The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

April 19, 2012
Posted by Lindsay Listanski in Tips for Home on Coldwell Banker’s blog (

I know what some of you are thinking, “this woman is crazy, the words low maintenance and gardening go together like orange juice and toothpaste (not well)!” I have tried this before and wasted my money. I am not home enough and simply do not have the time to pay attention to a garden. Excuses Excuses, this time is different. Don’t miss out on the benefits of gardening!  Check out these tips and give it another go.

Face the Facts: There’s Good News & Bad News

Bad News: Maintaining a beautiful garden often takes hard work. From planning, to planting, to proper maintenance, gardens require one of the most valuable things you have…your time.

Good News: Well thought planning prior to planting can save both time and money and we have the tips to do it!

Do Your Homework

The first step to planning a garden is deciding how you plan to use it. Will you be growing your own vegetables (there is nothing like fresh basil, YUM) or do you simply want a flower garden that will add beauty to your yard? Keep in mind those who will be sharing in the beauty of your garden. Do you have kids or pets that may affect the area where your garden will grow?

After you decide what function your garden will serve it is important to study your yard prior to planting. Note the health of your yard, where do current plants thrive? Do certain areas receive more sunlight than others? Are there any weeds? Is there a place where water accumulates?

Once you assess the current status of your yard, jot down some notes and head to the store to seek professional advice on which low maintenance plants fit the following criteria:

  • Thrives in soil, sun and your climate
  • Looks good for more than one season
  • Perennial (A plant that has a life cycle that lasts more than two years)
  • Will not outgrow the space you plant it into

Keep in mind that native plants grow on their own and don’t require a lot of attention.

Make Smart Choices

Here are ten perennial plants that blogger Marie Ianotti from Gardening suggests as smart choices for a low maintenance garden:

  1. Blazing Star: Blooms: Mid-summer through fall  Colors: Purples or white
  2. Coneflowers: Blooms: Summer  Colors: Purple, white, orange, yellow, pink & red
  3. Coral Bells: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer, but grown for its foliage. Colors: White, pink or red
  4. Foam Flower: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: White or pink
  5. Globe Thistle: Blooms: Early summer to Early Fall Colors: Blue or white
  6. Hosta: Blooms: Generally mid-Summer Colors: Purples or white
  7. Peony: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: Pinks, white, reds or yellow
  8. Russian Sage: Blooms: Mid-summer to Fall Colors: Blue
  9. Sea Thrift: Blooms: Spring to Early summer Colors: Pink, rose, lilac, red or white
  10. Siberian Iris Blooms: Late spring Colors: Blues, purples or white
A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle.

Consider Container Gardening

A great solution for a “wannabe green thumb” that doesn’t have hours to spend on their garden is opting to use the container gardening method. Let your creative juices flow when selecting your container and think beyond planter boxes and hanging baskets. Some of the most beautiful container gardens are grown out of household items that you may look at as junk. A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle. Other fun ideas include cowboy boots, wheel barrows, bird feeders, dresser drawers and rain barrels.

One benefit of container gardening is that you don’t even need a yard. Decks, windows, balconies and front porches can all be used as a starting point for your garden. For more information on container gardening check out “What is container gardening?”  by TLC.


Avoid Common Garden Mistakes

Check out our blog post on avoiding common garden mistakes on tips. This post is packed with goodies and secrets that will guide you through common mistakes that may have tripped you up in the past.

Stick With It

Commit to giving your garden the TLC that it needs and deserves. Be patient and give your garden time to grow before giving up on it. If you see your garden going downhill don’t give up! Seek the help of fellow gardeners in your neighborhood, local nursery or go online and reach out to the garden community.  Share your passion for your garden with a family member or neighbor. Hobbies that are shared with loved ones are always more enjoyable.  The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

Good luck and happy planting! Enjoy the extra time you will have after planting your low maintenance garden!

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Grand Openings in Westfield

KOI Boutique 

This boutique with stores in three NJ towns – Spring Lake, Garwood and Long Branch (Pier Village) is now open at 33 Elm St. 908.228.2918. Visit their Facebook page.

Rocky the Tailor

Great news! Rocky the Tailor has reopened at 397 Cumberland Street. (Near the corner of South Avenue W.) 908.232.7141.

 Coming Soon: 

Burger Palace will open this month at 251 North Ave. (at the train station, formerly 25 Burgers). This new eatery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offer take out grab and go service. Breakfast starting at 7am will offer a full menu or continental. Burgers are fresh western beef, with choices that include the California burger, bacon cheese burger, cheesesteaks and grilled subs. Milkshakes and chili fries too.

San Marzano Pasta Bar will be opening in early May at 339 South Ave. W. (in the previous space occupied by Mario’s Italian Deli at the corner of South and Summit Avenue). With an Italian chef, San Marzano Pasta Bar will offer authentic ingredients for their salads, a variety of panninis, classic sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta.  Pasta is made fresh daily and includes organic, gluten free and whole grain varieties. A barista will make fresh Lavaza cappuccino and lattes too.

Chipotle Mexican Grill will open at the end of April at 117 E. Broad St. in a portion of the newly renovated Leader Store Building. Now hiring!

 Urban Outfitters is opening at 154 E. Broad St., the historic bank building at the corner of Elm and E. Broad St. in Fall

 Red Mango Yogurt & Smoothies is coming soon to 107 Quimby Street (in the former location of Rita’s).  This Zagat #1 rated yogurt and smoothie shop offers all natural non-fat, gluten free frozen yogurt and delicious smoothies.

Potizzi Jewelryan upscale costume jewelry store will be opening at 41 Elm St. Construction is underway.

 Glamorous Girls is coming soon to 28 Prospect Street (formerly the O’ireland Building).  This new salon will offer hair, nail and spa services and also glamorous parties.

Expansions/ Changes:

 Swirl Whirl,  self serve frozen yogurt shop will be expanding next door to 21 Elm St. to offer an enhanced experience. 


Courtesey of Downtown Westfield Corp

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The home you’ve been searching for, you have jut found “IT.”

With so many homes on the market, many buyers house hunt for months, even years before finding “IT“.  Here are five indicators that a particular property you’re viewing might be “IT” – the home on which you’ll want to place an offer:

1. You feel possessive about it, instantly. I once showed a less-than-fabulous home to a buyer who stepped in the front door, opened her eyes wide, and uttered “OMG.” Somehow this property made her instantly possessive. She didn’t just want it – she had to have “IT” immediately.  If you walk through a place and leave wondering how quickly you can get your offer in, how much you’d offer to beat someone else out, or what you can do to lock it down quickly, it might be “IT.”

2. You start rationalizing its flaws away. Parkway noise?  Next door neighbor with crazy yard decorations? If you find yourself viewing a home with traits that you would normally deem undesirable or as deal-killers, yet you like the place so much that you instinctively compile a mental list of reasons those traits just don’t matter, you might have found “IT.”

3. The bathroom and kitchen don’t disgust you.   It is true that generally speaking, other people’s kitchens and bathrooms hold definite gross-out potential. There’s just something about what goes on in those rooms that seems exceptionally intimate and even unsanitary. So, if you happen to find yourself falling in love with a home’s serene master bathroom or drooling over the 6-burner stove, that’s a sign that you’re falling head over heels with a home that might just be “IT.”

4. You involuntarily envision your own family, furniture, decor, and daily activities here. They say, that the best staging helps prospective buyers envision their own idealized lives taking place in the staged home. But whether or not a property is staged, if you find your mind’s eye placing your family and furniture into the rooms, and your morning coffee or tea in the kitchen – or even start mentally removing walls entirely – it’s entirely possible that the home you’re in could be “IT” for you.

5. You lose interest in seeing other homes. I once took some buyers out for their first house tour in my area after they’d spent  years looking for homes in a other areas, without finding “IT.”  I’d planned to show them five homes, but when they got to the third property, they declared that they’d found their home, and they neither wanted nor needed to see any more. I insisted that they see the rest, to confirm their choice and to avoid feeling later that they hadn’t seen enough nearby homes to compare theirs to. They humored me and saw the last two places, then promptly bought house #3 and still live there, blissfully happy, to this day twenty years later. When you find “IT,” continuing the house hunt you may have obsessed over for months, even years, starts to seem silly, like a waste of the energy you could be using to move into your new home.

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Are you a proactive or a reactive gardener?

Proactive gardening is simply doing the important things to ensure the health of your garden before you see a problem. It’s providing the best growing environment, like sunlight, great soil and putting the right plant in the right place. It’s spacing your plants appropriately for air circulation and sunlight, it’s watering properly and using plenty of mulch. Then it’s taking the time to stay in touch with your garden. The whole key to proactive gardening is to know your garden so you can catch changes early to prevent possible problems later that require more drastic action .



I haven’t been an organic gardener my whole life, but I have been gardening for about that long. In those earlier days, I remember chasing all kinds of problems, from pests overtaking plants, to diseases and weed problems, and even the constant need to water. I’d chase every problem with a chemical, or, in the case of watering, spend hours with a hose in my hand. Well, that was reactive gardening — and thank goodness those days are long over.

With proactive gardening, you take the time to get to know your garden and plants. Don’t just look at them from a distance as you stroll by. Stop and admire them if you like, but definitely inspect them. Look under the leaves. Do you see egg clusters from pest insects? How about spotting leaves on tomato plants? Are any leaves being eaten on your squash plants?

As a proactive gardener, these are the types of things you look for early on. I can’t emphasis that enough. The key to proactive gardening, without the use of chemicals, is to spot problems early on and, well, nip them in the bud.

Take the time to start your garden out right, and don’t stop there. Be a good, attentive friend to your garden every step of the way.

(Joe Lamp’l, host of “Growing a Greener World” on PBS, is a Master Gardener and author. For more information visit For more stories, visit

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 July 2011:

Studio S
This fashion and accessories boutique is now open at 112 Central Ave., opposite Starbucks (between Jeffrey’s Restaurant & B. Kubick Opticians & Hearing Aid Center). They offer popular brands of clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories at sensational prices. 908.654.1415.

I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt has changed its name to FroYo, offering the same premium frozen yogurt as before plus many Dannon YoCream flavors. Same owner, expanded yogurt product line and flavors, now open at 270 North Ave. 908.654.1414.

Coming Soon:

Swirl Whirl Yogurt
Swirl Whirl Yogurt Buffet is opening this summer at 23 Elm Street, across from Ferraro’s (in the space formerly occupied by CoolVines). The yogurt is low fat and fat free, and the self serve feature makes it fun for customers of all ages to create their own ideal concoction. Stop by and taste for yourselves soon! 23 Elm St.

Glamorous Girls
Coming soon to 28 Prospect Street (formerly the O’Ireland building). This new salon will offer hair, nail and spa services and also glamorous parties. Anticipate opening in late summer. Stay tuned!

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