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Skaggs: A home's curb appeal takes some planning
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More information on landscape design form the Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Looking for more gardening info?
Attend the Vegetable Gardening Seminar at Jaemor Farms
Drew Echols, farm manager at Jaemor Farms, and Billy Skaggs, Hall County Extension agent, will be presenting a seminar on vegetable gardening form 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the barn at Jaemor. Topics include soil preparation and testing, variety selection, planting, fertilizing and watering. Vegetable transplants and seed will also be available for sale. Cost is $12 and attendees are encouraged to pre-register by calling Jaemor at 770-869-3999.

In today’s economy, everyone is well aware of the housing slump. If you are trying to sell a home right now, improving the home’s curb appeal is a great idea. And for those planning to stay in their homes for a few more years, why not make it more inviting and enjoyable for you and your family?

To improve your home’s appearance, walk out to the street or mailbox and take a look. On most home sites, the house is the prominent feature. All plants, driveways, fences, walkways and other items should complement the home. Shrubs and trees unite the house with its surroundings by softening vertical lines and making the building seem a natural part of the terrain.

The two major landscape design areas around your home are at the corners and doorway, as both have abrupt or harsh vertical lines. Your front door, a beacon to visitors, is the house’s focal point, and short plantings on either side are appropriate. Taller plants are suitable for corners, where they will funnel the viewer’s eye toward your doorway plants and front door. Houses that are too tall appear shorter if the corner plants extend out on each side, with the tallest plants near the corners.

Trees frame the house, focusing on it as the main feature of your property. Plant trees whose mature size is in scale with the house. Low houses will look dwarfed by massive trees, and large homes will appear taller than they actually are if very tall trees are used.

The object is to select trees that match the design of the house. Steeply angled roof lines and dormer windows call for pyramidal trees such as hollies, birch and arborvitae. Trees with rounded or horizontal form, like maples, dogwood and redbud, are better companions for the low lines of a ranch style house.

Low shrubs and ground covers along house walls provide a smooth transition from home to lawn. Having shrubs along the front wall reduces the apparent height of a tall building. Having open spaces with natural mulch, such as pine bark or pine straw, and ground covers in the planting can make low-built homes appear more massive.

The simpler the plantings near the house, the better. Use only a few kinds of shrubs, normally not more than five different types. However, do plan for some variety in size, form and texture. Consider adding areas for flowers or ornamental grasses, but keep these at a minimum height. Select shrubs whose natural height and growth pattern fit the desired space to keep pruning to a minimum.

Avoid pruning shrubs into unnatural shapes as they are difficult to maintain and don’t always enhance the landscape.

Flowers are most appreciated where you spend time relaxing outdoors, usually the backyard for modern homes, the front yard for older homes. Plan beds with a combination of straight lines and bold sweeping curves. Numerous small, wiggly curves have little visual impact. Make a big splash with flowers using large masses of single colors.

Home landscapes, like clothing and cars, go in and out of style. After years of growth, many yards are ready for landscape renewal and improvement.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.

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