Archive for June, 2012

Why Professionally Stage Your Property – Guest Blogger Jan Poulian

With so many properties on the market this time of the year it is important that your home stand out from the rest.  Staging is an important piece of the marketing of your property.

Why professionally stage your property?  Our Top 10 Reasons

By, Perfectly Placed For You

 

Move over David Letterman! Here are 10 compelling reasons to stage your property before selling it.

 

#10

Staging can create a positive first impression.

You’ve heard the expression that you never get a second chance to make a good impression, and this is most definitely the case when selling your property. Once buyers have taken a peak, if they don’t like what they see, they will definitely move on to the next listing. Don’t let that happen to you!

 

#9

Staging expenses can be tax deductible.

 

#8

Staging services can help the seller have a less stressful real estate experience.

At a consultation we can create a custom staging plan that will take the stress out of what can be an overwhelming process. With additional staging services we can actually style each room to photo ready perfection in a matter of hours even while you are at work.

 

#7

Staging can create the impression of a well maintained property.

When buyers enter a space that is orderly and attractive with furniture placement that makes sense, they feel more relaxed about making the investment because they can see that the current owner has taken care of things and has paid attention to the details.

 

#6 

Staging can generate more exposure on behalf of other real estate agents.

When realtors preview nicely staged homes they remember them, and they are more likely to take clients to a really great looking property for a positive reaction.

 

#5

Staging can create the impression of an easy moving experience.

Staged properties have a clear sense of function and purpose which allows the potential buyer to easily imagine the perfect orderly lifestyle.

 

#4

Staging can showcase the true potential of a property.

If identical properties are on the market at the same time, for example in a large condo complex, the staged property will have an advantage because the architectural highlights and selling features are given proper focus.

#3

Staging can give your property a competitive edge online

Professional photos of a beautifully staged property will generate more interest and showings.

 

#2

Staging can help generate a faster sale.

Time equals money, and less time on the market also equals less stress for the seller.

 

#1

Staging can help generate a higher sales price.

Buyers will often pay a premium to own a desirable property that evokes what they hope will complete the lifestyle of their dreams.

Jan Poulian    Perfectly Placed for You    www.PerfectlyPlacedForYou.com

These are great tips.  As a realtor I can emphasize enough how important first impressions are.  Walking up to the front door, walking through the front door impressions are made.  It is like going to a restaurant – the ambience, the feel as you come through the door, in some ways is almost as important as the food you are about to eat. 

Joan Parcewski     Woods Real Estate.    www.JoanParcewski.com

 

 

 

 

Is Your Sump Pump Working Propertly – guest blogger Dave Cobosco

 

 

Hopefully, given all the recent rains, yours has been.   However, at least twice a year, a sump pumps should be checked for proper operation. Manufacturer instructions should be used as the primary guide for pump installation and maintenance, but here are some general guidelines.

 

 

 

With the pump cord disconnected:

 

ñ Make sure there is a grounded three-prong receptacle for the sump pump.

 

ñ Ideally the receptacle should be installed at least 18 inches above the floor.

 

ñ The receptacle should also be close enough so that the pump cord (usually maximum 6-feet long) can be plugged directly into the receptacle.

 

ñ If a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is installed at the receptacle outlet or in the electric panel, make sure it is working. Use the test button on the unit to confirm proper ground-fault protection.*

 

ñ Inspect the sump pit for any silt or debris that might obstruct the float or clog the pump impeller or discharge tube.

 

ñ Make sure the pump is positioned so that the movement of the float that turns the pump on and off is not obstructed by the walls of the pit or other objects.

 

ñ If needed set the float height to start the pump at a lower or higher level. The float should be set that it keeps the water toward the bottom at the normal high water line.

 

ñ Check for a small (3/16 to 3/8 inch) hole in the tube directly above the pump. Add if needed, or clear the hole if blocked. This hole helps prevent a possible airlock in the discharge lines.

 

ñ Check the drain line from the pump to the termination point on the exterior for any signs of corrosion, holes, damage or leaks.

 

ñ Make sure the line is secured every three feet or so.

 

ñ Add a check valve in the discharge line at the pump if not present.

 

Note: A GFCI is a safety device. It is generally not required on dedicated single receptacles used for sump pumps. GFCI could trip for various reasons, rendering the sump pump inoperative. If a GFCI is present, check before storms to make sure the GFCI is turned on and sump pump is operational.

 

 

 

Once the visual check is made, an operational check can be performed:

 

ñ Confirm the pump is securely plugged directly into the receptacle. (Once again – no extension cords).

 

ñ If the sump pit is empty, add enough water, if possible, to confirm the pump turns on and off properly.

 

ñ With a sump pump with automatic preset sensor switches, if water exceeds the top of the pump before turning on, or if the pump does not shut off when water drops again, there may be a defective sensor or other problem. Refer to the manufacture set-up instructions.

 

ñ If the pump uses an adjustable float switch, the pump should turn on at the set-on level and off when the water level drops.

 

ñ A small stream of water should spray out of the weep hole near the pump to prevent airlock.

 

ñ The pump should not have to run all the time. If it does, try setting the float or pump higher in the pit. If this doesn’t help keep the water from the top of the sump; a larger pump may be needed.

 

ñ Check the drainline for any leakage.

 

ñ Go outside and check the drainline discharge point. It should be positioned to discharge the water at least 5 to10 feet from the foundation at a point where the runoff doesn’t cause ponding backflow to the foundation or erosion.

 

ñ In areas subject to free temperatures, precautions must be taken to make sure the drain line does not freeze up or get blocked by ice or snow.

 

ñ Sump pumps should not be connected to sanitary sewer systems (unless locally approved) or private sewage (septic) systems.

 

Backup pumps and alarms.

 

ñ If you do not have a backup, consider adding one, especially if your pump runs regularly or there is a high flood potential.

 

ñ If your sump system is equipped with battery backup, check the manufacturer maintenance instructions. It may be necessary to check the battery water level to make sure it covers the cells.

 

ñ Inspect the backup pump setup in the pit for obstructions etc., as was done for the primary pump.

 

ñ The float should be set or pump positioned so it only activates if the primary pump does not.

 

ñ Unplug the primary pump and add water to the pit, if possible, so that the backup runs.

 

ñ Plug the primary cord back after the backup test is complete.

 

ñ If you have a high water alarm, it should activate when the float is raised, or if sensor type, when water hits the sensor.

 

ñ Depending on the set up, an alarm may sound when the primary is unplugged or when the backup activates.

 

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at housemaster.com. Or contact:

 

HouseMaster

 

Dave Cobosco

 

Owner/Operator

 

409 Middlesex Turnpike

 

Billerica, MA  01821

 

C:  508-479-1773

 

O:  866-313-7732

 

dave.cobosco@housemaster.com

 

http://www.housemaster.com

 

Was just thinking how appropriate this article is given the thunderstorms that are currently rumbling thru Essex and Middlesex County.  Hopefully your sump pump is working properly……. Joan Parcewski, Woods Real Estate

 

 

 

5 Perks & Pitfalls of Old & New Homes – A Repost from Trulia (Tara) 6/19/2012

 

As you know, I live in the Bay Area. So I have occasion to wear (or at least carry) a lightweight sweater virtually year-round. A couple of years ago, I found what I thought was THE PERFECT SWEATER.  It was super-soft cashmere, and it was the just-right weight, so it was warm when I needed it to be, but just took the chill off when I needed that. It was black, but kind of flowy, so I could wear it all the time without looking too terribly much like a ninja.

Fast forward a year or so, and I actually ended up wearing the thing entirely out. There were holes in it from my purse rubbing against it, and it was pilling all over the place – not a good look. So I was forced – forced, I tell you! – to go back to the same shop and see what they had in the way of a replacement for my warm, fuzzy, ragged sweater. And I’ll be honest: I was not hopeful.

Until, that is, I saw their *new* version of the same sweater.  It had thumbholes – THUMBHOLES! – so even my hands would stay warm, without impeding my ability to text. It wasn’t quite as soft as my old sweater, but it was a next-gen washable cashmere, so didn’t require dry cleaning. It was the just right-weight, too, and long, like I liked it, but had a little cord you could pull and tie and, as if by magic, it became a shorter, snappier, less-Snuggie-like look.

The decision whether to buy an older home or a newer one can pose a similarly mixed bag of pros and cons. Some buyers have a strong inclination to an older home’s charms or a new home’s conveniences. Sometimes your area or your price range will dictate your decision for you, one way or the other.  In some areas, old homes are seen as worse because of their location or disrepair, while in other areas, like mine, older homes are often seen as better and can even be pricier than new-ish properties on the basis of their neighborhoods and school districts.

If you’re not a buyer who is completely clear on whether you want to buy an older home or a new-ish one, here are some of the factors to consider, pro and con, as you compare and contrast homes built in different eras:

1.  The Charm Factor. Obviously, “older” and “newer” are relative terms. If your area is one where “older” homes are those which were built in the ‘60s or ‘70s, you might not find them to be particularly charming. But many buyers do find there to be a particular charm and aesthetic detail in homes built in the early part of the last century – from the 1900’s to the 1940’s, say – that is uber-attractive and decidedly craveable. (To be fair, in some areas, the Eichlers and other modern styles of the mid-century are seen as having similar cachet as much older homes, especially when compared to 80s, 90s and later construction.)

The Tudors, Victorians, Craftsmans and other classic styles and eras tend to have strong appeal to large groups of home buyers, as do the maturity of the trees and other details, from lights to benches to outdoor staircases, lining the streets on which such homes were built.

Buyers who are committed to having this “Charm Factor” in their lives and their homes are not likely to find this particular feel in newer neighborhoods, though many builders and subdivisions do make an effort to replicate the best qualities of older homes and neighborhoods with reproduction features.

2.  Neighborhood establishment.  Having hundred-year-old trees along the streets can be a critical plus point of living in an older home, but so are the many other upsides of an established neighborhood, from well-developed parks with great recreational programming to long-time standout school districts, to great neighborhood infrastructures for things like neighborhood Watch Groups, email listservs, annual block parties and farmer’s markets. That said, not every “older” neighborhood has these benefits; and many older neighborhoods come with longstanding issues like neighbor conflicts, eyesore or blighted properties and even ongoing challenges with crime, traffic and noise.

On other other hand, some newer neighborhoods haven’t “taken” yet, and it can be difficult to project how the neighborhood will evolve over time. But you can’t necessarily dismiss every newer neighborhood out of hand.  Some developers and cities have gone to great lengths to imbue newer subdivisions with some of what was great about – or missing from – older, nearby areas. You might find that “newer” neighborhoods in some towns are more likely than nearby older areas to have amenities like dog parks, newer clubhouse and recreational facilities, schools and stores interspersed well and walkably into the neighborhood and better infrastructure when it comes to lighting, street width, parking and public transportation.

3.  House history. Newer homes have little or no history – anyone who has ever bought a brand new home can attest to the relatively blank slate of disclosures they receive from the builder.  A blank slate sounds great, but also means you really don’t know about what glitches the property may have, and my experience has been that every home – even brand new ones – have glitches or quirks. The sun might create a funny bleach spot on the floor in one room, or the place might settle over the first few years to have an unexpected slope. A roof on which it has never rained might even turn out to have a design flaw or leak. And the fact that the home hasn’t been lived in means that no one can flag these issues – or fix them – for you in advance. (Most newly built homes do have warranties that cover the worst of such ‘lemon’ home issues.)

Older homes may come with a lovely family history or even just a detailed record of what has and hasn’t worked – and what has and hasn’t been repaired and replaced over time, with which newer homes can’t compete. But they also may come with the tough-to-erase remnants and consequences of historical occupants and their activities on the property, from lead paint remains in the soil that prohibit you from growing vegetables in the ground to the very unfortunate (and extremely toxic) consequences of illegal activities like the manufacture of methamphetamine.

4.  Conveniences. One would think that newer homes would almost always have conveniences that older homes lack, especially in the realm of newer appliances and mechanical systems like plumbing, air conditioners, heating and even insulation.  But there can critical periods at issue, here – while very new homes are likely to have the latest of everything, homes built 20, 30 even 40 years ago can be more out of date than homes built 70, 80 or 90 years ago – especially in areas where very old homes are very desirable, as the latter might be more likely to have been updated by a recent owner.  

However, as you look at and compare older homes with newer ones, also give thought to the less easily updated differences across the construction eras, like:

  • Layout: Older homes are less likely to have wide open floor plans, sky-high ceilings and the massive windows that allow in the natural light that more contemporary styles let in.
  • Size: Some eras of older construction simply didn’t focus on building homes beyond a basic 1,500 or 2,000 square feet – in areas where those homes predominate, it might be difficult to find a home much larger than that, if that’s what your household requires.
  • Room Size: Older homes tended to be designed around smaller rooms – and especially smaller bedrooms and fewer, smaller closets and storage spaces – than newer homes.
  • Accessibility: Depending on the era, older homes might not have the space and layout suitable for homeowners who are looking to ‘age in place,’ or care for an older relative; early-century eras of construction may include stairways, hallways and doorways too narrow for wheelchairs and walkers to easily fit through.

5.  Maintenance. Unless you’re able to find that best-of-both-worlds older home with recent upgrades, with an older home you should take extra care to understand the age and condition of all the home’s mechanical and electrical systems, and to get a good sense for the cost of any upgrades you’ll want to do – before you finalize the purchase. Also, be aware that some of the ornate classic home styles may have intricate woodwork, like the so-called gingerbread adorning many a Victorian home, that is both prone to damage (from water or termites) and costly or impossible to replace.

Flip side: new homes *can* pose a lower maintenance cost, but the fact is that new home buyers still face the ‘potential lemon’ problem of being the first to discover any glitches or design/construction flaws. In densely populated areas, new homes may be built on fill or what some see as less sound ground; by the same token, in earthquake or tornado-prone areas, some see older homes and neighborhoods as having proven their ability to withstand natural disasters due to the quality of classic construction.

Ultimately, there’s no one right answer to the older/newer home decision. It’s really a matter of fit. But in any event, whether you buy an older home or a brand new one, work with your agent to make sure you have an appropriate home warranty policy in place before your home purchase closes escrow.

Choosing Shades to Suite the Function of Each Room

I know if you are like me I think of “shades” as on size fits all room so to speak.  Given the different options available on the market I am guessing that is not true.  Welcome to guest blogger, Paul Martin, home improvement specialist, who will set the records straight 

How To Choose Various Kinds Of Shades To Suit The Function Of Each Room

Shades are a great way to control the lighting in the room. These are also useful if you want more privacy especially in the bedroom. Unlike heavy curtains, shades are easy to install, easy to clean, and easy to open and close. Shades now come in a variety of colors and designs so you can fit them with the existing color treatments in the room.

 

However, not all shades will work on every room. Shades are also constructed differently so that they can allow a certain amount of light and even none at all. This means that you may have to choose a particular style of shade to suit the purpose of a particular room in the house. Here are a few tips on how to choose shades to fit the practical functions of each room in the house.

 

Kitchen

Most shades suitable for kitchens must be made of material that can withstand constant exposure to heat and moisture. You can opt for bamboo shades in the kitchen. You can draw the shades up halfway from the bottom to allow just the right amount of light in. Bamboo is great for kitchens since it can hold its form and shape even when exposed to humidity and heat. Bamboo also comes in earthy neutral colors, which means that it an easily match the interior décor that is going on in the room.

 

Living Room

Living rooms require more options in lighting. Most living rooms have wide windows to let the most amount of light in. However, you can control how much light you let in to the room depending on the kind of shades you use. You can opt for shades made of translucent materials. These are great for diffusing the amount of lighting that comes in to give the room a warm glow. You can also choose shades that come with built-in insulation properties. These shades keep the warm air in during the winter and keeps the room cool during the summer. You can also use shades of darker colors if you want a constant subdued lighting effect in your living room during the day. Dark shades will also  provide more privacy during the night.  You can often go online and do a search specific to your area and find a provider near by. For instance, if I lived in LA, I might do a search for Los Angeles Roller Shades to find a supplier that services my area.

 

Bedroom

For those who prefer total blackout when they sleep, blackout roller shades are the best options. A lot of people cannot sleep when the lights are all out, and some may even stay awake because of the light coming from the streetlamps outside. Blackout shades are designed to prevent any light from coming in, which results to a totally dark room. This makes it perfect for bedrooms and even darkrooms. Most blackout roller shades are inexpensive and you can opt for shades made of 100% soil and dust resistant polyester for easy maintenance.

 

Shades are a creative way to control the lighting in any room in the house. The various colors and designs also means that you can change the overall look and feel of any room when you install shades. You can also choose different colors and  designs of shades to suit the practical functions of each room.

 

Paul Martin is a home improvement specialist. When he is not working on a project of his own at home with his wife & kids, you may likely find him writing about related subjects and/or writing for companies that provide quality home improvement products.

Farmers Markets Are Back

There are a few that are winters farmers markets that are indoors and open during the winter months – But now the outdoor markets either have or will shortly be opening.  Remember that farmers markets are for farms, those who make fresh food, specialty foods (eg sugar free) etc.  They are a place for socializing and buying.  Support your local farmers market – They help you eat nutritious.   For those who like to travel around to the different markets, here are the ones opening by the end of June

Andover –  Opens June 30th  Saturdays 12:30 to 3:30    at 97 Main Street

Arlington – Opened June 13th  Wednesdays 2pm to 6pm  at Russell Common in Arlington Center

Billerica – Opens June 25th   Mondays 3pm to 7pm  Billerica COA lawn in Billerica Ctr

Carlisle – Opened June 16th  Saturdays 8am to noon  Kimball Farm in Carlisle

Lexington – Opened May 29th   Tuesdays 2 – 6:30pm  corner Mass Ave/Woburn/Fletcher

Stoneham/Farm Hill Farmers Market – Opened June 14th  Tuesdays 2pm to 6pm Stoneham Town Common

Wakefield – Opens June 23rd  Saturdays 9am to 1pm  Hall Park  North Ave Lakeside

Westford – Opened June 19th   Tuesdays 2:30 to 6:30  NE Historic Town Common

Wilmington – Opened June 17th  Sundays 10:30 to 1:30  corner Middlesex Ave and School Street

Woburn Farmers Market – Opened June 10th  Sundays 10 to 2   41 Wyman St

More will open in July and a few in August – and the season will be in full swing

For more information on MA farmers markets – promoting locally grown – visit http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org and you will find a complete list throughout the state.  It will be fun for the family – as you travel this summer – to find a local market – eat health and have some fun!

 

Car Care Tips to Consider Before Your Summer Road Trip

With many of us making road trips over the coming weeks – whether they are for a few days, a week of a few weeks – be sure your car is ready.  Thanks to guest blogger Tony Lucacio from Merrimack Valley Insurance for reminding us so that we can enjoy our time with our family and not be pulled over on the side of the road waiting for AAA. 

 

Before you head out on that road trip that you have been planning, you are going to want to make sure that you keep your car in the best condition possible. Here are some tips to keep your car running smoothly before you begin driving down the open road.

  • Check your oil level and check for bubbles or foam, a milky appearance, or a strong smell of gasoline. These signs can indicate a need for an oil change.
  • Check the inflation of your tires. By having properly inflated tires you can increase your car’s gas mileage and lengthen the life of your tires.
  • Be sure to check all lights on the car, including the headlights, brake lights, blinkers, and high beams, to ensure they are properly working.
  • Clean your battery and make sure that it is charged. Hot weather can cause batteries to not hold charges because of evaporation of internal battery fluid.
  • Check the coolant level. Sitting in traffic on a hot, summer day can cause the temperature of the engine to go up and this can cause engine problems.
  • Have good windshield wipers. During heavy rainstorms it is important to be able to see what is going on in front of you especially during harsh driving conditions.
  • Finally make sure to have your car’s registration with you and make sure that your car’s inspection sticker is up to date when going on a road trip.

By following these little tips before leaving on that road trip, you won’t end up in the auto shop having to fix up your car. If you do happen to end up in that auto shop you can contact Massachusetts Auto Insurance for advice on what to do. Hopefully this information can help keep you off the side of the road and keep you cruising down the highway.

Tony Lucacio  Merrimack Valley Insurance (Billerica)

 

June – how does your garden grow? – guest blogger Billerica Garden Club

 

Flowers smiling back at me

As I look around outside at my garden bed I can see all sorts of flowers smiling back at me and there are even some that I didn’t expect that are growing!  Of course, I always have room for more flowers even if I have to make a new flower bed.  Lately, I’ve been looking at those pre made flower beds and they are really nice and very easy to put together.

The birds are quite happy and abundant in my garden just lately I saw a Hummingbird happily going in and out of my Rhododendron what a sight! I just love this time of year and it usually takes me at least a month of planting before my flower garden is just right.  Have any of you thought about planting herbs in pots?  I’m going to do a few herbs this year and that way I can use them when I cook.  There are quite a few varieties out there to choose from.

Fertilize

Decide first whether you want to use organic or synthetic (chemical) fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are earth-friendly and pose little danger of burning a plant’s roots; they also tend to improve the soil’s texture. Synthetic fertilizers are usually less expensive than organic fertilizers, but they also are easier to misuse and do nothing to improve soil texture.

Check out the nutrient content of the fertilizer, listed on the package. Many synthetic fertilizers have various balances of nutrients for a specific purpose, such as feeding roses or for root development. Organic fertilizers also have varying ratios of nutrients. When in doubt, use an all-purpose or general fertilizer.

Apply a liquid fertilizer to most annual flowers every two to four weeks and to most perennials or small shrubs – including roses – every four weeks. Follow package directions exactly.

Apply organic fertilizers according to package directions.

Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer as an alternative. Apply once or twice a growing season, following package directions exactly.

Fertilize with compost two different ways: One way is to spread 1 to 2 inches thick on the top of the soil so that nutrients trickle down to the roots. The other way is to put it at the bottom of large planting holes or to work it into a planting area when adding new plants to your garden.
Plant some more flowers

 

Brunnera macrophylla or “Jack Frost” is the 2012 perennial plant of the year and is a wonderful addition to any shade garden. Its heart-shaped silver leaves that are delicately veined with mint green stand out while sprays of bright blue Forget-me-not flowers appear in mid to late spring.  Whether it be sun or shade areas of your yard there is a flower that will fit that spot.  I always add a Perennial or two to my garden but in-between I plant Annuals that way my garden is a work in progress and is like an artist’s canvas when I am done.  Don’t forget to take some pictures of your garden and log it in a book so that next year you can see what looks good and what doesn’t.

A City Garden

If you don’t have a lot of room a container garden is a good choice I always plant a few container gardens in my yard to give it a little depth and dimension.  You can do vegetables or flowers in container gardens. 

Even the smallest patio or porch can boast a crop of vegetables or a garden of flowers in containers. Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are just some of the containers that can be used. The container gardener is limited only by his imagination. Consider the following guidelines when choosing your container.

  • Avoid      containers with narrow openings.
  • Cheap      plastic pots may deteriorate in UV sunlight and terracotta pots dry out      rapidly. Glazed ceramic pots are excellent choices but require several      drainage holes.
  • Wooden      containers are susceptible to rot. Redwood and cedar are relatively rot      resistant and can be used without staining or painting. Avoid wood treated      with creosote, penta or other toxic compounds since the vapors can damage      the plants. One advantage of wooden containers is that they can be built      to sizes and shapes that suit the location.
  • Use      containers between 15 and 120 quarts capacity. Small pots restrict the      root area and dry out very quickly. The size and number of plants to be      grown will determine the size of the container used. Deep rooted      vegetables require deep pots.
  • Make      sure your pot has adequate drainage. Holes should be 1/2 inch across. Line      the base of the pot with newspaper to prevent soil loss you can even use      pine cones to line the bottom of the pot.
  • In      hot climates use light-colored containers to lessen heat absorption and      discourage uneven root growth.
  • Set      containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
  • Line      hanging baskets with sphagnum moss for water retention. Keep baskets away      from afternoon sun.
  • If      you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous and water is lost from      the sides of the container. Plants in clay pots should be monitored      closely for loss of moisture.

Growing Mixture

Make sure your planting medium drains rapidly but retains enough moisture to keep the roots evenly moist. Your compost will make an excellent potting soil. Check the requirements of the plants you grow to determine whether you will need to add sand. If compost is not available, purchase a good quality potting mixture or make your own from equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil, and peat moss. Commercial potting mixes are usually slightly acidic, so you may want to add a little lime.

Most container gardeners have found that a “soilless” potting mix works best. In addition to draining quickly, “soilless” mixes are lightweight and free from soil- borne diseases and weed seeds. These mixes can be purchased from garden centers.

When you add your soil to your container, leave a 2 inch space between the top of the soil and the top of the container. You will be able to add 1/2 inch or so of mulch later.

There is more information on this at http://www.gardenguides.com/685-guide-container-gardening.html

Water

It seems as if this is the year when everything happens early, including the need to spell relief with water for much of the landscape. Here’s some basic watering information-

All plants are best watered early in the day with the rising sun for several reasons. One of the best reasons is that watering early in the day allows any foliage that become wet to dry before nightfall, thereby reducing the potential for many diseases.

Except for lawns, which are watered with overhead sprinklers, most other plants are best watered by concentrating the water near the base of the plant rather that watering “over the top”.

A good method to conserve water and concentrate the needed relief in the root area of the plants is to use a soaker hose.  A drip irrigation system also works well for plants in containers and in the landscape.

Plants in containers require frequent attention and need to be watered more often that those planted in the ground. The frequency and amount of water needed will depend on many variables, including the media, the type of container, exposure to the sun and the type of plant itself.  A thorough watering should given when the soil begins to dry, but not before. Care must be taken to avoid overwatering practices that keep the root system continuously wet and soggy.  Add water-retaining granules or water crystals to keep your plants well watered so they never get over watered or dry.  I have used water-retaining granules before and they work great.

Vegetables, bedding plants and perennials are usually small when planted and initially have a rather shallow root system and will need to be watered with a greater frequency than others that are planted in the ground. Encourage an expanding root system by watering well but less frequently as the plants become established.

Weeding

 

I’m sure I’ve pulled out some flowers over the years that I thought was weeds and wondered why my flowers didn’t come up so I can’t stress enough on labeling your plants that you put in the ground.  If you plant enough flowers to cover your soil you won’t have to weed too much but even if you do have to weed hopefully it will only take you a short time to do it.  Weeding is essential to a beautiful garden.

 

Any plant that grows where you don’t want it can be considered a weed. Besides taking up valuable space in your garden, weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, water and light. If you have trouble moving around the garden, bending or pulling, you will still have to deal with the problem of weeds.

  • Pull      up weeds before they go to seed and self-spread around the garden.
  • Try      to get the whole weed including the root
  • Younger      weeds are easier to pull because they haven’t established a strong root      system
  • Wet      the ground with a drip irrigation hose before weeding and your job will be      easier – Better still, weed after it has rained
  • For      tap roots like dandelions pull straight up with a little pressure on      either side of the stem using a tool with small V-shaped end. If you have      a lot of dandelions look for a long handled tool that will help safe your      back
  • For      weeds growing between cracks in pavement, decks, etc., try pouring boiling      water over them to kill them. If this doesn’t get them all use a weeding      blade, a thin blade with 90 degree bend and sharp edge for cutting between      stones, bricks, etc. These are also available with long handles if you      have a lot of paving stones to clean out
  • Mulch      between plants to help prevent weeds from establishing.
  • Try      to relax about the weeds. A few weeds won’t destroy your garden. If you      overplant with hanging bushy perennials, weeds will not be as apparent.      It’s amazing what you can live with if you don’t know it’s there.

Sometimes plants just don’t make it

 

Everybody and believe me everybody at some point in time kills their plants even the experts kill them so don’t feel bad about a plant dying.  If the plant dies then remove it and replenish the soil add water and fertilizer and put a new plant in its place.  Always check that the soil to see if it is a good aerated soil and that it lets your plants breathe.  Also, look at where you have planted your plants in your yard maybe the plant needs to be moved to another spot.  I have a Hydrangea plant that was not doing well and didn’t bloom I moved it to the back of my yard which was a less sunny spot and it started to bloom.  If your plant looks diseases it might be better to just remove the plant entirely than to have the disease spread to your other plants.

 

Why do we garden?

 

I have been known to spend a few hours in the garden after supper and it never fails that I keep finding things to do in the garden sometimes even just sitting in a chair and watching my garden is so relaxing.  Why do I spend so much time and effort on the garden?

I can think of a few reasons. There is a sense of contentment and tranquility that comes from observing either a single flower – or patchworks of color and texture that seem just right. The same feeling comes from watching a hummingbird climb in and out of a flower, or a monarch butterfly nectaring on a flower, or goldfinches feeding on flowers.

In my view a garden can be a comforting, relaxing place to go where the world seems at peace with itself and there is no yelling no negativity just serenity.  It is a relief to leave that world behind and literally get my hands in the soil. Of course, in addition to touching things that are real, the senses of sight and smell are also gratifying.

Finally, gardening helps me be more connected to my human community. I’ve gotten to know some of my neighbors (especially the dog walkers and those with small children) while gardening in the front yard. Without gardening, I’m sure that community connection would be greatly diminished. I even had neighbors comment on how beautiful the flowers look in my yard which brings a great big smile to my face.  Flowers to me are like my children I pamper them guide them and watch them grow!

June is National Perennial Month

 

The season is still young and there are still a lot of Perennials that you can plant in the ground.  As gardeners we can always find a spot for a plant even if there are no more spots in our yard. If you would like to change your plants in your yard so that you can add different Perennials then contact your local Garden Club they would be happy to remove your plants for you and find a home for them.

 

I’m off the pick up some more annuals to plant in my yard I just find another spot to plant them!

Happy Gardening!

Billerica Garden Club http://www.ilovebillerica.com/GardenClub.html

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