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December
6

New Home for the Holidays

After looking at various Sarasota homes for sale, are you finally settled into your new house? As much as you love your new place, it may not quite feel like home yet. You may still be unpacking, decorating, and making the space your own. How, then, does celebrating the holidays fit into this equation? Better than you think! Here are seven ways to make the most of the holidays in a new home.

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May
17

Houseplant Tips

One of the best parts of buying a new house is giving it those personal touches that help turn it into a home. Our estate agents can help you find Bradenton homes for sale, but only you can make that home your own. One simple and rewarding touch you can add to any home is houseplants. What kind should you have, though? Here are a few things to consider when selecting houseplants.

  1. Benefits
    Think about what benefits you want. For instance, if you want to reduce stress, go with a lavender plant. Its scent has a calming effect and can improve sleep. Maybe you're looking to make your air more breathable. In that case, peace lilies and English ivy absorb toxins to improve indoor air quality. Or you might want to add a splash of color to your decor. If so, coleus comes in various bright shades, including purple, orange, and red. Gardon croton has leaves of red, yellow, green, and copper. And bromeliads bloom in red, orange, yellow, and pink. There are many other houseplants with myriad other benefits. Do some research and find out which ones best suit your needs.

  2. Environment
    Consider where your houseplants will be kept and what their needs are. How much sunlight does it need? What temperature range does it thrive in? Does it need a dry environment or a humid one? If you're looking for a plant for your bathroom, for instance, you should try the humidity-loving monstera plant. If you have a room without windows, try a snake plant. If you've got a big window with lots of sunlight, consider a jade plant or a lemon tree.

  3. Care
    Perhaps the most important consideration is how much care your plant will need and how much care you'll be able to give it. How often does the plant need to be watered? Does it need any other care, such as pruning? If you travel a lot, then look for a plant that doesn't require as much care - or be prepared to get a plant-sitter. Air plants, for instance, don't even need soil. Keep them in indirect sunlight and water them every two weeks, and they'll thrive. What if you're afraid you'll forget to water your plant on a regular schedule? Or that you'll accidentally overcompensate, watering it too often? Set a reminder on your phone to alert you when your plant needs water or other care. It can be set to go off automatically once a week, every two weeks, or however, often your plant needs attention.

  4. Containers
    Once you've chosen your houseplant, it needs to go in the right container. Porous clay pots are good for your plants and the environment. They retain moisture while letting soil toxins escape. You might also consider a glass terrarium designed to keep in moisture and heat. Whatever container you use, make sure it's got holes on the bottom for water drainage. If you're buying a baby plant, know how much it will grow over time, and get a container that will accommodate it - or be prepared to transplant it later. A larger pot can also allow you to put multiple plants in the same space. 

If you've got houseplants inside, you're likely going to want a few outdoors as well. Fortunately, there are plenty of Sarasota homes for sale with big front and backyards, perfect for gardening. Contact us to help you find the space that's right for you!

March
9

Planting om Bradenton

If you're new to Florida, you might be surprised to learn that yes, we do get the occasional frost here in Sarasota and Manatee Counties in the late winter and early spring. This is just one of the things you need to know as you embark on gardening in your new home, acquired either from Bradenton homes for sale or Sarasota homes for sale. Fortunately, frost is rare and not much of an impediment to producing fabulous flowers, fruits, and vegetables in Florida.

While we suggest Floridians start planting long before National Plant a Flower Day, which is March 12, this national celebration, which promotes looking forward to spring by encouraging flower planting, is a great reason to jump right in.

And the good news is, after mid-February, the chances of a frost damaging seedlings or other plants are very low. So feel free to head to your local garden center and acquire some fabulous flowers to celebrate March 12 with a burst of color in your yard.

But before you start, a little planning is in order. What can you plant in our region of Florida? So many things, from tropicals to perennials, lush annuals, flowering shrubs, and glorious flowering trees. The key is making sure whatever you choose can tolerate our heat and humidity. 

What to Plant

The flowering plant palette for Florida is extensive. Among the most common flowering plants, you'll note are these.

  • Pentas. Also known as Egyptian Star Cluster, Pentas are evergreen perennials and come in pink, magenta, lilac, and white. They prefer full sun and are seasonal bloomers. An added bonus is they attract butterflies.
  • Coreopsis. You can't not plant Florida's state flower, the Coreopsis. It's a member of the aster family and has bright golden disk and ray flowers. It's a brilliant addition to any garden. 
  • Blue Salvia. Although native to the Southwest, Salvia farinacea does well in South Florida and can flourish in a hot, dry location. Low-maintenance Blue Salvia (also known as Mealycup sage) is an annual further north but blooms like a perennial in our climate. Pollinators love it.
  • Mexican Heather. A low-growing ground cover, Mexican Heather or Cuphea loves full sun, although partial will do. Plant it in a well-drained location. It produces lavender-pink to white flowers almost all year long.
  • Bougainvillea. One of our most spectacular bloomers, Bougainvillea's showy display isn't actually flowers at all, but rather colorful leaf bracts. It needs six hours of sun a day, and for that, you get an explosion of color most of the year.
  • Lantana. Another pollinator attractor (including hummingbirds), Lantana is available in pink and yellow or bright orange and yellow, and more. Deadhead flowers to keep the plant producing most of the year. Be sure to water Lantana when the weather is dry; mulch and fertilizer help promote abundant flowering.
  • Periwinkles. Also known as Creeping Vinca, Periwinkle is a creeping vine with pretty blue flowers, often used as a ground cover, and which can choke out weeds. Best blooming will occur if it's planted in partial shade.
  • Plumbago. This sprawling shrub is grown for its clusters of blue, phlox-like flowers. Plant Plumbago over a stone or wood retaining wall for a beautiful effect. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade.

Our real estate agents have more tips for how you can improve your property, indoors and out. Contact us today.

June
12

Vegetable Garden

Gardening is one of the most enjoyable, family-fun activities we can think of, and you can even include a science lesson as a bonus! If you're looking at Bradenton homes for sale or Sarasota homes for sale, we can help you find a property that offers possibilities for creating your own vegetable garden. After all, it doesn't take that much land to produce a significant amount of food! 

  1. Choose Your Site
    Choose a level site that gets plenty of sunshine. Make sure you have access to water, be it an irrigation system, a soaker hose, or a garden hose. If you live in a community with homeowner's association, be sure to check to be sure that you're following any rules related to gardening on your property.
  2. Create Raised Beds
    Depending on your yard, you might be better off utilizing a raised bed. For this type of garden, you'll need a flat, 4x8-foot area. Double dig the soil, removing rocks and roots. Acquire a frame for your plot from the home and garden store. Build up your soil (layer newspaper or plastic weed barrier, topped with 2-3 inches of garden soil and compost) inside the frame, and you're ready to plant. Raised beds make it easier to keep pests out, prevent soil compaction, and to provide adequate draining. 
  3. Choose Your Plants and Plant Them
    You can plant just about anything in Florida. The key is knowing when is the best time to plant. Whether you grow your plants from seed or transplant young plants from the garden center, choose carefully. Note the plant's needs; for instance, tomatoes need full sun, so don't put them in a shady location. You can't do better than to consult the Old Farmers' Almanac website, adapted for modern gardeners to target specific areas such as Bradenton, with dates for seed starting indoors and outdoors, and for planting. Be mindful of planting dates: with increasingly hot summers, vegetable crops can be damaged by extreme heat, so plant heat-sensitive vegetables early enough so they can set fruit before the hottest months arrive. Some plants may require shade cloth during exceptionally hot times. Follow directions on seed packets or seedling trays for planting. Add mulch around seedlings to keep moisture levels even and to cool the ground. 
  4. Keep an Eye on Your Crops
    Don't just plant your plants and leave them on their own. Check their moisture levels, watering as needed, especially during very hot periods. Fertilize with organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, bone meal, or seaweed. Spray as a foliar application or pour on roots. Also, check for insect and plant pests, treating with organic applications if possible. 
  5. Enjoy Your Harvest
    Nothing beats fresh from the garden produce! Take this time to note your favorites and consider what you'll grow next year. 

Find just the right Bradenton or Sarasota home to grow your garden. Our real estate agents can help. Contact us today.

May
29

Home Renovation Steps
This is often the time of the year to begin home renovation projects that have been on the back burner for quite a while. Home improvement projects can be satisfying and even fun when they are properly planned and well executed. Maybe you have a vision of what you'd like to change in your home but don't know quite where or how to begin. Before you jump in head first, there are several steps you should take to get your project off on the right foot.

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