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(BPT) - Whether you're buying, selling or currently living in and enjoying your home, you know it's all about curb appeal. Your home's first impression is how your slice of the American dream looks from the street, which is a reflection of your style, taste and pride in homeownership. Think of your home not only as a place to create lasting memories with your family, but as a blank canvas that you can customize to reflect who you are. If you feel a little lackluster about your home's outdoor space — overgrown bushes here, unkempt garden there — you can give your front yard a simple makeover, and it doesn't have to strain your pocketbook.
One of the easiest ways to brighten up your home is with flowers, plants and herbs. They're inexpensive, beautiful, and can add so much color and life to your front porch with very little cost or effort. You don't have to be a master gardener worrying about soil pH or planting zones. Just head to your local garden store and check out some container gardens, and you're on your way.
Container gardens are the perfect, easy way to add color, beauty and life to the front of your home, even if you're new to gardening.
“I like front porch gardening because it's fun,” says Jason Langston, director of customer experience for Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “My son and I bond over watering the plants in the evening and spending time together outside.”
Some varieties of containers to consider:
* Rail planters. Small planters you can hang directly on your railing are a great way to add flowers to your porch, especially if space is at a premium. Before you buy, measure the width of the railing so you can get the right size planter, and make sure your rail is secure.
* Pot planters. With a variety of shapes, textures, colors and sizes, the sky's the limit on how you show your style with pot planters. Eyeball your available space before you purchase so you don't overwhelm your porch or front steps with pots that are too large. Pro tip: add rocks to the bottom for better drainage and a saucer or tray to collect excess water.
* Hanging planters. Another great way to add green to a limited space is to think vertical. You can find a variety of hanging planters that come ready-made with flowers. Add a natural liner like coconut fiber before planting to keep the dirt moisturized. Bonus: no weeds!
So, you've got your containers. What do you put in them? Here are some ideas that will brighten up your space in no time:
* Marigolds. The beauty of marigolds for the new gardener is that they're almost foolproof. These hardy flowers, with colors from orange to mahogany, can stand up to a lot of punishment, from full sun on a hot day to average quality soil. They need six hours of sunlight per day, so they're perfect for your front steps. Bonus: Marigolds are a natural repellent for many unwanted insects.
* Basil. This versatile herb is one of the easiest herbs to grow and care for. Basil requires plenty of sunlight, so feel free to pop it into the same container as your marigolds. Bonus: Like marigolds, basil is a natural repellent for mosquitoes, and protects other edible plants, like tomatoes.
* Lavender. This beautiful purple flower has a delicate, soothing scent. It's easy to care for and loves the heat. Plenty of sunlight is a must. It's the perfect flower for forgetful beginners, because you don't need to water it very much. Besides brightening up your garden, lavender has myriad uses. Dry it (just place stems on a paper towel and leave them for a few days) and simmer the dried herbs in water with citrus peels for a natural air freshener. Or put dried lavender in a bowl on your nightstand — it has been proven to help with sleep.
* Wave Petunias. Purples, pinks, reds, whites, solids, stripes, dotted — the colors and varieties of petunias are nearly endless, making them a gorgeous addition to your garden. These versatile flowers can take the heat of summer, and they only need a good watering once a week. Another bonus: They're a natural pesticide and can help repel some beetles, aphids, worms and other pests.
Container gardens are an easy, inexpensive way to boost your home's curb appeal. All it takes is a trip to your local garden store to begin beautifying your slice of the American dream. When you're ready to pursue your own American dream, apply online at Vanderbilt Mortgage for a home mortgage and begin shopping for your dream home.
Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail Maryville, TN, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loan made or arranger pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage License, KS Licensed Mortgage Co. (SL.0000720), Licensed by the NH Banking Department, Mississippi Licensed Mortgage Company, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.
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