Julie Gross' Blog
Container gardens are a plant-lover’s art form. With so much room for creativity and combinations of plants and flowers, you can achieve countless eye-catching designs. However, the amount of choices can also seem daunting. How do you know which plants to choose for your container? Here are some basic tips to help you choose the best companion plants for a beautiful container garden:
Match Growing Conditions
The most important factor in designing a successful container garden is choosing plants that have similar environmental needs. Plants with the same light and water requirements will thrive together, while those that are different will struggle. Unless you’re creating a garden in a stationary planter, container gardens offer the flexibility to move them to the ideal amount of sun or shade. Even still, select plants that all have the same sunlight preferences and watering needs.
Combine Flowers & Foliage
You don’t have to rely on flowers to achieve beautiful and vibrant container garden looks. There are many plants with colorful foliage you can use in combination or just on their own. Some outstanding examples of plants with stunning leaves are coleus, caladium and hosta. These plants produce foliage to rival even the most colorful flower combinations, making them an excellent choice to consider in your container garden design.
Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers
Combine plants that will grow in a variety of sizes and shapes to get a dynamic aesthetic for your garden. You might encounter the terms “thrillers, fillers and spillers” in descriptions of plant types. In the gardening and landscaping world, these terms refer to the general shape and physical presence a plant will have in a container. Thrillers are plants that grow tall, fillers are more dense and medium-height and spillers will trail or hang over the edge of the container. A healthy mix of all three will help you achieve an exciting design.
Consider Container Size
Your goal might be to have a lush container garden that looks like it’s bursting with color, but be careful to use a big enough container. Remember that most plants will grow to fill the space provided, so there’s nothing wrong with a little breathing room in the beginning. Besides, it’s always easier to add another plant into the container than struggle to fit too many of them together. Many gardeners suggest a 1-to-3 ratio when planning the amount of plants to include. For instance, a container measuring 12 inches across could comfortably fit three 4-inch pot-sized plants.
If you’re stumped on color choices, there are some strategies you can use to design your garden. One strategy is to choose a focus plant and then build around it. What colors will look best with this plant? Do you want to match for an abundance of the same color or create contrast? Another strategy is to look at an artists’ color wheel to find complementary colors. You can achieve an eye-catching look with a mix of opposite colors and those that are close together in the spectrum.
With so much room for creativity, choosing plants for a container garden might seem like a daunting task. However, if you stick to these tips, you should have an easier time creating a beautiful design full of plants that will thrive together.
128 Irving St, Norwood, MA 02062
128 Irving St, Norwood, MA 02062
When you’re a new homeowner in a new community, you don’t always know how to handle unforeseen emergencies. Before that day arrives, take the time to learn your community so that a minor issue doesn’t become a major catastrophe.
Handling Household Emergencies
Whether it’s a burst pipe or a broken window, household emergencies always seem to happen after hours or on weekends when service providers and insurance agents aren’t always available. When your roof leaks during that Sunday morning rainstorm or you find puddles in front of the dishwasher, you’ll wish you already had a relationship with a plumber or a roofer.
Often, emergency repair crews charge extra for weekend or evening callouts. They also might offer a temporary repair to get you through the weekend, but you’ll still need to have a regular service provider come in to complete the work during the week.
Find a Source & Have a Backup
The service provider you choose for regular projects and new installation may not be the only number you need. Ask them if they provide emergency services. If not, who do they recommend? Here’s a brief list of on-call experts you need the names and numbers of to get you through the off hour challenges.
Emergency Roofers: These folks don’t reroof your home, necessarily. Their expertise is in finding the source of a leak — or potential leak in the case of storm damage — and placing a protective cover over it until inclement weather passes. Once the weather improves, they usually offer to inspect the roof for damages and refer you to a crew that performs insurance repairs.
Electrical Issues: Start with your local utility. They often offer emergency services and procedures to prevent a crisis. Once the critical time passes though, you’ll need to involve certified electricians to repair or rewire your home.
Natural Gas or Propane Emergencies: Likewise, should prompt you to call your provider. This is particularly true if you smell gas and cannot identify or turn off the source when checking for extinguished pilot lights on stoves, furnaces, water heaters and fireplaces. Call the gas company emergency line immediately. But do not use your cell phone inside or leave family members or pets in the house. Go outside or to a neighbor’s house to call. They’ll mitigate any urgent issue and propose what needs repairing, but don’t usually repair those issues themselves. Instead, they’ll direct you to licensed contractors experienced in residential gas-line installation and repair.
Weather-Related Emergencies and Natural Disasters: They can happen any time, no matter where you live in the country. Be proactive in learning where the nearest shelters are for tornadoes and hurricanes. Learn the evacuation route and drive it several times if you live in a flood-prone, tsunami or water-surge area. Contact your local emergency services or the American Red Cross to learn disaster preparedness techniques and to find local information.
Thinking of buying your next home in a 55+ community? You'll likely want to know the pros and cons, and whether the restriction makes your property hard to sell or bequeath in your will. Here are the key points to know.
The Upside: Worry-Free Maintenance
These communities are designed for low-maintenance ownership. Over-55 or "active adult" communities are usually quiet and well-watched, with a good number of retirees in the mix. Maintenance staffers are there if anything breaks down.
As well as limiting the number of young people who live on the property, there might be a no-dog rule—supporting the quiet environment. Be sure the rules fit your own expectations before you start shopping in the community.
Your children can visit your condo and usually even stay for the summer. Ask for a Rules and Regulations binder so you can find out what time limits apply for your guests, and review the community standards.
But Do Consider How You'll Sell or Pass Down Your Property
Check into the rights of your family members to live on the property after the 55+ owner passes away. Your real estate agent can help you obtain this information.
A federal provision allows senior living communities to impose age restrictions, as long as they keep their 55+ population at least 80%. Particular active adult communities can require even more than 80% to be aged 55-plus. Some 55+ condo properties, but not all, will let an owner's child inherit and live in the unit. Still, that only works if the heir's presence wouldn't break the federal rule that says at least 80% of occupied units must include one or more residents aged 55+.
These communities also have minimum age rules (18 or 21 are common) for residents. If you bequeath your condo to someone with young children, that person will need to sell it after you pass away.
Note that these rules could reduce the pool of potential buyers if you later decide you'd like to sell the condo. Your realtor can tell you how fast condos in a given community tend to find buyers.
Condo Living at a Relaxed Tempo
There may be restrictions on grilling, thanks to the community insurance policy. And everything from how much space is yours to garden, to the shades of paint you'll use on your front door, will likely have to conform to rules. But then, that's a given with most condos.
In return, you'll have peace and quiet, professionally pruned shrubs, and snow-free walkways. And you'll likely have peers who share your appreciation for a relaxed style of living.
Ready to look? Call my office to tour desirable 55+ communities in your preferred price range.