Outdoor spaces and Gardening

Spring is around the corner, and in a few weeks we’ll see the nature waking up from winter nap. This means it’s time to clean our garden tools from cobwebs and dust, and start planning. We want to boost curb appeal, and also make our backyards more enjoyable. Landscape is very important factor in home sale, and can add 15% to home value. Our front yards are first impression of our home, and that should be taken seriously. Nice landscaping can speed the sale process for as much as 6 weeks.

Chinese proverb says “If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden”. Many studies over the years have shown that gardening reduces stress, and that’s a nice perk in today’s busy lifestyle. Increasing home value and reducing stress is a win-win in my book.


Few things we need to keep in mind. First, Seattle area belongs to a USDA Hardiness Zone 8b. A hardiness zone is is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone (source Wikipedia). Plants suitable for our zone can withstand lowest winter temperature between 20 and 15 F (approximately -7 to -9 C). Second, we need to asses how many hours of direct sunlight our properties get-that’ll determine type of plants we can grow. Third, how accessible is your garden for wildlife (deer, rabbits, etc.), which also determines types of plants we can grow, and last, but not least, we need to asses how much time (if any) we can contribute to this hobby. We really have to be realistic about the time factor, and if we don’t have enough time, can we afford a professional service,  otherwise the garden of our dreams can easily turn into a nightmare, and a huge waste of money.

Now that we took all those factors into consideration it’s time for planning. What are your expectation in regards to your backyard? Do you need space for vegetable garden or fruit trees? Do you wish to entertain family and friends? Need space for kids and pets to run and play? The best thing is to have dedicated sections for each activity that’s important to you and your family. Even a small yard or patio can be turned into a beautiful and useful space with careful planning. If you’re planning to sell your home, but don’t have a big budget, just cleaning up the yard from leaves an debris, clearing out the clutter, planting few annuals  for a pop of color and staging with outdoor table and chairs, can really improve the look of your property.

Here are some links for ideas:



Great looking, healthy lawn is a wonderful addition to every yard, but homeowners are often having trouble with it. Brown lawns with bare patches, moss and weeds are the most common problems homeowners are facing. Couple of years ago I attended a class on lawn care, and got some useful tips that my husband and I are implementing in the care of our lawn. Our lawn is still not perfect, but it looks much better then before. Since I have kids and a dog I don’t like using harsh chemicals and weed killers. With that in mind and the info I got from the class, here’s what we do:

Watering-  Best done around 6 in the morning, and the recommended amount of water is 1 inch. If the watering is done in the afternoon/evening, the grass doesn’t have enough time to dry before the night falls, which can lead to moss and mold problems. We have a sprinkler attached to a hose and a timer (nothing fancy, but it works for us), and our sprinkler is working for ~45 min. Since size of the lawns varies as well as the water pressure, your watering time might be different. The best way to test that is to put an empty tuna can, or any other small container while the sprinkler is working, and test how long will it take to fill up to 1 in.

Fertilizer is applied 3 times a year. First application is due at the beginning of March, second in midsummer, and the last one in fall. Make sure to follow the application instruction on fertilizer bag to prevent lawn burns.

Weeds- I use pull out method, and for the most stubborn ones undiluted vinegar, just be careful if you try vinegar and apply it only to a weed, otherwise it can destroy grass too. My husband also does thatch removal every couple of years in spring. Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface. Excessive thatch (over ½ inch thick) creates a favorable environment for pests and disease, an unfavorable growing environment for grass roots, and can interfere with some lawn care practices. (from Lawn talk- managing thatch in home lawns). Lawns with dense grass are less likely to have weeds.

Mowing- done once a week to a 2 inch height.


The safest option is to go with native species. They are most likely to thrive and require less maintenance. Perennials are better option cost wise, as they return year after year, but annuals are usually more colorful. I must add that I didn’t have good experience with marigolds, crocus and moss rose (pictured)- bunnies love to munch on those. This year I’ll try them in hanging plant pots 🙂

 If you’re unsure of what plants are suitable for your space, or how much care they’re requiring, the staff at the nurseries can be very helpful with that. There are lot of garden centers and nurseries around Eastside, but I’ll give you the list of my favorites. Now, I’m not saying they’re the best ones, (but they’re definitely among them), and I’m not receiving any compensation for mentioning them in my post, It’s just where I go for my gardening supplies.

  • Home Depot– one stop shop for gardening. They have wonderful selection of annuals and perennials, as well as trees and shrubs. You can also get gardening tools, soil, mulch, fertilizers, decoration etc.
  • Fred Meyer– Good selection of flowering annuals and perennials, vegetables and some smaller shrubs. Great selection of bulbs and seed packets.
  • Grey barn nursery– my favorite. Staff is amazing and very helpful, and they have lot of plants to choose from.
  • Rock Mountain Products– Best selection of aquatic plants, bamboo and ornamental grass. Even if that’s not the style for your yard, it’s worth checking out, they have a wonderful garden.

If you need some ideas before going shopping, here are some helpful links where you can search for different types of plants:




When you finish your project(s) it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Invite friends and family over for cocktails, barbecue, play time, or curl up with a book in your gorgeous outdoor space. You deserved it!






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