5 Ways to Make Gardening Easier

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If the idea of getting up early on Saturday morning to commune with your landscape is an idea that you cherish, but don’t dare pursue because of the high level of maintenance required, you may be surprised to find out that a perfect garden doesn’t always require backbreaking labor or gallons of water to keep it alive. In fact, there are lots of ways to make gardening easier and increase the time you have to spend glancing at your pert little petunias.

Gardening Doesn’t Have to Be Hard to Be Rewarding

Keeping a garden used to be a massive labor of love, with a huge emphasis on the labor part. But people have been keeping some kind of plant life semi-domesticated since the dawn of human evolution. And, since the dawn of evolution, we’ve been trying to make the process easier and more productive. Whether you’re growing fountain grass or exotic herbs, there’s something on this list that’ll improve your gardening experience:

Sprinklers. The old standby for greener lawns everywhere, sprinklers can be used in other situations, too. For example, if it’s a nice sunny day and the risk of water standing on leaves is small, use one to water your vegetable garden plot. You can also help young trees and shrubs get a good start by sprinkling them gently every warm, dry day.

Drip irrigation. Sprinklers are great for big areas, but what do you do when you just want to water a few specific plants? Drip irrigation is the answer you seek. You can use these systems with basic timers or upgrade to a much more sophisticated system that will let you slowly drip water at the base of plants that don’t like water on their leaves or otherwise need individual care.

Native plants. There’s no such thing as a plant that needs zero attention, but native plants come pretty close. Instead of having to fret over special care for plants that are delicate in your area, choose the ones that have spent generations evolving there. For prairie dwellers, native grasses are a great start; those in the desert can do some pretty incredible things with barrel cactus and dramatic succulents. Visit your local nursery or ask your landscaper what plants are native to your area.

Containers. From pots on the patio railing to gutters loaded down with strawberries, containers make gardening so much easier. You can start with the perfect soil mix, ensuring that drainage isn’t a problem, then add a little fertilizer and your favorite plants. Now you just have to water and watch those babies grow.

Vertical gardens. Plants in and on the ground tend to end up in a mess — especially if those plants are vines! Vertical gardening isn’t limited to these twining climbers, you can also hang levels of containers, allowing you lots of extra space for growing things. Like with any containers, you are totally in control of the environment, but vertical gardening minimizes bending and kneeling. Win-win.

Want to Know The Easiest Way to Garden?

Hire a landscaper from those recommended to you by your real estate agent in the HomeKeeper community! You can also be connected to home pros that install sprinklers, groom your lawn, or even help you divert greywater to landscaping. The sky’s the limit in your garden once you get to know the clever folks recommended by agents and pros alike in the HomeKeepr community.

The 2019 U.S. Houzz & Home report shows that costs have steadily risen in recent years, a trend expected to continue

 June 5, 2019
Houzz Editorial Staff. Writing about the cost of renovation and what it takes to...More
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Spending on renovations of kitchens and bathrooms in the U.S. rose significantly last year, a new Houzz study shows. The increase is likely a result of the ongoing trade war with China.

For kitchens, the median national spending amount jumped 27 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the 2019 U.S. Houzz & Home report, the largest publicly available survey of residential remodeling, building and decorating activity in the United States. Spending on master bathroom renovations went up 14 percent, while spending for nonmaster bathrooms rose 17 percent. And the trend is expected to continue this year. 

“Last year’s 10 percent increase in tariffs on imported building materials is clearly hitting consumer pockets in areas such as kitchens and bathroom remodels that are heavily dependent on imports of cabinetry, countertops, ceramic tile, plumbing fixtures and vinyl flooring from China,” says Nino Sitchinava, Houzz’s principal economist. “We expect similar effects to take place in 2019, given the recent breakdown in trade negotiations.”

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May 06, 2019

Real Estate Agents Answer: What Are The Most Costly Mistakes Property Investors Make?


Investing in real estate is a gamble, one that either pays off big or sets you back. With that in mind, I've taken it upon myself to ask veteran real estate agents to share their experiences. I asked them to point out the most costly mistakes that investors make. They're listed for you below. Be sure to read them over so that you do not fall prey to the same expensive pitfalls.

Not having a set buying strategy:

"Understand who you are as an investor. Are you looking to invest long term or do you want a quick return on your money? It is important that you have a set plan and do not deviate. A long term plan would be to buy a property, collect income form rent and grow the equity in the property over time. A short term plan would be buying at a good price, doing some improvements, and selling the property in a timely manner for a profit."

Ralph DiBugnara, President of http://homequalified.com/about/" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Home Qualified and Vice President at https://cardinalfinancial.com/" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Cardinal Financial in New York, NY.



Hiring the wrong agent:

"If you're purchasing a luxury condominium you want to hire an agent familiar with that market. If you're buying a ten-unit, multi-family apartment building, you'll need someone with experience in that market. Unfortunately, sometimes I see investors hiring agents who are not familiar with the neighborhood or type of property that they're selling."

http://www.ChicagoRealEstateSource.com" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Jose Hernandez, Real Estate Consultant with Coldwell Banker in Chicago IL.


Forgetting to do their due diligence:

"Investors are always attracted to properties that appear to be priced below the market, but many don't dig too deep to understand why that is the case. This is an especially common concern with all-cash buyers who at times don't bother with inspections and just assume they can take care of any hiccups that arise."

Andrew Weinberger, CEO at https://www.propertyclub.nyc" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">PropertyClub in New York, NY.

Underestimating capital expenses:

"Repair and maintenance costs will be one of the biggest surprises for many beginning real estate investors. Experienced investors will set aside a percentage on the value of the property for ongoing maintenance and repair costs. As the property gets older, the appliances and HVAC system will wear out and the roof will need replacing. You don’t want to be caught unprepared for these capital expenses."

- Scott Hines with https://www.premierbuyersagent.com/" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Premier Buyer's Agent in Nashville, TN. 

Over-improving the property:

"A huge mistake that investors make is making their property the nicest one on the block. Some investors believe that if they add the most expensive furnishings or decorations it'll guarantee a higher price. This is sound logic if other homes in the area are sporting these same features.

However, if you're the first (and only) investor to add these premium features, it might mean that the buyers in that area aren't interested in a luxury rain shower head or sliding barn doors. Know what repairs will actually produce an ROI as opposed to creating a money-pit of an investment."

-   Marie Oates with https://www.thehivelaw.com/real-estate-lawyer-atlanta-ga/" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">The Hive Law, Real Estate Lawyers in Atlanta, GA. 

Trying to go it alone:

"We see people try to do it alone, without building a solid team. It's really hard to do all things well, and investing in real estate is no different. Unless it's going to be a full-time job, investors should look to assemble a team that will help them execute on their strategy and bring their expertise. Build a team that includes an investment savvy real estate agent, contractors, property management professionals, and accounting and legal expertise."

- Kevin Ortner, CEO of https://www.renterswarehouse.com/offices/minneapolis-st-paul" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 56, 145); text-decoration: none; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">Renters Warehouse in Minneapolis, MN.

As a real estate blogger and content creator from a family of Realtors, home buying and selling is what I know. In addition to Forbes, my work can be found on Realtor.c