Curb Appeal

Paul Morrone |

By Thomas Morrone, CFP®, CPA

I have always had a fondness for maintaining a well-kept yard. There is something about a manicured, landscaped yard that has always intrigued me. I do not have the greenest thumb or the skills of a landscape architect or the credentials or a certified arborist. What I do have is a true appreciation for those people that do and understand the correct types of plantings to be used in any landscape design. The vision of how the various plants, bushes, flowers, trees, etc., will grow and mature is an art. Our first two homes, I was the typical do-it -yourselfer. Both were new construction, so we were starting with a blank canvas. I would go to the local nursery or Home Depot and load up the cart with whatever I thought would look good. I was young, arrogant and had lots of energy. Sure, I would talk to someone at the store but that is not the same as someone with a trained eye walking the grounds and getting a feel for the surrounding landscape, soil conditions, sun and shade considerations and a host of other relevant factors. 

We were in our first house for a little over two years so that project did not really count because we were not there long enough to see the development of the various plantings. Our second home however, we lived there for over 28 years. In that time frame, I realized that what I purchased and planted looked great for some of the time. As the various items matured and grew, it became obvious that some were either too close to the house or too close to each other, or both. It came to a point where I hired a landscaper and started from scratch. Everything was ripped out and the appropriate items were planted. A costly mistake but it needed to be done.

In the design of our current home, we used a landscape architect right from the beginning. What a difference. The exposure to sun and neighboring shade trees were factors, the proximity to salt-water, the topography of our lot and other items as well were all taken into consideration in the design. We used a professional with a trained eye who walked the yard several times and we went through a series of thoughts and preliminary concepts before arriving at the final design. We then had a detailed blueprint of all the plantings, by name, with their exact locations and quantities. We walked the entire lot with blueprint in hand. Every planting area and landscaped bed was described in detail so we were able to envision what each would look like when complete. Thank you to Torrison Stone and Garden for their expertise and guidance. 

We are coming into our fourth growing season and everything is looking wonderful. As a COVID-19 distraction, this last week I re-mulched all the planting beds thanks to a delivery from Home Depot of a shipping pallet of bags of mulch. I put on my work clothes and attacked. I gathered my shovel, rake, trimmer, wheelbarrow, trash can, bags of mulch, Preen weed preventer and work gloves. Over a few days, I cleaned out all the planting beds of the leaves, twigs and various debris that accumulated over the winter. I trimmed off any dead branches that did not survive from last fall and spread fresh, new mulch around all the plantings. I was on my hands and knees and made sure the mulch was evenly spread. Maybe it’s the Italian in me but when I was all done, imagine me standing there, surveying my hard work in my now grungy work clothes. I then took my fingers to my lips and as I was blowing a kiss into the air, I said out loud, “that looksa so good”.

After a nice hot shower, I had one more important task to complete my project. Take some Advil.

Until the Next Tom’s Take…

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