Landscaping - Adding Curb Appeal
When we think of home improvement, the first things we usually think about are painting, re-decorating and other measures to upgrade the look and feel of our home.
But home improvement is not limited only to the house itself, but the space around the structure.
It is a well-known fact that having an attractive, well-manicured yard can increase the value of a home, sometimes over 15 per cent.
This is why landscaping is important and should not be overlooked.
Landscaping, simply put, is anything done to a yard to improve its aesthetic qualities or “curb appeal”.
This can include, but is not limited to, planting lawns, trees and decorative shrubs or constructing fences, walkways, fountains and other outdoor fixtures.
Here are some Landscaping Features:
Perhaps the simplest and most popular landscaping feature is a lawn.
A neat, well-maintained lawn not only adds to the visual appeal of a home but can help to prevent soil erosion, absorb dust and other pollutants and provide a natural cooling effect in your yard.
Lawns require maintenance such as trimming, watering and fertilizing. Sprinklers are needed to ensure lawns receive sufficient water.
Some types of lawn grass may require more maintenance than others.
The three main types of lawn grass commonly used in Trinidad and Tobago are Zoysia, Bermuda (Turf Grass) and St Augustine (Savannah Grass).
Zoysia Grass is well-suited for T&T’s tropical climate as it is known for its ability to withstand heat and harsh weather. It is suited for areas prone to heavy traffic as it is thick and dense and less likely to thin and lose its lush green color. Zoysia lawns typically require about one inch of water every 4-7 days.
Bermuda Grass is also wear-resistant and suited for heavy traffic areas such as homes with children and pets. This type of lawn has a high tolerance to heat and goes dormant in drought conditions but will resume greenness once moisture is returned. It requires about one inch of water every 4-7 days.
Similarly, St Augustine Grass is also well-suited for hot and drought conditions. It grows at a quicker pace however and requires about ½ to one inch of water every 3-6 days.
Each type of lawn requires some degree of maintenance however, installing artificial turf provides an alternative for those seeking to avoid maintenance costs and hassle.
Artificial turf is a synthetic grass that does not require watering, weeding or fertilizing. Naturally, this type of lawn is more expensive to install however over time, this is recovered due to the lower maintenance cost. It does have its drawbacks as artificial turf may require regular hosing off to prevent odors from pet urine and other contaminants. It also heats up in direct sunlight and can raise the temperature of its surroundings.
Many people choose a water feature to enhance the look of their yards. The simplest and most affordable water feature is a fountain. These come in various designs and can be added to a front or back yard. The flowing or bubbling sounds of a water fountain can add a feeling of tranquility to your yard.
A pond can also provide a calm, serene space in your yard. For nature lovers, a pond can attract frogs and other wildlife. Different varieties of fish, such as koi, can be added to add more intrigue.
A waterfall feature may also be of interest to the adventurous homeowner. It can be designed to cascade into a reservoir and requires less maintenance than a pond. However, it can be costly to install. Waterfall features are often used in homes located near highways or other noisy areas to mask the noise.
A flower garden is a great way to add a splash of color to your landscape and it eliminates the need for constant mowing and trimming of lawns. Flowers not only add color, but can make your home seem more welcoming. It attracts birds, butterflies and other wildlife, an added bonus for wildlife lovers.
Flowers work well planted along driveways or walkways as a border or even along fences. But be sure to use a mix of flowers that bloom at different points throughout the year. This will ensure that there will always be flowers among the greenery all year-round. Flower gardens do not have to be limited to flowers only. Many people plant herds and small vegetables among the flowers.
For those who want a bit of privacy, taller specimens can be planted to obscure the view of the home.
Stone or brick pavers can be a great choice to create walkways around your property or to cover entire areas. These can add character to your yard but also serve a practical purpose. Pavers can improve drainage and promote the run-off of water in your yard, a useful feature in flood prone areas.
Pavers can cut down on maintenance as well as they take up places where weeds can grow. They can be used in combination with flowers and lawns to create eye-catching designs.
Grass pavers are yet another option that is suited for heavy traffic areas. These are hollow and installed in a grid-like system that is permeable. Turf is planted within the grid results in a lawn-like look with the strength of concrete.
As a landscaping feature, hedges are rising in popularity. They are easy to maintain, requiring just routine trimming or pruning throughout the year.
Hedges can provide a feeling of privacy when planted around a property and can help to block out exterior noise. They can be trimmed into different shapes and designs, even words and animals to portray individual tastes.
Because of its thickness, a hedge can be used to hide unattractive features of a property such as burglar bars and other security features. Thorny varieties can even provide an extra form of security. Tall hedges can help to shelter a home from high winds and provide shade from the sun.
After spending time and money on the perfect landscaping to suit your needs, you don’t want it to all disappear at night!
This is where landscape lighting comes in. With strategically placed landscape lights, you can brighten your yard at night and highlight the features you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Landscape lighting serves a practical purpose too. It is often used as a safety feature to illuminate pathways, driveways and stairs to make it easy to navigate in the night time.
Low voltage landscape lighting is safe to work with and relatively affordable to install.
And you can achieve a variety of effects, from a subtle glow to a moonlight effect with different color bulbs.
When installing landscape lighting, the right shape and size of fixtures must be used to maximize the effect and ensure they can stand up to the elements.
There are different types that can be mounted on trees, or hidden in the ground so you get the effect you want without seeing the light fixture itself.
Landscaping designs comes down to a matter of personal style and preference but it is always wise to keep a few things in mind.
For example, how easy is it to maintain?
Gardens and trees may require frequent trimming. Ponds may need to be cleaned ever so often. Are these tasks that you are willing to undertake?
Landscaping features that require extensive and expensive maintenance may also turn off potential buyers if you decide to sell your home in the future.
Ultimately, making your yard attractive increases the value of your home.
Experts recommend that a homeowner spends at least 5 to 10 per cent of the value of their home on landscaping.
This is an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Remember that landscapes require some level of maintenance. Once you have installed the features you want, conduct routine maintenance to ensure lawns do not become overgrown or fountains don’t become clogged etc.
Make sure you choose trusted professionals, like those here at TriniHelper, to evaluate and carry out your landscaping ideas.
Inexperienced landscapers often make mistakes that can be expensive to correct.
If you like DIY projects and want to embark on a landscaping project on your own, it is still useful to consult a professional to guide you on the best choices for your property or create a plan that you can follow as you go along.