A put-together yard really enhances the curb appeal of your home (and can boost its value) … but unfortunately, landscaping is one of the most commonly put-off projects for homeowners. The procrastination typically comes down to misconceptions about timing – meaning a lot of homeowners/potential sellers think that spring is the only time you can redo anything related to your landscaping.
While spring is ideal for establishing certain types of plants, there are many landscaping projects that can be done right now — even when temperatures reach their summer peaks. No matter what the weather is like, here’s what you can do to improve your landscaping this weekend.
Step 1: Fix What You Have
Start by taking stock of what you can work with right now. Dig up any sun-scorched annuals, weed your garden and mow the lawn (just make sure to set the trim height higher to help the grass retain moisture). In flower or garden beds, add mulch to keep the soil cooler, prevent future weeds from growing and give a refreshed look to your landscape.
Tip: Make sure to keep the mulch away from plant stems and tree trunks. Mulch increases moisture retention – and when it’s up against stems and trunks, you could risk root rot.
What shouldn’t you do right now? Prune trees. July/August is generally the time trees are preparing for the dormant season. Pruning now deprives trees of nutrients they need to go into dormancy, and it also makes them more vulnerable to infestations. The only exceptions for trimming: Your tree has dead branches, your limbs present a hazard for wind or storms, or an arborist gives you the okay.
Step 2: Plant What You Can
If gardening isn’t really your thing (or didn’t used to be your thing … ahem), you might be surprised at what you can plant in late summer. For flowers, check out this list, and look into this resource if you’re working on your fall garden. And this Purdue article has some helpful tips for planting and harvesting in August in general.
If you’re still a little baffled, a visit to your local nursery or garden shop will give you an idea of what you can plant right now. Since this is generally the “end of the season” for most spring and summer gardeners, you can also find a lot of plants and trees on clearance – which means your budget can stretch further.
Step 3: Go “Hard”
In landscaping lingo, hardscaping refers to the non-living elements in an outdoor space – like retaining walls, stone paths, water fountains or ponds, outdoor lighting, decks, and your driveway. If you don’t have confidence in your green thumb abilities, hardscaping can really improve the look of your yard without having to mess with a lot of upkeep.
Tip: The upkeep factor (or lack thereof) might also appeal to potential buyers. While most people love the look of an elaborate garden on their property, there’s a certain level of commitment to keeping it gorgeous that many won’t want to do (or outsource). When in doubt, keep it simple and clean.
Adding a stone border to set off no-maintenance shrubs, creating a welcoming patio with stylish pavers, adding millwork, or repainting an existing porch or using outdoor lighting to highlight architectural elements of your home have the same wow factor as a well-designed “living” landscape. You can also consider options for gravel and stone, too: crushed landscaping seashells, smooth river rocks, polished pebbles, volcanic rocks, and even tumbled glass in a rainbow of hues (to add a bold touch to fire pits and ponds) all instantly add a dramatic element to your yard.
Bonus: Get Some Pots
If you don’t have the yard space or are looking to add to your outdoor space quicker, use potted plants and blooms. There will be some upkeep here, of course, but it’s less than you would have to do to establish a tree, a landscaped area or a garden in your yard. This also gives you an opportunity to add another non-living/decorative element in the pots and planters you choose.
While most potted plants and flowers can thrive temporarily, you’ll want to seek recommendations from your local nursery for longer-term potted gardens. As a general rule, you’ll want to choose plants that are hardy for two zones cooler than your hardiness zone because a container won’t offer a plant the same insulation as the ground.