Basic Solar Electric Economics

Solar electricity is the big thing right now and many people are entering the field. There are a few things you need to know about it to make an intelligent decision.
First; efficiency of the panels. The efficiency of solar panels is getting better. The average used to be 12 to 18% of the sun’s energy falling on the panel ended up as electrical energy.  Some of the newer panels are at around 24% and the newest multi spectrum panels can convert more.  The University of Delaware has a panel under development that can reach 42% efficiency and there are theories which speculate 85 to 90% is possible. Of course these are a long ways off and we need to  realize that more efficient panels cost more money, so there is a cost benefit ratio to consider. Included  in that calculation should be the natural deterioration of the panels’ ability to produce energy. Some estimates are that a panel will have about 90% efficiency at 12 years and 80% at 25 years.

The next thing you need to think about is system life and where they go. Solar panels are usually roof  mounted and they don’t move around easily. The life of a system is assumed to be 20 to 25 years. Will  the roof last that long? If not the panels have to come off when the roof is replaced and then the system  re-installed. This could be a big expense. Generally, you should only put solar panels on a new roof.

Ground mounted panels are less of a problem but are still susceptible to theft.
How about the cost of electricity? Solar electricity cost obviously will vary based upon system cost, system size and efficiency and the cost of the power it replaces. There are also government and utility incentives to using solar.

These are moving targets so we will not try to calculate the numbers that apply to you, but we should look at the variables so you can be aware of what to look for:
System cost and system lifetime production – It is a good place to start. Many systems actually do not send the power to your home. They sell it back to the electric company instead, so you buy electricity at one rate and sell it at another. Here is some math: If a system costs $45,000 and produces 119,246 KWH over its 20 year life then the cost of electricity is $0.38 per KWH. But you may find that your local utility company will buy back all of the power you generate, so you can sell it back to them at, let’s say $0.28 per KWH. Let’s also assume that your, “on the bill cost” for electricity is an average of $0.25 per KWH.

For our example of how this works we will say that you use 550 KWH in a month and then we can do some basic calculations:
You will have a cost of $ 137.50 (at $.25 / KWH) from the utility for the 550 KWH you used in a month. If your solar system generated 496 KWH during the same time period you would get a rebate of $138.88 (at $.28 / KWH), making your net cost, without the cost of the system being figured in, $-1.38.
That leaves you $138.88 saved dollars to pay for the system. What does the system power cost? Our example costs $.38 / KWH so the actual cost of the solar electricity you generated, counting the system cost, was $188.48 on which you got back $138.88 for a total real cost of $49.60 for the month. That’s not bad! Our electric bill has gone, (in our make believe example) from $137.50 down to $49.60 but we had to pay $45,000 in advance by buying a solar system in order to get it.

So what can go wrong? A few things. The rate you sell the electricity you generate is often artificially high as mandated by government regulation. It doesn’t make sense that your utility will be able to indefinitely buy electricity for more than they sell it, so how long is the “buy back” price good for? And if it changes what is it likely to change to? On the other hand few people think the cost of residential electricity will go down so it is very likely that your monthly usage bill will go up over the years changing the calculations. How much? It’s a guess but at least we can be reasonably sure that higher is the direction of future costs. If our electricity cost went from $.25 / KWH to $.40 / KWH then the 550
KWH we used would cost $220 and our electric bill would still be offset only by our “buy back” price of $.28 / KWH, so instead of a small refund we would have to pay $81.12 for the same usage and generation. Your basic economics don’t change but you still have the added costs of increases. In other words, you cannot “freeze” your electrical costs. If rates go up you pay the difference.

What about “Smart Meters”? Smart meters talk to the utility company so you don’t need a meter reader any longer, but these meters are smarter than you think. They also monitor consumption and are the basic tool for charging you more during peak hours and less during low demand periods, which is coming soon. Will they also make it possible for the utility to pay you less during off peak electrical usage hours? What will smart meters do to your deal with the utility? The rate and consistency of buy back is a key element to system value. Make sure you understand it.

Finally who will maintain the system? Does no moving parts really mean no maintenance? Solar panels get dirty and have to be cleaned. Who climbs up on the roof and does that? How about when things go wrong? What happens if a panel stops working in year 10? My friend has panels on his roof which are mounted about 6 inches off of the roof surface. Pigeons live under them and got into the attic through a corroded eyebrow vent. The panels made it a lot harder to get rid of the pigeons and fix the vent. The
amount of maintenance and who does it is a key element in your costs.

Solar has government support. The Feds and some states will give you tax credits. In California some counties will give you a partial subsidy and some will allow you to borrow against your future property taxes. These are good programs which make solar more attractive financially. Check with your county government and tax preparer to find out what will benefit you and to what extent. There is more to solar than simply money. Its’ best feature is that it is not oil based and does not generate a whole lot of carbon (if you are a carbon believer this could be important) and these can be features that are worth a lot to some people. But regardless of a person’s motivation for installing a solar electrical system it is still important to understand the economics and how to calculate the cost and which variables to consider and then use this information as one of the elements in your decision process.

Smart Green Reports are brought to you by the Peninsula Builders Exchange. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the construction industry. We serve contractors, owners, designers and suppliers and have been doing this since 1945. Visit us on the web at or
give us a call at 650-591-4486. We are here to help.

New Rainbow Light Headquarters Set to Anchor the First Certified LEED Neighborhood Pilot Project in Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, CA (PRWEB)

Rainbow Light® Nutritional Systems, a leader in natural, whole food-based supplements, will relocate its corporate headquarters to the new Delaware Addition on the West side of Santa Cruz. The Delaware Addition is among the first 25 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Neighborhood Pilot Projects in the United States, certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Rainbow Light’s new headquarters will become the banner building and a gateway to the neighborhood, with close proximity to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Santa Cruz, which is the company’s home community of 31 years.“We’re thrilled and proud to be the anchor building in the first LEED neighborhood in Santa Cruz,” says Rainbow Light president Linda Kahler. “The green innovations in site and building design represented by the Delaware Addition are perfectly aligned with Rainbow Light’s long-term commitment to environmental stewardship and to our roots in the Santa Cruz community.”

LEED is an internationally recognized mark of excellence and the Delaware Addition has helped set the new international standard for sustainable communities, including conserving water and energy, mixing commercial and residential uses in higher-density configurations, proximity to existing communities and infrastructure, bike and pedestrian ways, charging stations for electric cars and providing the types of amenities that make traditional car trips shorter or even unnecessary.

“By design, this project responds to the way we want to live today, and the way we will be living in the future,” says Mark Primack, the architect behind the Delaware Addition, who has maintained his practice in Santa Cruz since 1978. “This neighborhood will balance work and living space, shopping and recreation in one convenient, flexible and environmentally conscious location. It promotes Santa Cruz as a globally recognized design destination. And Rainbow Light’s new headquarters will help set the bar for next the generation of sustainable work environments.”


Rainbow Light expects construction on its new site to begin in late 2012 with a move-in date projected in 2013. This move is the most recent commitment in Rainbow Light’s long history of environmental stewardship. Since its inception, the company has been devoted to operating sustainably and was the first natural vitamin manufacturer to convert to EcoGuard™ bottles, made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material, which reduces plastic waste and promotes recycling. The company’s mission is to build a stronger state of health for its customers, natural trade partners, the global community and the planet.

Rainbow Light® Nutritional Systems, a leader in natural, whole food-based supplements, will relocate its corporate headquarters to the new Delaware Addition, among the first 25 LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Neighborhood Pilot Projects in the United States, certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

For more information on Rainbow Light visit For more information on the Delaware Addition visit

Why You Should Winterize Your Home Before Winter


It is coming and it cannot be stopped. Its wrath can be devastating to your home. The cost to repair the damage can destroy your household budget and decimate the family’s vacation savings fund. There is nothing we can do about it. It hits us every year. Winter.

Why should you think about the winter at a time of year when you are enjoying those fruity rum beverages on the beach?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, not too many of us have the spare time to do more than one item per weekend from “oh honey do” list. There are sixteen weekends between now and winter. Subtract the number of weekends you already have things planned that you’d rather not do; factor in the weekends you hope to go play outside in the fresh air; then guesstimate how many “surprise” weekends you’ll spend entertaining the in-laws. You’ll find that you have very little time for only a handful of projects.

Right now the squirrels are collecting their nuts and the bears are fattening up. You should get ready too. Now is the time to plan for winter.

The fixes and improvements we should do now that will benefit us most during the winter aren’t usually realized until it is actually winter. Putting in new windows now can save you 15% of your heating and cooling bills, but most of us don’t think about it until we get slammed with a huge utility bill in the middle of January. At that time it will be too cold to replace the windows and you’re stuck paying for all that wasted energy until next year – when you forget to do something about again it until it’s too late and the cycle continues.

Planning for a big project such as window replacement takes a lot of time. Most homeowners will hire someone for a big job instead of doing it themselves. Finding a contractor you trust for your project could take a month and getting permits could take just as long. This can eat up more of those precious weekends left before winter.

If you want to make sure you are ready for winter take a look around your house with critical eyes. If you see something that is not quite right, like a few missing roof shingles or a piece of loose siding, put it on the priority list. Small problems now can be become huge issues later if they are forced through the grinding of winter weather. The wind can tear off huge sections of your siding by simply grabbing a hold of that one loose piece, and the missing shingles can let the rain in and ruin your roof.

The winter is tough and in many places can be very wet and even frozen. Many of the fixes you should do now are moisture prevention measures. Water is the number one cause of damage to a house. In the winter water expands when it freezes. Foundations can crack and driveways can crumble. The fix for your problem could be as simple as a few minutes of caulking or a quick coat of paint.

But getting ready for winter isn’t only about preventative measures. Be proactive. Consider some of things that you can do now that will make your winter life a whole lot better later.

Were you frustrated last winter when you had no place to plug in your holiday lights? Did you end up running the electrical cord through a window only to discover that, as your neighbors enjoyed your pretty holiday light show, you suffered uncomfortable drafts? Those drafts aren’t only uncomfortable they cost you a lot of money by robbing your home of its energy efficiency. You probably wished you’d spent the time to have an extra plug put outside. Now’s the time to do that.

Planning ahead can make the whole DIY thing more enjoyable, too. Instead of getting up super early on a Saturday morning to fight the crowds at the home improvement store, you will know what you need well in advance and can run in and out of the store during the week when there are no crowds.

The harsh cold winter and all of its devastation will be here soon. As the fleeting warm weekends between now and then fly by, make your defense plan and prepare. It could prevent you from having to climb the ladder in a sub-zero snowstorm, and save your house along with your butt.

20 Things That Can Alter the Value of Your Home

By Dana Dratch •             Kitchen by Smallman Construction and Electric

When you’re house-hunting it’s important to be able to identify the things that increase thevalue of a home and those that actually detract. The seller and his agent, after all, will try to convince you that rail line that runs through the backyard is good because it provides extra green space. Here are 10 features that can add value to your home, and another 10 that could reduce the sales price:

1. An updated kitchen. “Kitchens are critical,” says Robert Irwin, author of “Home Buyer’s Checklist.” “Today, people like a big kitchen with a lot of workspace.”

They look for solid surface counters and high-quality flooring, such as wood, laminate, tile or stone. And they want newer appliances in working order.

Even if it’s not huge, it should have “countertops that are serviceable that aren’t going to have to be replaced soon and cabinetry in good condition,” says Alan Hummel, past president of the Appraisal Institute. “It has to be well-appointed and large enough to fit your needs.”

And it doesn’t hurt if it opens onto another room. “A lot of families are looking for that openness,” says Hummel.

It helps to have a window over the sink, says Don Strong, a remodeler with Brothers Strong Inc., a Houston remodeling firm.

Be wary if renovations are out of character with the community, such as granite countertops in a subdivision where plastic laminate is the norm.

“Will you sell faster? Yes,” says Hummel, CEO of Iowa Residential Appraisal Co., in Des Moines. “Will it sell for more? Not if the appointments you’ve done are significantly higher quality that the rest of the neighborhood.”

2. Modern bathrooms. Buyers are looking for “master baths that give a little room to roam,” says Hummel.

A big asset: spa or whirlpool tubs. “I’m always entertained by the people who have them in the master bath and don’t use them,” says Ron Phipps, principal broker with Phipps Realty & Relocation Services in Warwick, R.I. “But it’s a big feature.”

Some other features buyers are seeking: separate showers with steam and/or multiple jets, double sink, separate room for the toilet.

And make sure the plumbing and hot water heater can handle the job. The pipes have to be large enough to carry an adequate volume of water and the hot water heater has to be big enough to accommodate it. “You need a bare minimum of a 75-gallon hot water heater, and most of my customers have 100 to 150,” says Chicago-based home inspector Kurt Mitenbuler.

“You don’t want to see that false economy of a $30,000 bathroom but nobody spent a few thousand dollars to upgrade the pipes,” he says.

3. A well-appointed master suite. “People are really excited about master suites,” says Hummel. The wish list: a luxurious bathroom, lounging areas and walk-in closets.

4. Natural materials. “People like natural materials,” says Phipps. “Ceramic tile, hardwood floors, granite. We’ve gone back to a real appreciation for historically true materials. And simulated works as well. The look is very popular.”

In floor coverings — especially bathrooms or kitchens — look for ceramic tile or wood rather than linoleum, which can tear, says Strong.

In the rest of the house, wood or laminate products are a plus over wall-to-wall, says Gary Eldred, author of “The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)”.

But if you have carpet, it should be a good product and well maintained so that “a person doesn’t have to walk in and think, ‘I’m going to have to spend five grand right off the bat,” says Strong.

5. Curb appeal. “A good first appearance on a home can add as much as 5 percent to 10 percent to the value of the home,” says John Aust, president of the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers. “Homes in a neighborhood tend to vary about 10 percent from house to house, assuming all other things are the same.”

6. A light, airy spacious feel. “People buy space and light,” says Myra Zollinger, owner/broker with Coldwell Banker Realty Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. “I have yet to have anybody walk into a really dark house and say, ‘I love this.'”

Richard “Dick” Gaylord, member of the executive committee for the National Association of Realtors, agrees. “That’s a very big feature,” he says. “I haven’t sold many homes that aren’t bright and airy.”

7. Good windows. “People are looking at exposures and windows,” says Phipps. “It’s been a cold winter for most of the country and energy efficiency is very important.”

Insulated windows are always a plus, says Strong. “Typically, they pay for themselves in five years,” he says. The cost: for an average 2,600-square-foot home, estimate about $10,000 for new windows, he says.

Well-placed skylights are also a good touch to add value, says Phipps.

8. Landscaping. Mature trees “are worth $1,000,” says Strong.

And having outdoor spaces with touches such as pergolas and Victorian garden swings “can be very helpful,” says Phipps.

Appraiser John Bredemeyer remembers one $250,000 home in Omaha that had no landscaping at all. “It was stark,” says Bredemeyer, national chair of government relations for the Appraisal Institute, a professional group for real estate appraisers. “It just stood out as unappealing.”

Conversely, you don’t have to spend a fortune on plants, either. Just keep it “typical with the neighborhood,” he says.

9. Lots of storage. Nothing beats an oversized garage, some attic space and plenty of closets. “If you have a two-car garage, do you have extra space for those things we all have — bicycles, lawn mower, snow blower?” says Hummel. “Space is important.”

A nice plus in the master suite? “His and hers walk-in closets,” says Irwin.

10. Basement. “If it’s dry, it’s a plus,” says Kenneth Austin, co-author of “The Home Buyer’s Inspection Guide.” “But it’s a negative if it has water problems.”

A finished basement adds even more value. “Ten years ago, nobody cared,” says Mittenbuler. “Now everybody wants them.”

On the flip side, here are 10 things that could harm your home’s value:

1. A pool. Forget what you might have heard. An in-ground pool in most parts of the country doesn’t automatically raise the value of your home. “I would stay away from pools if you can at all avoid it,” says Irwin.

Having a swimming pool will automatically limit your market when it comes time to sell, he says. “It’s constant upkeep, they get cracks, the equipment goes down and it’s expensive to replace, and the liability is high.”

Others consider it a mixed blessing. “For the people who want the pool, they’re willing to pay for it,” says Austin. “But there are an awful lot of people who don’t want a pool.”

Consider your home value and location. In a million-dollar house, not having a pool is a detraction, says Irwin. “But they won’t give you much more” if you do have one.

2. No garage or small garage. Unless you’re living in a condo, retirement community or historical or in-town neighborhood, most buyers will look for at least a two-car garage. “If you don’t have a garage, it’s a real negative,” says Austin. “If you have a one-car garage, that’s a problem, too.”

3. Garbled floor plan. Small rooms and bathrooms, an inconvenient floor plan or a layout that requires you to access bedrooms or bathrooms through other rooms will detract value from your home.

4. Outmoded appliances or systems. Who wants an electrical system or plumbing system incapable of handling modern conveniences? Would you buy a home if the appliances were worn or broken?

Phipps remembers walking into one house with clients who casually opened the oven door — and it fell off.

5. Stale or overly personal decor. Sure, red is the hot wall color right now, “but for how long?” says Hummel.

“We’ve gone into houses where they’ve had purple walls or electric green,” says Austin. “It’s a turn-off to many people.”

6. A bad roof. Roofs are expensive to replace and a good roof is considered standard equipment in a house. If your roof has problems, expect to take a hit in the price.

7. Bad location. Phipps remembers one neighborhood with a significant difference in value between the even- and odd-numbered houses. The reason? The odd numbered ones backed on an interstate highway, as well as some ugly utility lines.

As a result, “the even-numbered houses were worth about 10 percent more than the odd-numbered homes,” he says.

8. Poor maintenance. “If you’ve got an old roof and outdated paint, I don’t care if you’ve updated the kitchen, you won’t even get the buyer out of the car,” says Bredemeyer.

“If you know you’ve got to have something fixed, fix it,” says Zollinger. Otherwise, people “will subtract the cost or not make an offer on the house. And if people think the house hasn’t been taken care of, they will wonder what else they’re not seeing.”

9. Environmental hazards. Besides being a danger to human health, lead, mold or asbestos can kill home value.

10. A laundry list of needed improvements. “It detracts if you have to do work,” says Gaylord. “A house that you can move in today — and it’s livable — is fine.”

But a list of must-dos just to conduct everyday life will scare off a lot of potential home buyers. “Especially with first-time buyers,” he says. “Most of them are [already] scraping just to get in.”

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.

Why Are Great Photos So Important When Selling Your Home?

Pictures can say more than words.  Great photos are the most important thing that you can use to market your home.

Most buyers start their search online, so listings that don’t have a photo or have a poor quality one will usually get ignored.

Tips for great photos


The first and most important photo is of the front of your home. Crop the surrounding pavement, vehicles in the drive and the front garden that can distract from the front of the building. Angle your shots and go as close as you can.

Get a wide shot of the front of the house and make sure that you take photos of good selling points like the garage, or special features like the front porch.

Take your shots on a sunny day, with blue sky to give the best photos. You should aim to have the sun shining from behind you (so you might want to time it when you take the pictures), and avoid pointing into the sun. However if your house faces north, you might want to take the photo on a cloudy day to avoid glare.

If your property doesn’t have its own garden, but shares amenities like a swimming pool or communal garden, then include photos of these. Emphasize the space of your garden by shooting low and long. Make sure that the garden is looking its best: mow the lawn and prune any straggling shrubs.


Some people suggest taking interior shots of all the rooms, some recommend just taking photos of the main living areas. Bedroom photos don’t always mean much unless there is a special feature like a picturesque fireplace. Bathrooms can be tricky as they are usually so small and you need to be careful not to catch the reflection in mirrors.

The most important rooms to photograph are the living room, kitchen, dining room, breakfast area and any other living area or maybe a different angle on the living room. If the hall or stairway area has any special features, then this might be worth including, along with bedrooms or any other rooms that might in some way capture the essence of the home.

To get the best shots, make sure the windows are open, curtains drawn back and blinds pulled up. Even better if there is a view, capture this as well as the room inside. However be very careful that your light meter doesn’t over-compensate for the brightness of the light from the window. You can avoid the problem by taking a photo when it’s not so bright outside, when it’s overcast or at sunset or sunrise. Best to take photos without the flash but experiment with and without it, as sometimes the flash helps brighten the inside and overcomes the problem of bright light coming in the windows.

Clear away any clutter – add floral arrangements to brighten up the room, close the toilet lid- all these little details can make your shots look great.

Move the furniture to show off the room to its best advantage. If you have a narrow hallway, maybe you can focus on an interesting or unusual detail rather than emphasizing what might be a weakness.

Make sure the photos that you use are of the best quality. If you can’t take them yourself, then get a professional in for you. Nothing is more off-putting than a poor photo that is badly composed or badly exposed. Be careful of shooting in the bathroom and catching your reflection in the mirror.

Take ‘landscape’ rather than vertical shots, as this will ensure that there’s no distortion to the photo when you upload it on the internet.


Whatever you do, DON’T upload badly shot photos online as this will have the opposite effect.  Avoid photos that show rooms that are cluttered, dark, show pets and children and don’t show off your home to the best possible advantage.

Great photos of your home can be the most important marketing tool you use for selling your home. They show off the place and can attract the buyer to come and have a look. For advice on how to take great photographs of you home when selling in Hertfordshire visit the website.

Image Credits: marimoon and h&b {lea}

Common Flooring Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them

A properly installed floor can bring value to a property for decades. However, unless the flooring is installed properly, many problems can occur that can be costly to repair. For these reasons, it is important to recognize the importance of taking care when installing new flooring or when hiring contractors.

Laminate needs to float so there must be expansion gaps around the perimeter of the floor to allow the laminate to adjust. Without the expansion gap, the flooring can buckle from being compressed together and being pushed against the surrounding walls. In addition

Floor flatness is crucial so that movement is minimized and pressure is across the entire area. This is especially true to laminate applications because excessive movement can cause weakness and ultimately breakages which will be costly to repair.

Subfloor moisture can be constrained by installing a 6 millimeter polyethylene film so moisture is not absorbed by flooring that is added on top of concrete. When installing vinyl flooring directly to concrete you must ensure that flooring is fully glued down so the flooring does not curl or peel. In addition, the underlay material used under the flooring should be thick enough to provide good insulation and dense enough to dull the sounds of people walking on the floor. It is extremely noticeable when walking on new flooring that has insufficient underlay.

Selecting the appropriate flooring material for specific usage is essential. Generally, using wood flooring in areas of the home that see water usage including kitchens and bathrooms is not recommended. The humidity from a bathroom shower can quickly cause warping and potentially destructive mold. Instead, installing ceramic tiles will yield a more reliable and long-lasting floor with less maintenance involved. Ceramic tiles are also much easier to clean and are less sensitive to cleaning products relative to hardwood.

If you’ve selected a hardwood flooring material, take care to carefully nail each board when installing. If too many nails are used the planks can split and if too few are used the planks can squeak or loosen when weight is applied.

Whether you choose to install the new flooring yourself or hire a contractor to complete the work for you, being aware of the results from errors and mistakes could save you from potential catastrophe. It’s highly recommended that before beginning any flooring project, no matter what the size, that the optimal materials are researched and selected carefully so that once the project has been completed it will last for many years.

Brian Grayson writes about flooring, home remodels, and more.

Top Landscaping Pitfalls

Landscaped yards can really add a finishing touch to the beauty and atmosphere of your home. They are often the first thing that people see when they drive past your house or on their way in for a visit. However, dreams of a beautiful yard can soon turn to nightmares, wasted money, and a yard full of dirt and dead plants.

Some of the most frequent pitfalls in landscaping happen when there is poor planning, when the owner tries to buy plants without learning information about the plants themselves or the climate they will need to grow in, and with hiring inexperienced landscapers. Yet there are also many other pitfalls that are easy to make.


The most important factor in landscaping is the type of plants chosen. Many people go to the store and buy a ton of half-dead plants simply because they are on sale. However, it is vital to know the quality of the plant that you will be planting, and those sitting outside Wal-Mart for a month in the summer heat have not been nurtured and cared for—they are no more likely to thrive in your yard than they were in the parking lot they came from. It is much better to go to a greenhouse or raise the plants yourself from seedlings, so that you get high quality, healthy plants.


Many people start landscaping projects but then need to stop with their yard half-finished because they underestimate the cost of plants and the time it will take to get a complex design or project finished. If you are doing your own yard, it is especially important that you budget ahead for your landscaping project. The cost of multiple trips to the greenhouse can add up quickly, and you may want to break your project up into manageable stages will keep your yard looking decent through each one.


Design is an important element in landscaping, and if you draft or draw plans ahead of time, not only will you go into the greenhouse with more of an idea of what you want (thus avoiding overspending and coming home with more plants than you can actually plant), but you will also have a better idea of what the end result should look like. The amount of plants is important, but so are the spacing, the colors, and the mix of annuals and perennials, and also the solid spaces that you will want to design ahead of time.

Pay Attention

When landscaping starts, many people make the mistake of either over- or under-fertilizing, and also over- or under-watering. Planting leaves the plants extremely delicate, and it is important to pay close attention to their needs. You should fertilize beforehand, whether you go with an organic fertilizer or a commercial-grade fertilizer, but avoid putting more than just a bit in each space you will plant in. Too much water will also damage plants you have just potted or planted, so it is important to get your amounts of fertilizer and water just right.

Buried too Deep

Lastly, it is also a common planting error to bury the roots of the plant too deep. This eventually kills the plant by cutting it off from the nutrients it needs and placing too much of the plant below ground, removing it from direct sunlight.

If you are hiring a landscaper, make sure that you have seen some of their other work first, if possible years after they planted it. If you are doing it yourself, make sure to talk to the people at the greenhouse, read the tags on the plants to see whether they prefer shade or partial or full sunlight, and plant them according to this, as well as their size at maturity.

Lindsey Davison has spent the last year landscaping her yard to perfection. Her perfect mortgage rates match her perfect yard.