garden photo, with caption, "Is your garden thinking about picking up sticks and migrating to Canada?"

April continues to be a roller coaster of weather, with midsummer-like highs and late-winter-like lows. How does your yard or garden look these days?

It might be that more is needed than just better maintenance. Trees, shrubs, and flowering plants that were comfortable in our Chesapeake environment 20 years ago are struggling these days because of the effects of climate change … but how can you make choices that will keep your landscaping looking great and an asset to the curb appeal of your property? And if you make changes, how can you make sure they are reducing your carbon footprint instead of enlarging it?

Flowers and shrubs that thrived 20 years ago
may not in today’s warmer weather.

There is a list of public websites that offer advice and information.

One place to start might be the website of the New York Botanical Garden ( Here you’ll find an overview of the issues that climate change is presenting to homeowners and gardeners, books that you might find useful in doing research on your own, and links to the USDA Hardiness Zone Maps –

The NYBG also offers tidbits that can be surprising. For instance, if you have your heart set on a particular species of plant, it might make a difference where the seedling you buy was raised, “because research has shown that seedlings from southern populations may handle summer heat better than northern-grown seedlings of the same species.” Who knew??

Finding a real expert for consultation: If you decide that you want to save yourself time, and don’t enjoy the research yourself, there’s always the services of your local master gardener. Master gardener programs (also known as Extension Master Gardener Programs) are affiliated with a land-grant university and one of its cooperative extension service offices to educate the public on gardening and horticultural issues.

Typically, master gardeners receive extensive training and then answer questions via phone, speak at public events, and participate in community gardening displays. The University of Maryland Master Gardener Program website offers some general information for this region, as well as a “Ask Extension” button you can click to send your question directly to them.

Whether you’re a serious horticulture buff, or just a weekend warrior who doesn’t want to totally outsource your yard to a landscaping company (like me), you’ll find a level of information and assistance you need to help your yard truly be an asset that increases the appeal and value of your home!

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Wayne Curtis
Wayne Curtis has been a licensed real estate agent for 23 years, serving the Baltimore region, currently with REMAX Advantage Realty. Contact him with your real estate questions,