Falls Church Spring Home and Garden

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to Improve One’s House

When looking into improving and/or renovating one’s house, there are many factors to be considered, such as design and cost. However, thinking of “environmentally-friendly” ways for improvement/renovation can also be important for homeowners.

Whether on the inside or outside, there are various ways homeowners can implement sustainable solutions that not only benefit their house, but also the planet.

In recent years, the use of solar panels has become a morerecognized way to provide power to one’s house. These panels have cells that absorb photons from the sunlight, which creates an electric field and causes electricity to flow. According to an article by the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, solar panels are built to “work in all climates” and can be placed on one’s roof; preferably southfacing with a slope of “15 and 40 degrees.”

One common concern about installing solar panels is the cost, which can be about $12,000, according to a March 9th article by Consumer Affairs. However, these panels can save homeowners $1,500 a year on electricity compared to standard electric power.

For homeowners who may want to add more windows to enjoy the spring sun, doublepane windows can reduce the amount of escaped heat up to 50 percent. Also referred to as “insulated window glazing,” double-pane windows can help keep cold air out in the winter and heat out in the summer.

To add an extra environmentally-friendly touch to doublepane windows, one can also use sustainable frames, such as composite wood products and fiberglass, to give a better thermal performance.

Repainting one’s walls or choosing a new wallpaper is a standard improvement a homeowner considers when thinking about home renovations. Luckily, there are businesses that offer eco-friendly paints

and wallpapers, such as Backdrop, Clare Paint and Spoonflower. The advantages of using eco-friendly paint and wallpapers are the lower levels of VOCs — volatile organic compounds emitted as gasses from certain solids and liquids — and reduces indoor air pollution pro-

duced by toxins from some standard paints/wallpapers.

If a homeowner is considering the best lighting options for their house, LED light bulbs are the more energy efficient option. According to an article by Ledlightplanet. com, good quality LED bulbs can

“last more than 30 times longer” than other light bulbs.

Another advantage of using LED bulbs is that they “generally” produce a low level of carbon dioxide gas compared to

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PAGE 10 | MARCH 16 - 22, 2023
Environmentally-Friendly Ways
A RAIN GARDEN is one of many ways someone can improve their homes environmentally, as it can save water by using repurposed rainfall to nourish plants. (P����: R���G������.���) COMING SOON! 3br/2ba Cape Cod in Falls Church City 2br/2ba townhouse in Fairlington 3br/3.5ba townhouse in South Riding 5br/3ba expanded rambler in Poplar Heights 4br/3ba Expanded Cape Cod rental in FCC avail July 1st Matt Earman Real Estate Sales Associate (703)328-4563 COMINGSOON 7405 Storm Ct - Falls Church - New Construction OpenSat&Sun1-4pm OpenSat2-4pm 222 Connery Terrace - Leesburg, VA Cozy 3BR/2.5BA Brick Cape Cod w/ welcoming front porch & separate garage in quiet neighborhood, awaiting new owner to renovate/update. Offered at $775,000. Also Open Thursday 4-6pm 3BR/2.5BA Townhouse in Greenway Farms. Spacious Primary Suite w/ extra loft sitting area/office. Deck overlooks wooded area. Offered at $519,500 Scheduled Completion April 2023 - 5BR/5BA Modern Farmhouse w/ elegance throughout plus fully finished basement. Offered at $1,645,000 COMINGSOON 513 W Broad St #601 - Falls Church City Stunning 2br/2.5ba + den condo in The Byron w/ 1,825 sq ft of living space. Beautifully updated, and centrally located on the quiet side of the building overlooking Howard Herman park trail with two separate balconies, and gorgeous sunset views. Also includes two assigned parking spots and a separate storage unit. 2827 Meadow Ln - Falls Church UnderContract Amazing Modern Farmhouse on 2+ acre lot featuring 4 Bedroom 4.5 Bathrooms, and over 5,000 sq ft of living space. Offered at $1,200,000. (Represented Buyers) 38011 Touchstone Farm - Purcellville Falls Church City Grant Program: Ask about our $5,000 closing cost Grant Program for Falls Church City School Employees and City Employees Chris Earman Member NVAR Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club Residential Top Producer (703) 628-4541 | Chris@EarmanRealEstate.com Your Local Falls Church Realtor • 703-760-8880 • Falls Church/McLean If you are looking to Buy, Sell, or Rent in 2023 please call Chris or Matt for a no obligation consultation. Spring is budding... It's Garden Time!! BY KYLEE TOLAND FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS
Going Green:

Creating a Home: How Professionals Mold a Community

When making a decision about selling, buying, building and/or renovating a house, one of the first steps should be whether or not a “professional” should be hired. Home professionals can help with much more than just sales and building.

Real estate agents, contractors, architects and home builders can play a big role in achieving one’s wants and needs in finding/building a house. For those who cannot decide whether to hire someone or do the work themselves, there can be various reasons why hiring a professional can help one enjoy the place they call “home.”

Buying/selling a house can come with a lot of questions and concerns. When is the best time to buy/sell, what the real estate market looks like at the moment and which areas are better-suited for a buyer can be some of the many thoughts one has during the process. Luckily, most real estate agents can answer these questions, as well as provide expertise on other aspects of the buying/ selling process.

One thing that real estate agents can do for a seller is place one’s house on multiple listing services (MLS). According to an article by travelers.com, selling one’s home on their own will require them to spend money up front in order to get a listing viewed by potential buyers.

Working with an agent automatically provides access to the MLS, which can be used by agents to search for the most up-to-date listings. MLS can also help a buyer search for what they are looking for in a house, based on their price, floor and neighborhood preferences.

A more personal expertise a real estate agent can give to a client is their knowledge of the area they work within. This can mean a lot to a person, especially a buyer, when it comes to finding a house that is in the “right” area for them. According to an article by Key Inspection Services, LLC, a real estate agent can come in handy when one has specifics on what kind of neighborhood they want to live in, the quality of the schools, crime rate in that area and any pending commercial developments.

After deciding to have one’s

house “improved” with various projects, hiring a general contractor can help with the supervising of a renovation or remodeling. A contractor can help secure work permits and hiring/scheduling subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers.

Hiring a contractor brings a client “peace of mind,” according to a 2022 article by Forbes magazine, as most of these professionals work with those who are “licensed and insured.” An “experienced” general contractor will most likely know how to comply with all local codes, which means that all necessary permits will be procured and will pass a future home inspection.

To nail down the design a homeowner wants/needs, hiring an architect can help a person put their preferences into reality. According to an article by Vanguard Studio, an architect can get a greater understanding of one’s needs by “exploring” a homeowner’s lifestyle and use of their current house to draw up construction plans that address both the owner’s desires and the structural requirements.

Architects can also draw up a

design that can prove to be a profitable investment, as a good design can add extra value to one’s house and have a greater resale value when the time comes to sell.

Building a house can be tough, especially if one has specific preferences and/or needs for their “dream” home. Hiring a professional can allow a person to plan what they want without the risk of damage or injury.

In most cases, a homeowner can implement their own floor plan and settle down at a location of their choice when hiring a professional builder. According to an article by

Liongate Builders, any “reliable builder” will get the blueprint approved before moving ahead with a project. Whatever a person’s needs are, whether they be for presentable or personal reasons, a builder will be able to illustrate a layout that can appeal to a homeowner.

As for location, a professional can help a client find and buy a “suitable” location to build a house. If one has concerns about having a house built in a certain area, a home builder can help find a plot in a region with reputable school districts, access to employment opportunities and more.

SPRING HOME & GARDEN MARCH 16 - 22, 2023 | PAGE 13 FCNP.COM | FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS UNDER CONTRACT! UNDER CONTRACT! UNDER CONTRACT! Realtor, NVAR Platinum Producer 703-298-9495 alisonmiller@kw.com 105 W. Broad Street Falls Church, VA 22046 Each O ce is Independently Owned and Operated Thanks for your con dence and your business! Beacon Crest Terrace, Ashburn Representing SellersMultiple o ers in only 2 days! Lees Mill Road, Warrenton Representing Buyers. Brand new construction Scoured two counties on foot to nd buyers' dream home! Montour Drive, Falls Church Representing SellersMultiple o ers in only 2 days! The Spring market is o like a rocket and we're short on inventory! If you want to sell but don't know where to start let's talk. You Deserve an Agent Who Can Get You Everything You Deserve When Selling Your Home Strategic home preparation Optimal market positioning Skilled negotiations Leveraging multiple-offer scenarios First-rate marketing We know how to maximize your net return with: Ken Trotter, J.D., Realtor® Falls Church Expert Silver Line Group, CEO 703 606 1122 Info@silverlinehouses.com SilverLineHouses.com Thinking about selling a home? Please reach out to us to maximize your net return. HBCGroupKW.com pam@hbcgroupkw.com 703.371.9343 Pam Micciche Broker: 703.636.7300 | 6820 Elm St. | McLean, VA 22101 Each Keller Williams office is independently owned and operated. We LIVE Here. We WORK Here. We GIVE BACK Here. Your Agent For Life! Thinking about selling? Call me today! Our team is ready to position your home for the market.

Inside and Out, Homeowners Can ‘Go Green’ With Their Houses

incandescent lights. This is due to the material used to create these LED lights not being able to produce carbon dioxide gas compared to other lights.

Installing low-flow appliances, such as a shower head or toilet, can significantly reduce water use. According to a June 2022 article in House Beautiful magazine, standard toilets use up to seven gallons of water per flush, while low-flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons. Low-flow shower heads also decrease water consumption by “at least 40 percent.”

Growing a garden can be a fun way for a homeowner to spruce up the outside of their house, as well as be environmentally friendly. Gardening with native plants — a plant that occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction — can require less maintenance and water. They help the environment the most when planted in places that match their growing requirements.

their house environmentally friendly. (P����: R���G������.���)

If one is unsure what to plant, resources such as Native Plant Landscape Design Corp in Falls Church can help a homeowner decide what native plants to choose based on the climate of their region.

To help care for one’s garden and backyard, the use of a rain barrel or garden can save water


by using repurposed rainfall to nourish plants instead. According to the same House Beautiful cle, rainwater contains more of the nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide plants flourish with.

Recently, the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) announced grants to city resi-

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dents for rain barrel and garden projects to reduce potentiallydamaging stormwater. VPIS Board Member Jeffrey Peterson said rain barrels and gardens can prevent pollution in local

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streams and reduce flooding in the area. He also said a homeowner can have an “improved” landscape with these projects as it causes less water ponding in one’s own backyard. YourVisionOurExpertise 1224WestBroadStFallsChurch,VA22046 703.748.0700


Get Your Backyard Ready for Springtime Entertaining

Despite the sudden return of brisk and windy weather (and even the occasional flurry) over the past week, the official start of Spring is coming this Monday, and many of us, including this writer, are very excited to enjoy the outdoors. To add to the excitement, after three years, the pandemic emergency declaration is expiring – prompting the return of concerts, festivals, and social activities

that have been sorely missed. While returning to these activities, many are noticing the effect of inflation on the cost of entertainment. With many seeking ways to socialize without breaking the bank – or excluding friends on a budget – 2023 is shaping up to be the year of backyard entertainment. We visited the residents with two fantastic backyards in greater Falls Church for inspiration on how to maximize the use of your backyard, for entertaining and beyond.

Whether your backyard is deep or wide, large or small, it is important to think of social spaces in ‘zones,’ where a reasonable number of people can converse, sit, stand, and move around comfortably. “It was important to us that when a lot of people are over, they can still have a meaningful conversation with people,” said Rick Bennett, whose backyard is separated into areas for lounging and watching tv, sitting for an outdoor meal, cooking on the grill, composting and planting, sitting around a fire pit, relaxing in the hot tub, and (for his canines and their guests) relieving themselves, “a group of five or six people that strike up a conversation are a lot more likely to connect.”

Bennett regularly hosts gatherings, from weekly “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” watch parties with a handful of friends, to an annual Christmas party with well over 100 guests. “It’s hard to get gay folks living in D.C. to venture across the river,” Bennett added, when asked about hosting events for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. (of which he is a member), “but when you’re setup for a great time, they figure it out.” For any LGBTQ+ readers unfamiliar with Falls Church, it is literally six stops away on the Orange and Silver Lines – come visit!

When considering seating, the elements and the comfort of your guests are important, but be honest with yourself about upkeep. If you aren’t going to move the cushions inside every time it rains, pick something waterproof (and if you forget, be sure to drain the cushions on their side before allowing a guest to sit). Consider a storage bench to put things in when not in use, and ensure any seating around a fire pit can withstand falling embers. Though better than a wet cushion, nobody likes sitting on a cold, hard chair – so be sure to have some individual seat cushions handy. Also keep in mind that “the pollening” is coming soon – consider covering any surfaces guests (or their clothes) will come in contact with.

Outdoor lighting is an excellent way to create a welcoming, comfortable evening space. Consider energy-saving smart LEDs that connect to your home’s WiFi and virtual assistants, and take some time to set up the brightness and color levels for “scenes.” Guests will be thrilled when you tell your watch to “set the backyard to party” and your space bursts to life. If working with what you have, put those holiday lights to use, pop

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Get Your Backyard Ready for Springtime Entertaining

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some fairy lights into jars, or put some candles (safely) to use.

For Matt Quinn, his wife Katie Moore, and their daughter Karys, the backyard is more

than a place to entertain –which they do regularly, including an annual Pig Roast every fall – it’s also a source of sustenance and education. In 2017 they fully gutted the yard and installed five 8’x4’ planters along one side – and a variety

of fruit trees on the other. Their kitchen’s bay window is currently serving as a greenhouse until the cold snap breaks and it’s safe to plant seedlings outside. During the growing season, the family enjoys an abundance of food from the yard

– including a variety of homemade hot sauces, which they learned to make together during the pandemic. “This is a great way to do things together as a family,” said Quinn, “we love our yard.”

Whether hosting a small or

large gathering, or just enjoying yourself or your family, creating a beautiful and inviting atmosphere in your backyard is a great way to enjoy beautiful weather (which will hopefully return soon), and a cost-effective way to entertain.

HOT TUBS ENGLOSURES allow folks to enjoy the hot water even during windy or extremely cold nights. (Photo: Brian Reach) BACKYARD SPACES are versatile spaces that are fantastic places to wine, dine, socialize, and enjoy nature. (Photo: Brian Reach)

One of Virginia’s most popular yet mistreated landscape plants is the beautiful crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica, L. fauriei, and L. indica with L. fauriei or L. speciosa hybrids ). They are loved for their long summer bloom period and range of flower colors. Added to their beautiful flowers are interesting seed heads, lustrous green leaves that change to bright fall colors, and subtle-to-stunning multi-colored bark. It is a plant with true four-season interest and appeal.

Crapemyrtles are low-maintenance and easy to grow. All they need are sunny locations and soil with moderate moisture and fertility. They generally require a minimum amount of pruning when

well-maintained and properly chosen to fit the space where they are planted. A misconception that crapemyrtles need to be severely cut back in late winter or early spring in order to flower well in summer has led to the unhealthy practice of “topping” these plants — cutting stems back at an arbitrarily chosen height.

Never Top a tree!

Even a Crapemyrtle

Topping crapemyrtles, a practice nicknamed “Crape Murder,” is harmful in many ways. It is regarded as an unacceptable practice by trained horticulturists and arborists. Research shows that stem decay significantly increases when topping cuts are made, and that more dead branches also occur within the canopy.

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Topping crapemyrtles results in numerous fast-growing shoots originating from the “topping knuckle” that forms on the top of the cut stems. The natural shape and structural strength of the plant is ruined. Topping can greatly reduce the number of bloom days, because only one main flower cluster is borne on the end shoots instead of many smaller flower clusters with staggered bloom times. The new shoots are soft and poorly attached. They often break because they cannot support the single large bloom on the end of the shoot. The soft shoots are also more susceptible to pest problems (especially aphids). The damaged tree may also produce large numbers of ugly basal suckers.

Prune Your Crapemyrtle Correctly

The correct way to prune a crape myrtle involves enhancing its natural form. Crapemyrtles naturally grow as small upright or vase-shaped trees with multiple trunks. Because crapemyrtles are summer-blooming trees, producing flowers from new wood or current season stems, the proper time to prune is late winter or early spring prior to new growth. Removing dead, diseased, broken, crossing, and rubbing branches early in the tree’s life avoids the need for yearly pruning.

Starting at ground level, follow the trunks upward to where they begin to branch, focusing on the interior of the tree rather than the outer edges. To remove a branch, follow it back to where it joins a larger branch or trunk. Notice the swollen branch collar at the point where the two branches join. Using a pruning saw or loppers, remove the branch by cutting just above the branch collar, not quite flush with the trunk. If the branch was removed correctly, the branch collar left behind will extend out no more than half an inch

from the trunk. Clean up the interior of the tree by cutting off small twiggy branches that grow from the main trunks. This is best done using hand pruners. You can also remove seed pods and trim off the ends of branches that are less than pencil-sized in diameter.

Crapemyrtles that have previously been topped can, to an extent, be “untopped.” Select two or three of the stronger shoots on each “topping knuckle” and prune the others off. Then prune back the selected shoots above outward facing buds to begin to develop a new branch pattern. The plant will never again have its true or natural crapemyrtle form, but it can be improved.

A helpful online resource is the Virginia Tech publication, “Pruning Crapemyrtles” (VCE 430451) by Bonnie Appleton and colleagues, which details the damage caused by topping and describes correct pruning techniques at www.pubs. ext.vt.edu.

For techniques to prune back the height of a crapemyrtle that is interfering with power lines or other risks, see hort.ifas.ufl.edu.

Proper pruning techniques will ensure an abundance of blooms, as well as a healthy plant for many years to come. And keep you from being a Crape Murderer!

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Falls Church City Resident Tree Talk Natives sells trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses native to the mid-Atlantic region. SUNDAY, MARCH 26, NOON- 4 P.M. SPRING IS COMING! All trees and shrubs 50% o ! Flowers and grasses are not on sale.
Incorrect Correct
SPRING HOME & GARDEN FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 8 | MARCH 16 - 22, 2023 Albert Bitici albert@thebiticigroup.com 571-775-0468 SOLD COMING SOON Represented Buyer Rare oversized lot - .66 acres 217 Lawton Street Falls Church $1.25M 80+ showings, 14 offers Under contract above list price 2841 Brook Drive Falls Church $950K Charming Cape Cod Style Home 3 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms 2851 Meadow Lane Falls Church $750K Expanded Brick Colonial 3 bedrooms / 3 bathrooms 2823 Brook Drive Falls Church $1.05M UNDER CONTRACT FOR SALE COMING SOON Updated raised brick rambler Large .33 acre corner lot 3215 Potterton Drive Falls Church $699K Prime Falls Church City! 3 bedrooms / 2.5 bathrooms 313 James Street Falls Church $739K COMING SOON Keller Williams Metro Center 2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1050, Arlington, VA, 22201 Each Keller Williams Office is independently owned and operated. (703) 224-6000
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