Category Archives: plants

How Can Hardscaping & Softscaping Improve Your Property’s Appeal & Sustainability?

There’s no better time than the beginning of spring to improve the appeal and sustainability of your rental property or HOA community. In this post, we’ll talk about hardscaping and softscaping: What the difference is between the two, and how you can develop feasible, cost-effective plans for your property’s outdoor areas.

5 Tips for Hardscaping and Softscaping:

What Are Hardscaping and Softscaping?

You may have heard the terms hardscaping and softscaping tossed about intermittently. It’s important to know and understand the distinct meaning of each.

Hardscaping (hard landscaping) focuses solely on non-living elements that do not move:

  • Rocks
  • Brickwork
  • Paving
  • Pergolas
  • Patios
  • Seating
  • Decks

Softscaping (soft landscaping) refers to living counterparts that grow and expand:

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Bushes
  • Flowers

5 Tips for Hardscaping and Softscaping:

Aim for Balance

When planning your property’s landscape design, the interplay between hardscaping and softscaping is of significant note. In addition to trying to achieve a balance between the two, consider how the care and maintenance of each may impact the other. For instance, if you lay a stone or concrete walkway, addressing ensuing drainage issues will ultimately impact which supplemental plantings might aid–or disrupt–efficient overall function.

5 Tips for Hardscaping and Softscaping:

Start with Stationary Elements

Because of their relative permanence, look into hardscaping possibilities first. Consider the following tips:

  • Choose to work with materials that complement the architectural style of your structure. If your building has a stone facade, try to match stonework patios and paths.
  • Develop a design feel that emits fluidity with curves and rounded edges as opposed to a more linear, city-block-planning look.
  • Play with different horizontal levels. Consider a sunken seating area or gradual steps leading up to a scenic overlook.
  • Extend indoor living space into the outdoors. Open up an area directly off of a side or back entrance, if possible, for outdoor enjoyment. Consider adding weatherproof furniture and a fire pit or strategic terrace lighting. If all of this sounds exorbitant, consider the ROI when it comes to attracting and retaining residents in the long run.
  • Consider the view from inside. Exterior decorative features should ideally enhance perceptual interest from within.
  • Work with adjacent frontage. If your property abuts a forest, field, or body of water, make sure that your hardscape design works with–and doesn’t block–surrounding natural beauty.

5 Tips for Hardscaping and Softscaping:

Fill in Hardscaping with Flora

Once you’ve determined your walkways, patios, porches, and seating areas, it’s time to fill your plans in with appealing softscape elements. Check out native flora options. Not only are indigenous plants more likely to thrive in your location; they should also require less water and maintenance due to their inherent adaptive qualities.

Accentuate path lines by lining each side with tall grasses–perhaps a varietal with colorful blooms like lavender or Russian sage. Consider setting space aside for a community herb and vegetable garden or composting. Try to incorporate floral pops of color in a range of complementary hues.

Don’t have much in-ground space for decorative gardening? Think vertical. Place planters on top of pillars and hang baskets under eaves. Cover retaining walls with climbing ivy or vines. Is there room for window boxes along porch railings? Consider container gardening on top of running walls, and planting narrow shrubbery along the far perimeter of your property.

If you live in a wildfire-prone area, try placing gravel walkways between sections of vegetation to create firebreaks. Choose plants that are high in moisture (like aloe) or fire-resistant (like French lavender); and avoid flammable trees like conifers. Throughout the season, be sure to keep grass short; trim dead branches; and remove unnecessary shrubs and thin trees.

5 Tips for Hardscaping and Softscaping:

Plan for Necessary Landscaping Maintenance

Drainage, runoff, and erosion are the big three when it comes to landscape maintenance threats. Anytime that you combine hardscaping and softscaping, water and weather elements come into play. Protect your property design investment by planning for routine care and upkeep from the get-go. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Buy more hardscaping materials than you need. Extra supplies help you to keep installation timelines on schedule by preventing characteristic back-to-the-store delays, as well as providing built-in reserves for future replacement.
  • Consider reclaimed material sources to keep costs low and enhance the sustainability of your project.
  • Make sure that drainage systems deposit run-off as evenly as possible to protect against erosion.
  • Match softscape plant root systems with drainage requirements.
  • Remove nearby deep-rooted trees before building patios and on-ground decks.

The right combination of hardscaping and softscaping can bring significant value and appeal to your property. What are your go-to landscaping tips and tricks? Share them in the comments below!

The post How Can Hardscaping & Softscaping Improve Your Property’s Appeal & Sustainability? appeared first on APM.

How to Plant Trees to Boost Property Value and Curb Appeal

It’s no coincidence that one of the first items many renters add to their apartments is a plant. Having something growing in a rental unit can transform it from a generic living space into a home. It’s no surprise, then, that planting trees around your buildings can create curb appeal and make them more attractive to potential renters.

In addition to the beauty they provide, trees also provide shade to keep homes cooler in the summer, decreasing cooling costs for owners and renters. They can also act as buffers against freezing winds in the winter, reducing heating costs.

Trees also add tremendous value to a property, according to the results of studies compiled by the Arbor Day Foundation. Benefits include the following:

  • Mature trees have a “‘strong or moderate impact’ on the saleability of homes listed for under $150,000. On homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%,” 83% of realtors said in a study by Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests.
  • According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, “A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.”
  • A Management Information Services/ICMA study explained, “Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.”

Trees clearly represent a potentially valuable long-term investment. If you’re planning on adding new trees to your property, you can certainly save money by doing it yourself; but you need to do it the right way, starting with selecting the right type of tree.

How to Choose the Right Trees for Your Property

Climate plays a key role in the process of selecting trees for your property. Newly planted trees do best when exposed to moderate temperatures and rainfall. They need time to grow roots and acclimatize before summer heat and dryness or freezing winter weather arrive, making early spring or fall great times to plant.

Depending on your property’s conditions, one species of tree may be a better choice than another. For example, oak trees like a certain degree of acidity in the soil, while willow trees love excessively moist soil.

Other things homeowners might consider are the size, privacy, shade, and color that a tree may offer.

Talk to a local arborist about choosing the right trees for your property, and be sure to consider your local climate before you buy. Even if you don’t hire the arborist to plant your trees, he or she will be glad to advise you on which types to buy (and, of course, sell you some healthy trees).

How to Plant Trees & Care for Your Investment

Once you’ve chosen your trees, here’s how you get them in the ground:

1. Prepare a hole two to three times as wide as the root ball of your tree.

The most common mistake that you can make is digging a hole that’s too deep or narrow. If the hole is too deep, the roots will not have access to a sufficient amount of oxygen to ensure proper growth. If the hole is too narrow, the roots will not be able to expand enough to provide an adequate foundation and source of nutrition for the tree.

Before you start digging, spread a plastic tarp on the ground where you plan on depositing the dirt that you remove. This will make it easier to refill the hole. After you’ve created the hole, you should then roughen the sides and bottom with a pick or shovel. This will help the roots to grow into the soil.

2. Place the tree in the hole.

To ensure that the roots don’t dry out, be firm and quick yet cautious when removing the tree from the container. This is best achieved by placing the tree in its container on its side. Once you’ve removed the tree from its container, loosen the roots from the sides and bottom with your hands, then gently uncurl the roots so that they are facing away from the trunk. This ensures that they won’t cut into the trunk as they expand.

3. Position the tree.

Branches should generally be a minimum of 15 inches from power lines, roads, and other trees. If you need to reposition the tree, make sure that you’re lifting it by the root ball rather than the trunk.

The root ball should sit half of an inch to one inch above the surrounding soil surface so that it won’t rot as it grows. Fill the hole in with loose soil, pressing down on the dirt to collapse any large air pockets in the soil to stabilize the tree. Make sure that the tree trunk is straight throughout this process.

4. Support the tree.

If your tree is sturdy, there’s no need for extra support. If your tree does need support, however, make sure to place the stakes outside of the area that you just filled in–approximately 18 inches from the trunk on opposite sides. From the stakes, place tree tape loosely around the trunk, allowing the tree to move slightly in strong winds. You can generally remove the stakes after 6 to 12 months.

5. Water the tree.

Make sure to water the tree consistently after planting it. Your tree is going to need about 15 gallons of water over the next couple of weeks. As the tree’s roots gradually reach the outside soil, they’ll need to be watered less and less.

6. Mulch.

Fertilizer is little to no help and could even be harmful to your new tree, but do go for mulch. Cover the planting area with a 4-inch layer of mulch, keeping it at least 2 inches away from the trunk’s base. According to landscape supply company Fra-dor, Inc., mulch serves several important purposes:

“As a protective layer, mulch guards against harmful variations in soil temperature, traps the moisture in the soil, and fends off nasty weed growth,” say the folks from Fra-dor.

Mulch also prevents a hard crust from forming on the soil’s surface, and it serves as a great reminder to avoid stepping on or mowing around the tree.

In addition to mulch, newly planted trees can benefit from mycorrhizal fungi. Adding this fungus to your soil promotes root growth and discourages damaging fungi that could ruin the tree’s development.

7. Check your work.

Now that your tree has been planted, there are 2 common hazards that you’ll want to avoid:

  • Drowning: Double-check the moisture of the soil around your tree at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. It should be moist, not soggy. The soil surface conditions are much different than what’s underneath, so don’t let that fool you.
  • Suffocation: Your tree shouldn’t be too deep in the soil. The root crown, which is where trunk meets the roots, should be 1.5 to 2 inches above the ground.

8. Prune the tree.

Now that your tree is safe and sound in the ground, it’s critical to keep up on its pruning. According to TreesAreGood.com, starting to prune your trees while they are young will mean easier maintenance and less corrective action in the future.

Twin Cities-based Precision Landscape & Tree recommends pruning in the spring or fall:

“Pruning after the coldest part of the winter has passed is the most common time,” a Precision pruning tip article advises. “Trimming during the tree’s dormancy allows for a very fertile spring. Pruning in the summer, after your tree’s seasonal growth is over, is also an option.”

The trees that you add to your yard may require special attention for a time; but the shade, beauty, environmental benefits, and financial payoff that they provide to our homes, neighborhoods, and planet are well worth it.

Happy planting!

P.S. Have any tips on how to plant trees or landscape success stories of your own? Tell us about it in the comments.

The post How to Plant Trees to Boost Property Value and Curb Appeal appeared first on All Property Management.

My Favorite Staging Accessory: Greenery

Styled Staged & Sold will be featuring staging professionals’ favorite staging accessories and props over the next few weeks. (Do you have a favorite? Submit your favorite for consideration to mtracey@realtors.org.) Go-to prop: Fake tree or plant Stager: Michelle Boyle, owner of California Chic Staging Co., Roseville, Calif. Why I love it: “So many people […]