Garden Clippings for November 3, 2018

Thinking of moving?  Working with a real estate agent?  Your realtor will ask you all kinds of questions:  How many bedrooms do you want?  A formal dining room?  Attached garage?  Two storey, split level or bungalow?   Proximity to schools?

What your realtor will likely not ask you is whether or not you are a nature lover.  Do you want the sun streaming into the windows?  What about the views from the inside looking out?

If you don’t care about your outdoor living environment, don’t bother reading to the end of this Garden Clippings, but if issues like sunshine, birds and trees are significant for you, read on.

After visiting this year’s beautiful Bluewater Health Foundation dream home, I was again struck by the fact that builders rarely consider the home’s orientation.  In the interests of saving a few planning dollars they will pick a standard popular house plan and give little thought to whether it is facing north, south, east or west.

Case in point is today’s trend to build covered lanais in the backyard. That’s a great idea, particularly for backyards facing south or west, where we look for shade on the patio.  But on the north side, a covered lanai will make your patio and family room even darker than it already is.

If birds and butterflies are important to you, you might want to forgo thoughts of a new subdivision home and instead look for a home in an established neighbourhood.  When we first moved into our new country home 20 plus years ago, it took about a decade before we were visited by a squirrel, even after planting hundreds of trees, evergreens and flower gardens.  We now wake up to the sounds of birds welcoming us in the morning.  Hummingbirds in summer are commonplace.

Consider the views from the home into the backyard.  Today’s trend for small lots often give no option but to install a board fence to separate the backyard from the opposite neighbour.  In addition you will want to install and utilize window blinds to give a measure of privacy from the adjacent homes.  A larger backyard with a few carefully placed trees may give you enough outdoor privacy to wear less than your grubbies or not feel obligated to wave to the neighbours.

Before signing on the dotted line for a new home, think about the sounds of road noise or commercial and industrial commotion.  Will the sound of an early morning garbage truck picking up the dumpster bin of the nearby plaza bother you?  Or the railway track connecting rail cars?  Or semi-trucks lining up along the highway waiting to enter the USA?

Trees and shade are major considerations.  When winter sets in, we yearn for sunshine that can penetrate the backyard and might even stream into the kitchen and family room.  But in the heat of summer, direct sun is too hot for us to lounge outdoors and will drive up hydro costs because the air conditioner runs constantly.  Shade trees provide summer comfort and can reduce A/C costs by up to 20%.