By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If your summer plans are like many others, it is likely you anticipate staying at home more as travel is still uncertain and some families are still recovering financially from losses incurred because of the pandemic. Sprucing up your property makes sense.
“We did a lot of work last year,” said Juan Ramos, supervisor at Lorenzo’s Landscaping in Syracuse. “People want a little of everything: new landscaping, retaining walls and walkways. They’re investing a lot of money in their houses.”
Like comfort foods in the kitchen, many clients choose classics for their landscaping, like hostas, roses and fountain grass.
Tried-and-true petunias, hydrangea, black-eyed Susans and weeping cherry trees are also popular for Ramos’ clients.
Jim Sollecito, owner, Sollecito Landscaping Nursery LLC in Syracuse, said that many people turned to vegetable gardening when the pandemic hit.
“That lasted a year because if you like to eat something, then so do the various animals that might get to the harvest, usually before you do,” he said. “Who wants to invest in an ugly fence around a vegetable garden unless it is large enough to justify a good harvest?”
For those who want to continue gardening, companion gardening with deterrent plants can help. For example, marigolds deter many garden-spoiling critters and provide beauty all season.
Many homeowners are investing in long-term features such as trees.
“With the blue spruce, patience for greatness might be required as they don’t grow as fast as deciduous plants, which actually is a nice feature,” Sollecito said. “But once they have been part of your home for a few years, their increasing value is paid with interest for decades to come.”
More clients are choosing the right kind of trees and shrubs for their space.
“When there are tight spaces, people often try to crowd in a columnar conifer,” Sollecito said. “That works, for a while, but in five years becomes too tall for the confined area.”
He recommends an upright weeping conifer such as weeping white spruce or weeping blue spruce. Neither grows very tall, and both thrive in small spaces. Their hardiness makes them easy to grow.
“Plus, they really are neat to put seasonal lights on with painted clothespins,” Sollecito said. “By the way, if you have Christmas lights on anything your landscape, the deer simply will not chew on those shrubs.”
As for hardscaping, Peter Briggs, owner of Briggs Construction Landscaping & Design in Auburn, foresees a continued trend backyard improvements as more people are staying home to cook and entertain together as a family than pre-pandemic.
“There are more seawalls and staircases near lake properties,” Briggs said. “You’re seeing more outdoor living environments like firepits, decks, decorative stamped concrete and updates. They are spending more time outside, since travel’s tough right now. You can’t really go anywhere.”
Many of his homeowners are spending more for higher grade materials, viewing their projects as property investments. With that in mind, it is important to select what is popular.
Although pools are still popular—offering backyard “staycationers” something to do, water features like decorative fishponds and fountains are falling out of favor, as their upkeep yields less enjoyment for the homeowner.
“A pond is too much trouble to take care of with the goldfish,” Briggs said. “The younger people don’t want the upkeep.”
Featured image: Porch built by Peter Briggs, owner of Briggs Construction Landscaping & Design in Auburn. He foresees a continued trend toward backyard improvements as more people are staying home to cook and entertain together as a family.