At Martin, we like to say “If it’s near your home- it’s part of your home.”
Want to protect your home’s exterior?
You’ve heard Vern talk about how a house is a complete system protecting your family from the elements. Your roof, your siding, your ventilation- they all work together to create a healthy indoor environment.
But did you know that what’s outside your home is part of the system, too?
It’s true. Your landscaping can play a big part in:
- How your home stands up against rain and snow
- The size of your utility bills
- And even the value of your property!
Smart homeowners understand protecting their most important asset means more than making sure their shingles weathered the most recent storm. Landscaping mistakes can lead to costly repairs down the road.
With the trees shaking off the last of their summer leaves now is the best time to take a look at your landscaping.
In this article, I’m going to help you plan ahead for 2021 and share some tips for creating the healthiest- and happiest- yard you’ve ever had.
5 Landscaping Mistakes That Are Costing You Time… and Money
When I think of home maintenance, I think…
…cleaning and organization…
…long-term weather protection…
…and how healthy our home is for our children.
The lawn? Unless there is a playdate on the calendar…it doesn’t get the same level of attention. Even we slip into the habit of thinking of “the house” and “the yard” as two separate things.
But the truth is this: the health of your home and the health of your lawn are connected.
2020 has reacquainted us with our outdoor space. Maybe you’ve felt a new connection to your patio or your porch. For us, it’s become another ‘room’ of our house.
As colder weather comes to Pennsylvania, that’s a good concept to hold on to.
Most importantly, your landscaping can help or harm the health of your home.
Think: drainage, roof damage, pests, and more.
If your living room was leaking, would you close the door and say “Well, we’ll just hang out in the dining room instead?” No! You’d call a contractor to find and fix that leak ASAP to keep it from spreading to the rest of your home.
Likewise, I want to make sure your “lawn room” isn’t putting the rest of your home at risk. Here are five common landscaping mistakes we see out on the jobsite:
Mistake #1: Tree Trouble.
We have some majestic trees out in these mountains, don’t we? If you thought you were alone in admiring them, let me share this quote from landscaper Becky Bordeau that really strikes home out here:
“Trees are the only plants we connect with as humans as if they also have a soul. They provide a sense of longevity and belonging between a house and it’s environment.”
Trees give your property a sense of legacy. A feeling that your house is more than just a building, but part of the story of your family. The tree your grandfather planted is the same tree that holds your daughter’s tire swing. Connection from one generation to the next.
Home buyers agree and look for properties with trees… especially when integrated into the front of the property. A Landscape and Urban Planning Study found that large, established street-facing trees can increase a property’s value by over $8k!
Let’s talk about tree maintenance.
Trees have a way of getting away from us as homeowners. Poor planning has left many next-generation homeowners with trees that have begun to damage the home.
For example, branches overhanging your roof, garage, or fencing put your home’s vital protections at risk- especially during winter ice storms.
And foliage drop? Some tree varieties can make keeping essential drainage systems clear a real fight. We covered checking your gutters in our 5 Fall Maintenance Checks article here.
But, wet leaves can also pile up in the valleys of your roof, causing mildew damage to your asphalt shingles.
When it comes to tree maintenance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hiring a company to take care of overextended branches might not be the most exciting way to spend your money, trust us: it’s better to take care of these hazards now before they compromise the life of your roof.
Tree growth is one of the biggest problems we see get out of hand while out on the job.
But keeping up with your yard’s most beautiful asset also means keeping emergency repairs out of your holiday gatherings. And that peace of mind? It’s worth it.
Mistake #2: Overspending on Flowers
Does this rookie mistake sound familiar?
You move into your first home. You’re excited to have a garden and can’t wait to make it your own. Hundreds of dollars and several trips to the store later…you’ve invested hours in creating your first flowerbed.
But as the seasons change, plants begin to die. Shorter flowers are crowded out by larger plants. Others take constant watering and wilt in the hottest weeks of the summer. By the time fall comes around, all you can think about is “Am I really going to do this every year???”
Do you love beautiful lawns edged with bright, beautiful blooms? Seasoned gardeners know the secret to getting year-long, professionally landscaped color for less: perennials.
There’s no better time to think about perennials than now while you can still get bulbs into the ground and garden centers have fantastic clearance sales.
These flowers that come back year after year- are a great way to get the curb appeal you crave without spending hundreds of dollars and several weekends every year planting in the garden.
Even more, a landscape designed around perennial flowers and shrubs is a perfect fit for:
- Older homeowners who love to garden, but don’t want to worry about continuous maintenance
- Vacation cabins and properties that are only visited on the weekends
- Frugal folks who want beautiful colors…but don’t want to spend money year after year on plants.
Even better? Perennials are hardier than annual flowers. That means come rain or shine, your garden will look better with less care and longer into the season.
Personally, I love a garden that’s a mix of both. Perennials save me time- and planting annuals is a great spring activity for our littles.
With perennial flowers as a backbone to our landscaping, I can spend a weekend making memories with our littles with a tray or two of bright marigolds…and leave the rest of the garden to bloom year after year.
Want to know more about planning a landscape that save you money and time?
The Audubon Society’s native plant finder makes it easy to find wildflowers, trees, and shrubs that bring all of the birds to your garden. Just put in your zip code and scroll through to find the best fit for your property!
Hayefield follows long-time Pennsylvania gardener Nancy Ondra- a great resource for both information and seeds for hearty plants in our area.
Rob’s Plants originally followed Rob’s slice of heaven in Lehigh Valley- close to Allentown, PA. While he’s since moved to TX, the archives are full of great information on how his lawn was transformed by dozens of trees, ponds, and family memories.
Gardening With Queenie is a great blog about gardening in the shade of the Pocono Mountains in NE Pennsylvania and has a lot of inspiration for your cabin retreat.
Mistake #3: Neglecting Your Gutters and Downspouts
Foundation damage. Leaking basements. Moisture creeping up between your siding and your framing.
Poor gutter maintenance is often to blame.
While you’re outside digging the leaves out of your gutters- take a look at your downspouts. All too often they become hidden behind the shrubs and flowers, catching homeowners off-guard when water damage happens inside the home.
First- check your drainage. Make sure your downspouts are taking water away from the foundation of your home, not just your roof! Downspouts should extend at least 2’ away from your foundation.
If not, pick up an extender, from your local hardware store:
Second- check your landscaping. Those hydrangeas you planted when you moved in have really grown up! While you’re flushing your downspouts, take a look at how the water is coming out. Is it flowing freely…or getting blocked by your flowerbed? Water that pools or runs down the side of your house puts your home’s structure at risk for costly repairs down the road.
More on slope in a minute. But first- let’s look at your lawn.
Mistake #4: Loving Your Lawn A Little Too Much
Is your all-time favorite hobby grabbing your headphones and spending a few hours on your zero-turn?
If your lawn rivals the greens of Oakmount Country Club, the last thing you want is to damage it right before it goes into a dormant season.
It turns out too much of a good thing can do just that. If you’re
- Cutting your lawn too short…
- Applying too much pesticide…
- Over landscaping your yard…
Your lawn may need a break!
As a rule, 2 ½ inches is a great lawn height for the summer season. Any shorter and your lawn becomes more sensitive to heat and dry weeks. As we go into the winter? Try mowing a half inch higher and with freshly-sharpened blades. But using those old summer blades can rip and tear at your grass, while giving your lawn a sharp fresh cut will help it winter over.
What does the health of your grass have to do with your home?
Good question. Think drainage.
A healthy and even lawn, free from bare patches, will help shed ice and snow melt this winter.
Which brings us to our final landscaping mistake….
Mistake #5: Not Enough Slope
Drainage issues lead to basement flooding.
Now, we’ve covered clearing the way for your downspouts to shed water away from your house, but if the slope of your yard guides water into your basement? You’re fighting a literal uphill battle.
Make sure your yard is sloped to drain water away from your house.
What does this mean?
The ideal slope grade is at least 5%- measured by rise over run. (Ever wondered when algebra would be useful in real life? Now’s the time!)
Here are three steps to help you measure the grade:
- Take two stakes and place the first one at the highest point of your landscape, and the second at the lowest, at least 10’ apart.
- Attach a string to both of the stakes. The string should rest towards the ground of the first stake. Tie the other end of the string level to the other stake.
- Measure the distance between the lowest stake and the ground. Is it at least 6”? If not, your yard is directing water at the foundation of your house.
Healthy Yards = Healthy Homes.
Let’s be honest, we aren’t a landscaping company. But, over the last decade, we’ve repaired and replaced dozens of roofs, foundations, and exteriors that would have lasted longer if only homeowners knew how their landscaping works with their house.
For most of us? Our house isn’t just our biggest asset, it’s also our most important.
Having a strong exterior protects your family season after season. First, you need to make sure you aren’t unwittingly creating risks to your home’s structural integrity.
Is your roof or siding already damaged? Let’s get that fixed before the winter sets in. Call Vern at 570-345-0406 and let’s get your project on the books.
Looking for more ways to boost your curb appeal this fall? Check out our article here and see five quick ways to update your home’s exterior. And don’t forget to subscribe to our email list below for more great ways to make the most of your home!