Refresh Your Landscape with these Top Trends

1. Livable Outdoor Spaces
Many homeowners are treating their patios and backyards like another room of the house by adding outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens and using decorative planters and garden art to put their unique stamp on the space. How can you make your space more livable?

• Add a deck or patio. Great for entertaining or for lounging during your free time, a deck or patio is a must-have feature.
• If natural stone or brick patio pavers are out of your budget, concrete pavers are a budget-friendly alternative.
• Enhance your lighting. Set the mood and enjoy your patio into the evening with the right lighting. LED and solar are becoming increasingly popular. Use strings of lights, torches or LED glass pavers that can be incorporated into the hardscape.
• Think comfort. Homeowners are turning their patios into outdoor living rooms. Out with the plastic patio furniture; in with oversized sofas, armchairs and tables made for the outdoors.

2. Low-Maintenance Landscapes
Water conservation efforts in many areas of the country are prompting homeowners to make their landscapes drought tolerant. One of the benefits of these landscapes: they’re lower maintenance. Make your landscape more low-key.

• Plant natives. Plants that are normally found in your area have adapted to the soil, water and weather patterns of your area. This makes them easier to care for than non-native species.
• Practice xeriscaping. Ideal for areas that don’t naturally get a lot of water, xeriscaping utilizes low-water-use plants, native grasses, mulch and other elements to create a lowwater, low-maintenance landscape.
• Install artificial turf. lt looks like grass but requires less maintenance and water. Many municipalities, particularly in the West, offer incentives to replace grass with artificial turf.

3. Gardening for Wellness
It’s no secret that whole foods are the keys to good health. Many people have turned to their own yards to grow the fruits and vegetables required for good nutrition. Not only are you able to see the fruits of your labor grow and flourish, but gardening can also burn up to 400 calories an hour.

• Prepare your soil. Healthy, fertile, well-drained soil yields healthy plants. To see if your soil is healthy, dig a hole and look for earthworms. The more worms you see, the healthier your soil is. Or, send a sample away to a lab for a complete analysis of the nutrients in your soil.
• Plant what you love. Make a list of the fruits and vegetables that you love before you shop for seedlings. This will help to ensure that most of what you grow is consumed. Some popular plants to start with include pole beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, collards, herbs and strawberries.
• No yard, no problem! If you don’t have the yard to grow a garden, grow what you love in containers instead. Find a sunny spot on your deck or patio, and arrange your portable garden for optimal light.

Sell Your Stuff Online

While garage sales are an ideal way to get rid of the stuff you don’t want anymore, the Internet may be the best place to sell valuable items that you want to get rid of for top dollar. Here are a few sites to help you get started.

Craigslist and Kijiji allow you to post descriptions of your items for free. These sites are ideal for selling furniture or other large items that you want to get rid of quickly.

eBay is the ideal platform to sell rare or collectible items or other items with a niche market. Interested buyers bid on your items or can purchase them outright if you choose. EBay charges a fee to sell your items.

Amazon is ideal for selling books, media, clothing, jewelry, etc. for more than you’d probably get at a yard sale. Amazon charges 99 cents per item sold, but offers unlimited sales for $39.99/month for sellers who plan to sell more than 40 items per month.

ShopMyClothes.com is perfect for people who have vintage and designer clothing and accessories to sell. It’s free to post an item for sale.
3 Tips for an Online Sale

1. Price it right. Before you post your item online, check out other sites to see what similar items are selling for. This will give you an accurate assessment of your price point and prevent you from overpricing it.
2. Take great photos. Pictures are essential since the potential buyers won’t be able to check out the item in person. Take photos of the item at each angle and include detailed shots, if appropriate.
3. Give yourself time to sell it. While some items are snatched up right away, others may take time. Take as long as you need in order to get the price you want.

Sell Household Items Today!

If you’re like most people, you probably have items in the attic, basement, garage and closets that you don’t need, use and maybe even forgot that you had. Garage sales allow you to make space in your home while making money.

Use these easy tips to plan your garage sale:

  1. Create an inventory sheet of what you’re selling, and list the price of each item in case the tag is missing.
  2.  Price it right. Although you want to price your items slightly higher to account for haggling, don’t price them so high that you can’t sell them. Remember, shoppers expect bargains.
  3. Sell with others. Recruit your neighbours, family and friends to sell their stuff with yours. Bigger garage sales often attract more people.
  4. Get your items ready to sell. Clean your sale items, and make sure that they’re in good shape. If you’re selling electronics, make sure they’re in good working order, and have the cords attached.
  5. Set the date and place for your sale. Saturday is the best day of the week to hold your garage sale.* Choose a date a few weeks in advance to give you time to prepare, and choose an alternate date as well in case of bad weather.
  6. Advertise your garage sale in your local newspaper, on Kijiji and Craigslist, and with signs on your local roads. Choose bright coloured poster board or cardboard, and write the details of your sale in large black letters that drivers can see from their vehicles. Put up six to eight signs a few days before your sale to improve the chances of shoppers stopping by.*
  7.  Set up an hour or two early on the morning of the sale. Experienced shoppers will show up at the posted time so that they can score the best deals. So if you plan to open your sale at 7 a.m. (the best time of day to do so*), then start setting up around 5 or 6 a.m.

*Source: Signs.com

Landscape Your Property to Sell

Many potential buyers drive by a property they’re interested in before they arrange to view it with their real estate agent. If the outside of your home is unkempt or neglected, your potential buyers may overlook it, even if it’s updated and clean on the inside. Make sure that potential buyers get a great impression of your home by improving and maintaining its curb appeal.

Make Your Landscape Pop

• Add colour: Low-maintenance seasonal plants in brightly coloured planters add a pop of colour to your landscape and create visual points of interest.
• Plant colourful flowers: Inexpensive annuals, such as pansies and daisies, are an easy way to add splashes of colour to your garden beds. Plant flowers in complementary shades or the same colour for a high-impact monochrome effect.
• Frame your entryway: Well-maintained shrubs tie together the look of a yard. When placed on either side of your entryway, they can create a pleasing symmetry that enhances the exterior of the home. Just be sure to keep them trimmed and well-shaped.

Maintain Your Landscape

• Keep your garden beds in top shape. Weeds and dead plants may give buyers the impression that the rest of the home has been neglected. Pull the weeds, and clear away any dead leaves and plants.
• Mulch makes the garden look more polished. It also helps the soil conserve moisture and prevents weeds. If you have mulch in your gardens or around your trees, freshen it up with a new layer.
• Mow your lawn. A well-manicured lawn makes an immediate positive first impression on potential buyers. Plan to mow your lawn once a week; more often if it grows rapidly.

Use Plants to Your Advantage

These plants not only boost curb appeal, they also keep the pests in your garden in check. Plant a few, and reap the rewards.

Plants that repel pests

• Basil repels flies. Place in pots in your window sills and in the kitchen or sun porch.
• Catnip repels mosquitos, but, a word of caution: It will make your yard very popular to neighbourhood cats.
• Artemesia (including wormwood and sagebrush) repels ants, whiteflies and moths and may repel mice.
• Marigolds repel insects
• Garlic repels insects and rabbits.
• Spearmint repels ants, fleas, moths and rodents

Plants that attract beneficial insects

Not all bugs are bad. Some insects—such as ladybugs, lacewings and ground beetles— keep the bad bugs at bay. Attract beneficial insects with the following plants: