Home Improvement




I just spent a great afternoon outdoors (no rain today :), cutting back my rose bushes. It’s an annual chore that I always enjoy as it sets the stage for a year of beautiful blooms. I know that rose care in general can seem daunting, (especially if your thumb is less than green) but it really isn’t that complicated, and the plants are mostly hardy enough to survive even the worst pruning job.

Although pruning methods can vary according to the type of rose, (floribunda, climbing, miniature, etc.,) here are some general tips to take the mystery out of the task:

1. Roses should be pruned because it encourages new growth, removes any dead wood and helps shape the plant.

2. The time of year to prune will vary according to the weather and where you live. Generally you want to prune while the plants are dormant, or just ready to break dormancy. A good indicator is to look at the reddish bumps on the canes. These are the leaf buds. As they begin to swell, it’s time to prune. In colder areas this is usually early Spring, while here in San Diego, the plants hardly go dormant and you can prune in December or January.

3. Using sharp, by-pass pruning shears, start by removing all dead wood and any weak or twiggy branches that are less than the diameter of a pencil. Trim to open up the interior of the bush. Make sure you’re wearing heavy garden gloves!

4. Next trim back the remaining branches by making a 45 degree cut about ¼ inch above buds that are facing the outside of the bush. This will encourage outward growth versus branches that cross each other on the interior of the bush. You should trim off about ½ the height of each cane. Climbing roses that are mature and climbing where you want them should not be cut back as low as bush roses.

5. Make sure the cuts are clean and not ragged. Many also dab a bit of Elmer’s glue on the cuts to prevent the intrusion of pests or infection.

6. Finally, remove any growth below the graft at the base of the plant and any remaining foliage.

It’s really hard to mess this up. In fact, most people err on the side of not cutting back far enough. And if you aren’t pleased with the results, try again next year!

Want to plant some beautiful roses in a San Diego home? Just give me a call or start your search on my web site.

Marti Kilby
Broker Associate
Myers Real Estate Group


Home Depot DIY 



OK. I’m admittedly a bit of an HGTV junkie, and I personally love painting, refinishing furniture, sewing  and gardening. But, have you noticed that for some folks DIY home projects are just about as successful as DIY dentistry or representing yourself in court?

Just because you own the tool, doesn’t mean you should use it.  Let’s start with a chop saw. You want to install crown molding, but somehow figuring the miter cut involves math and angles that were obviously discussed that week you were absent in 7th grade. Walk away from the saw. Do not nail those pieces of molding to your walls and then patch all of the corners where the wood doesn’t meet.

Faux finish is a faux pas.  No matter what the brochure indicates, results are not typical. Dapping paint and layered finishes on your wall with a sea sponge is probably not a good idea unless you actually have a few artistic bones in your body.

Color me wonderful!  Who doesn’t like color? Hosting the entire rainbow in your 3 bedroom house might seem like fun, but when selling, the purple bedroom and red bathroom have to go.

So you don’t want to color within the lines.  Love your sense of expression and freedom, but please don’t pick up a paint brush! Wall paint should be on the walls; ceiling paint on the ceilings; trim paint on the trim; no paint should be on the floor. These little paint groups shouldn’t get together. They really like to have their own place. And oh, one coat is not enough.

New flooring can change the look of your home.  Yep. And I know that the tile in the entry isn’t quite level and the laminate in the family room has a little gap around the edges. Probably not a big deal though.

Love your attempt at curb appeal.  However, the plants are not happy to be lined up like little soldiers in straight rows parallel to your house and sidewalk.  Those annuals are also concerned about your plans for when they pass on…..

Do I sound mean?  Yes! I am!  That’s because I want to sell your home, not make excuses for it!  Do I believe that people can learn to improve their DIY project skills with practice? Absolutely, but please, not while trying to sell your home. When in doubt, call a professional. Stay away from Home Depot. Trust me; it’s cheaper in the long run.

First, let me just say that I don’t own a wonder hanger and wouldn’t be caught dead in a Snuggie, but I did recently buy something that I saw on TV, and was stunned at how well it worked.

Last weekend, we were getting ready to decorate the front of the house with green Christmas garland.  Several years ago I had carefully intertwined 300 little white lights through all 90 feet…not a quick task.  So before hanging the garland, I of course plugged in the lights to test them and was annoyed to discover that two sections of 50 lights each didn’t work.  I wasted about 30 minutes messing with each bulb to make sure it was all the way in its socket, but to no avail.  Now fuming, I realized that the only solution was to de-construct the garland and re-string it with new lights – a total waste of time when I was already so behind on Christmas!

So I made my way to Home Depot and was picking up some new lights when something clicked in my head, and I remembered a gadget I’d seen on TV that supposedly fixed strings of mini lights like mine.  And there it was on the shelf right in front of me, the Light Keeper Pro.  Kind of expensive at $19.95, but I reasoned, if it happened to work and saved 2-3 hours of my time it was money will spent.

I read the package, and had no idea how it really worked, but followed the directions by removing one of the dead bulbs and putting the socket in the little hole on the Light Keeper.  I squeezed the trigger, and voila, the lights came back on!  I put the bulb back in the socket and like magic all the lights worked. 

I was elated!  And even happier when I discovered and fixed “dead” sections in the  lights I was going to put on the tree.  No more throwing out strings of mini lights!  This little gadget definitely made my Christmas brighter 🙂

Considering a major home improvement?   Updating a kitchen, replacing windows or adding living space are just some of the expensive renovations that homeowners tackle to add functionality or enjoyment to the use of their home. But which projects are the big winners and losers when it comes to adding value?


Kitchens are at the top of the list in terms of adding value to your home.  Renovating an outdated kitchen can add thousands to your bottom line when reselling your home.  Because remodeling a kitchen is a big, disruptive project it is something most buyers want to avoid.  An updated kitchen requiring no work is definitely an added value.

Bathrooms are another winner.  Just like kitchens, an outdated bathroom represents a major project and expense to most buyers.

A master bedroom suite can also be a big plus.  An added walk-in closet and larger private bathroom are very appealing selling points to most buyers.

Popcorn ceiling removal is a relatively inexpensive project that definitely adds value.  Again, this is a messy, disruptive project that buyers want to avoid.

Replacing windows and or the roof are projects that are marginal winners.  Most buyers expect these items to be in good condition.  So while replacing them may not add tremendous value, not replacing them if old or worn could significantly detract from resale value.


Swimming pools lead the list of projects that don’t add significant value to your home.  Because they can be viewed as dangerous, and are expensive to maintain, swimming pools can actually be seen as a negative to many buyers.

Room additions that don’t conform to the original design or floor plan also detract from value.  While enclosing a back patio or converting a garage to living space, may add to usable square footage, most buyers don’t want a dining room that has a window into another room and probably do want a garage.

Overbuilding or high-end upgrades are big losers.  Improvements should be comparable to other homes in the neighborhood.  Increasing a home to 5000 square feet in a neighborhood of 2000 square foot homes is money that will never be recouped.  Likewise, using the most expensive fixtures, appliances or flooring will generally not add more value than using a slightly less expensive selection.

Extensive landscape and professional hardscape features may be very enjoyable and add to overall appeal of your home, but will most likely not significantly add to resale value.

Invisible improvements such as replacing plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems are not big winners.  Again, buyers expect these items to be in good condition and it is seldom that you’ll recoup your investment here.  Consider these a part of general home maintenance.

When planning a major home improvement project, keep in mind that even if your project is a winner, you’ll probably not recoup more than 75-80% of your investment when reselling your home.  Especially in today’s market with home values remaining flat, the primary reason for undertaking any home improvement project should be for your own enjoyment of the home, not adding to your bottom line at resale.