A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

A Sea of Plants: Choosing the Right One for Your Garden

Can you tell who is getting ready to sell their home? I have found that there are two common signs: a lot of trash from remodelling sitting on the curb and flowers in the garden. As I am driving to the hardware store for a tail pipe to fix my sink and new door hardware for my daughter’s room, I count four houses readying to go onto the market. I would prefer to have my home looking good for me, rather than the next owner, but we are creatures of habit. Make the old look new again to encourage the sale.

I inspected two houses which were both built in 2004 this past week. Neither had gardens to speak of, and certainly no trees. Both homes were foreclosures. I wonder if the former owners ever really enjoyed their lives there, but some people do not find pleasure in the garden as I do. My week was spent helping an owner prepare her home for sale, instead of in my own garden. At least, I was still playing in the dirt of a garden. In this couple’s case, their garden consisted of plants that were easily dealt with every week, but nothing stood out with a beautiful bloom.

She asked me to go to the garden center with her to pick out some plants. We drove over to the Houston Garden Center, and I was impressed to see such a sea of plants. I prefer Cornielius Nursery myself, but this place does have some good deals on the most common choices. My client asked about the plant with a spike with a blue ball for a flower. She meant agapanthus, which she wanted in a shady spot. This is the main problem with plant placement that I see. Plants come with tags that state if they should be in the sun or shade. The rule of thumb is you could safely go down on sunlight a bit from the stated guide line (sun to partial sun), but a plant marked for sun will not do well in shade.

How much shade do you have in any one spot though? There are days that I spend most of the day in my garden. I have chairs and benches in many different spots, so I can pick the best place to read at a given time. I watch how the sun plays across the ground during the course of the day. Most of us may not have the desire to spend a day in the garden, or we may not have the means. There is a device that can be set in a garden bed for a day, so you can see how much light you are actually getting. Some plots that you may think of as deep shade could actually be partial shade, or may even qualify for partial sun. These labels will also change from month to month, since the sun changes position.

Do not wait to create the home that you want for the next person. Let it be for you. I do a little bit in the garden each week, but if you did a little each month, you will find after some time that you will have your own little paradise.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

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