How to Avoid the Landscaping Mistakes That Date Your Home
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How to Avoid the Landscaping Mistakes That Date Your Home

Here, the outmoded garden trends that design pros see most often.

By KATHRYN O'SHEA-EVANS
Tue, Aug 17, 2021 10:16amGrey Clock 4 min

LIKE SPIKY haircuts and skinny jeans, your landscaping choices will inevitably skid out of style. Even certain planting techniques are being abandoned by designers and landscape-architecture gurus.

Consider rows of ornamentals such as pansies and impatiens sidling up to hydrangea. This froufrou fantasy surged as a status symbol in the 1950s, said New York designer Laurence Carr, but is far too resource-sucking today. “Functional gardens are the way of the future,” said Ms. Carr, who sees hodgepodges of “edible plants, bushes and trees, including many native plants, pollinators and medicinals,” sprouting instead.

We polled scores of pros for what else counts as passe landscaping these days, and got their picks for what to plant instead.

Dated: Los Angeles interior designer Susan Davis Taylor’s clients used to pave paradise, opting for a concrete or flagstone pool deck “leaving very little room for natural grass or garden spaces.”

Up-to-date: Lawn that is brought right up to the pool coping creates a resort-like beauty. Lounges and chairs sit on minimal hardscaping and look as if they are on the grass, said Ms. Taylor. The platforms “protect the furniture from water damage while leaving a luscious green yard that goes to the pool’s edge.”

Dated: Popular in the 1980s and ’90s, triple-tiered fountains recall Italian piazzas in a way that would have been appealing to Tony and Carmela Soprano. Beyond outmoded, the flourish condemns you to a life of fighting the algae that grows in them, said Miami architect Kobi Karp.

Up-to-date: A sculpture can solidify the relationship between a house and its plot, Mr. Karp said. “Purchase a piece with large scale and mass,” he said. “A smooth piece with some curvilinear aspects can make a striking juxtaposition against informal planting and foliage.”

Dated: “Red mulch in planting beds was a very unfortunate trend,” said Miami-based landscape designer Fernando Wong, who noted the choice was born at Walt Disney World in the 1960s and crept throughout suburbia from there. The hue is not really orange or red, he said, “just some bizarre in-between, like a bad dye job.”

Up-to-date: Mr. Wong seeks out chemical-free options that add nutrients to the soil, like mini pine-bark mulch. The top dressing is “nothing more than shredded pine tree, and easily found at most garden centers,” he said.

DatedFoundation planting—shrubs and trees so close to a home’s footing they appear to choke it—can cause mold on siding if greenery gets too big, make home repairs thorny and raise hell with your home’s base. John VerDerBer, landscape designer at his family’s Aquebogue, N.Y., nursery, never positions flora closer than 3 feet from a foundation.

Up-to-date: “High-end clients want to see more of their houses, so we plant larger trees at the corners and dwarf specimens between, or we plant perennials and grasses, not shrubs, around the house,” Mr. VerDerBer said.

Dated: Carleton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., based in Palm Beach, Fla., would give all the overt outdoor ornamentation that peaked in the 1990s—like fanciful bird baths, globes and angel statues—the heave-ho.

Up-to-date: “These days it’s much more chic to have a pared-back garden that embraces natural beauty,” he said. Installing a surface-level bird bath with the still water of a small pond is preferable for Mr. Varney today, especially a copper specimen that will patina over time. “You will still enjoy the benefits of having a bird bath without having it be a focal point,” he said.

Dated: In the 1990s, landscapers plopped boulders onto grounds to add dimension—and unsurprisingly, the big stones sit there still. The problem, said Cara Fox, owner and lead designer for the Fox Group in Holladay, Utah: “So often, they aren’t authentic to the topography of the land.”

Up-to-date: Ms. Fox prefers to install equally substantive bushes with a similar scale. Ideally they would be right for the area’s hardiness zone, the USDA standard for determining if a plant can thrive in a location. For zones 4 through 8, which cover most of the U.S., that would be quick-growing hornbeam hedge or bush, “which can be trimmed to any scale,” she said.

Dated: The Algerian and English ivy that dominated facades in the 1950s and ’60s “makes a good rat hotel,” said James Lord, principal of San Francisco landscape architecture and urban design firm Surfacedesign. Ivy also creeps under siding, and its little rootlets exploit and expand cracks in mortar. Mr. Lord added that the climbing clinger—installed to replicate an East Coast prep look—also pushes out indigenous species and strangles trees.

Up-to-date: Mr. Lord would re-create the eye-candy appeal of climbing vines with their less-grasping cousin, twining vines, because they shimmy up supports like cables instead. He favors passion flower and trumpet vine in the Bay Area, because they’re “all seasonally more interesting than ivy, and won’t undermine the integrity of your wall.”

Dated: With the flounciness of a rococo ball gown, florals that ring tree trunks in rainbow circles are now more musty than must-have. “The plants are too orderly,” said New York designer Chris Shao.

Up-to-date: Mr. Shao would color outside the lines, loosen restrictive delineations and sow a mix of native species in a comparatively fluid style for a more contemporary tree skirt.

DatedGeometrically spaced drifts of a single species have held sway for two decades, but they’re not getting a second glance from Sutter Wehmeier, principal of Base Landscape Architecture, in Portland, Ore.

Up-to-date: Mr. Wehmeier prefers vegetation that “injects a hint of wildness without getting disorderly,” such as regionally appropriate ground covers and wildflowers that will seasonally pop up and recede “like fireworks.”

Reprinted by permission of Mansion Global. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 13, 2021



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Expert tips for prospective buyers looking to purchase a home in 2024.

By Josh Bozin
Fri, Apr 12, 2024 3 min

For aspiring homeowners, be it a first-time buyer, downsizer, or investor, picturing your idea of homeownership bliss is the easy part. But before deliberating on furniture choices or scouting for that perfect neighbourhood coffee, understanding your purchasing power stands out as the most important step in ensuring your success in homeownership.

And with the Australian property market gaining momentum in 2024, there’s never been a better time to come to grips with your financial options.

In 2023, amid the changing financial landscape that saw rising interest rates and the cost of living skyrocket, among other factors, the total amount borrowed for property purchases across Australia was estimated at $300.9 billion, a 12.7 percent decrease from the previous year, according to PEXA’s latest Mortgage Insights Report.

Each mainland state also experienced a decline in new lending, according to the report, with Victoria and New South Wales seeing the biggest drops to $84.1 billion and $109.5 billion, respectively.

While this trend reflects the repercussions of such financial hardships on the everyday Australian, John Morello, director and auctioneer at Jellis Craig, said we’re seeing renewed confidence in the property market during the first quarter of 2024, particularly in Melbourne.

“Auction clearance rates have started the year strongly and consumer sentiment is rising. This lift is driven by cooling inflation and an improved outlook on interest rates. At Jellis Craig, as with the rest of the market, we are experiencing an increase in volume of property compared to the same period in March last year (up 28% in 2024),” Mr Morello said.

“Melbourne’s property market, in particular, is showing its ongoing evolution and resilience.”

PEXA’s report revealed that, while borrowing saw a decrease in 2023 in Australia, Australians still invested $613.0 billion in property purchases in 2023. In 2024, purchasing confidence is only going up, as prospective first home buyers, seasoned downsizers, and savvy investors look to capitalise on a flood of new property hitting the market, coupled with the lowering of interest rates across the board.

“With more certainty in the economic outlook, along with an increase in volume of property available, we are seeing these factors translate to early signs of a boost in confidence in both buyers and sellers,” said Mr Morello.

“Further encouraging data shows that whilst there is more property available to purchase, more people are inspecting property, again indicating that demand has increased broadly across our marketplace.”

If you’re in the market for a new property, the biggest question you must ask yourself is how much house can I afford?

A great starting place is to speak with your mortgage broker or financial professional, who can guide you on your lending options. This is critical, as you need to know what your future repayment options might look like, and ultimately, what you will typically be able to afford.

A useful tool for judging whether you can afford a specific property is to factor in the 28/36 rule — a rough guide that suggests you should not spend more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on housing, and no more than 36 percent on all debts. Another useful tool is the idea of a debt-to-income ratio (DTI); a formula whereby an individual can divide all of their monthly debt payments by gross monthly income to arrive at a number that one can measure as a way of managing monthly mortgage payments.

Mr Morello emphasised the need to understand affordability and what’s feasible for each individual when looking to make a purchase, no matter the budget, on a property in 2024.

“It’s pivotal to work out what you can afford. Get your finances in order. Consider all associated costs with buying, and research what concessions and grants are available,” said Mr Morello.

“It’s easy for individuals to begin the process today. Start actively searching potential properties on a weekly basis, and research areas you are interested in. Check weekly sales results, attend inspections and auctions, to get a feel for the process. Just remember, it’s important to be really comfortable in understanding your living expenses, and what the ongoing expenses will be once you have bought a property.

“For example, mortgage repayments, council rates, water, power, owners corp fees, insurances, maintenance costs; if you are buying as an investment, the Land Tax payable on that property which is an ongoing tax. There’s many factors to consider.”

To see what’s possible for your specific circumstances, visit our Finance Portal for specific tools, guides and tips—as well as our own mortgage calculator—to assist you on your property journey.

 

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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