All Things Real Estate: Spruce up outside before an open house

Philip A Raices

You’ve de-cluttered your interior and applied a fresh coat of paint, installed some new fixtures to replace certain items in your bathrooms and upgraded your appliances in your kitchen and even sanded and laid down two coats of polyurethane on your hardwood floors. You are smiling as you gaze at the new updated appearance and look.

However, you now take a walk outside your home and you, go uh, although the grass looks greener than than normal due to 20 additional inches of rain above normal in 2021,  the wettest July in recorded history. On the North Shore’s Gold Coast Hurricane Ida dumped 7-plus inches on Sept. 1 with a flash flood threat emergency — the highest level — for all five boroughs of New York City, and North Jersey for the first time ever! But the weeds have taken over your lawn and there looks to be some insect and fungus infestation in certain areas.

You are planning an open house soon and you need to get your lawn and shrubbery in shape. The first item on your agenda is to spray your weeds first with any type of broad spectrum liquid material dispensed through your garden hose. You can also use a granular weed and feed material, which will minimize burning if applied properly with a rotary type spreader. However, once you see the weeds begin to curl up and die, then begin thatching and removing any dead areas as well as those weed patches that can be removed.

Next determine the proper balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K). I would suggest that you do a soil test or at least have a professional do it. There are companies that you can send samples of your soil to and they will do a lab test to see what if any deficiencies there are, so you can apply and add back the necessary nutrients. Google soil testing labs.

Nitrogen promotes foliar growth and rich green color. Phosphorus functions by creating and establishing and expanding stronger root growth with rhizomes and tillers. Potassium is synergistically critical in the process of growth by enhancing the plant’s ability to utilize nitrogen. One needs to use a granular slow release organic or time release fertilizer and not synthetic quick release materials, so as not to pollute our aquifers where our water is derived from.

Fall feeding should be applied at one half to one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet. Follow the bag instructions. The process allows the lawn to absorb the material at a pace that will be the most effective and beneficial to the repair and future growth through the fall season. It also will minimize the burning effect that fertilizers will cause, especially if applied incorrectly. Using a Rotary spreader and again following the bag application rates are critical to the proper amount needed during this time of the year.

One can use a liquid type material, but care should be taken not to over-apply it as burning of the lawn will occur. A granular material is the most advantageous and safe method to use?. Do your applications right now and then a winter application around Nov. 1. The rule is that no applications should be done between Nov. 15 and April 1 to avoid having any material run off due to lower temperatures and/or frozen ground where the material will not function properly.

We all know that there are professional, knowledgeable, licensed and insured companies that will perform all the necessary applications either on a one-time basis or with a yearly contract. Ask your gardener if he is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) certified, and if not, hire those companies that specialize in applying those materials.

Seed your lawn with the proper mixture based on the amount of sunlight that the area receives. A 50/50 mix of hybrid blue grasses and tall fescues (which need less watering) will work best. One can rent a core aerator, which has rows of hollow spoons (tubes), which pull plugs of soil out of the ground allowing the fertilizer and seeds to go deeper into the ground than just roughing up your soil. The germination will occur at a much speedier rate. Add pelletized lime, which is a much simpler application as opposed to the old-fashion white powder.

Based on your soil test results, apply the amounts per thousand square feet based on their recommendations. Soil PH should be between 6.5-07.0. This enhances and maximizes all the fertilizers and seed growth to work at their optimum. Water your lawn lightly each day, maybe 10-20 minutes or as local municipalities allow until seedlings begin to grow to 3 inches. Then two times per week.

As the lawn thickens keep your mower at a 3-inch height to keep the photosynthesis process going through the fall as this occurs on the top foliage so cutting too short will reduce the process. Remove leaves off the lawn so as to allow the process of growth to continue throughout the fall.

Lastly, root feeding your trees and shrubs around the drip line or perimeter of the plants with either fertilizer stakes or again by using a professional, licensed and knowledgeable company that will use a liquid slow release/time release material that is injected into the soil. Also spray liquid anti-desiccants, which will minimize and sometimes eliminate moisture loss throughout the winter and prevent winter burn, which is the browning and die-off of the leaves on non-deciduous trees and shrubs like evergreens and rhododendrons.

As the ground freezes those plants can no longer take up water, so those material will go along way to keep the proper health of the plant throughout the winter months. Best time to apply would be mid-November. Trim all shrubbery below window sills to allow more sunlight into your home (this should have been done in early June, but better late than never).

Planting some bright fall flowers and cabbage plants will allow your landscape to pop and provide excellent curb appeal as people do their drive-by to check out homes in the area.

Having an outstanding exterior landscape will spark more curiosity without satisfying it, leaving potential buyers to wonder what the interior of your home looks like since the outside looks so beautiful. This will provide greater opportunity for more showings because your high-resolution photos and virtual tours will be greatly enhanced.

Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck. He has 40 years of experience in the Real Estate industry and has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (G.R.I.) and also as a Certified International Property Specialist (C.I.P.S). For a “FREE” 15 minute consultation, a value analysis of your home, or to answer any of your questions or concerns he can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: Phil@TurnKeyRealEstate.Com

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