Mark Galante's Blog
Hanging baskets add personal enjoyment as well as curb appeal to any home. If you're the creative type, you may prefer to make your own rather than purchase ready-made hanging baskets from home and garden retailers. However, DIY hanging baskets sometimes fail to thrive. The following tips and tricks help ensure that your baskets look and perform their best from spring through fall.
Choose Plants According to Sun/Shade Requirements
Sun-loving plants such as petunias languish and eventually fail to even bloom if placed in areas that don't meet their sun requirements, while shade-lovers such as impatiens and fuchsia may literally burn up if they're exposed to hours of hot sun on a regular basis.
If the sun requirements aren't listed on the tag that comes with the plant, check online or in your favorite encyclopedia-style gardening book and make sure that you select appropriate locations for your baskets. Also, keep in mind that varieties that thrive in shaded locations often do quite well in morning sun
Choose Plants That Bloom All Season
Most annual plants bloom from spring or early summer until frost, so stick with them rather than using perennials for your hanging baskets. You'll have to replace them every spring, but that helps keep things interesting and fun.
Pick Off Spent Blooms
When flowers go to seed, that sends a signal to the plant that it's time to start slowing down on the blooming process and focus its energy on seed production. Picking off spent blooms, or deadheading, helps fools the plant into continuing to produce flowers. Some annual varieties, such as Wave petunias, have been bred to keep producing even after individual blossoms go to seed, so these make good choices for busy homeowners who may not have time to pay meticulous attention to their hanging baskets.
Use Potting Soil Designed to Retain Water
Plants growing in hanging baskets require more watering than their counterparts growing in cultivated flower beds because their roots can't reach down deep to access water sources. Using a potting soil designed to retain water helps hedge their bets against drying out before you can get a chance to water them.
Use Potting Soil With a Slow-Release Fertilizer
Fertilizing hanging baskets with traditional products is tricky — if you apply too much, you run the risk of damaging or even killing the plants, and if you use too little, the fertilizer won't provide the desired benefits. Using potting soil that's infused with a slow-release fertilizer circumvents both of these problems.
Making your own hanging baskets not only saves you a bit of money at the home and garden center, it also helps you avoid the mass-produced look of the majority of ready-made hanging baskets.
Your home is on the market, but you still live there. Now your agent called to see if a potential buyer can look at it in an hour. What do you do?
You Don’t Need to Panic
Instead of holding your head in despair, grab some tools, and clean the most visible areas of your home.
- Sweep the front porch, steps and any cobwebs lurking in the corners. This is the first place your buyer sees, so it gives them an impression they’ll carry into the rest of the house.
- While you’re at it, use the broom to give the front door a once over. If you have a cloth handy, use that too. If your door is glass, remove smudges from the kids and dogs. You can use vinegar and water, glass cleaner or simply warm water.
- Grab a laundry basket and clear clutter from your entryway. Grab stray boots and shoes, hats and coats, school bags and anything else that gets dropped there. Put the basket in your car. You can organize it where it belongs later. Pick up any mail too and stick it in a drawer.
- Sweep your kitchen floor and run a damp mop over it in the high traffic areas. To simplify this for the future, invest in a mop with a bottle of cleaner attached — no need for buckets.
- Light a candle or diffuse essential oils in the kitchen to remove any odors from last night’s dinner.
- Replace all the towels in the kitchen and baths. Set aside towels just for this purpose so that you always have a clean, matching set.
- While you’re in the bathrooms, run a damp paper towel over the faucets and fixtures, wipe out the sink, and run a quick brush around the waterline of the toilet, then flush it.
- Grab all the trash from your trash cans in the kitchen, bathroom, office, bedrooms, and laundry room. If you have a container in your garage, put it in there. Otherwise, throw it in a nearby dumpster(law permitting). Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean your visitor won’t notice.
- If you have time, take a feather duster to dark, visible surfaces, light fixtures and art frames.
Finally, grab your family and the pets, hop in the car and head to the park. You don’t want to be near your home while the agent is showing it to buyers. When you’re nearby, the folks visiting might not feel free to ask the questions they need to. When they’ve gone, head back home and reach out to your agent for feedback.
Everyone had something ugly in their yard that they want to hide. For many, it’s the oversized trash bins that don’t really fit in the garage but are big and distracting when left out. Others may have utility boxes that mar your lovely landscaping. In some cases, it’s lawn equipment or gardening tools that don’t have a place you can tuck them away.
Here are some ideas of ways to hide your ugly stuff and beautify your home.
If your oversized cans must be outdoors, create a trellis enclosure to surround them. Place pots with climbing plants such as ivy and trumpet vine along the sides so that they grow up and over the trash cans. However, remember to leave enough space for you to open the lids conveniently.
Another option for trash bins is to make a raised planter box that rises above the cans. Plant bright annuals, vegetables, or succulents in the box.
To cover a utility box, vent pipe, or other smaller eyesore, purchase a faux stone or cluster of rocks to set on the street-side of it. Surround it with flowering plants or small bushes to give it a more pleasing look.
Disguise utility boxes with raised beds and fill them with taller perennials such as Iris or Agapanthus. The beautiful blooms distract from the ugly utility boxes and hide them in plain sight.
When a full toolshed is not an option, hide your tools in a patio chest. These chests double as extra seating for entertaining and can even hold a small lawnmower if necessary.Or, create a hideaway cabinet under the deck landing. Just wrap the area with siding to match the deck, add access doors and voila, your tools are hidden in an area that looks like it was meant to be there.
When you have a wood-burning fireplace but don’t know where to store the logs, build a bench seat similar to a crate and stack the wood under it. Use the bench for extra seating or as a display shelf for your favorite potted plants.
Use two pillars of your patio cover to stack the logs between, but place lattice on the patio side to hide the wood. Hang planters from the trellis to create a walled garden to bring cheery greenery to your patio area while hiding the logs.
Hide your hose in a lovely pot situated near to the faucet. Most garden centers and DIY hardware stores offer choices specially designed to keep unruly hoses in check.
Whatever the problem area, you can find a way to keep it hidden from view with a little ingenuity and effort. Doing so improves your home’s curb appeal and increases your enjoyment of your outdoor living space.
You have heard it said that the eyes are the window to the soul, for your home, the front door is the entrance to its heart. A quick and easy way to up your curb appeal without much expense is to highlight your front door. Here are some simple projects you can do even if you are not too handy.
Keep it clean
Doors take a beating. They carry grubby hand and paw prints, marks from shoes and boots, grime from wind, rain, and sun exposure. Clean your door based on its material and surface. Wash down a wood door with a wooden floor cleaner and a soft sponge. Wipe a painted wood or metal surface with an all-purpose cleaner. Once you have the dirt and dust removed, give a wooden door some love with a furniture polish or citrus- based oil. Remove fingerprints and polish the metal hardware.
Give it a new color
If cleaning it is not enough to give it new life, painting a door is an afternoon project. Choose a darker or deeper hued color so that you do not have to prime it. Alternatively, if you want that bold lemon yellow or sunset orange, buy a primer-based exterior paint, and give it two good coats. Pick a feel-good color that makes your home a stand-out success but does not clash with the rest of your home.
Upgrade the hardware
Changing out your standard knob for a lever or latch, or a rusty metal plate for a new satin finish is a low-tech way to upgrade your door. Alternatively, consider hiring a locksmith to install an entryway keycode or a video doorbell option that adds safety and security to your home. If your home has a historic vibe, add a charming and unique door knocker or another adornment to up its attraction.
Give your door some décor
Brighten up your entry with a seasonal wreath that you can replace as you move from spring to summer, fall to winter. Buy one pre-made or take a class at your local hobby store and make your own.
Spruce up the entryway with a cheerful, inviting doormats too. A charming floral or welcome mat greets your guests and gives them a place to wipe off the dirt, keeping it out of your house.
If you are looking for ideas to brighten up your entrance, ask your realtor about what is trending in your community.