Why You Should Get a New Look for Your Yard

Home renovations usually focus on the house itself — but first impressions start with what's outside.
Photo: Getty Images

A beautifully landscaped front yard adds to a home’s curb appeal, but landscaping is about much more than aesthetics. A good landscape designer can craft a plan that will not only get the neighbors gawking but that’s practical, too. Landscaping that is done correctly will:

Create inviting nooks. Trees and shrubs can break up large yards into multiple secluded private areas that block out the neighbors and other surrounding distractions.

Reduce your environmental impact. When homeowners attempt to craft their own landscape design, commercial fertilizers — which are made of environment-damaging chemicals — are often used. Experienced landscape designers will consider sustainability and ways to help you be more environmentally friendly.

Prevent erosion. Retaining walls provide a nice framework for plants and other yard ornaments, while keeping soil where it belongs.

Reduce air pollutants. Certain plants naturally filter air of chemicals and other toxins linked to health problems. According to the Hawaiian Export Nursery Association, or HENA, some of the best plants to keep your air breathable include Rhapis excelsa (lady palm), Chamaedorea seifrizii (bamboo palm), Dracaena Janet Craig, Ficus “alii,” Dracaena fragrans (corn plant), Dracaena warneckii, Dracaena marginata (dragon tree), Norfolk Island pine, Dendrobium orchids, anthuriums and Phalaenopsis orchids. Ask your landscape designer to incorporate some of these air purifiers around your property.

Q&A with Kelii Peltier, AVP Loan Administrator, NMLS #489883, HawaiiUSA FCU 

Q: What’s the best way to finance a brand-new landscape design project?

A: A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a great option. Payments are usually divvied over 180 months, or 15 years. HELOCs are perfect if you are looking for the lowest rate and can pay the balance down significantly. Most HELOC programs have promotional rates; you want to try to take care of whatever balance you can during this promotional period. Interest-only programs — though attractive due to the lower payments — leave the principal balance unchanged. Without reducing your principal, your interest charges will never go down, which means the balance will always be looming in the background of your financial picture. Be sure to consult your tax adviser to explore any and all possible tax options you may have.

Q: What’s the most common problem or issue you’ve come across with homeowners who are trying to finance a landscape design project, and how can they avoid it?

A: The biggest issue is usually the variance between someone’s projected budget versus their actual spend. Things always change and plans don’t always play out as expected. Factor in a buffer into your budget, which will help with unexpected costs.

Q: Could a second mortgage be another option?

A: It depends on what the project is and how fluid things will be. If you know exactly how much you need and want fixed terms and payments, a second mortgage makes a lot of sense; there’s no surprises in what you’re paying back each month because of the fixed structure. But if you need more open-endedness and have the desire to utilize financing if and when you need it, a HELOC would work well. It gives much more flexibility.

HawaiiUSA FCU Main Branch
1226 College Walk
Honolulu, HI 96817
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Categories: Finance, Landscape Design, Outdoor Living