Inspecting Landscaping when Buying a Home
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Inspecting Landscaping when Buying a Home

Here are a few things to consider about landscaping before buying a home.

Landscaping is the first thing seen by potential home buyers and is worth paying close attention to. Poorly designed or maintained landscaping can end up costing a lot of money to repair or replace. There are three specific areas that should be examined when inspecting landscaping prior to a home purchase: The lawn, the trees and shrubs, and the shrubbery beds.

A healthy lawn will not only appear green and lush, it should be relatively free of mushrooms or other growth. Spots of mushrooms can indicate a fungal infection in a lawn that can be both difficult and expensive to treat. Lawns with areas of darker or lighter green patches or rings should examined carefully, as these formations may represent lawn diseases like fairy rings. Bare patches and yellow-brown areas in an otherwise healthy lawn are a definite red flag and usually represent a fungal infection. If a lawn is green, healthy, and well-maintained, it is likely that the rest of the landscaping, and even the house itself, is well maintained.

Trees and shrubs should be properly spaced out so that they are not in a contiguous blob. A foot between plants is a good minimum distance. This creates a sense of order and gives a yard a well-manicured look. It also means that the owners have taken the time to properly prune their plants. Severely overgrown trees and shrubs that require a lot of pruning will look bare and crowded for a long time before they return to their proper dimensions.

The roots of trees are important to examine, as trees with large, protruding roots near a house may present a problem. The roots can damage basement walls, sidewalks, and porches. Any plant of reasonable size (10 ft. or taller) should be inspected to make sure that it is healthy and that its branches are not in danger of falling on the house. Trees and shrubs with no leaves or signs of decay are particular risks.

The shrubbery beds should be free of weeds, and the bedding be free of debris. Wood bedding, like bark chips or shredded bark, lasts only about three years before more it becomes mulch. Adding more bark is not expensive, though, so don't let older bark deter a purchase from an otherwise excellent home.

Stone bedding lasts much longer and creates a more formal, as opposed to rustic look. As long as the stones do not appear to be calcifying into clumps (this can happen to quartz and some white stones), there is little need to worry about stone bedding.

The borders of the beds, however, should be evaluated carefully. As with bedding, stone borders are the longest lasting and need the least amount of maintenance. The only issue with these is possible unevenness caused by improper installation or ground upheaval. Both of those problems can be remedied relatively easily and without much expense.

Plastic edging, like Black Diamond border, can tend to pull out of the bed during upheaval or if used in sandy ground. Just a gentle tug on the tubing should indicate whether the edging is firmly planted. Any edging that is uneven, not tightly connected, or pulling out of the ground will need to be fixed or replaced. Replacing is the best option for this type of edging, and the cost varies depending on the choice of replacement.

Inspecting landscaping when buying a home is a good way to get an idea on how well the owners have maintained the property. It is important step when considering a home and may save thousands of dollars in future repair bills.

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