"People will drive by a home
when the grass is uncut, it looks a little unkempt, and they don't even want to
stop," says Helfant. "But if it is a well-manicured, well-maintained
yard, they'll say, 'Oh, that's a well-kept home!' Automatically, we connect well-kept
interior with well-kept exterior. If I see a home that is not well-maintained
on the outside, visually, then I'm going to wonder how that owner has maintained
its interior, and more importantly its systems. It may not be verbal, but we can't
help but think it."
If you're about to sell and money is tight, your
best investment is to hire a full-service maintenance company to trim, edge, prune
and primp your yard and beds. Even humble landscaping, if well tended, will do
more to sell your home than elaborate plantings that have run wild.
first consider function when developing a landscaping plan. Do you need a large
unobstructed lawn for flag football games? Do you like to watch birds from your
breakfast nook? Do you entertain outdoors? Are you crazy about water features?
Are views your thing?
Next, they'll "age" the existing plantings
and hardscape five, 10, 15, even 20 years into the future. Are there problems
already in place: a tree that one day will block the view or even threaten the
structure, a pool that the kids have outgrown and that no one is using now, obstacles
to mowing that, over time, will become eyesores?
and into the future, your best design will be one that is a) functional, b) maintainable
and c) in scale with your house.
"One thing that is
particularly challenging for us as landscapers is scale," says Maca. "There
are huge homes now, and to try to bring those into scale with the landscape is
real hard. With smaller houses, we can work with plants in scale, but with these
larger houses it takes forever to get a plant up there that is the size of some
of these houses. How do you begin to reduce the impact of a four-stall garage?"
finds herself frequently employing large arbors and pergolas to span the distance
between large box and small foliage.
"A lot of our newer
houses don't have a lot of character, and a pergola can help bring the house down
into the garden. If you have a high two- or three-story deck as we have here,
we will use the supports to build an arbor or pergola below the deck to help break
the height and then put plants on them to help pull the garden up to the high
Do you swim?
Pools used to
be the water feature of choice, but not anymore. The explosion of water-burbling
options, from dramatic waterfalls to gurgling pottery, has made water features
the hot trend in landscaping throughout the grounds.