A sophisticated landscape plan not only adds value to your home, but also adds curb appeal.

Use landscaping to add value to your home

Real estate agents tell homeowners all the time that good landscaping improves the value of their homes. They’re right, according Dr. Alex Niemiera, associate professor of horticulture at Virginia Tech.

If you’re looking to sell a house, particularly in a soft market, “it’s well worth the investment to hire someone to develop a sophisticated landscape plan, and then put in larger-sized plants,” Niemiera said. “You’re not only adding value, you’re also adding curb appeal to your house versus another home for sale down the block.”

Planting evergreens on each side of the house that extend 20 to 30 feet can help nestle the house into the landscape.

So how much does good landscaping improve the value of a home? It varies, depending on where in the United States a property is located. But Niemiera said that, based on data he combined from several studies, improving a home’s landscape can increase its value 10 percent to 12 percent.

‘Improving a home’s landscape can increase its value 10 percent to 12 percent.’ (Click to Tweet)

He called professional design a small investment with a potentially big return.

“A homeowner could certainly perform many landscaping improvements, but if you want the eye of an experienced landscape designer, it will help. You could just pay for the plan and do the labor yourself, if you’d like to save money.”

Got a teen driver? Smart Start Program available online

Help your teenage driver get off to a road-smart start—and save money, too—by enrolling in Virginia Farm Bureau’s Smart Start Program.

The Smart Start Program can save customers money on auto insurance premiums, just by having a safety-minded teen driver in the household who is enrolled in the program. Sign-up is easy, and the program can be completed online.

Teens may enroll starting at age 16, but to qualify they must be enrolled before age 18 and be accident- and conviction-free. The discount will be applied up to age 25, as long as enrolled drivers continue to meet the requirements.

To enroll, teen drivers must complete the following three steps online:

  • Watch the Smart Start video;
  • review the Smart Start Program booklet, and keep it for reference; and
  • take a 12-question quiz after watching the video and reviewing the booklet.

To maintain the discount, the enrolled teen driver must:

  • maintain a valid Virginia driver’s license;
  • stay listed on a Virginia Farm Bureau personal auto policy; and
  • maintain an accident- and conviction-free driving record.

Find out more about the Smart Start Program.

Misuse of car seat

Learn how early settlers preserved their food

Those of us who want fresh fruits and vegetables in winter head to our local grocery store or farmers' market, but how did Virginians preserve seasonal foods when they weren’t available year-round? Watch this video and find out.

Fruity French Toast

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s choosemyplate.gov nutrition website offers daily recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy depending on your age, sex and level of physical activity. It's important to try to work these food groups into every meal. Try this delicious recipe for Fruity French Toast.

Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension

See Recipe

Help control your weight by eating breakfast

There is no magic way to lose or maintain weight, although some say boosting your metabolism is the key.

Eating breakfast may not necessarily boost your metabolism, but it can help you manage your weight.

There is no evidence that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism. But if you eat breakfast, it will help you manage your appetite so you don’t eat unhealthy snacks later on.

And there are other proven methods to rev up metabolism and help control weight.

The American Dietetics Association recommends aerobic exercise and building muscle mass through strength training exercises to increase your metabolism.

Muscle mass decreases as people age, and muscle burns more calories than fat tissue. So by lifting weights and increasing their muscle mass, people can increase their metabolism.

Additionally, as people age, their metabolism slows down, so they need to cut back on calories. Some people think skipping breakfast is a way to do that.

However, when people wake up in the morning they are operating on a glucose deficit and need food to increase their energy level.

There are a lot of nutritious, low-calorie options for breakfast. Try eating high-fiber cereals with added fruit, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, or yogurt with fruit and granola. Stay away from pastries, doughnuts and overly sugared cereals.