Desert Plants and Wildlife Home Management Yard and Garden

Xeriscape For The Win!

Ocotillos are great for xeriscape, developing leaves after significant rains.

Just because you live in the desert doesn’t mean you have to settle for a barren, rocky yard. A thoughtfully planned xeriscape can bring layers of visual beauty to your landscape.

Xeriscape is a landscape design method that reduces or eliminates the need for watering, which conserves our drinkable water. Plants that thrive primarily on what water the natural climate provides come in so many varieties and uses that you will not be limited on choices.

It’s important to choose plants and trees that are appropriate for your climate. Native plants are a logically great choice. There are two locations in Fountain Hills where you can get ideas for your xeriscape:

The Low Water Demonstration Garden at Fountain Park is a project of the Greening of Downtown committee. It was designed to show residents examples of desert landscape plants that are nearly maintenance-free.

The Fountain Hills Desert Botanical Garden, founded in 1975 by Jane Haynes, is an 8-acre wildlife preserve and garden right along Fountain Hills Boulevard. In 2006, the Town restored the original garden trail as an educational and hiking destination. Twenty-nine Sonoran Desert plants are identified along the half-mile trail, giving visitors an idea of the kind of native plants they can use in their own xeriscape landscaping.

Here are some landscaping trees and plants to get you started:


The leatherleaf tree is a great option for a dense, low-water tree.

The most common desert trees you’ll find are mesquite, palo verde (our state tree), acacia, olive, and palm. There are also beautiful flowering trees to consider, such as the Texas mountain laurel with purple flowers, silk floss with pink flowers, and anacacho orchid with white or pink flowers. If you want to enjoy the beauty of fall leaves each year, the Chinese pistache’s leaves will turn orange and drop in the cooler weather.


The Arizona Rosewood is a great native bush that can grow large and survive on little water after being established.

Most of our shrubs produce thick blossoms at various times of the year, adding a gorgeous splash of color to your landscape. These include Baja fairy duster, honeysuckle varieties, bush dalea, Chihuahuan or Texas sage, green feathery senna, hop bush, bird of paradise varieties, oleanders (which can be bushes, hedges, or trees), and violet silverleaf.

Don’t forget to add a creosote bush. They are at the heart of that extraordinary smell when it rains in the desert. The tiny beads of oil on their leaves release a glorious scent when they encounter water.


Cat Claw vines are known for growing large and quickly, finding water wherever they can.

To add some fun texture to your xeriscape, add a vine or two. Consider bougainvillea, cat claw, pink trumpet, primrose jasmine, yellow orchid, etc. Each of these has unique flowers at various times of the year for a pop of color.


This Purple (Santa Rita) Prickly Pear needs very little water and blooms a beautiful yellow during the late spring and summer before developing edible fruits.

There are so many varieties to choose from, but the Argentine giant, prickly pear varieties, barrel cactus varieties, Mexican fencepost, and totem pole are great cacti to get you started with your design.


Madagascar Palms are great succulents that prefer very little water. They need shade when young but eventually can grow to the size pictured and beyond.

Succulents contribute something of an ornamental effect to your yard. Some of the favorites are yucca varieties, aloe varieties, lechuguilla verde, mescal ceniza, and agave varieties.


Red Verbenas typically last until the hottest parts of the summer.

One of the things most people love about the desert annuals is the way they soften the features of an otherwise prickly landscape. Instead of chasing “poppy blooms” for your Instagram feed, you can grow them in your own yard. Throw some beautiful lupine in for good measure. These are short-lived, so they can be scattered across your yard for a short-season burst of color. Verbena is a popular annual with a variety of blossom colors available. The plant remains once the flowers are gone for the season.

Whatever you choose for your xeriscape plan, remember to plant trees no closer than 10 feet from your home to protect your foundation. Also, keep in mind that plants continue to grow and can get overcrowded if planted too close together when young.

A little maintenance will be in order from time to time, but your xeriscape will save you time and money in the end.

Home Management Inside Your Home Real Estate

Staging That Gets Your Home SOLD

Your home might be beautiful. Maybe it is immaculate, stylishly appointed, and highly upgraded with the finest materials and features. Yet unless you are one in a thousand, it is not “staged’. Staging is intended for two audiences: the camera and the potential buyers.

Let your home speak to buyers. Your home speaks to you, but what is it saying to your potential buyer? Our homes are personal, yet how we live is not how we sell. Our homes represent who we are. The goal of staging is to make the home speak to everyone else in a compelling and positive way.

The personal photos, the too-tall centerpiece, the overstuffed China cabinet, and the bookcase filled with Arizona Highway magazines – these are all treasures to be sure, but they serve only to sidetrack a buyer from the task at hand.

Clutter may suggest your home doesn’t measure up! Clutter is the perpetrator of distraction. More importantly, though, clutter may be sending a message that you don’t have enough space.

Here are a few tips for what to do BEFORE the staging process begins:
  • De-clutter. De-personalize the space and remove unnecessary items and furniture to make the home feel larger and cleaner.
  • Relax the bedroom. Make this space feel serene and decluttered. Remove unnecessary items from the closets to make them feel larger.
  • Bathroom spa. Place toiletries out of sight and learn to use baskets for your daily needs so they can be neatly tucked away each morning.
  • Finishing touches. Proper lighting, neutral paint tones and freshened cabinet faces improve the look of your home so that buyers feel like it is move-in ready.

The reality is, the moment you commit to marketing your home for sale, you need to commit to transforming your home into a place that potential buyers can easily picture as their home. Let us help you “emotionally detach” and get the process of selling your home underway.

Here are some top reasons to stage your home, according to the Home Buying Institute:
  1. Staging increases the likelihood of a sale.
  2. Staging gives the impression of a well-maintained home.
  3. You get a head start on packing!
  4. Staging helps you justify your asking price.
  5. Staging makes the house seem larger…really!
  6. Suddenly, every room has a purpose. (Buyers should never have to guess the purpose of a room!)
  7. Staging helps buyers see themselves in a home.
  8. Staging puts your house above the competition.
  9. Buyers will have a favorable first impression.
  10. You get the buyer’s agent on your side. (It makes their life easier!)
  11. A “Must-See” home will bring in more buyers.

Staging is not a do-it-yourself sport. Our stagers can often work with what you have, rearranging and reallocating all your belongings, to present the property in its best light. Often this means reallocating some of those belongings to the garage, so please be understanding!

Only a third-party specialist can bring the neutrality and objectivity needed to accomplish the goal. Your daily routine will be turned, at least temporarily, on its head, but if selling your home in the shortest amount of time and for the most money is your goal, it is necessary!

The Sonoran Home Team provides every level of staging necessary to get your home SOLD!

Whether it’s just some rearranging and depersonalizing that is necessary, or whether your home is vacant and requires complete staging, we have what you need. Our experts can help you create an exceptional viewing experience to get your home sold. So, let us help you create the “buzz” you need to sell your home quickly.

For more information about the staging services we offer our clients, call us at 480-837-1331.

Home Management Real Estate

Moving Out of a Rental Property

Moving out of a rental property?  Do you want your move-out to go smoothly, without any conflicts and hassles? You’ll need to follow through with all your Tenants’ Responsibilities when moving out, giving your property management company proper move-out notice, and leaving your rental home in good condition.

We want to help make the process as easy as possible. This checklist will help guide you through the entire process and ensure that you don’t overlook anything important when leaving your rental home so that you can get your security deposit back and leave on good terms.

Review your Lease Agreement

  • Find out how to properly end the lease agreement.
  • Check on all rules and regulations regarding the moving-out notice. (i.e. maintenance obligations, utility transfers, etc.).
  • Review how far in advance you will need to give your property manager notice.
  • Once you review all provisions in the rental agreement and know your tenant move-out responsibilities, make sure to add all tasks and deadlines to your moving calendar.

Give your Property Manager a Move Out Notice

  • Most lease agreements require the tenant to provide written notification to your property manager 30 days before moving out.
  • Write a Tenant Move Out Letter and send it to your property manager at least 5 weeks prior to moving day.

Inspect the Rental Property and Fix Damages

  • Make sure to check the rental property against the condition report from when you moved in to find out what exactly you’re responsible for.
  • Normal wear and tear is expected and acceptable, but you’re responsible for repairing holes in the walls, fixing scratches, repainting the walls, and making sure the electrical and plumbing systems are in good condition.
  • Keep all repair works documented and keep your receipts if you made some permanent improvements to the property.

Pay Off Your Bills

  • Inform all your service providers that you are moving out and arrange for the services at your rental to be disconnected.
  • Take readings of all gas, electricity, and water meters on moving day and photograph them for proof.

Move All Your Things Out of Your Rental Home

  • Sort out all possessions a couple of months before your move and find a way to get rid of everything you don’t want anymore.
  • Remember to take down pictures and calendars from the walls, remove stickers and magnets from the fridge, get all your items from the bathroom, pack decorations and hobby materials, and take your door mats and rugs, tools, flower pots, etc.
  • Open drawers and cupboards, go through the basement and garage, and walk around the yard.
  • Take out all the trash.

Clean Rental Thoroughly

  • Your lease agreement may provide specific details as to what is expected of you in terms of cleaning the rental unit before moving out:
  • Washing the windows;
  • Cleaning the curtains (depending on what material they are made from, some curtains require dry cleaning, others can be steam cleaned or machine-washed, etc.);
  • Steam cleaning mattresses and upholsteries;
  • Washing the carpets or having them professionally cleaned;
  • Dusting furniture, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures;
  • Wiping doors and door frames, furniture handles and light switches, etc.;
  • Cleaning kitchen appliances;
  • Washing and disinfecting sinks, toilets, tubs, shower surrounds, countertops, and other kitchen and bathroom surfaces;
  • Vacuuming/sweeping and mopping the floors;
  • Mowing the lawn, trimming the trees and bushes, sweeping the garden paths, removing dead leaves and debris from the gutters, etc. (in case your rental property has a yard);
  • Cleaning up garages, patios, sheds, balconies, etc. (if applicable);

Document the Condition of the Rental Property

  • Keep all proof of the condition you’re leaving the rental in.
  • Document the cleaning and repair works (i.e. videos, pictures, receipts).

Arrange a Move Out Inspection

  • Arrange a time to call your property manager to conduct a move-out walkthrough of the rental unit.
  • Be present at the move-out inspection.
  • Discuss any issues that may arise and try to find a mutually beneficial solution.

If you have questions about the move-out process or property management in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, please contact Dawn Woods, Property Manager at RE/MAX Sun Properties at 480-837-1331. 

Home Management Inside Your Home

Water Pressure Regulators Protect Your Pipes

Nobody wants to wake up to see their home flooded because their pipes burst from high water pressure. This is why Water Pressure Regulators are absolutely invaluable for every household, especially in areas where water pressure is known to fluctuate. If your neighborhood’s water pressure is too high and your regulator is too old, there’s the risk of a burst that can cause expensive damage.

A Water pressure regulator, which is often called the “pressure reducing valve” (PRV), is the main line of defense for a home from the often intense water pressure of your neighborhood’s main water line.

According to the Home Maintenance blog “The Spruce,” most plumbing fixtures in your home are intended to operate at about 50 pounds per square inch. Much of the time, municipal water mains push water into homes at up to 200 psi!

In Fountain Hills, the average water pressure in your main line depends on which water reservoir tank serves your neighborhood, leading to a lot of variation. As water lines age, they are subject to further inconsistencies and even ruptures.

As stated in this 2020 article from the Fountain Hills Times, EPCOR and the town have been cooperating to renew the town’s water mains for several years now. However, water line inconsistencies continue to this day, making the need to have a healthy water pressure regulator even more important. If you have an old regulator at your home, a rupture in your own plumbing becomes even more likely.

As part of your annual home maintenance, have a plumber check to see if your water pressure regulator is still in good condition. Installing a new regulator typically only costs about $550 and doing so can save you thousands of dollars in potential damages.

Home Management Inside Your Home Real Estate

5 Easy Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades in a Weekend

Kitchen cabinets are a significant expense. If your cabinets are in good condition, but you want to get a fresh look, here are some easy upgrades you can do in a single weekend.


In a single hour, you can make a big impact on the look of your cabinets by changing the hardware. Find a new style that still looks great with your cabinets and get a fresh look.


Make your kitchen easier to use by retrofitting a cabinet or two with some pull-out drawers. Do you have an awkward corner cabinet? Add a lazy Susan to make it more functional.


Make jumbled and over-filled drawers a thing of the past. Add drawer dividers or trays for better organization. While you are at it, get rid of gadgets and utensil you no longer use. You will love the tidy feeling.


Whether you have open cabinets or not, adding removable wallpaper, contact paper, or fabric to the back of the inside of your cabinet creates a pop of fun. You can even add it to the outside sides of your drawers for more kitchen fun.


It is easier than ever to add under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen. This provides extra task lighting and a soft ambience in the evening after the overhead lights have been turned off.

A quick cabinet upgrade does not have to cost much or take a lot of time to achieve. And it only takes a single weekend to freshen the look.

Desert Plants and Wildlife Home Management

Plant Care During Monsoon Season

Monsoon Season is one of the most interesting times of year for an Arizonan. Hot days are interrupted with brilliant thunderstorms that can either bring impressive rains or intense winds. Our plants are even more excited for these summer rains than we are.

Native plants are accustomed to these weather patterns and are often drought-deciduous. This means they intentionally lose their leaves during dry spells and regrow with gusteau after heavy rains. Non-native plants used in landscaping often have a more difficult time making it through the summer.

Without the instinct to be drought-deciduous, it’s up to the plant’s caretaker to help carry non-native vegetation through its first few summers in the ground.

Can You Plant During The Summer?

Ocotillos are native and are drought-deciduous. This ocotillo is beginning to sprout leaves after a few days of rain.

The best times to plant your landscaping for the year are in the fall and the spring, but sometimes people need to get their planting done during less opportune times. Whether it’s a good idea to plant something during the summer depends on the species.

If it’s a native plant like a palo verde or a barrel cactus, etc., you can probably expect the plant to survive. However, if you’re planting something that requires lots of water or isn’t accustomed to the erratic weather of the Arizona summers, the transition from a cozy nursery to a bright sunny yard may put the plant into shock and cause damage or death.

If you’re planting a non-native plant during the summer, your best course of action is to ease it into its new lifestyle. Give it a few deep soaks with a hose during the first month it’s in the ground. Consider putting a 50% shade cloth on top of its youngest foliage if possible.

Should You Fertilize During the Summer?

Most of the time, it’s best to hold off from using chemical fertilizers between June 15th and September 1st. Chemicals can hurt vulnerable roots on plants during the hottest parts of the summer. There are some options for giving plants a boost, though.

Fully organic liquid fertilizers, such as those from FoxFarm, are usually still okay to use, no matter what time of year. Be sure to use liquid and not solid, as liquid fertilizer gets into the plant’s system faster and prevents any potential root burn.

You can also give plants minerals any time of year. Powders like Azomite and liquids like Superthrive are full of vitamins that plants will use to fortify their immune systems during difficult times.

How Much Should You Water Plants During the Summer?

Potato vines are good at handling the heat but need lots of water during the summer.

Every plant has its own wants and needs, but generally, the answer to this question is “more than during the winter.”

If you notice that your plants look droopy every day at about 4:00PM, that’s because the late afternoons are the hottest times of the day. It’s okay if a plant droops a couple times, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, leaves can begin to die pretty quickly. At this point, it may be worthwhile to change your watering schedule to include a little boost at 4:00PM.

If there’s just been a huge rainstorm, feel free to turn your irrigation off completely for a day or two. Even during the summer, overwatering can still happen. If lower leaves on a plant begin to turn yellow, sag, and fall off, it’s probably being overwatered.

Again, there are a lot of nuances depending on the species of plant. For more specific care stats, consult your local nursery. These are just some general pointers that are much more likely to help than to hurt.

Home Management Inside Your Home Real Estate

Create a Cozy Outdoor Living Space

While we wait for the hot summers to shift into the lovely cool season, many of us are dreaming about spending more time outdoors in our yards. Who doesn’t love having breakfast and coffee on the patio and evenings around the fire pit with family and friends?

We’ve rounded up some tips for creating a cozy backyard space under the stars. Some of these can even boost your home’s value.

  • Create outdoor “rooms”. Turn your backyard into an extension of your home’s interior. This can expand your living space and give you more options for entertaining. With the improvements in weather-resistant outdoor furniture, it’s easier to create outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. For optimal comfort, design these spaces like you would your indoor rooms.
  • Porcelain pavers. Continue the floor from indoors right out to your patio. Porcelain pavers are durable, easy to install and bring the look of the indoors to your outdoor living space. Porcelain is frost-proof and impervious to water penetration.
  • Lighting. Use the same approach to lighting in the backyard as you would inside your home. Choose dimmable lights, create task lighting, add ambient lighting, and don’t forget some pretty twinkle lights in trees or under pergolas. Remember to consider dark-sky-friendly fixtures
  • Outdoor blinds/shades. Choose water and mildewresistant outdoor curtains for function and aesthetics. Shade screens are helpful for blocking the unwanted sun. Consider electric shades that can be raised and lowered with a touch of a button. Sail shades are also a popular choice to permanently shade a specific area.
  • Fire pit. Enjoy our beautifully protected night skies while gathering around a fire pit to roast marshmallows and tell stories. Every budget has unique options, including fire pits that use glass or stone for a more decorative appeal. Be sure to locate them in an open area away from structures. Some town codes require permits, so do your homework first.
  • Potted plants. Placing potted outdoor plants in your patio living space creates a soft blending of indoor and outdoor ambiance. Choose plants with varying heights and textures and use pots of all shapes and sizes.
  • Gardens. Raised vegetable and flower gardens can give you the experience of growing your own food in yards that have the space. Even small spaces can hold a vertical garden mounted on a patio wall with herbs and flowers.
  • Water feature. There is almost nothing more relaxing than the sound of a small waterfall or fountain. Be sure to get the plumbing and electrical right to save money and to keep it safe.

With our long season of mild outdoor weather each fall and spring, functional and cozy outdoor spaces are prized by Arizona homeowners. Boost the value of your home while extending the indoors into the outdoors.

Home Management Inside Your Home Real Estate

Furniture Placement Mistakes to Avoid

The most crucial social hub in our homes tends to be the living room. Whether we’re hosting a competitive game night with friends or enjoying a snuggly movie night with the family, our furniture arrangement can work for or against us.

When considering the placement of living room furniture, the goal is liveable comfort and function. Check out these five mistakes that commonly happen when laying out the living room:

  1. Overlooking the focal wall. When you walk into your living room, where is the first place the eye comes to rest? For example, if you have a fireplace, this tends to be the focal wall. A large window with a view or the TV wall could be your focal point. If your living room lacks a built-in focal wall, it’s easy to make one with art or a well-chosen piece of attention-getting furniture.
  2. Too much crammed into the space. You can start by laying out the room around your couch because it’s usually the largest piece of furniture in the room. It also tends to be the first place someone wants to go to relax. Experiment with it in all the places where it fits until it feels right and takes advantage of your focal wall. Everything else you bring in should work in relation to the couch.
  3. Placing the couch against the wall. Position your couch away from the wall by about 12 inches. It may surprise you to know that it makes a room feel bigger. It also helps prevent dead space in the middle of the room that takes away from the cozy and intimate feel we all crave in the living room. Do the same with other seating as well.
  4. Putting everything on display. Step back and reevaluate what is in your roos. If a piece of furniture is not functional or does not work in your living room design, let it go. Once you’ve established the seating layout, decide which pieces you need for surfaces and storage. Coffee tables, side tables, and desks are examples of surfaces, while cabinets, trunks, and dressers serve as storage. Send it out the door if it doesn’t serve you for comfort or function.
  5. Placing furniture around things you don’t use. Essential seating is just that…essential. Give the pieces that get used regularly the greatest priority and make everything else work around it.

For more tips on making purposeful design decisions, check out the book Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith.

Home Management Local Businesses

Painting Your House with CertaPro Painters

Summer is the perfect time of year for big home improvement projects. Painting your house, inside or out, can be one of the biggest of these endeavors. This summer, we recommend CertaPro Painters for any of your painting needs.

CertaPro of Mesa and Tempe is our first choice when we need painting done at our properties. They offer free Color Choice consultations to get you started and warranty all their projects.

CertaPro specializes in interior painting for walls, cabinets, stairs, and anything else you need. If your cabinets need to be painted into the 21st century, CertaPro has you covered.

CertaPro can handle the outside of your home as well, no problem. If you’re planning on selling your home any time soon and you know your house needs a fresh coat of paint, now’s the time to get started.

CertaPro Painters of Mesa/Tempe is currently offering $200 off for any project over $2,000, find the coupon by clicking here. For more information about the services CertaPro has to offer, click here.

Home Management Real Estate

Preparing for a Home Inspection

A home inspection is an important and required part of the home selling process. A pre-inspection can give home buyers more confidence in making an offer and can keep you from being blindsided by a major problem further down the road. You can expect inspectors to examine appliances, systems, and structural features.

There are simple things you can do to make sure the inspection process is smooth:

  1. Take your pets with you or put them in a crate. Loose pets can make an inspector’s job difficult or uncomfortable and can create stress for your pet.
  2. Clean your home. A basic, but thorough, cleaning makes it easier and more pleasant for the inspector to examine all the areas he needs to reach. This includes dusting, cleaning the floors, wiping down every surface, taking care of dirty dishes, and tidying up your belongings.
  3. Clear the way to the water heater and A/C systems. These are two areas that require a detailed inspection and need a cleared path.
  4. Prepare access to attic and crawl spaces. Sometimes these access points are in closets or areas that require a ladder. Be sure to remove items that would make it difficult for the inspector to reach.
  5. Move boxes away from garage walls. This might be a big task, but it’s of great importance for the inspection.
  6. Light bulb check. Turn on all lights and replace burned-out bulbs to save the inspector time and prevent him from passing over issues that are actually pertinent.
  7. Leave keys and remotes for garages, storage structures, electrical boxes, gates, ceiling fans, etc. Clearly label the keys since the inspector must examine all these areas, too.
  8. Clear debris & overgrown vegetation away from the foundation. The foundation is a critical part of the inspection. Clearing the area around it makes it easily visible and accessible for a smoother inspection process.
  9. Map out well and septic tank. A simple map of the locations of your well and septic tank is needed to assess the conditions around those areas.
  10. Make sure utilities are on. If you are not living in the home, make sure all utilities are on. The inspection cannot take place without power, water, gas, etc. being on.
  11. Turn on the pilot lights. To inspect gas-powered furnaces, water heaters, and appliances, pilot lights need to already be on.
  12. Handle water stains on walls and ceilings appropriately. If the source of the problem has been addressed, repaint the area with a primer coat, but you must disclose the incident.

Taking care of these things in advance not only leaves a good impression, but will also help the inspection process to be less stressful for both you and the home inspector.