The lark at heaven’s gate sings


Once again the sun’s warmth melts away the snow and ice as spring re­turns to Santa Fe. The moun­tain chick­adees that fre­quented our back-yard feed­ers dur­ing the snowy, dark days of win­ter are fol­low­ing the re­ced­ing moun­tain snows as they head up to their alpine mead­ows for the sum­mer. Soon we’ll be talk­ing our morn­ing walks ac­com­pa­nied by the cho­rus ofmead­owlarks as they sing their lovely son­net of spring.

Let’s face it, spring in Santa Fe is not that great. Sum­mer in Santa Fe is bet­ter than any­where else in the world and our colorful fall sea­son with long warm days and cool nights is sub­lime. No­body can doubt that our win­ter with the snow cov­ered moun­tains and cold night air scented with piñon is sim­ply mag­i­cal. But spring, known lo­cally as al­lergy sea­son, has its chal­lenges: cold, dry, windy, and enough ju­niper pollen to choke an ele­phant. It seems that ev­ery year, this un­de­fin­able sea­son just kind of rolls on and then Poof! It’s sum­mer. Shake­speare would be hard pressed to write a poem about spring in Santa Fe.

How­ever, spring is also about re­birth and re­newal and it’s a good time to re-ded­i­cate your­self to the things that are most im­por­tant. This is a great time to fo­cus at­ten­tion around your yard. Land­scap­ing im­proves both the value of your home and your en­joy­ment of it. If you are not an avid gar­dener, it’s wise to get help de­vel­op­ing a land­scap­ing plan. Th­ese can of­ten take years to ex­e­cute as trees, shrubs, and other plants need time to ma­ture.

TheWash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Land­scape Ar­chi­tects sug­gest that you in­vest 5 to 10 per­cent of your home’s value on land­scap­ing. This is not to say that you need to run out right now and spend a lot of money, it’s a guide to how­much to spend over the time you own your home. To sup­port the idea, the Na­tion­alAs­so­ci­a­tion of Realtors re­ported that up­grad­ing a prop­erty’s land­scap­ing from av­er­age to ex­cel­lent im­proves its value by up to 12 per­cent.

We are for­tu­nate to have such high-qual­ity nurs­eries as Payne’s, New­man’s, Agua Fria Nurs­ery, and Plants of the South­west. Th­ese nurs­eries have a long his­tory here in town and can pro­vide lots of valu­able ad­vice for free. If you suf­fer from al­ler­gies, pollen is a con­sid­er­a­tion. Lilac and other flow­er­ing plants are beau­ti­ful to look at and very fra­grant, but pro­duce lots of pollen that might trig­ger your al­ler­gies. Again it is best to con­sult our lo­cal ex­perts about which plants will pro­vide you the most en­joy­ment.

If you don’t think that you will be in your home a long time or if you on­ly­want to spruce up your home for sale, it doesn’t make sense to do ex­ten­sive land­scap­ing. An ef­fi­cient so­lu­tion is to use pot­ted plants and trees in planters. Con­tainer plants re­quire less wa­ter, are pro­tected from go­phers, and can pro­duce more flow­ers in small spa­ces. You have to­tal con­trol over the soil and also the abil­ity to move them around. Plac­ing them along the walk­way to your house­makes a good im­pres­sion when show­ing the home. Our fa­vorite place to shop for th­ese plants is New Mex­ico Plant Com­pany out on High­way 14. It feels more like a whole­saler but they sell retail. They don’t have a web­site, so it’s best to call for di­rec­tions and hours of op­er­a­tion: (505) 471-3685. They sell through what they have so shop early in the spring for best se­lec­tion.

Trees are of­ten over­looked by home­own­ers who pre­fer flow­er­ing shrubs and other plants. Trees should be planned first, if pos­si­ble, as they take the long­est to ma­ture and can have the great­est im­pact on sur­round­ing plants. Trees pro­vide shade which helps soils by re­duc­ing heat and evap­o­ra­tion. They also block mois­ture-wick­ing wind as well. Plac­ing them on the western side of the house al­lows their shade to keep your home cooler dur­ing the sum­mer months. A lit­tle spring land­scap­ing will bring you plea­sure all year round and for years to come. When you hear the sound of the first mead­owlark, you’ll know it’s time to start plant­ing.

Roger andMelissa are Realtors at KW. Call them at 505-699-3112, email twicethe­selling­, or fol­low them on Twit­ter @ Car­so­nandCar­son and at www.face­­so­nandcar­son. santafe­r­ealestate

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