Archive for Gardens & Curb Appeal

Grow Blueberries In Your Los Angeles Garden!


Blueberries in my Pasadena garden

Blueberries in my Pasadena garden

I am a unrepentant blueberry lover, and I’m thrilled to report that, yes you can grow blueberries in your Los Angeles or Pasadena garden. I’ve discovered they’re best grown in containers rather than in the ground. Blueberries are acid loving plants and it’s easier to create the ideal growing environment in a container.

This is the 6th season for my blueberry plants and they’re bigger and more productive than ever. I grow them semi-organically in half barrels that I purchased at OSH, planted in organic soil for acid loving plants (Organic Camellia and Azalea potting mix from Armstrong Nursery). The only fertilizer I use is old coffee grounds spread around the base of the plants on top of the soil (don’t want to disturb the roots). Since my husband is the coffee drinker, I am at his mercy whether he will purchase organic or standard coffee, hence the “semi-organic” label. In addition,  I use 1 or 2  inches of peat moss and organic potting soil (for acid loving plants) as a mulch in the spring.  I make sure they get watered regularly. And that’s pretty much it.

I grow 2 different varieties of blueberry plants in my Pasadena garden: O’Neal (2 plants) and Misty (1 plant). They’re both Southern High Bush blueberries, which means they have low chill requirements and tolerate heat well. Growing 2 different varieties improves the size of the berries and the quantity. Both varieties are “early” berries. I just harvested my first bowl of O’Neal berries today (Oh, Happy Day!). The Misty plant which has plenty of green berries on it, usually ripens a week or two later than the O’Neals.

Growing blueberries in containers in Pasadena

Growing blueberries in containers in Pasadena

Last year, I got about 3/4 of a gallon of blueberries from my 3 plants. This year, I expect to double that. Blueberries come into their own when they are about 5 years old, and can produce for another 15 years. The mockingbirds have discovered my backyard blueberries and now we are at competing to see who can get to the ripening blueberries first.  My husband built a cage around the blueberry bushes this weekend, made of hardware cloth (coarse screen) and bird net, so I’ll have a fighting chance.

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Curb Appeal – Creating Patterns In Your Lawn Like Professional Stadiums

Curb Appeal Tip – Have you ever wondered how you can create stripe or criss-cross patterns in your lawn like they do in professional baseball stadiums?

Curb Appeal mowing the lawn with stripe pattern

I don’t know about you, but I’m always impressed when someone puts in a little extra effort to boost the curb appeal of a home. It makes the home more memorable, and implies that the homeowner has taken extra special care of the home.  I thought it would take a lot of measuring and planning to create a stripe pattern in a lawn, but it turns out, its not that difficult to create those stripe patterns in your grass. You can do it with a standard lawn mower, or even a rake,  just by pushing your mower (or raking) in the pattern you desire. The goal is to get the grass to lay over in one direction or another to create the pattern. Grass laying over towards you will look lighter in color, while grass laying over away from you will look darker. The longer the grass (2″ is optimal) the more distinct the pattern.

You can get more impressive results, with some professional tools like a “grass brush” attached to your mower.

Here’s a video I found on a website, a lawn and garden equipment website:

Not many homes have lawn or grassy areas as large as a professional baseball or football stadium or a golf course, but this technique will work with smaller lawns as well.

I can’t overstress the importance of curb appeal when selling your home. The first place home buyers will see your home is on the MLS or on other real estate listing websites. 99.9% of the time there will be photos of the front and back yard (or at least there should be). Any effort you expend to make your home stand out in the sea of pictures on the MLS is a good thing and should result in more showings.

©2016 Moving Mountains Design

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A Great Professional Home Stager Is Like A Swiss Army Knife

An experienced house stager has a lot in common with a fully-loaded Swiss Army Knife™.

A home stager is like a fully loaded Swiss Army Knife

Since WWII, the trusty Swiss Army Knife™ has been the go-to tool for soldiers, campers, fishermen, construction workers, even Hollywood Bowl goers (mainly for the corkscrew and for slicing cheese:o). I even have a Swiss Army Knife™ in my home staging tool kit!

The Swiss Champ™ has 35 tools or “features” and there’s not a lot you can’t fix or attend to with a Swiss Champ™ in your pocket.

The more experienced the home stager, the more tools she is likely to have at her disposal.

I like the think I’m the Swiss Champ™ of home stagers. Like the problem solving Swiss Army Knife™, Moving Mountains Design can be the solution for many home selling difficulties:

  • Need advice on how to add umph to your front yard to enhance curb appeal? A home staging consultation will cover that
  • Need a recommendation for inexpensive carpet, granite counter-tops, reliable movers or storage? I’ve got several to choose from in my contact list
  • Don’t know what color to paint your living room to appeal to more buyers? I know the perfect color
  • Not sure if your furniture will help or hurt the sale of your home? I can assess your furniture and let you know if I think it will advance your goal to sell your home for top dollar
  • Is your home vacant and feels empty with no furniture? I can provide a few rooms or a whole house of furniture, artwork and accessories to make your home look like a model home
  • Don’t have a real estate agent to list your home? I’ve worked or interacted with 100’s, all over Los Angeles, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley and I know who does a good job
  • Not sure if you should spend the money on remodeling your house for sale? I can tell you which upgrades should  help with a faster sale or a higher selling price
  • Do you need to sell your home fast and as-is? I work with real estate investors that can close escrow in as little as 1 week for all cash – no banks, no mortgage approvals, no appraisals

If you’re the listing agent, I can help you with:

  • Photographing your listing after staging. I’ll provide professional quality photographs of the homes we stage for use in marketing
  • Writing your marketing materials
  • Sending an email blast to 1,800+ real estate professionals on my mailing list
  • Convincing your client of the importance of doing certain repairs, upgrades or staging in order to effect a faster sale at a higher price

As you can see, an experienced home stager has a lot in common with the trusty Swiss Army Knife™.

Smart home owners, real estate agents and real estate investors have one in their pocket. Do you?



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Curb Appeal & Home Staging

In January I was called by some homeowners for a comprehensive home staging consultation. They wanted to prepare their home for sale and planned to put it on the market in the beginning of March. Yesterday we staged the home and I applaud the home owners (now home sellers) for following my home staging recommendations to a T! Countless hours of hard work and elbow grease went into making this home shine.

I can’t over stress the importance of curb appeal when selling a home.

From the moment a prospective buyer has a first view of your home, they are making a sub-conscious decision about how much they like or don’t like your home. If they have a good impression of the outside of your home (often called curb appeal), that is one less objection you must overcome when they walk through the front door. Your house (no matter how lovely) is not having to overcome that bad initial impression from the curb.

Front of Pasadena home before staging & curb appeal work is doneHere’s the front of the home as I first saw it in early January.

Pretty Pasadena home after curb appeal home stagingAnd here’s the house almost 2 months later – the epitome of “charming English cottage”!

The list I gave them during the home staging consultation was long and specific. Some of my suggestions were:

  • Trim camellia bushes in front of the windows below the bottom of the window and “lace them out” (trim out some of the inner branches to give a lighter, more lacey effect).
  • Trim and lace out camellia bushes on either side of the front door and either corner of the house.
  • Remove all dead plants and fallen leaves.
  • Plant new colorful flowers in planting beds (I suggested adding Impatiens which grow quite well this time of the year in Pasadena).
  • Cover all exposed dirt with redwood bark chips.
  • Neaten border edging.
  • Broadcast a weed and feed product on the front lawn and rake in some grass seed on bare areas.
  • Paint the front door red for a jolt of eye-catching energy.
  • Add 2 bowls of colorful flowers on either side of the front door.

Making these changes created a true Cinderella transformation for this house. The house now shouts “Look at me! Aren’t I lovely?”

This home is listed by Irina Netchaev, Keller Williams Pasadena, (626)627-7107. Read more about this home Charming Caltech Area Home Staging

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+Michelle Minch