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Making the grade

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Smart landscaping will add to your curb appeal, but landscaping serves other purposes as well. You can use your landscaping to create privacy, add functionality to your exterior and protect the outside of your home.

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If you are planning on selling your house, take care of the exterior. It is your home’s first impression.

KNOW WHEN TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER

If you are planning on laying down interlocking stones or building a retaining wall, I recommend bringing in a professional landscaping company. A lot can go wrong if you don’t know all the steps required.

Retaining walls also require a fair bit of planning and depending on the height may also require a permit, so check with your local building authority. Remember, the purpose of retaining wall is hold soil behind it, so you want to be sure it is done correctly and safely. Choosing the wrong material or improper installation may cause it to fail. Always check for level ground before you lay down your stones. When you’re planning a retaining wall with proper drainage, it’s important to know what type of soil you have. When laying down interlocking stone you may also want to include a trench drain to help with drainage.

Hire a reputable landscaping company and make sure you have a contract in place. Your landscape designer should be looking at which existing landscaping features need to be removed and how you are planning on using your outdoor space.

KNOW THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LANDSCAPING

Do you have kids at home who will be playing in the yard? Think about how you can keep your kids in view while they are playing outside.

You use your landscaping to keep your house cool in the summer. When you’re outside and it’s too hot, the first place we naturally move to is the shade. Shade provides protection from the beating hot sun and trees are nature’s umbrellas. So how do you create shade outside your home?

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One way is by planting trees strategically. Just make sure you’re consulting a professional landscaper before you plant. The last thing you want to do is plant a tree too close to your home. While it will provide lots of welcome shade, having tall trees right next to your property can direct water right onto your roof, causing it to wear down and leak. And the roots can wreak havoc on your interior systems if they penetrate your weeping tile or pipes.

If you want to add more privacy to your landscaping, consider a fence or planting shrubs around the perimeter of your property. You may be trying to block your neighbours’ view of your backyard, which I don’t think is a bad idea.

Do you want to create an outdoor area with a fire pit? Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are a good addition to your space. I love having an outdoor fireplace. There are many styles, sizes, and heat source options available. But make sure backyard fire pits are legal in your area first.

AVOID PLANTING AGAINST YOUR FOUNDATION

Many homeowners tend to love the idea of a garden right up against their home. I think it’s a bad idea. You want some space between your foundation and your garden to keep water away.

If you are planting trees, they are a more permanent part of your landscaping. Choose the location wisely and make sure they are not too close to the house. When choosing plants, I recommend looking into plants that are native to your area. Instead of planting shrubs and flowers right up against your house, consider planting flowering beds or raised beds.

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PAY ATTENTION TO GRADING

We all know that water needs to drain away from your home’s exterior. That’s why proper grading is so important. Drainage is the most important aspect of any landscape.

If water is flowing back toward your foundation, it will find a way to enter your house. If you see large puddles on your lawn, that could indicate a grading issue. You want your yard to slope down away from the house, to allow water to run away from the foundation and not toward it.

MAINTAIN YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE

Inspect your driveway as well. Do you see cracks in your concrete or asphalt driveway? Small cracks can be addressed with a repair kit from your local hardware store.

If you have large trees over your deck, keep them nice and trimmed and don’t forget to inspect your trees after a severe storm for any broken branches or other damage.

So this summer, inspect your front and back yards and make sure your landscaping is adding to your curb appeal by creating privacy, functionality and protection to your home and remember proper maintenance will ensure you have a property that is safe and trouble free for years to come.

Listen to Mike’s new Holmes on Homes Podcast on all major streaming platforms.

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