The answer given when the mayor asked a friend of mine in the nursery industry how best to improve the image of the small but growing city? “Plant flowers.” You might think this would be the obvious answer from someone in the greenhouse industry as they would stand to benefit from this beautification endeavor.

If you do an internet search on curb appeal, however, planting flowers is one of the consensus opinions no matter the source. It is not only one of the most economical solutions for the pocket book, but it has one the most immediate returns on the home’s perceived value.

Several years ago, Mississippi State University participated in a multistate project to quantify the value of a landscape and included a survey of homeowners. Survey responders were shown an image of a home with a base value of $192,000 and had the opportunity to evaluate several landscape additions.

In almost every scenario, landscapes with 20% annual color added a $1,000 value. Homes with landscapes combining evergreens, deciduosity, color and hardscape brought the home’s perceived value to $215,147 — an increase of 12.7%. This is quite a return on investment.

We want to strive for that special curb appeal that simply makes life more enjoyable. Assuming you have evergreen plant material in place, and that you mow regularly, prune and replenish mulch on an annual basis, we then come to the aspect of color.

In the survey it was just 20% color that added a $1,000 value in the mind of the consumer. This may represent one of the best returns for the dollar spent, and most likely put a spring into your step, too!

The most obvious place for pockets of color would be near the front door, porch, patio or deck, in areas where friends and relatives might gather to visit, and that location where your visitors park, at the end of the drive.

Long ago the pineapple was the symbol that said welcome to friends, family and visitors. While the pineapple is hardly used today, we convey that same welcoming spirit when we decorate the steps with colorful flowers.

The Garden Guy created front porch flanking containers with Superbells Pomegranate Punch, and Grape Punch calibrachoas along with Lemon Coral sedum with its hundreds of tiny yellow blossoms. This was really showy in a display of what we call triadic harmony.

Window boxes, baskets and mixed containers and a new feature called border columns make it easy. It is so simple to put up a coconut coir line window planter under a window or a porch railing. My son James, a color guru for a large firm in Columbus, created border columns in front of a modern but historical looking home.

The look was really Victorian, and each of the large columns featured Supertunia Bordeaux Supertunia Vista Silverberry, Diamond Frost euphorbia and Truffula Pink gomphrena. They fit the client and home perfectly and created that needed curb appeal from the street. You won’t have to dig and shovel in the tight compacted soil to have beautiful flowers, as you will have your containers filled with rich fertile organic planting mixes.

The end of the drive is an area we have all thrown our hands up in the air in exasperation of what to do. Remember what the mayor was told: “Plant flowers.” The Garden Guy did just that last October, planting Supertunia Vista Bubblegum, Supertunia Vista Silverberry and Supertunia Vista Paradise along with Hydrangea paniculata, Limelight Prime, Hydrangea Firelight Tidbit as well as Pugster and Miss Molly buddleia. It was stunning in November, survived the winter and dazzling today. Welcome, guests!

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