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TO GROW A GREAT HEDGE, ADD BEER

Updated Sunday, April 22, 2012  ::  Views (9512)

     SUBTITLE - THE INVESTMENT THAT TRULY GROWS!

Not everyone wants to garden, but most folks want to increase their property values.

   This blog is for economy-minded homeowners – especially those with no intention of getting any closer to dirt than a copy of National Enquirer.

   If you’re gardening primarily with a view to increasing market value, forget all those over-achieving exhortations to time your blooms, contrast textures and shapes, plan four-season interest, choose complementary colors…you might as well try choosing your neighbor’s wardrobe for all the appeal it could have to a potential buyer.

  And all those lovely peonies you’ve collected and nurtured may well get ripped out after you sell because, to the new owners, they’re just the plant version of party girls who make a big splashy entrance but shortly keel over drunk on the couch.

  By all means, plant whatever you like, but don’t expect someone to love your garden fashions or pay extra for them.

    Here’s the golden rule of landscaping to increase property value – and you’ve heard it before – time is money. Plant the items that take time to mature, and that make an obvious contribution to the property, be it shade, privacy and/or aesthetic appeal, (although this last factor can be subjective). And plant them as soon as you possibly can!

     It’s even more important to landscape for privacy if your property borders a busy road. This location impacts market value. But a privacy barrier can soften the hit.

    If you have a fair area to hedge, buy smaller shrubs if necessary to keep the project affordable, but get them growing. There’s also no rule that says you have to go all hedge or all fence. Hedging eats up significant space in a small city backyard. Try alternating some screening shrubs or small trees with tall sections of freestanding lattice panels. The visual effect pleasingly breaks up the linear monotony of perimeter barriers. Sit in your favorite outdoor chair and check your sight lines to determine where to place shrubs or panels for maximum privacy. If it’s a spot you only use in warm weather, you can also choose from deciduous shrubs for summer-only privacy.

   If you have one of those chain-link utility fences, you’ve actually got the makings of excellent vine support for climbers such as clematis. Try golden clematis (clematis tangutica). It’s not cut back annually, it’s easy to trim, and its nodding yellow bells turn to hairy seed heads that wear little caps of snow during the winter. To screen off your porch or deck, try the time-honored favorite for this role, Dutchman’s Pipe vine. Its large and overlapping leaves, like scales on some giant reptile, give complete privacy.

   Tall grasses are also excellent fast-growing screening plants. But make sure they’re not invasive.

   Whatever you plant, mulch deeply and water well, especially before freeze-up in the fall. It’s not so much the cold as drying winds that kill plants over the winter. They have to be well hydrated to make it through until spring. Cedars, a favorite hedging choice, are particularly prone to winter burn. They also benefit from being doused all over because they can draw water in through their scale-like leaves.

  Whatever way you do it, new hedges need a lot of watering the first few years, and automatic sprinklers are useless. Hand-watering each plant, for a minimum of about three minutes, is the way to go. And this is where the beer comes in, because if you want your hedge to thrive, you’ll be spending a lot of time with a hose in your hand. You might as well have something in the other.

   But hey, it’s better than gardening.

 

 


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