New Homeowner Guide Part 3: New Home, Inherited Responsibilities

old rustic shed

Inherited or otherwise acquired properties with existing landscaping can be a mixed blessing. In the best-case scenario, the property may have previously been well-maintained. In the worst-case scenario, it may have been neglected.

Either way, you are now responsible for maintaining (or salvaging) an existing landscaping project.

And, for the sake of this example (acknowledging that every situation is different), the property hasn’t been maintained properly and is overgrown, so it might take significant effort just to get it under control to the point that you can even start to think about incorporating changes and upgrades.

The previous homeowner may have been an avid gardener who had the time and knowledge required to maintain an elaborate space. Now, you, as the new homeowner, want the space, but you either don’t have the time or you don’t know how to keep it looking beautiful.

Where do you start? How do you decide what stays and what goes? If it’s going, what is a suitable replacement? Do we need to install, repair or remove hardscape surfaces? What do you do in the meantime to regain control of the situation?

You may have inherited the property “as-is,” but CVTS-L can make the transfer go more smoothly by restoring it to its former glory – and then some.

We can also identify areas where the maintenance process can be simplified. A simple, well-maintained landscape will always look better than a complex, poorly maintained landscape.

1. Determining what stays and what goes on an inherited property.

There may be a temptation to start tearing out everything upon arrival, but doing so risks removing the good with the bad. Calling in a professional for a paid consultation gives you access to their expertise so they can make suggestions as to what should stay and what should go. Plus, there is the added bonus of being able to hire them to do the work as well.

Plant experts and arborists can make sure that you’re preserving the specimen pieces, but you also need someone who can make determinations about hardscapes and assess the conditions of current hardscape surfaces and outdoor living elements.

For example:

Should you keep the sidewalk? Tear it up? Overlay it with pavers? Cracked concrete? Failing retaining wall? Patio that pools water against the foundation of the house when it rains?

We can help determine what kinds of renovations need to be done, how extensive the project will be, and which projects should be given top priority.

What about the 30-year-old deck? Remove it? Repair it? Replace it? With what – a pergola, patio or fire pit?

If you’ve just inherited a property, then you probably have a lot of other things on your plate, but you can relieve a lot of the stress by hiring a single company that can make sure all of the elements on your property – the trees, landscaping, hardscaping, etc. – play well together.

2. Making improvements and upgrades to inherited properties.

This transition period can also be an ideal time to make long-needed improvements to the property. But if you’ve seen the property the same way for decades (maybe even generations) then it might help to have a landscape design professional show you the new possibilities. Even adding something as simple as a lighting system can dramatically enhance an outdoor space.

A company that is well-versed in Landscaping, Tree Care, Plant Health Care and Construction will also be able to give you practical advice as to when a plant or outdoor element needs to be replaced or repaired, which can help save time and money.

As we mentioned in Part 2, care needs to be taken while making these improvements and upgrades to ensure that you don’t damage the existing elements that you wish to keep. You might not be building a house from scratch, but construction stress is still a major concern.

When we’re talking about construction stress, we’re talking about protecting the root system, which can extend as wide as twice the canopy. Particular attention should be given to the “Critical Root Zone,” which extends approximately as wide as the canopy itself.

How can you build your dream house while protecting the health of your trees?

  • Don’t park vehicles (especially construction vehicles on top of the root system. Compaction changes the soil properties and affects the amount of oxygen that is available to the roots.
  • Don’t pile mulch or construction debris on the root system. Piling debris can change the position of the roots in relation to the surface of the soil, and since most of the oxygen is in the top twelve inches, pushing the roots deeper than this (or otherwise compacting them) can dramatically decrease the amount of oxygen available to the roots and they will suffocate.
  • Don’t scrape soil off of the top with an excavator. This can cause tearing and scraping of the roots, which take much longer to heal than clean and precise pruning cuts.

Additionally, moving equipment in the proximity of your trees can cause other damage such as scrapes to the trunk/bark and snap off critical limbs. All of which cause additional stress to the tree.

The damage might go unnoticed at first, but a few years later, the tree could have construction stress and it might not be salvageable at that point. And that fifty-foot tree will not be able to be replaced.

3. Ongoing maintenance.

If you’ve just acquired or inherited a property, then it’s likely that you either already own a property that you maintain or you are new to property ownership and are learning by being thrown into the deep end. In either case, it can be wise to hire professionals who are able to maintain the property for you and also teach you how to do it (if you are so inclined).

With our “Green Solutions Plant Health Care Program” a Plant Health Care specialist will visit your property a minimum of seven times between April and October (the growing season). Learn more about this plant-focused, client-oriented and environmentally-sensitive program here or contact us directly to discuss your needs.

True mastery is only achieved when the student is able to teach the material to another, and, accordingly, at CVTS-L we would love to introduce you to the plants and trees on your property (some of which you might be seeing for the first time) – what they need, what should be avoided – everything you need to know to make informed choices about their care.

A Comprehensive Approach

Whether your property is a blank slate or an estate that has been passed down for generations, it is important to consult with landscape professionals who can consider your project from every angle and see it through from initial planting through the entire lifespan of the plants. As the authority in tree care, landscape design, plant health care, and construction, the experts at Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping draw on forty-plus years of experience to guide your project from concept through implementation and beyond.

Contact us today to discuss how CVTS-L can help you upgrade and maintain your inherited property.