Portland Spring Lawn and Garden Care
Winters in Portland can be calamitous — winds blow in leaves, pine needles and debris while shaking down loose tree limbs. Heavy rains create sinkholes and unexpectedly cold temperatures may damage some plants. If you’re listing your home on the Portland real estate market this spring (but even if you’re not) your home could probably use a little lawn, garden and patio help.
Thankfully, spring in the City of Roses is redemptive. Blooming flowers, warm breezes, and YouTube-worthy rainbows all beckon us outdoors. Here are my real estate agent tips for getting your outdoor spaces cleaned up and ready for summer — as well as potential buyers.
Portland Spring Lawn Tips
More and more Portland homeowners are choosing to replace lawns with water-saving alternatives like rock or rain gardens, play spaces and outdoor patios, but the benefits of a lawn are age-old: An open space to kick a ball around or relax, low maintenance, and aesthetically – a classic.
Spring is a great time to do some simple maintenance that will keep your lawn looking good all summer long. Start here.
- Even it out. In the rainy season, most lawns in Portland turn into squishy green swamps, but the excess water does the grass no harm unless it was also walked on during that time. If that’s the case, the lawn surface might become uneven once it’s finally drained. To fix this problem, the first thing to do is come through with some fill dirt and even out the surface. Throwing some grass seed — preferably one with fertilizer mixed right in — on top will ensure that the lawn is consistently green again in a few weeks, and you won’t be running the risk of someone turning an ankle in a hole.
- Weed. While the subsoil is still nice and moist, come through and pull up dandelions, crab grass, clover and any other invaders. Use a thin weeding tool, not a trowel, to avoid leaving bare patches in your grass. Because weeds — especially dandelions — pull up nutrients from deep down in the soil, they make a great addition to compost. You may not want to start a compost pile if you’re listing your home for sale this spring, but your neighbor might want those weeds to compost with.
- Consider moss solutions. Many Portland lawns have a moss problem — but while this plant does love the moist climate, the problem is moss does more to soil compaction or acidity than excess rain. Soil aeration is the solution to compacted, hard lawn, but it’s usually best done in fall. To tell if your soil is too acidic, take a soil sample and send it to one of the places recommended in this City of Portland article. A standard soil test can be completed for as little as $10 and will help you take your lawn care to the next level!
- Rake. Even if you raked in the fall, running a rake over your lawn now can help remove thatch buildup, allowing new grass to come up and fill in thin patches.
Curb Appeal for Landscapes and Gardens
Every Portland yard is different, but here are my general rules for prioritizing outdoor projects when it comes time to sell your home.
- While a landscaped yard is definitely more appealing than a dirt patch, big investments in landscaping don’t always offer a return when selling a home. The exception would be grading or other changes that extend the life and usability of the home or property. Keep in mind, the appraiser will typically give you a zero dollar value for an amazing yard as the appraiser will not know if the next owner will take care of it, so they don’t typically give it any value!
- Instead of expensive landscaping renovations, focus on staging the areas. Remove dead plant material, prune as needed, and keep existing plants well mulched and watered.
- It’s fine to leave a layer of leaf mulch in your garden beds, but reach underneath to pull up those tiny weeds before they become giant problems later in the season, when you might not have time to come back and weed. A bag or two of bark mulch can work wonders in creating an eye-pleasing look in your garden.
- If your outdoor space includes raised beds, ensure that the containing wood or brick is in good condition. Consider replacing rotted boards if the raised beds are in the front of the home or other prominent areas. Stage the raised beds before pictures with black soil or recently budded plants.
- Finally, as a real estate agent, I’m a big fan of removing any vegetation that looks like it could grow large enough to reach the side of the home. Cut all vegatation off that touches your siding or roof. You’ll make life easier on home inspectors, other buyer’s agents and your home buyers when your home does sell.
Staging Patios and Decks
Many Portland homes have some kind of outdoor space. There are five ways to ensure that your covered porch or open deck or patio is considered a home asset, not a detriment!
- When your home is listed, be sure your real estate agent describes your outdoor space correctly: Patios are ground-level, detached spaces and are not the same thing as a deck. A deck is attached to the home and usually built from wood or engineered lumber. A patio is constructed from brick, concrete, tile, or paving stones.
- Be sure to eliminate any safety hazard. If a deck is rotted and you can’t afford to replace it, access should be restricted. Mark any cracks or uneven places with paint or some other method in the patio surface as tripping hazards.
- For staging, the first step is to de-clutter. Outdoor spaces should be clean and clear of any unneeded items. At the very most, a grill, a bird feeder or two, and some patio furniture should be visible, but only if they are in good condition! No cobwebs, peeling paint or rust — if these items can’t be cleaned up, they’re best stored away.
- That said, some decks and patios do need “dressing”. Potted plants are a nice way to define the space, add privacy, and screen unsightliness. Because these outdoor areas are usually exposed to the sun in the summer months, go for heat-tolerate plants: Rosemary, lavender, bamboo, or succulents are good choices.
- Ask your real estate agent if professional home staging consultation is included in their services. My team includes home staging consulation in our real estate listing package. Just ask!