Perennial Curb Appeal: Four Tips for Creating Year-Long Color

Each year, properties spend thousands of dollars on colorful flowers to boost curb appeal and improve property maintenance during growing seasons. In a day’s time, beds are stripped of the remnants of a hard winter and transformed into vibrant, colorful bouquets of annuals that please residents and attract new ones.

Annuals are spectacular but the clock ticks quickly on their lifetime once they’ve bloomed. Annuals require seasonal plantings that often come with a hearty landscaping bill. A property can easily spend $7,000 to $8,000 on each planting, depending on the size of the property, up to three times per year.

At nearly $24,000 per year, those beautiful flower beds could be an eye sore for your landscape budget.

Improve Curb Appeal and Cut Costs with Perennials

Perennials, on the other hand, live a couple of years or longer, offer very pleasing color and blend well with annuals, while reducing the need to plant as often to keep beds looking colorful. In some cases, properties can reduce their color budgets by 50 percent or more while maintaining a consistent look and eye-catching color.

Perennials come in numerous varieties and bloom in spring, summer, and fall and go dormant in the winter. The bloom cycle is much shorter but more frequent versus some annuals that bloom for only a few months. The best of the perennials will bloom in cycles, providing intermittent bursts of color.

By using a strategic approach of mixing perennials and annuals during spring and fall color plantings, apartment properties can improve curb appeal while fiscally enjoy it, too. For the mix to be effective, property managers should keep a few things in mind:

1. A Mix of Perennials and Annuals Reduces Maintenance Costs

Planting a mix of perennials that have varying growth cycles with annuals like Pansies, Begonias, and Petunias can reduce the number of plants used in each color change while achieving a long-lasting, colorful presentation at the front of the property or in select areas. Use fewer amounts of annual color at the front of the bed, while using perennials to fill in and create interest towards the back. The blooming of the annuals will compensate for the lack of blooming of perennials so that it appears there is plenty of color throughout.

2. Consider Height and Interaction for Better Curb Appeal

When selecting perennials, take note of the mature height of the plant and how it will interact with signage or lighting in the bed or nearby. Some perennial grasses, like Pampas Grass, can grow to five or six feet tall.

3. Leverage Bloom Cycles to Ensure Constant Color

Coordinating a mix of perennial types with varying bloom cycles will help ensure constant color in the bed from season to season and into the following year. Perennials that bloom in the same bed for three weeks at the same time will limit the color splendor. You’ll have a dazzling show for three weeks, then nothing. The idea is to incorporate things that bloom in different phases and at different times all in the same bed, so there’s always something of interest and attraction.

Depending on the area of the country, you may want to plant some kind of bulb – like a Daffodil or Tulip that blooms in early spring and then transition into Day Lilies that start to bloom in mid-April. Hostas, which bloom a little later, can also be added to the mix.

4. Maintain Perennials for Future Growth and Healthier Budgets

Perennials require maintenance to ensure they return for another growing season. Many have to be deadheaded and frequently cut back. The extra effort is worth it because when the growing season returns, they’ll be primed for vigorous growth.

With the right plan that includes the right plants, properties can take advantage of what perennials have to offer while keeping beds and other areas of the property attractive. While they won’t be show-stoppers like annuals, perennials offer plenty of curb appeal. And best of all, they help reduce expenses, which is sure to catch the eye of property owners.

Images: Earthworks

 


President, Earthworks

author photo two

Chris Lee is President of Dallas, Texas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping. He is a contributing author to Landscape Management magazine, licensed irrigation specialist and a Toro Intellisense certified technician. Chris studied business at the University of Arkansas from 1990-94 and horticulture and landscape design at Tarrant County College from 1999-01. He has been employed at Earthworks since 1998.

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