Bernadette Calvario


Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 1/9/2019

Sustainable landscaping, while often called “green” on labels and in the media, usually comes in a variety of other colors. The idea behind dry-scaping or xeriscaping is to use less water, conserve and protect local wildlife, promote the local environment and use less energy. That doesn't mean you're stuck with the desert look though. Most environments support a wide variety of plants, so just think about what grows naturally in your area. Before you get started on updating your home from a high-water consumption—though beautiful—green lawn to modern eco-friendly desert-scaping, dry-scaping or xeriscaping in a variety of reds, blacks, blues, and browns (and some green too) it's essential to plan. 

Who is going to Use it?

Think about who uses your existing lawn or patio. Do the kids play on it? What about BBQs with outdoor games? It’s important to ensure that your new dry-scaping features serve similar purposes, or you could end up with useless outdoor space, which is not good at all. Stay away from harsh gravel for kids play areas, and try something like recycled tire rubber, mulch, or sand for softer landings and fewer skinned knees. Use paving stones to create paths and borders around local flora you don’t want visitors to walk through and combine it with various gravels for a stylish look.

Where Should Each Part Go?

When setting up your new yard, think about what elements you currently have, and how shade, sun, natural water, and wind fit into your yard. Pay attention to how the ground slopes, using the lowest points for plants since water pools there. Keep any existing trees and other local flora and include additional shade tolerant plants around them. Anywhere wind is likely to blow away your ground covering, go with heavier ground cover such as rocks, paving stones, or plants that are anchored in by the roots.

What Should You Use? 

In addition to natural ground coverings such as rock, mulch, and paving stones, try alternative recycled materials to add some color to your landscape. Recycled tires make soft, brightly colored additions for play areas; recycled concrete and brick can be used in retaining walls and rock gardens; even glass gets recycled and tumbled into colorful "mulch" which is excellent for adding designs to pathways or as borders to raised rock gardens and flower beds. Ask at your local gardening shop, find an eco-certified landscaping company or just search the internet to find out what plants are best to use in your area for water and soil conservation. Double check their water usage requirements, and if they need a boost in the driest seasons, try installing a drip-irrigation system that adds water in a slow and controlled manner which helps reduce waste caused by overwatering. 

How to take care of it?

There is no lawn to mow all the time, so it should be easy, right? Yes and no. Keep an eye on your new xeriscape to ensure it doesn't become a bed full of weeds that quickly get out of control. Before using any old weed killer, check to make sure the herbicide works within the environment and may safely be used around children and animals. As a preventative measure, try covering the ground underneath any gravel, mulch, or stones with water-permeable landscaping fabric. The larger rocks or ground coverings will hold it down, but for lighter materials use garden staples for extra security. Never, ever use plastic underneath your gravel or mulch. It will collect water, slide around and eventually end up in a landfill, which is what you've tried to avoid in the first place. 

Whether you want to know if your current property value will increase with xeriscaping or want your agent to choose homes with “green" landscaping just ask! Your real estate agent will happily assist you.





Posted by Bernadette Calvario on 10/4/2017

It may be a great initiative for you and your family to do what you can to become more environmentally friendly. Saving the planet starts at home! There’s so many different ways that you can make your home more eco-friendly. We’ll give you a few ideas here. Even if you commit to making one change each month, you’ll notice a big impact over time. 


Replace Your Lightbulbs


CFLs are known as compact fluorescent lightbulbs. These come in many different sizes and colors. Incandescent bulbs are now obsolete, because CFLs are much more energy efficient. Keep in mind that CFLs must be disposed of in a recycling center because they do have a trace of mercury in them. They are overall much better for the environment.


Get An Energy Audit


You can arrange to have an energy audit through your utility company or an independent contractor. This can help you to find areas of your home where insulation is lacking. You may even be able to get a rebate form your utility company for completing something like this.  


Turn Down The Heat


You can keep the temperature of your water heater down to 120 degrees. You should wrap an insulating blanket around your water heater in the winter if it’s not insulated. If the heater is gas, be sure there’s room for ventilation. To help keep pipes form freezing in winter, you need to keep your heat running, but make sure it’s around 64 degrees. 

The same principles go for cooling devices and air conditioning units in the summer months. In this case though, you’ll need to make the temperature higher. 


Turn Off What’s Not In Use


Everyone in the house should be in the habit of turning things off when they’re not in the room, or not using the item. Leaving televisions and lights on wastes an immense amount of energy. Also, when you buy appliances, make sure that they are Energy Star rated.  

 

Conserve Water


Water is another type of energy we often take for granted and waste. When water needs to be warmed for showers, dishes and laundry it’s often running for long periods of time. You can take shorter showers to help with this. You may even consider shutting the water off while you’re soaping up. You’ll even want to shut the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. These little changes can make a big impact on the environment.  


Use Power Strips


If you use power strips and turn them off when they’re not in use, you can save up to 10% on your power bill. You’ll also want to take the time to shut down computers and office supplies like printers in order to save more energy. These items use power even when they’re in a “power saver” mode.