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How to achieve market-ready landscaping with the experts at Sundown Landscape

If you need help to get your home’s interior ready for sale, look no further than Olive + Opal, but when it comes to the home’s exterior, well, let’s just say it’s probably better to turn to a landscaping expert. And with Spring right around the corner, that’s exactly what we did!

The exterior of your home is just as important as the interior and when it comes to first impressions, it’s even more important. So we reached out to Jeff Haring and the amazing team at Sundown Landscape to answer all your burning landscape questions. Follow their professional advice to get your yard market-ready in no time. Or better yet, give Sundown a call and let them take one thing off your list - that's what we do at the Neal house!

O+O: What are some quick and easy ways to get my lawn and landscaping ready when I’m listing my home for sale?

Sundown: A tidy, attractive front yard encourages potential home buyers to stop and look at your home. Landscape professionals call this having “curb appeal.” An unkempt exterior creates a bad first impression and could cost you a sale, or money at the closing table. Here are the top 5 things you can do to prep your lawn & landscape before listing it for sale:

O+O: If I have only a small budget for improvements to your lawn and landscaping, what gives me the most bang for my buck?

Sundown: If you have a small budget, the single best thing you can do to make your home picture-ready is to invest in a fresh coat of mulch. The best time to apply mulch is right before the pictures are taken and a few weeks prior to your first showing - but better late than never. In most cases, Sundown Landscape recommends shredded oak mulch (bark fiber), a richly colored brown mulch that will turn a lighter brown in about 30 days. If you want the dark brown color to last, consider using dyed mulch, but keep in mind that dyed mulch is more expensive. Generally, you don’t need to install more than about 2” of new mulch. After installation, use a rake to smooth the surface of the mulch.

To further enhance your home’s curb appeal, Sundown also suggests that you remove any dead or unsightly plants. Be sure to prune any overgrown shrubs, especially if they are blocking your windows, doors or pathways. Also, pull out any weeds in planting beds and pick up fallen sticks, and rake up leaves and debris cluttering your lawn, planting beds, and curbs. Make sure that the edges of the planting beds are well-defined. To create a clean, natural edge, cut along the bed with a straight-edged spade, leaving a 2” gutter to prevent mulch from washing out of the bed.

O+O: It’s already March and I still need to do some planting before I list my home – what types of plants and/or flowers do you recommend this time of year that will look great for my pictures?

Sundown: If you’re looking to add some greenery to your landscape, consider planting evergreen shrubs, such as Boxwood, Holly, Laurel, Dwarf Juniper, or Dwarf Spruce. These shrubs have kept their foliage all winter long and are already green when other shrubs are still unfurling their new leaves. And if you’d like a splash of color, Azaleas (many colors) and Forsythias (yellow) are among the earliest spring blooming bushes. Other shrubs that flower a little later in spring include Lilac (purple), Deutzia (pink or white), and Weigela (pink).

O+O: Similarly, I have some large pots to set out on my front porch – what types of plants or flowers are low maintenance and can withstand the temperamental St. Louis weather this time of year?

Sundown: For additional blossoms, plant Pansies in the ground or in decorative pots. Pansies come in many colors and can withstand cool spring temperatures, but won’t tolerate summer heat. Similarly, Dusty Miller and Flowering Kale are good early spring annuals that can bring color & interest to your pots or gardens. Petunia, Lantana, and Geranium are good summer bloomers and should be planted during the first week of May if your home goes to market later in the season. Place flowering pots and attractive shrubs near your front door to highlight the entry point and welcome prospective buyers into your home.

O+O: When is the best time to lay new mulch? And it all kind of looks the same to me, is there a specific type of mulch that you recommend?

Sundown: In terms of prepping a home for sale, mulch is best laid right before pictures, and if it can be timed right, a week or two prior to the first open house. In terms of the best horticulturally sound practice, mulch is applied in the spring months.

Not only does mulch have an aesthetic quality, it is functional in that it retains moisture for the plant material it surrounds. A fresh layer of mulch helps plant material survive our hot and dry summers. Mulch can also be refreshed in the fall to help insulate plant material from the sometimes-frigid temps we see throughout the winter.

Sundown sells and installs two main varieties of mulch. The first is a ‘bark fiber’ double ground mulch, which is 100% organic and is typically a lighter brown than other darker varieties. This mulch tends to fade a bit over the summer months but will break down throughout the year, providing organic matter to your planting beds. The second variety we use is a dyed brown, which is commonly referred to as ‘chocolate mulch.’ Chocolate mulch is essentially the same as the mulch described above but includes an additional brown dye which coats and dries on the mulch. This gives the mulch a darker look that holds throughout the season, but because of the dye it does not break down the same and thus provides less organic matter to your plant material.

We always recommend spring and fall fertilization of your plants, but especially if you use a dyed mulch. In regards to a recommendation, I would say this: as a ‘plant guy’ and someone that is not currently listing my house for sale, I use the organic ‘bark fiber’ mulch in my beds simply because it feeds my plant material while also protecting it. But I must admit, the dyed mulch & its darker color does have a certain ‘pop’ to it that I think can benefit the ultimate curb appeal of a home that is for sale.

O+O: Oftentimes homeowners are scrambling to get everything done (inside and outside) in preparation for listing. What types of services does Sundown provide and typically how far out in advance would you recommend a homeowner reach out to schedule services?

Sundown: To keep costs low, do whatever work you can handle yourself. However, if you aren’t confident doing the work yourself or simply don’t have the time, Sundown Landscape offers all of the above services and more. We are happy to advise you on what plants to choose for your landscape, or help with a clean-up and mulch to give the home a quick face-lift. Spring is often our busiest time of the year, so we encourage homeowners to contact us as soon as possible and allow 4 weeks for work to be completed.

Sundown Landscape is a family-owned and operated business that has been servicing the St. Louis area since 1979. We specialize in design, installation & maintenance of residential landscapes. Whether it is a complete redesign & install for your property, or a maintenance program to keep what you already have looking great, Sundown is happy to help.

If you are interested in contacting the Sundown Landscape team for an estimate, reach out to Dave and Jeff Haring for more info!