In many regions across the country, we are experiencing above-normal temperatures and a fairly mind winter (knock on wood). In Southern Indiana, the past week or so has been a taste of spring and all the warmth, sunshine, and outdoor activities that we will enjoy soon. In my office, we have been discussing yards and gardens a lot lately as we (im)patiently wait for brighter days, so it seems like a good time to discuss some early garden planning. We all know how much curb appeal nice gardens add to a home, so if you’re thinking of selling, marketing to new tenants, or are getting ready to invest in a home that lacks plant life, this post will be very helpful for you.
It is definitely not too early to begin your garden arrangements now, especially if you want to make some significant changes to your landscape. You need to consider your budget, new/existing plants, when to buy and plant, plus what might be involved with any relocation of existing plants.
The first item to consider in your planning is your budget. We only note this first because costs can get out of hand very quickly in the gardening world. For investors, sticking to a budget is crucial in renovating a house to rent or sell at a profit.
- Plan for your largest investments first. Are you buying any trees or having any new rocks or beds made in the yard? Those will incur the most costs.
- Next, how many plants will you need? When you map out your landscaping areas, always note how large each item will get. Your yard will fill up quicker than you think.
- Other than shrubs/flowers, what else do you need to buy? Do you need to put down fresh mulch or rock? How many bags of potting soil and fertilizer do you need for freshening the flower beds?
- Are you going to try a vegetable garden? There are some extra costs associated with building a raised bed and building scaffolding for the vegetable plants. (I wouldn’t recommend a vegetable garden for investment properties. This point is more appropriate for homeowners or long-term renters.)
- Check around for pricing on your chosen plants. In most communities, there are an abundance of nurseries, landscapers, and grocery stores that carry garden supplies, so you can shop around a bit.
After you have a budget in mind, begin researching what you want to plant.
If you’re starting from scratch, this might be a challenge. If you are able, schedule a consultation with a landscaper or friend who is a gardening veteran to get some help planning what you will need. The right landscaping can completely change the way a home looks, so you want to think through your plants and invest wisely. You don’t need to pay a professional to install everything for you, but it might be nice to get their input on what works well in your region. If you are not able to work with a professional, this guide from Martha Stewart is the best help I’ve found! I have used this guide for personal use and also recommended it to clients.
If you’ve got some existing plants and just want to liven up your property’s appearance for spring, you can simply start researching what grows well in our region. Evansville is in Hardiness Zone 7 for example, so be sure you set your sights on trees, shrubs, and flowers that will be happy in your area. Those will be the easiest to grow and will fare best in our climate.
Next, if you want to scatter some seeds, the next few weeks will be a good time to do that. Many seeds actually need a period of cold before they sprout. If you aren’t comfortable putting the seeds outside due to harsh weather, most will do well growing in your house until early spring. A few to try are:
- Flanders or Corn Poppies
Before you actually plant flowers or new shrubbery, keep your last killing frost date in mind, which is April 1-30 in my zone. Do a quick search online to find your particular zone and last freezing date. If you plant before your last big frost, you do risk losing some plants. Meteorologists are typically really good about warning local gardeners of a spring frost, so you can always place blankets over the plants if you just really want to plant early.
Finally, if you’re thinking of beginning a compost bin, now is the time to get started on that. Use this guide to make your own compost; it is a little gross when you think about what goes into this mixture, but I promise your plants will love it! You will enjoy bigger blooms, greener leaves, and faster growth because of all those nutrients.
What else are you looking forward to doing with your garden this spring? Feel free to share with me and all our readers, especially if you’re sprucing up green space on flips and rentals!