Archive for the 'Country Property' Category
Deer are everywhere in the Sierra Foothills, and nowhere are they more numerous than at Lake of the Pines, California, where they move around through the un-fenced yards, lordly and arrogant, eating just about everything that grows.
Can you actually establish landscaping, green and lush, that is impervious to the plague of deer? Yes.
These are shrubs and trees reputed to be deer resistant, though those of us gardening in our area know that some deer will eat almost anything, and that all deer will eat almost anything if they get hungry enough. I have seen hungry deer nibbling on the needle tips of junipers, though I have never seen them touch an oleander.
The worst offenders within deer herds are the fawns. Like most babies, the fawns haven’t yet learned what to avoid, and they put anything into their mouths. Because of their small size, the lowest and most tender growth of almost any kind of plant gets the special attention of these youngsters. You might think about protecting newly installed “deer resistant” plants for the first year with screen or fencing.
Other trouble makers are the bucks during the fall “season.” These sex-crazed lads will tear up plants just for the hell of it, and they will use your new trees to tune up their antlers for the mating wars to come. You might think about wrapping the trunks of newly installed trees with burlap until the lust dies down.
All that said, here are my 12 favorite deer resistant plants for the lower foothills. The photos are all from my own un-fenced yard at Lake of the Pines. I am putting my plants where the deer mouths are. These are July photos, so most of the specimens have already lost their flowers.
A DOZEN FAVORITE DEER RESISTANT PLANTS FOR THE CALIFORNIA FOOTHILLS
Juniper. Lots of people don’t like juniper because they are scratchy and boring, but many types have adapted to dry conditions and take little water to hang on through the summer. Juniper can form screening hedges and hold down problematic hillsides.
There are also “softer” and low growing species of juniper.
Oleander. Thank God for oleanders in July. Oleanders are profuse boomers and provide the most reliable color in the summer landscape. They are, as you know, poisonous, so don’t eat them. The deer are also well aware of the toxicity.
Grevillea. Sturdy and reliable. My favorite types have delicate pink flowers on them almost all year. They are prickly.
St John’s Wort. A surprise discovery. This plant is 3 years old.
Elaegnus. This is a new addition, a “silverberry” variety. We put it in this year for the first time. So far so good.
Nandina, aka Heavenly Bamboo. Not a real bamboo, and it will not get out of control. You can trim it like a hedge if that’s your thing.
Azelea (and rhododendrums) The deer will eat some species, and they will eat young, tender new growth, but they leave old leathery azeleas alone unless they are desparately hungry.
Abelia. This is glossy abelia. Takes very little water.
Barberry. Gorgeous red foliage to contrast with the green and grey-green on most foothill shrubs. Lots of thorns. Ouch.
Wisteria. Wisteria grows so high and so fast that it will soon grow itself out of reach. Of couse, if you don’t keep it under control, it will eat your house.
Yarrow, CJ’s favorite, and Lavender, my favorite.
Dafodils and Narcissus. These are not shrubs, but they do come back year after year to enliven the early spring. Each year you should plant new bulbs.
Yep. If you’re gonna buy country property, and there’s a pond on it, you should inspect the pond. Can you actually find and hire a “pond inspector?” In our rural neck of the woods, you can. One of the best-known is Keith Crabtree who has a business called Green Acres 101. I’ll give you the link to his website at the end of this blog.
Here’s a photo of Keith (white socks and sandals) consulting with my buyer-client, Jim Bradley.
This is a good time for a quiz. What is the optimum color for pond water?
No, it’s not crystal clear “where you can look all the way down to the bottom and see the little fishes at play.” If you can see all the way down, sunlight can get all the way down there, too. Sunlight + dead plant matter + algae + photosynthesis = scum. The best color is . . . green. How green? Green enough that a circle of white, concrete perhaps, disappears after sinking 18″ to 24″. Bet you didn’t know that. Neither did I until after Mr. Crabtree’s consultation this afternoon. Of course, if you scoop up a glass full of the pond water, you want it to look clear in the glass.
This pond, according to Crabtree’s inspection is a “good looking pond.” Besides being the right color, this pond has very little invasive vegetation. There’s a bank of cattails on the far side, but they haven’t gotten out of hand yet. Do you know how to control cattails? I bet you don’t. Drown them. Yep. Cut them off below the water line, the “dead” brown ones as well as the green ones, and let their hollow stems fill with water and drown. If they are small and just getting started like these, you can pull them out, but once they establish a big root system, oh baby, you are going to have some work ahead of you.
Another important element of a working pond is a spillway or outlet of some kind. This is a good one.
You can lift out the boards on the water-side and lower the level of the pond. Why would you want to do that? One reason is so you can work on your pond, especially along the shoreline. The other reason is to increase the holding capacity just before the big rains come. You don’t want your pond overflowing the banks, do you? No, of course you don’t.
There’s lots, lots more to learn about ponds (maintaining your fish, benign plants, circulation, aeration, leaks-and-how-to-fix-them, optimum slope, appropriate and inappropriate foliage to plan around the pond and so on), but I’ll save that for another blog, or even better, you can take one of Keith Crabtree’s classes by signing up on his greenacres.com website.
Here’s a final look at the pond, and one of the best reasons to have one. You and your pooch can have so much fun!
Here’s an unusual house we just listed for sale a few miles north of Auburn, California. What’s so unusual about it?
Besides incorporating a dome as the central element of the architecture, it’s really big. Don’t let the photo mis-lead you. This one-of-a-kind home (I know that’s a cliche’) is 5,219 square feet with 5 large bedrooms and 5 baths, all designed with flair and surprise.
It was originally built in 1986, but the home has been enhanced with a recent top-to-bottom rennovation.
It sits on 5 pretty acres, mostly flat and useable.
Originally offered at $620,000, it is now listed at $549,900, barely $100 per square foot. Here’s one of my favorite spaces, the dining room.
The best part of this property is the location. It’s about 3 minutes east of Highway 49, just a few miles north of Auburn, California. Quiet and convenient, you get there by driving down just about the loveliest country road in this part of the Sierra foothills.
I’m going to lose my job as Jenkins Team photographer if CJ keeps taking shots like these. We weren’t happy with the cover photo I took of this immaculate house 3 miles south of Grass Valley, CA, so CJ Jenkins, Intrepid Girl Photographer, went out to bag a new one. Well, CJ “brought home the bear.” That’s what we say to each other after some singular accomplishment.
Me: Did you bring home the bear?
CJ: A big one.
Me: I’ll skin it and cook it.
She’s the rain maker and I’m the closer in our business, if you haven’t already guessed that.
So here’s a much prettier look at the home:
CJ and I just closed the transaction on a rural property between Auburn and Grass Valley, California. We presented title to our buyers for this little “cabin” in the woods. Well, it is in the woods, and if you can call 6 bedrooms and 3 and 1/2 baths with a swimming pool a “cabin,” well, it’s a cabin.
We spent many months finding, negotiating, and closing on this property. The challenge was to locate a home for 3 generations, grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, and the youngster, each couple with their own space, and plenty of room inside and out for the lad. All members of the family wanted privacy and space in a rural setting. That describes a lot of us, doesn’t it? So many of us have that same dream. Quietude, serenity, and a place to live close to the earth. To remind us who we are, what life is about, and where we’re going.
Could we really be self-reliant? Could we actually sustain ourselves with wholesome, healthy food and water? The answer is . . . yes, for 5 principal reasons:
- The population density is low
- There is sufficient reliable water
- We enjoy a benign climate supporting a wide variety of
- The county has enough arable land
- In recent years we have built a “knowledge bank” of small
farmers and ranchers who actually know what they are doing
Inspecting rural homes will involve several system reports not usually required in urban or suburban sales. In addition to the items discussed in our other articles about home inspections (wood destroying pest, whole house, heating and air, chimney, roof etc.) rural properties typically require corner or boundary marking, septic, well, and possibly others.
In our area of northern California, Placer and Nevada counties,these inspections are usually paid for by the seller.
On some sales, however, especially foreclosures and short sales, the lender or owner continue reading…
Costs of home inspections will vary from one locale to another. Below are typical costs incurred in Placer County and Nevada County, two counties in northern California characterized by small towns and farms. These are the physical inspections of the property. Other investigations may involve locating documents such as permits, examining title reports, and so on, and there may also be costs associated with those investigations, but the costs are not the subject of this article.
Whole House Inspection
- This cost varies according to the size of the home, number of stories, and whether there are crawls (attic and below the house)
Wood Destroying Pest Inspection
Heating and Air Inspection
Chimney Sweep and Inspection
Septic Pump and Inspection
- Gallons per minute (GPM)
- Total coliform bacteria
- E. Coli contamination
Mineral Tests for Well Water
- The laboratory has a menu of tests that can be ordered in addition to the yield and potability studies that come with the basic well test
- Iron, sodium, magnesium, mercury, arsenic, etc
Electrical, Plumbing and other specialized inspections
- Typically these inspections incur hourly costs as customary for the area.
- $60-80 per hour
Not all inspections will be appropriate for all properties. In an extreme case involving a large two-story farm house on rural property with a suspicious well, ambiguous property boundaries, and a whole house inspection that called out for additional specialized inspections, the total price tag for all inspections could run as high as:
For a newer, single story home on a quarter acre subdivision lot, with piped water and a sewer system, the minimum inspection costs could run as low as:
Can inspections, any and all, be waived by the buyer? Yes. Yes, but . . . the seller and both agents become exposed to great risks for non-disclosure and abrogation of fiduciary duty. Even if the buyer signs waivers filled with dire warnings, even if the buyer assures the agents that she knows what he’s doing and accepts the property “as is,” . . . when a serious problem arises, “His Honor” is going to side with the poor, inexperienced buyer, and he’s going to lower the boom on the seller and the agents who should have known better than to let the buyer sign such waivers and stumble into a detrimental transaction.
There’s an old real estate saying I like to put on the bottom of my correspondence:
“What’s good for the buyer is good for the seller. What’s good for the seller is good for the buyer.”
What’s good for the buyer and seller is also good for the real estate agents.
Appropriate inspections are good for everybody.
Perhaps you have the dream of buying a parcel and starting a farm. Perhaps you plan to start with a garden (wise idea) and then “grow” into a farm large enough to sustain yourself and others. What should you look for in choosing your land?
In an earlier article about the extra “values” of rural property, I touched on the obvious requirements. You might want to look continue reading…
There is a nondescript little creek that meanders along the perimeter of Sierra College in Placer County, California. How much water flows throught that creek? How much money is that water worth?
About ten years ago I was a member of a team that measured “Secret Creek” to answer those questions. Using a graphing technique we constructed a cross section drawing of the creek. The cross section we chose as representative of the creek was about 12 feet wide and no more than 1.71 feet deep. The creek averaged about a foot and a half deep. You can wade across it without getting your knees wet. Like I said, nondescript. It just burbled along, minding its own business, not raging rapids, just sort of . . . well . . . creek-like.
Using several analytic steps I’m not going to bore you with, we determined that the volume of the creek was about 25 cubic feet per second.
Prepare to be amazed!
volume of flow per hour in cubic feet = 90, 144 cubic feet
volume of flow per hour in gallons = 674,277 gallons
volume of flow per day in gallons = 16,182,648 gallons
volume of flow per year in gallons = 5,906,666,520 gallons (look at that number again)
From that little pissant creek? How much is it worth?
volume of flow per year in acre-feet = 18,142 acre-feet per year
value of 1 year flow ($200/acre-feet) = $3,628,400.
S0, friends, if you have a little creek on your property, you will be a millionaire 3 times over in just a year.
(Oh, I forgot to mention one thing. You have to get that water to the buyer.)
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