Being a new homeowner can be a challenge, and it’s pretty common to focus on all your unpacking and dealing with the inside of the house. From getting a utility mapping survey done, to researching the lot lines, there are a few things you should remember to do when it comes to the outside too.
Depending on what kind of landscaping you already have at your new home, you might want to start doing some planting of your own. But until you know a bit more about the ins and outs of your yard, you should hold off on new plants. Watch the yard, and see how the shade falls through the day, what kind of rainfall each area gets and any other subtle differences from one garden spot to the other.
(Photography by Monty & Nan Abbott).
That big empty space in your new yard looks perfect for a deck or even a pool. In your excitement to start creating new features, it’s easy to forget about what’s underground. Before you pick up a shovel, get some info on the pipes, lines and mains that may (or may not) criss-cross the ground under your feet. A phone call to the local “Call Before You Dig” service can help, but getting someone out to do utility mapping is a better idea for a new property. Your utility companies won’t know that the previous owner had an unused (and forgotten) septic tank out there. Get a real look before you do any construction.
Hopefully, you checked on the boundaries of the property before finalizing the purchase. Even so, understanding the edges of your yard on paper isn’t always quite as clear as you might think once you’ve moved in. Visual “boundaries” like a flower bed, row of trees or even fences may not be accurate. Don’t make assumptions. Double-check the lot lines before you do any planning. It might turn out that a row of trees is actually 6 feet onto the neighbors lot, and you might be trespassing if you get too close on your side.
This is more specifically for the first-time homeowner who doesn’t have any experience managing a yard and a lawn. It can be very tempting to cut the grass very short, so that you don’t have to do it as often. Except that it can kill the grass if you overdo it, and if the weather is particularly hot and dry. Accept the fact that this is practically a weekly chore, and let the grass be between 2 and 4 inches high.
On the flip side, lawns shouldn’t need to be babied too much. Spending a lot of time and money on fertilizers, weed treatments, and excessive watering isn’t necessary. Water when it’s very dry and keep it reasonably mowed. Don’t let the lawn take over your life.
Don’t worry, it’s not that hard to get the hang of a new yard. Do your research before you start construction, and everything else should work out just fine on its own with a little patience.
Landscaping: Sean Papich Landscape Architecture.
Architecture by Sally Weston Assoc.
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