Gardeners know that you reap what you sow.
From a profusion of colourful flowers in pots at an entranceway to the most expansive yard, the first thing most visitors to your home will notice is the surrounding landscaping or “curb appeal”.
The rewards of reviving your roses and digging up the dandelions are more than merely ascetic. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) lists the typical payback of landscaping at 45-49%. So almost half the money most people invest in their garden will be “sown” in the sale price of their home.
Achieving that great garden doesn’t have to involve large amounts of time or money. Planning is key. First consider how much sun your garden receives. There are plants available that will thrive from deep shade to bright sun. From Calla lilies to Texas roses you can have blooms in every corner of your garden.
If you want to include trees in your garden, deciduous varieties are particularly good for southern and western exposures of your home. These trees will provide shade and cool your home in summer, then just as the bright sun heads south and the nights become crisp they will shed their leaves and allow light into your home. Apple, pear, or hazelnut trees will also provide a delicious crop. There are many hybrids available now which are resistant to viruses and other diseases that traditionally plagued fruit trees. Those reliable standbys-maple, oak, and willow-are also available in different colours and heights. It has never been easier to get exactly the garden you envision.
Edible plants are a great addition to any landscape design. With a little creativity, you can have a beautiful fragrant garden that doubles as an herb supply. Purple sage and parsley provide colourful, unusual ground cover and are hardy well into fall or year-round in more temperate climates. A cluster of dill will sprout exotic green pinwheels several centimetres wide in August. Basil smells wonderful and is a great green (or purple) accompaniment to a flower patch.
If you want to impress dinner guests try growing a few edible flowers to add to your salads. Peppery flavoured nasturtium and yellow and purple pansies are easy to grow and have a long season. Delicate violets have three times as much vitamin C as an orange. Both violet and pansy can also be crystallised in sugar and used as cake decorations
Remember, if you are considering growing vegetables that most have a short life span and will soon shrivel when the nights become frosty. The best place for a vegetable plot is in the back yard or out of high traffic areas.
Ideally, you should aim to have plants growing and blooming continuously from spring to fall. This is referred to as a step garden and it is not as difficult as it may sound. Simply choose plants that naturally reach maturity at different times. Bulbs planted in the fall will be the first up in the spring; flowers planted from seed or a nursery plant typically bloom mid-summer; a few varieties bloom late summer and fall. Check the descriptions on each plant to ensure you are choosing the right size and flowering time. Perennials are the easiest choice especially if you have little time to tend your garden. Unfortunately, they usually have small flowers so a few annuals such as poppy or marigold will add a splash of colour.
Co-ordinating that colour scheme is easy if you remember the basics of the colour wheel. Primary colours are red, yellow and blue. These are bold, strong colours best used for accents. Complimentary colour combinations (red-green, yellow-purple, or blue-orange) are the most pleasing to the eye. A sprinkling of white flowers will brighten the garden and help break up blocks of different colours.
Great gardeners also know that springtime not the only time to “plant the seeds” of a beautiful, lush garden. Be prepared by fertilising, sharpening tools, or starting seeds indoors. It’s never too early to think about warm sunny days!
Divorce and Your Home – Avoid Costly Mistakes
Divorce is a tough situation which opens up many emotional and financial issues which need to be resolved. One of the most important issues is what a couple should do about their home.
In the midst of this turmoil, what you need most are some straightforward, specific answers. Once you know how a divorce affects your home, your mortgage and your taxes, critical decision are more clearly made.
Probably the first decision will be whether you want to continue living in the home. Will the familiar surroundings bring you comfort and emotional security or unpleasant memories? Do you want to minimize change by staying where you are, or sell your home and move to a new place that offers a new start?
Only you can answer these questions, but there will almost certainly be some financial repurcussions to your decision process.
What can you afford?
Can you manage the old house on your new budget?
Is refinancing possible?
Is it better to sell and buy?
How much house can you buy with your new budget?
When you decide to sell:
If you and your partner decide to sell your home it will be important to work together, through a professional, to maximize your return. Differences aside, you should both be present when a listing contract is put together. Both of you should understand and sign this contract, and both should be active in the ultimate negotiations.
When you buy your next home:
Use the proceeds from your previous home or buyout to determine an affordable price-range for your next home. Maintain a clear focus on getting the right home to suit your new situation. You may wish to review with an agent who offers a house-hunting service to help find a home that matches your new home-buying criteria.