Tuesday, March 20, 2012

signs of spring

I am working from home today. Outside I hear the birds chirping and notice tiny buds on the bare brown branches. Could it be? Is spring really here? Checking the calendar I see today is the vernal, or spring, equinox.  This equinox signals the beginning of nature's renewal in our part of the world.

For me it signals the start of lots of garden parties and outdoor entertaining, flowering white hydrangeas and vibrant green grass and, oh yes, a ton of work to get the gardens ready for all that!

We're funny here in the Pacific Northwest. The moment we see the sun we pull on the shorts and sandals, even if it's a balmy 45 degrees, and head outside. That might be why I find myself gravitating to my yard work and my 'to do' list rather than working. Here's what I have so far:

Schedule pressure washing of driveway, walkway, backyard patio and patio set
Schedule window washer
Clean out the gutters and downspouts
Service the lawn mower
Pull out dead plants and shrubs that didn't make it over the long, wet winter 
Clean the fountain, service the motor, turn it on
Change the furnace filter and smoke alarm batteries (every spring and fall)
Plant my bare root hydrangeas
Clean the BBQ grill and cover, pull out BBQ utensils and cookbooks
Test the water hose and spray nozzle front and back
Locate and wash outdoor accessories like lanterns, votives, linens, outdoor ware
Wash off outdoor cushions and pillows and spray with a mildew protector
Talk with my local garden store about when and what to plant for color
Fluff up front porch urns with new plantings
Clean front porch ceiling and wax front door
Pull out front porch screen and have repairs made prior to installing in June

Well, work is calling and obviously I have some calls to make. If you need a copy of my preferred vendor resource guide, pop me an email with your address and I will send one off.

Happy spring everyone!

Until next time

la chasse au bonheur

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Springtime Curb Appeal

Whether you are getting your home ready for market (improving curb appeal has shown to increase not only your property's value, but also the property values of your entire neighborhood) or just itching to shake off the winter doldrums, these five tips will help you welcome spring and beautify your home.

1 Sidewalks and Driveways

This may be the first part of your property that your guests or prospective buyers step foot on, literally.

An affordable, virtually maintenance free option for sprucing up your paths is concrete stain. This do-it-yourself project can cost around $30 a gallon and requires very little prep work. Consider picking a color that is in the same color family as that of your home. A blue home could be happily complemented by a gray drive.

Another tip: fix cracks and uneven sections of your sidewalk and pathways. This project may require a bit more professional attention but will give buyers the right impression - that your entire home has been maintained.

2 Accent Door

It has been called the lipstick on the lady. It's inviting and it draws visitors, or buyers, in to your home. A plain door tends to recede into the background.

Consider a contrasting color to your home's exterior. On the color wheel, green is opposite red and yellow is opposite blue. Don't be afraid to be daring. Just a pint of paint can cover most doors and if you don't like the result you can try another color!

3 Trimming Trees


Stand in front of your home and take a close and fresh look at your trees and bushes. Are there branches that have become overgrown and now obstruct the view of your home? You want your landscaping to complement your home, not hide it. Trees, shrubs, bushes should just frame paths and entries not obstruct them.


To trim tree branches yourself you can buy a pole pruner or chain saw. Or you can hire a professional who has experience in shaping trees. Keep in mine, however, that spring is NOT the time to prune flowering trees or maples. These types of trees should be pruned in late Summer or early Fall.

4 Early Spring Planting

The last frost date varies by area. It also varies from year to year. If you feel that your home will not see another frost then you may be safe to plant a few hardy annuals to add some pop of color to your yard. Even if a frost catches you by surprise, you can cover the plants for the evening to save them from succumbing to the cold.

Some plants that can give you an early burst of color:
     Pansies - these bolts of color can even survive Winter,
     Calendula - these "pot marigolds" are a versatile plant,
     Violets - heart shaped petals create vibrant color spots,
     Other options - cornflower, foxglove, larkspur, sweet alyssum, dianthus, blue sage.

Cleaning out your garden beds also adds an element of neatness that conveys the right message!

5 Outdoor Lighting

Low voltage (12 volt) and solar lighting are good options for improving curb appeal. There are hundreds of designs of solar lights. These small fixtures generally sit on stakes in the ground and can be used to accent paths or gardens and are a great do-it-yourself option.

Also, consider using uplighting on trees to create night-time focal points. This is a great way to showcase your home for those driving by after work.

I better get busy!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur