Remodeling your yard
On average, do-it-yourselfers spend $466 annually on lawns and indoor or
outdoor gardens, according to 2002 figures from the National
Gardening Association. Homeowners spent an average of $3,502 on professional
landscape installation and construction in 2002, and an average of $1,465 on
professional landscape design, according to the Associated Landscape Contractors
of America, an industry organization.
Value added: Consumers perceive a home with proper landscaping
to be worth up to 11.3 percent more than its assessed value, according to 1999
study by Clemson University. The same study found that the return on the landscaping
dollar is more than 100 percent.
Popularity as a remodel target: Seventy-nine percent of
homeowners do their own indoor or outdoor gardening or yard projects, according
to 2002 stats from the NGA. Two percent hire professionals to design their yards,
while 3 percent hire pros to install or construct landscaping, according to
2002 figures from the ALCA.
New trends: "Having continuous blooms through the
use of perennials [that flower] throughout the season," says Joanne C.
Kostecky, APLD, a landscape designer on the board of the American Nursery &
Look for plants that are self-sustaining or will need less maintenance,
says Sabrena Schweyer, vice president of Salsbury-Schweyer Inc. in Akron, Ohio.
Also hot: arbors; gazebos; pergolas; lighting -- especially
low-voltage options; plants with large, decorative foliage; ornamental grasses;
tropical plants; perennials; ponds; water features; bird feeders; bird baths
and natural materials, like marble, stone and metals with an aged patina.
Features to consider: What do you want from the area? What
outdoor activities do you enjoy? Which interior rooms look out on the yard --
and what kind of view do you want? And do you want to attract -- or repel --
butterflies, birds and wildlife?
While ponds are popular, with kids or pets nearby consider a water
feature instead to provide the sound of moving water without a potential hazard.
Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: Borrow from the
best, says Rebecca Kolls, master gardener and host of the nationally syndicated
television series "Rebecca's Garden." Visit a local garden, arboretum
or park and make note of what you like. Then replicate the idea in your own
Make front walkways at least four-feet wide, so visitors can navigate
in pairs, says Kostecky. And add seating off the path or on the porch.
Pro tips: Large beds of one kind of plant look much more
dramatic than a just a few of a lot of different varieties. And curved or winding
walkways make an area seem larger.
New products: Hand-blown glass ornaments, beautiful bird
feeders and more sophisticated pond systems.
Also look for newer plant varieties, such as "Endless Summer"
hydrangeas, which are more resistant to winter burn; sambucus with purple leaves
and white flowers, and "Rozanne" a blue geranium, says Kostecky.
Special problems: Good soil is to a yard what a good foundation
is to the house, says Kolls. Her advice: Have it tested. Most local extension
services will do it for about $10. Kolls's secret: add a couple inches each
of manure, peat moss and compost, then till it into the top foot of soil.
Biggest mistake: Trying to do too much at once, says Kolls.
Start with a plan, and concentrate on completing one small area at a time.
Also avoid re-contouring the yard and suddenly having water in
the basement, says Linda Engstrom, APLD, president of the Association of Professional
Landscape Designers. Ground should slope away from the home.
Another common error: "A lot of people have problems
with planting their plants too deep," which will kill plants, says Kostecky.
With trees, leave the flare of trunk uncovered.
Professional or DIY: This is one area "where people
feel a lot more comfortable doing it themselves," says Dan Tratensek, analyst
with the National Retail Hardware Association.and Home Center Institute, an
industry trade group. "They look at it as a recreational activity."
Want to enjoy a professional look, while doing some or all of
the heavy lifting yourself? Invest in a plan by a professional landscape designer.
-- Posted: July 1, 2003