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gardening: Spruce up your garden and add pounds 5k to your home.

AN attractive front garden can significantly increase the value of your home and add as much as pounds 5,000 to a property, according to research from Plant for Life, a campaign by the Horticultural Trades Association which aims to help people make the most of their gardens.

Some 78% of the 532 estate agents surveyed said the front garden forms part of their sales pitch, while more than a third agreed that the appearance of a front garden is key to clinching that essential offer.

So, if you are thinking of selling your house this year, you need to get cracking now.

A good design can make a small space appear much larger, while clever planting can add privacy and security to your home.

Even if you have a tiny front garden there are still ways to use the available space to create positive first impressions. A few carefully planted, strategically-placed window boxes and containers near the front door can brighten up the entrance dramatically.

For summer colour, plant bedding plants such as petunias and nicotiana in late May. These can be replaced with pansies in September to keep the display going through the winter.

If you want the containers to look good now, choose evergreen shrubs such as skimmia mixed with springflowering plants now abundant at your local garden centre, such as primulas, trailing ivy and a few readygrown spring bulbs such as narcissi.

If your front garden space is used primarily for parking the car, use ground cover plants and containers in the no driveway space. Alternatively try separating the driveway from the rest of the garden with small trees or shrub borders. If there is soil available, plant low maintenance ground cover plants such as creeping juniper or cranesbill geranium to help deter weeds and provide some colour.

If you like the minimalist approach and prefer gravel or paving, it could be enhanced with plantings of rosemary, lavender and thyme.

Have you unsightly walls and fences climbers could scramble up? Clematis alpina cultivars, hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, variegated ivy cultivars and ceanothus such as Delight may be ideal for the job.

If you don't want to redesign, you can still brighten up your front garden. It may also be time to bring out the paintbrush for the front gate.

Some 58% of estate agents agree quick fix solutions such as tidying up the front garden with flowers and shrubs will most effectively increase the perceived value of a property.

A mixture of evergreens and herbaceous perennials should be fairly low maintenance, along with some colour at the front of a small border.

Plant for Life has teamed up with property experts Barnard Marcus to launch First Impressions, a guide offering simple garden designs, flowers, plants and maintenance advice for all types of garden. It's available from participating Barnard Marcus estate agents, or can be downloaded for free from www.plantforlife.info

PERK UP YOUR FISHPOND IN SPRING

Feed fish sparingly and increase frequency as temperature risesRemove any sediment and complete a 25% water change, using a water conditioner when you refill your pond.

Add a general disease remedy to help fight any harmful bacteriaClean filter in pond water and spray off any foam with a hose

Tomorrow

Open garden in national gardens scheme at Bont Fechan Farm, Llanystumdwy, 11am-5pm (and Easter Monday).

Admission pounds 2, children free

tuesday

Richard Lewis demonstrates spring pruning shrubs to Argoed Gardening Club at Mynydd Isa community centre, Flintshire, 7.30pm

Don Billington, of Maghull, gives a demonstration called World in One City to Llandudno Floral Art Club at Trinity Centre, Trinity Avenue, Llandudno, 7.30pm

Wednesday

Caernarfon Flower Club holds a belated St David's Day buffet at the Institute Buildings, Caernarfon,7pm

Send gardening events to davidpowell@dailypost.co.uk or see address on P2 of main paper

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Money up front... a well maintained garden can help sell your house - 78% of agents said it forms part of their sales pitch
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2008
Words:663
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