooms. For early spring, tulips, hyacinths and pansies are good bets to open the season, with a graceful transition to the late spring/early summer bloomers of peonies. Once the dead heat of summer settles in, plants like coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans fare better. And once the days start getting shorter, achillea, gaura and hibiscus take the spotlight.
Perennials take anywhere from two to five years to reach maturity, which means that a 6” tall plant at the garden store may grow to be 5’ in diameter when it’s done. Planting perennials too close together will cause their root systems to crowd and choke each other, possibly leading to death. A good rule of thumb is to divide the plant’s mature diameter in half, and keep it that distance away from other plants. They’ll also look patchy until they reach maturity, so filling in the spaces with annuals—which can be crowded together—is a way to always have color and fullness.
Tend the Lawn
The best-planned landscaping is nothing if the lawn doesn’t look rich, lush and green. Sodding is easier than seeding, but more expensive. But if grass is already there and just needs to be spruced up, remember that most grass needs four to six hours of sun to survive, regular watering, and it shouldn’t be cut shorter than 2.5” (or a third of its total height.)
Landscaping isn't that hard, it just requires patience and planning. But with a careful approach, a property can look great and increase the value of the home.