I think most of us like the world around us to be attractive and pleasing.
Sure, I know there are folks who maybe would be just as happy living in a pig sty and seem to create a space around them that reflects that. Homes and businesses like that remind me of the ‘Peanuts’ character Pig Pen. I think probably his yard and business would look like that, too.
But the importance of maintaining attractive, clean, junk-free properties is not just about the pretty factor. There also are economic, health and quality-of-life benefits for all of us when our local properties represent us well.
Good landscaping can add up to 28 percent to a property’s value, said landscape economist John Harris in an article on houselogic.com. For homeowners, that can be a pretty significant number.
Well-placed trees and plants can add up to a pleasing look that has a positive effect on your quality of life, too. Did you know that just gazing at trees for five minutes can reduce your stress level, according to a study by the University of Texas? Attractive landscaping and exterior appearance can increase retail sales for businesses as well. If you are considering selling your property, a pleasing landscape can reduce the property’s time on the market by 10 to 15 percent, Harris wrote.
Here are a couple of other facts that will make you a tree lover. Just three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Planting windbreaks and shade trees can reduce winter heating bills by 15 percent and air-conditioning needs by 75 percent.
Only God can make a tree, but the National Tree Benefit Calculator definitely can tell you what it is worth for your property. You really should check this out. The calculator examines how a tree species in a particular ZIP code affects:
• Your property values. All homeowners want help with that.
• Storm-water runoff. Trees block and suck up water that runs off your property, preventing pollutants from entering community waterways and slowing erosion.
• Carbon-dioxide reduction. You do like to breathe oxygen, don’t you?
• Energy savings. Like I said, shade trees cool homes in summer, and windbreaks help warm them in winter. Those energy savings not only increase your comfort level, but they also can mean cash savings for you, too.
When you plant trees, plants or shrubs, consider going native. Indigenous plantings thrive without the extra time, work and money you’d devote to anything that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat. That can significantly reduce those weekend lawn-maintenance “honey do” lists. Less work and more time for fun!
A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass. That is a fact that homeowners, business owners and local governments need to consider in strategic planning for green spaces. We all benefit when we replace grassy areas with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant native plants and other plants that might not be indigenous but thrive in our area.
Natives also can help increase property values. Increasingly, rain gardens with native plants and trees are becoming a plus for a variety of properties. These gardens filter and distribute runoff underground, preventing storm water from seeping into basements and overwhelming municipal storm drains. They work as natural filters that help reduce litter and debris that can be carried by rainwater into our local waterways.
I hope you will consider some of these ideas to spruce up the appearance of your property. In the meantime, help us recognize local homes and businesses that represent our community well.
We want to be home and business proud here in Liberty County. Do you know of a home that deserves that kind of HomeProud recognition? Then call us by Monday at Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or email us at email@example.com and share the address and name of the homeowners and even a picture, if you can. Any home is eligible. We can be proud of homes across our community no matter how modest or lavish, as long as they are taken care of. Help us select properties that we can be proud of.
Win-dex Awards nominations for attractive local businesses also are being accepted through Monday. The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and KLB sponsor the recognition program to recognize business owners in our county who make that extra effort to keep their businesses attractive and inviting.
Nomination forms are available by calling or coming to the KLB office at 9397 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Midway, or the chamber office by calling 368-4445 or going to 425 W. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville.
You also can email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by including all information requested on the form: business name, contact, location and reason for nomination.
Don’t let Pig Pen be your landscaper!