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Proper Pruning is Good For Fruit Trees

Spring is almost here and, if you live in the country, you might be thinking about pruning those fruit trees in your yard. Growing fruit trees is not a passive activity – especially on rural property where you often find lots of them. They actually require year-round attention for optimum health and better fruit production. 

Obvious chores include watering and fertilizing during spring and summer. But trees also require attention during the winter, even though they are mostly dormant for that season.  In fact, late winter is the ideal time for pruning and spraying – hence the term “dormant” oil for the type of spray used.

Pruning May Seem Counterintuitive

Cutting off branches from a healthy tree might seem counterintuitive. But careful pruning removes unproductive branches and shapes the tree to produce healthier fruit. After pruning, we spray a light mineral oil that is compatible with organic gardening – no fungicide or herbicide.  The oil coats the branches and seals it from mites and other bugs that might show up during the spring bloom. 

For ideal conditions, trees should be dry with no foreseeable precipitation for at least 24 hours. Likewise, ideal temps should be close to freezing.  Although in some areas, you may be able to prune as late as April as long as the trees have not sprouted leaf buds.

This past winter was a real challenge because it was so wet. Our continuous days of snow and freezing rain made it nearly impossible to get out and take care of the trees.  Finally, with dry weather and temperatures still below 40, we found a perfect day in March. 

Shaping The Tree For Better Fruit

While pruning is not that hard with the right tools, it helps to know what you want to accomplish with the trimming. A fruit tree continues to grow throughout the year, producing new shoots from its limbs.  Unless these shoots have fruit buds, they need to be pruned off. Otherwise, they divert nourishment from the branches that have fruit. Pruning helps direct the nutrients from the tree trunk to branches with fruit.

Likewise, the shape of the tree can determine how productive and healthy the harvest will be.  There are several schools of thought about this, but we prefer to prune the center lead (trunk) out. This helps the outer branches spread out and grow into an umbrella shape. The open center allows more air circulation and sunlight into the remaining branches, which helps blooming. This approach also makes it easier to harvest – as the outer branches bear fruit, they tend to bend down, making it easier to reach.  Proper pruning can help shape a tree into ideal production.

Sometimes Major Pruning is Necessary

You will often see a mature fruit trees laden with fruit at the very top branches. This makes the fruit nearly inaccessible when the tree hasn’t been pruned regularly.  We had a few mature trees on our property when we moved in four years ago.  They were overgrown with misshapen branches that criss-crossed inside the canopy. This not only creates a tangled mess, it also invites bugs and disease.  And, of course, the harvest was lacking.

So, two winters ago, we did a dramatic pruning that cut back many of the thick, older branches, and opened up the centers.  It is a scary proposition and, again, counterintuitive because it looks like the tree will die from all that major surgery.  Plus, trees often appear to “suffer” because they will skip a year in production as they recover.  However, after a major pruning, trees usually bounce back, and are healthier for it.

Proper Pruning Fruit Trees

And that was the case with our trees – there were no apples last summer. But spring weather has brought tons of flowering fruit buds, and the trees are thriving.  Plus, this summer, as the lower branches fill out, the fruit will be a lot easier to reach. Next winter, we will able to return to light pruning.

So don’t be afraid to trim your trees after you’ve determined how you want them to look. Regular pruning and dormant spray will keep them healthy and producing for years.

If you’d like to hear more about life in the country, with Nature as Neighbors, write or give us a call.

Multigenerational Homes in Clark County WA

We specialize in multigenerational homes in Clark County WA. Multigenerational or multign is defined as two or more generations living under one roof. These are not typical family units of parent(s) raising their children. Multigen is where adult family members decide to move in together – often to care for the elderly, or share in child-rearing responsibilities.

Our multigen homes are located on acreage or large lots. They have “elbow room for the soul”, which provides lots of space & privacy. According to the most recent 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 homes in the U.S. are now multigen. This trend will continue as one way to address caring for the elderly in a rapidly aging population.

Find MultiGen Homes for Sale

We look for multigenerational homes for sale with separate living quarters, or homes that can be modified to provide that space. We live in a multigen home – modified to accommodate family – so we know how to find homes suited for this lifestyle.

Market Report for MultiGen Homes in Clark County

100 Active Listings – $424,900 to $4,200,000
Average SQFT – 4,022
Average $/SQFT – $223

36 Pending – $469,900 to $2,500,000
Average SQFT- 3,781
Average $/SQFT – $199

62 Sold in last 3 Mos – $400,000 to $2,430,750
Average SQFT – 3,405
Average $/SQFT – $182

Median Days on Market was 44 days – down from 62 days in January.  Multigen homes don’t stay on the market very long! 

(Note: Report is for homes priced $400,000 and above, and does not include a spectacular $12,000,000 165-acre multigen property in Woodland, WA)

Multigen Buyers:
If you are looking for a home for multigen living, you can start your search here.

Multigen Sellers:
Call us for a free market analysis of your home’s value. We are specialists in this field, and we have buyers ready to move!

 Photo Courtesy of The Columbian, 2009

Spring Hiking in Clark County, WA

In the Pacific Northwest, the spring hiking season is about to get underway. April’s rainy weather makes our local trails muddy and slippery, therefore, we are still a few weeks out.  May will bring an influx of adventurous people in boots and backpacks, ready to exercise their bodies and quiet their minds.

We both enjoyed reading a recent article regarding the benefits of hiking. The part we especially found interesting is how it impacts our brain. A studypublished in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that spending time in nature significantly decreases negative thought processes. Especially, the type of obsessive rumination that can be difficult to break.

 

In addition, the participants in the study were unplugged as they backpacked through nature. No technology whatsoever! We’re not surprised to learn a nice long hike, without a cell phone, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe our mind, and increase creative thinking. And, once you invest in suitable shoes and a day pack for emergency provisions, it’s free, except for perhaps a parking pass at a trailhead.

 

Hiking also burns calories (400-700 an hour)  and builds muscles and bone density. Your body and mind get in shape as nature works its quiet magic. While we agree with the tech-free advice, we think it’s important to carry a cellphone in your pack for emergencies. Peace of mind while you enjoy the peace-and-quiet is also an important consideration.

Local Trails

There are many trails in our area for hikers to choose from, and because of our close proximately to the Columbia River Gorge, there are some pretty rigorous hikes for those in good shape. However, you can easily find trails for nearly every ability in Southwest Washington. Here’s a list of hikes in the Clark County Washington Parks system.

Here’s a video recap of a hike we took several years ago. The Cape Horn Loopgives you fantastic views of the Columbia River Gorge. A bonus for us, in the spring and early summer months, a profusion of colorful wildflowers dot the meadows.

Keep in mind, the loop is closed between February 1 – to July 15 for nesting falcons. Portions of the trail are quite precarious and exposed, dogs should be on leashes and young hikers should be closely supervised.

 

 

 

Do your body and mind a favor this spring – Take a hike! 

Filed under: Lifestyles | Nature | News

The National Association of Home Builders has released its Home Buyers Survey for 2019, indicating the top features home buyers want most. Although extremely helpful for new home builders, homeowners who are thinking about selling should also pay attention.

The survey identifies 175 items that are rated “essential”, “desirable”, “indifferent” and (just as important) “do NOT want”. An interesting note is that, while baby boomers trended along with general home buyers in desirables, they have stronger opinions about what they do and do not want.

2019 Survey Reveals What Home Buyers Really Want – With Some Surprises

Some features are not surprises – energy efficiency shows up (explicitly or implied) as four of the top 10 items. Surprisingly, laundry rooms are at the top of the essential features buyers want. Although this factors in with the other items baby boomers desire – smaller homes with single-level living and open floor plans. Having a laundry room keeps clutter out of view and helps keep smaller homes organized. Ceiling fans are also big – arguably consistent with the energy efficiency theme.

The Full Survey Identified 175 Features – Here Are The Top 10

Also, consistent with baby boomers’ desire for one-level living, elevators were rated the least desirable feature in a home – one that would cause them not to buy it. Although – another surprise – this was not as much of a deal killer of buyers from other age groups.

It’s Also Helpful To Know What is Undesirable

We also learn from the survey what items will discourage a sale. All are certainly subjective, but informative. Percentages who said “No”:
Elevator – 74%
Wine Cellar – 69%
Second-story Family Room – 59%
Dual Toilets in Master Bath – 57%

While this survey can guide new home construction, by building in features from the start, it also can help sellers of existing homes. Adding a laundry room is not on the list of the best returns for home improvement projects. However, there may be other areas in the home that can be converted easily – like a closet in a bathroom with room for a stackable. Or, even the garage might be an option. Access to utilities will determine the ease and expense of such an addition.

If you are thinking about selling your home, and want to know what buyers really want in a home, contact us.

Multigen Homes with Nature as Neighbors

We specialize in view homes on acreage or large lots with “elbow room for the soul”. This not only provides homes with plenty of privacy, but also homes that are well-suited for multigenerational living – households with different generations living together. According to the most recent 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 homes in the U.S. are now multigen. This trend is likely to continue as one way to address caring for the elderly in a rapidly aging population.

Some homes come with separate living quarters, some need to be modified to provide that space. We live in a multigen home, so we know how to find homes suited for this lifestyle.

Here is the ViewHomes™ Market Report for homes suitable for multigen living:

Market Report for ViewHomes™ With MultiGen Features

76 Active Listings – $400,000 to $4,200,000
Average SQFT – 4,413
Average $/SQFT – $223

32 Pending – $409,900 to $2,495,000
Average SQFT- 3,800
Average $/SQFT – $194

62 Sold in last 3 Mos – $400,000 to $2,430,750
Average SQFT – 3,405
Average $/SQFT – $182

Median Days on Market was 44 days – down from 62 days in January.  Multigen homes don’t stay on the market very long! 

(Note: Report is for homes priced $400,000 and above, and does not include a spectacular $12,000,000 165-acre multigen property in Woodland, WA)

Buyers:
If you are looking for a home for multigen living, you can start your search here.

Sellers:
If you have a home that has multigen features and you want to sell, call us – we are specialists in this field, and we have buyers ready to move!

Filed under: Lifestyle | Lifestyles

The Value of a 3-car Garage

Many of our ViewHomes of Clark County buyers prefer a home with a 3-bay garage. The reasons vary, but the bottom line is needed space. And as the photo shows, the single car garage in Barbie’s Dream House ( a gift for my granddaughter’s upcoming 4th birthday) is already full.

One parked puppy, and suddenly there’s no room for Barbie’s signature pink convertible. Not to mention her SUV, or Ken’s motorcycle. Barbie is an active woman too. Where will she store her camping gear, skis, bikes, jet-ski, and scuba equipment?

Why a 3-Car Garage – Let us Count the Whys

Here are some of the most common reasons we hear from buyers seeking a 3-car garage. And, what we see in garages when previewing ViewHomes™ prior to listing.

Better fit for Larger Cars and SUVs

A third car

Lawn Mowers, pressure washers, etc.

Boats of all kind

Motorcycles

Bikes and other sporting gear

Hobby space

Office

Workshop

Gym

Storage space

Bar and pool table

Potting shed – gardening space

Raising Puppies!

We completely understand the added value of a home with a 3-bay garage. The cost difference when purchasing a home with a 2 car and 3 car garage will vary, but generally speaking, it can a lot of value. For example, in Camas, Washington, a home with a 3-car garage sells for about 8% more than one with a 2-car garage.

In our opinion, the added value is also about preferences and perceptions. Given the current preference for having 3 bays, it makes sense to have a home with the amenities that are most desirable. CC&Rs ( Covenants, conditions, and restrictions), or zoning restrictions might prohibit building a shed, or another type of outbuilding for extra storage space.

Keep in mind though, if the first impression of the house is garage-centric, the curb appeal can be greatly reduced – and perhaps, the value. Oh look, it’s a garage with a house attached! We’ve all seen them.

In more rural areas, where homes tend to be older, many properties have decent sized 2-car garages, with various outbuildings. Zoning often makes it possible to add sheds, RV garages, shops, and barns to make up for any loss associated with the lack of a 3rd bay.

If you’re interested in listing your home with a 3-car garage in Clark County, we know how to price it fairly, and  market it to the right demographic. Buyers, we know where to find the view homes with 3 car-garages, and other options to suit your specific needs.  Call us today, we’d love to help.

 

Begin your search here for homes with 3-car garages in Camas.

Filed under: Lifestyles | View Homes