Karen Adelson - Barrett Sotheby's International Realty


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Hanging baskets add personal enjoyment as well as curb appeal to any home. If you're the creative type, you may prefer to make your own rather than purchase ready-made hanging baskets from home and garden retailers. However, DIY hanging baskets sometimes fail to thrive. The following tips and tricks help ensure that your baskets look and perform their best from spring through fall. 

Choose Plants According to Sun/Shade Requirements

Sun-loving plants such as petunias languish and eventually fail to even bloom if placed in areas that don't meet their sun requirements, while shade-lovers such as impatiens and fuchsia may literally burn up if they're exposed to hours of hot sun on a regular basis. 

If the sun requirements aren't listed on the tag that comes with the plant, check online or in your favorite encyclopedia-style gardening book and make sure that you select appropriate locations for your baskets. Also, keep in mind that varieties that thrive in shaded locations often do quite well in morning sun

Choose Plants That Bloom All Season

Most annual plants bloom from spring or early summer until frost,  so stick with them rather than using perennials for your hanging baskets. You'll have to replace them every spring, but that helps keep things interesting and fun. 

Pick Off Spent Blooms 

When flowers go to seed, that sends a signal to the plant that it's time to start slowing down on the blooming process and focus its energy on seed production. Picking off spent blooms, or deadheading, helps fools the plant into continuing to produce flowers. Some annual varieties, such as Wave petunias, have been bred to keep producing even after individual blossoms go to seed, so these make good choices for busy homeowners who may not have time to pay meticulous attention to their hanging baskets. 

Use Potting Soil Designed to Retain Water

Plants growing in hanging baskets require more watering than their counterparts growing in cultivated flower beds because their roots can't reach down deep to access water sources. Using a potting soil designed to retain water helps hedge their bets against drying out before you can get a chance to water them. 

Use Potting Soil With a Slow-Release Fertilizer

Fertilizing hanging baskets with traditional products is tricky — if you apply too much, you run the risk of damaging or even killing the plants, and if you use too little, the fertilizer won't provide the desired benefits. Using potting soil that's infused with a slow-release fertilizer circumvents both of these problems.  

Making your own hanging baskets not only saves you a bit of money at the home and garden center, it also helps you avoid the mass-produced look of the majority of ready-made hanging baskets.


Photo by Javani LLC via Shutterstock

Before you ever place your home on the market, start working on curb appeal. What’s curb appeal? It’s the first thing that makes people want to take a second look when they drive by. If they’re house shopping or just dreaming for the future, a home with curb appeal will bring them back once it has a “For Sale” sign in the yard.

Where Do You Start?

  • Fix the small stuff: The crooked shutter, sagging fence, loose bricks in the walkway or cracks in the stucco trigger the subconscious to wonder what else is wrong. Start your curb appeal efforts by making sure the basics are in top shape.
  • Water the lawn and keep it mowed. Trim the edges too. Rake up leaves and branches, and bag them for removal. Even if your landscaping is simple, if it’s well-kept it catches the eye.
  • Weed the flowerbeds and along the fences. Prune the overgrown bushes and trees too. Sweep away spider webs and debris from corners and gutters.
  • Wash down the exterior surfaces of the house and wash the windows, so they sparkle.

Now that you’ve completed the basics, move on to the more intricate — and costly — items. These include painting the front door a bold, brilliant hue, and while you’re at it, paint the house trim. Even if you can’t paint the entire house, freshening the door and window trim gives your house the “cared for” feeling that buyers want.

Change out the bulbs in the carriage lights and keep them brightly lit. Do the same with the porch lights. As the seasons change, homebuyers may be seeing your home in the early evening, so illuminate pathways with solar lights or place lights at the base of trees, bushes or architectural details of your home.

If your gutters sag, call out a service technician and get them realigned or repaired. Do the same with the downspouts. If they are dented or smashed on the ends, replace them, so they don’t detract from your home.

If you have time to replant your flower beds, add seasonal blooming flowers or colorful foliage to attract the eye. Even if you can’t replant your beds, set out pots of colorful flowers in the front of your home.

If the front of your home has a long driveway or walkway, consider concrete acid stain to give it a beautiful, new surface. And, if the door at the end of that driveway is dented, droopy or bulges, get it replaced. The R.O.I. is worth it.


When it comes to real estate, then the value of your house is everything. While some things that affect its value that you can't influence, such as the location or even the spending power of that market, there are a couple of things that you can take on to significantly raise the value of your home. If you are looking to sell your house sometime in the future, these are not such expensive things that you can start doing now, so that you can get a better deal whenever you are ready to sell.

  1. Make It More Appealing: How does your home look from across the street? Are potential buyers going to want to take a second look? Invest in a fresh coat of paint to make it look appealing. Freshly painted homes have a way of looking attractive to the eye, and that's where the value comes in. You can also look at getting rid of old carpets and long-standing odors and allergens.
  2. Do Some Landscaping: Plant bushes and shade trees around your premises if you can—they help make a place look more desirable, plus you can reduce cooling costs too. If trees look like too much work, get low maintenance shrubs and colorful plants around—make sure you ask for drought resistant ones so that you spend less on water and maintenance. You should also clean up your lawn and any other overgrown bushes you have around your property. If you can't spare the time, hire a lawn service company to do it.
  3. Make It Bigger: It's pretty obvious, the bigger your house, the more valuable it is. You can add a room to it or build a top deck. Buyers always notice things like that. Square footage isn't all that matters, increase the visual footage too, so it looks bigger to the eye. Use blinds to allow light in, since a sunny room looks more substantial. Clear the clutter and all the old junk you don't need any longer too.
  4. Make It More Energy Efficient: An energy efficient home will not only save you money now, but it will also make it more attractive to buyers in the future. Consider using air sealing and insulation improvements, or LED lighting and double-paned windows as they can make it check all the boxes for energy-conscious buyers.

If you’re not sure what will make the most impact on the value of your home, check with your local real estate specialist.


Creating curb appeal is an essential ingredient to attracting potential buyers to a house for sale. Similar to the concept of "dressing for success," when you make a strong first impression, your chances for producing positive results are greatly enhanced.

Looking good from the outside is the first step to capturing people's interest, but that's only the first of several hurdles that you have to clear. The last thing you want to do as a home seller is disappoint prospective buyers when they start looking around inside. That's why it's important to start strong and finish strong! While that may be easier said than done, it's a principle of success you can't afford to ignore.

Once you put your house on the market, there are two factors that could potentially work against you: the elements of time and competition.

  • Time is of the essence: Time can either be your friend or your adversary, depending on how long your house has been on the market. When house hunters see the words "just listed," it creates a feeling of excitement and urgency. For many eager home buyers, those two words mean there's a fresh opportunity to discover the house of their dreams... or at least a reasonable facsimile! It's especially enticing to frustrated buyers who have already looked at a lot of homes, without having found the right one yet. When a new house is listed and put on the market, couples will be thinking and saying "Maybe this house will be the one!" Your challenge as a home seller is to do everything possible and cost-effective to live up to their expectations! An important factor to keep in mind is that the longer a house is on the market, the less appealing it generally is to prospective buyers. Once a house has been languishing on the market for more than a couple months or so, it also puts the sellers at a negotiating disadvantage.
  • Competition is a fact of life: Buying a house is weighty decision. No one takes it lightly, and few buyers are going to make an offer on a house if they haven't looked at several others, too. Well-organized house hunters will have wish lists, "must have" requirements, and detailed notes and recollections about how each house stacks up. So it's important to work with your real estate agent to present your home in its best possible light. When your home compares favorably to other similar properties on market, your chances of getting it sold within a reasonable period of time are greatly improved.
Maintaining an appealing exterior will help give you an inside track in the competitive real estate market, but making sure your property is in good shape from top to bottom will often be the deciding factor in how soon you get to the finish line!

You might believe that your house is real estate market-ready. However, if you fail to allocate the necessary time and resources to boost your house's curb appeal, you may miss out on opportunities to showcase the true beauty of your residence to potential buyers.

Fortunately, there are many proven ways to enhance your house's curb appeal, and these include:

1. Perform Home Exterior Maintenance

Consider the homebuyer's perspective as you assess your residence's exterior – you'll be glad you did. Because if you approach your residence like a homebuyer would, you may be able to identify "hidden" problem areas faster than ever before.

For example, if you notice damaged home siding or a messy front lawn, you should perform assorted home exterior maintenance and repairs. This will enable you to eliminate any home exterior eyesores before you list your residence.

2. Conduct a Property Inspection

If you want to go above and beyond the call of duty to assess your home exterior, you should conduct a property inspection. That way, you can work with a house expert to detect and resolve any home exterior issues.

During a property inspection, a home expert will evaluate your residence both inside and out. Then, the home expert will provide a report that outlines his or her inspection findings.

Review the results of a property inspection closely. The inspection report likely will contain valuable insights that you can use to prioritize myriad home exterior upgrades. And if you complete these upgrades, you may be able to transform an ordinary home exterior into a stunning one.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

The real estate market can be difficult to navigate, particularly for a seller who wants to improve a house's exterior as quickly as possible. Luckily, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can make it simple to find ways to enhance your residence's exterior.

A real estate agent is happy to provide recommendations about how you can upgrade your residence's exterior without breaking your budget. Thus, this housing market professional can help you get the best possible results from any home exterior improvement projects.

Of course, let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide throughout the home selling journey, either.

A real estate agent will help you list your residence and promote it to potential buyers. He or she will even review offers on your house and negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf. With all of this support, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to maximize your home sale earnings.

If you're unsure about how to improve your home's curb appeal or perform various home selling tasks, you should hire a real estate agent. By employing a top-notch real estate agent, you can speed up the home selling process and increase the likelihood of a profitable home sale.