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Thursday, June 1, 2006 04:27 am

Curb appeal

Tips for planning a great-looking front yard

art3102
Most of us are familiar with the saying “It only takes a spark to light a fire.” This year I was inspired (in part because of the Yard to Yard challenge) to create a small annual flower garden in my front yard. This garden is a combination of “Terra Cotta” Million Bells, tricolor geraniums, and “Purple Baron” ornamental millet. I chose these plants for their color, low maintenance, and “wow” factor. For me, these plants are more interesting than the traditional yellow marigolds and red petunias. My hope is that the eye appeal of this space will inspire my neighbors to create such spaces in their own yards. Although a lush green lawn is nice, adding a splash of color to the front yard can do wonders for the curb appeal of a home. The front yard of a home is the first thing a visitor or passerby sees. This space should be inviting and direct guests to the front door while being a reflection of the people who live there. Plantings in the front yard should also complement the home’s style and the neighborhood. Here are a few tips to creating curb appeal: An inviting front yard takes desire and a little passion. Digging, weed-pulling, and occasional pruning are also required. Remember, all landscapes require some maintenance. A well-designed landscape doesn’t just happen — it takes planning. A good plan can save you time and money and lead to the most satisfaction. Right plant, right place: Before selecting a plant, learn about its needs, such as sunlight and moisture requirements. If you’re thinking about planting perennials, remember that hardiness to zone 5 is important. It is also a good idea to select plants with few insect and disease problems. It’s also important know the mature size of any perennial, shrub, or tree you’re considering. Remember, just like a child, all little plants will grow up (and out). Plants should complement, not hide, your house. Give plants room to grow. Proper spacing is important to maintain good air circulation and prevent crowding, which tends to lead to the decline of plants. Avoid placing plant material within 18 inches of the foundation of a house. Typically this area doesn’t receive enough moisture to keep plants healthy. Scattering plants around the lawn creates mowing hazards, and the plants are often damaged by lawnmowers or string trimmers. Grouping plants together in a bed is more visually appealing and requires less maintenance. A mass of the same plant creates unity and order. A small flower garden should contain only a few types or colors of flowers. Avoid alternating colors or types of flowers, which produces a choppy appearance and can be confusing to the eye.  Avoid long rows of the same type of a plant. For example, a single row of flowers along a driveway will not create as much curb appeal as one large mass planting. Applied properly, mulch helps keep weeds down and conserve moisture.
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