Landscape Your Way to Better Curb Appeal

You have just one chance to make a great first impression to your potential buyer, and a neat and tidy front-yard landscape makes sure they’ll be impressed. The National Association of Realtors says that 63% of buyers will do a drive-by to see a home after they’ve looked at it online. When they do, you’ll get that one chance. Your front landscaping needs to reflect on the potential buyer what they can expect inside, too. A well-maintained front yard means a well-maintained home.

Here are just a few ways to transform your front landscape into something that makes your potential buyers want to inspect your home further:

1. Flowers of Course

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The sight and scent of healthy flowers make your yard – and therefore your home – seem welcoming and well cared for. You don’t need a lot of space, and you can even utilize planters instead of digging into your current landscaping to add flowers. Choose bright, happy colors, and keep the look of your planters similar for a more cohesive look. If you want to plant flowers in the ground, make sure you look into municipality rules and homeowners association rules before you do.

2. Walkways With Personality

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A plain front walkway is just boring. Add a bit of style by edging the walkway with easy to care for hostas, and choose something other than basic cement for the walkway itself. Flagstone and pavers give your front walk personality and are easy to install and upkeep. Consider adding some solar walkway lights, too, for added appeal.

3. Patio Appeal

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The addition of a small front porch or patio will give you a place to sit and read the paper while saying hello to the neighbors. Surround the patio with flowers, or a low hedge to add a feeling of intimacy without seeming unfriendly. While this isn’t a fast or inexpensive project, it will be seen as a benefit for those buyers who love spending time outdoors.

4. Groundcover for Slopes

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A grassy slope can be a lawnmower’s nightmare, so keep it easy by planting a pretty groundcover and letting it grow and expand, or choose the slope as a place to plant your flower garden. Mix and match groundcovers, grasses, and annuals with beautiful stones for an unforgettable garden with unbelievable curb appeal.

5. Let Nature Lend a Hand

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Utilize flowers, plants, and landscaping materials that are naturally occurring in your region. Plant a butterfly or dragonfly garden with your region’s species in mind. Add a bird bath to enhance the look and the enjoyment of watching the wildlife.

6. Don’t Forget The Green

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Tall native grasses can add as much to your landscape as flowers, so don’t forget to mix in the greenery, too, for a variety of textures and colors.

7. Indoor Appeal

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Make sure your landscaping looks as good from the inside as it does on the outside. People normally spend more time indoors than outdoors, so make sure that your front yard is nice to enjoy from through the windows, too.

8. Hedge Your Privacy

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For some privacy, create a buffer of plants around your property. Utilize different sizes, shapes, and varieties to add visual interest and appeal.

9. Pretty Up Your Pathways

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Utilize containers for plants and flowers along walkways, stairs, and anywhere else that looks like it needs a pick me up. Install some glass bulb waterers for easy maintenance.

10. Use Creative Borders

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A curved border adds elegance to your front yard with very little effort. If your yard seems like a large expanse of green, break it up by planting some rows of flowers right through it. Just make sure you allow a few inches on either side of the row for the lawnmower to do its job without ruining the plantings.

11. Don’t Over Do It

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If you’re working with a very small yard, be careful not to overdo it. The use of too many types of plants and flowers could overwhelm a small space, so utilize just a few types over and over again.

12. Ranch Home Landscaping

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Your landscaping is especially important if you are selling a small ranch home, which is generally very ordinary looking. Your great landscaping will set your home apart from the sea of similar homes. Don’t be afraid to call attention to your home by the use of a white or ornamental arbor to mark the entrance.

13. Use Bold Elements

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Bold elements can really make a statement in your landscaping. When building in these bold elements, be sure they fit with the type of home you already have. For instance, the walkway of a small ranch home would look out of place flanked by dramatic spiral-pruned junipers.

14. Balance is Everything

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If you have an intricate walkway created with a distinct brick pattern, go for a similar level of intricacy in your landscaping. Use color to your advantage by blending your gardens with the color of your home, and using a few contrasting colors for interest.

15. Perimeter Planters

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If you have a grand front porch, call attention to it by placing railing planters filled with gorgeous flowers all around the perimeter – and don’t forget the stairs, too!

5 Types Of Outdoor Furniture That Lasts

As spring turns into summer, one of the first things you’ll do is get the patio furniture out of storage, grab the cushions, and get ready for some R&R. But what if you grab that furniture and hmmm…it doesn’t look nearly as nice as it once did. Well, you’re in luck because today there are dozens of choices for new outdoor patio furniture that will have your outdoor living spaces looking and feeling cozy and welcoming for both you and your guests.

Your choice in outdoor furniture is important, as you probably spend a lot of time on it during the summer months. It makes sense, then, to choose comfortable styles and fabrics, while still keeping in mind the care and maintenance needs of furniture. The first thing you should do is think about how you use your outdoor areas. Do you hold big parties for many people, or do you have more small, intimate cookouts? Do you do most of your cooking outdoors during the summer? These are important questions to ask when you’re considering new furniture purchases.

Below we have categorized a few of the most attractive choices for patio furniture, both by aesthetics and by their ease-of-maintenance. Use this as your guide when you go shopping.

1. Wrought Iron Furniture

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Wrought iron is classic, sturdy, and timeless-looking. If you live in an area of high winds, you won’t have to worry about your patio furniture blowing away. There are so many styles, colors, and designs with wrought iron that it is sure to fit your style, no matter what that might be. But don’t plan to use this type of outdoor furniture if you’ll be moving pieces around a lot. They are hefty and will leave marks if dragged across the deck.

Because the paint on wrought iron can chip, see if there is a touch-up paint in the same color available to purchase when you buy your set of furniture. You’ll be able to use the touch up anytime you find scratches or chips, and it’ll keep your furniture looking like brand new. To clean, just wipe down with a damp cloth. If deeper cleaning is necessary, wipe down with a solution of dishwashing detergent and warm water, and then rinse with your garden hose.

2. Aluminum Furniture

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Aluminum patio furniture is great if you want an easy-care solution that you can effortlessly move around. Aluminum won’t rust, and it’s super lightweight. Choose cushions that you can easily replace, as the aluminum frame will probably significantly outlast your cushions. When you’re shopping, make sure that the hardware on your furniture is rust-proof, and choose a powder-coated, UV-resistant finish. Check the welds to make sure they are seamless, and look sturdy.

To clean aluminum furniture, just wipe it down with a damp cloth. If you see scuff marks, you can very gently use a bit of Soft Scrub on a soft, damp cloth, but be careful – you don’t want to scratch the finish, especially if it’s shiny. And never use abrasive cleaners on aluminum. Rinse off with your garden hose.

3. Polymer and Plastic Furniture

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If easy care and maintenance are what you’re looking for, synthetics are where it’s at. Plastic patio furniture created from recycled plastics are fantastic if you live in a saltwater environment. This furniture can’t ever rust and is designed to last in difficult environments. Marine-grade polymers can also be used. They’re heavy, sturdy, and have been designed to look just like painted wood. You can leave this furniture out all year round without any ill effects, and cleaning is easy with a simple dish soap and water solution and a damp cloth. Rinse with your garden hose.

4. Real Wood Furniture

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The type of wood your furniture is made of is crucial if you want to avoid things like splitting, rotting, and bugs. You want dense wood such as teak or eucalyptus, or a hardy wood such as cedar. Teak and Eucalyptus are easier to maintain because they don’t need to be sealed on a yearly basis, but cedar is naturally moisture- and bug-resistant.

Clean your wood furniture with a soft brush and a solution of water and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Hose down well and dry with shop towels.

Use a soft scrub brush dampened with water and mild, oil-based soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Rinse by hosing down.

5. Cushion Fabrics

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Choosing new cushions is a great way to make older furniture look new again. They can also be the most pricey part of your patio set, so make sure you choose wisely!

If price is no object, look for fabric designed for outdoor use that is UV-resistant, as well as resistant to moisture, mold, and stains. And bring your cushions indoors when you’re not using them – you’ll get much more life out of your investment.

9 Houseplants That Clean The Air And Are Virtually Impossible To Kill

Scientists say the world could use some serious cleanup. Despite this, it seems like some of the population isn’t ready to give lifestyle choices that contribute to the mess. The good news is, when it comes to the quality of your living space, there are small changes that let you work together with nature to clean up the air toxins in your home you never knew you were breathing in.

That’s right. The air in your home is likely more toxic than the air outside of it, especially if there is any stagnancy. There can be toxic chemicals like formaldehyde (yes, that’s basically embalming fluid), benzene, and a host of other nasty inhalants. There are even some natural elements that can cause illness when they build up in a home, like pollen, bacteria, mold, and various outdoor contaminants.

Not to worry, nature has provided some green friends that will not only lighten up the mood of the house but also clean the very air you breathe while adding oxygen to it. Not only that, but these plants are near impossible to kill. For those of you whose thumb is less green, and more like black spotted grey, this is a major bonus.

Garden Mum

Apparently, NASA is into studying more than space travel. They found out that Garden Mum removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from your home’s air. Plus, it’s fun to see the looks on your friend’s faces when you point to it and say, “This, is me Mum!”

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Spider Plant

Not too sure if this plant cleans up a lot of toxins, but it is a quick way to up your oxygen count. Spider plants multiply like, well, spiders! With bright, indirect light, this plant will send out shoots that grow baby plants on the ends, of which you can propagate. Give some to your friends when your house starts to burst at the seams.

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Dracaena

With over 40 varieties, there’s bound to be one that fits your home. They are also great for removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air. Be aware that they are toxic to cats and dogs. If you have pets, might want to just leave this one to cleansing the outdoors.

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Ficus

Ficus trees can grow between two and ten feet tall, depending on the pot they are in. They are very proficient at cleaning the air, specializing in removing benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

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Peace Lily

This plant has a pleasant, hippy sounding name, produces beautiful flowers, but make no mistake, it’s as resilient as John McClane in the movie, Die Hard. They flower through most of the summer and prefer shady spots with moist but not soggy soil. You can also trust the peace lily to remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.

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Boston Fern

Cleaning the air since 90,000,000 years BC (possibly even further back)! These old dogs clean up the pollutants xylene and formaldehyde. It is recommended that you place these in bathrooms. Why? Not only do they like cool, humid environments and indirect light, but it lets you feel like you’re in a prehistoric jungle when answering nature’s call.

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Snake Plant

Preferring dry conditions (which means it only needs watering once per month) and very little direct light, these plants have become office favorites. They are great for removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from your breathing space.

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Bamboo Palm

These trees thrive in full sunlight and can grow up to 12 feet tall. They are great for high, indoor spaces with large windows and/or skylights. Like the others, Bamboo Palms also remove benzene and trichloroethylene but are most effective at removing formaldehyde from the air.

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Aloe

Not only is the liquid of this plant amazing for rubbing on burns, rashes, and internal health, but it also removes (surprise!) formaldehyde from indoor air. It’s worth doing a little studying on the various things Aloe is good for. Once you learn how beneficial it is, it’ll be tough not to want it in your place.

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