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So, You've Done Your Spring Cleaning, What's Next?

So, You’ve Done Your Spring Cleaning, What’s Next?

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Summer is in full swing and it’s time to get out and enjoy the sunshine! You’ve been tackling clutter and investing in smaller projects around the house to spruce things up, whether you are looking to sell or just update a little, but what’s next on the list? It’s time to talk about curb appeal, and more specifically, landscaping.  Curb appeal has to do with how your home looks to passers-by and often times it’s thought of as a large, expensive investment but it can be done in a budget and environmentally friendly way.

Something that can make one of the biggest differences in your homes appearance is trimming shrubs and trees and keeping the lawn mowed. Trim away dead branches as well as ones that may hang in the way of walkways and obstruct the view of the home. When mowing your lawn, it’s actually a common misconception that you should mow it shorter so you won’t have to mow as often.  If a lawn is kept short it will dry out more easily resulting in brown patches and gives opportunity for weeds to take over. Ideally the grass should be about 3” tall.

Another simple option is to add colorful flowers in pots to front porches, by entry ways or next to stairs.  This will make the house feel bright and inviting without breaking the bank.

Now on to the toughest, and most fun, part of landscaping: picking your plants! One of your best options is to go with native plants. This means plants that will naturally thrive in the environment and will often need little care (meaning you won’t have to be outside watering them every day). You have to also be careful not to select any invasive plant species.  These are species that are not native but are well adapted to the environment and will thus multiply rapidly.  This will often come at the expense of helpful native plants.  A good example is purple loosestrife which is choking out local cattails which serve as an important food source. It may be beautiful but it does more harm that good. Seven Days has a short informative article on the aptly named “Botanical Bad Guys” which can be found here.  Another common no-no is a burning bush, they look lovely but they will quickly take over the areas where they are planted.

The items listed below will provide a quick checklist to determine which plants are the best for you!

  • Know your zone!
    • This refers to the temperature zone that you live in.  This will allow you to know what plants can grow and thrive in your environment.
    • Vermont covers zones 3-5 so if you aren’t sure your exact zone within the state picking plants that can survive in zone 3 is your best bet.
    • The zone for a plant can be found online as well as on the seed packet or the label that comes in the pot of the plant.
  • Know what your looking for in a plant
    • For example, if you want to stop mowing the lawn all the time pick plants like creeping thyme to serve as ground cover.  They have beautiful flowers, don’t grow very high and they are boot friendly! You can walk on them!
    • Want to attract butterflies? Swamp Milkweed is a great option. Contrary to its name it doesn’t need to grow in a swamp and it’s a favorite of Monarch butterflies.
  • Decide where you’re planting, if the area is very shaded planting a shade loving plant like Maidenhair Fern so it won’t need much tending. The same goes for the inverse, a sun loving plant won’t need constant watering to survive.

There are tons of easy to find resources online and in local libraries to discover what sorts of plants will work best for you.  Also, check when local nurseries (also a great source for information) are having sales or events you may be able to get the plants you want for a lower cost.  Large stores are also an option to purchase plants from just make sure to check the plants over so you know they are in good condition.

Happy Planting!