10 Tips to Add Yard Privacy



Privacy is at a premium these days, and it is not just about prying eyes invading your space—you may want to shield your own view of your sunbathing neighbors and block out their chatter.

Here are 10 tips to add more privacy to your yard:

Raised Beds

Give your favorite plants better view-blocking power by growing them in raised beds or berms. It puts medium-size plants at eye level.

Create a Secluded Corner Pocket
Take one corner of your yard and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket.

Use Lattice
Do you feel a little claustrophobic at the thought of fencing your yard? Try lattice. It’s an ideal way to add privacy and enclosure without closing off your yard too much.

Look for Interesting Materials
Build a fence from out-of-the-ordinary materials or decorate a fence with architectural detailing.

Plant a Tree
A single tree can be an effective and inexpensive way to block a view. It shields the yard and creates a focal point.

Use a Hedge
Enjoy a wall of green by planting a hedge. Look for evergreen varieties to provide year-round screening or try types that lose their leaves in winter but make up for it by putting on a show with attractive flowers or a blaze of fall color.

Reach Up
Vines are like the swiss army knife of the gardening world—there are so many ways you can use them. Plant a climber to cover a fence, dress up a wall, over a pergola, or travel wires to create a screen in any direction.

Use Containers
Big, bold container gardens are ideal for creating privacy, especially if you have a small space such as a deck or patio. You can find containers and plants to fit any landscape style.

Decorate a Fence
Let’s be honest: Fences can look dull and cold. But they’re easy to dress up with a border of easy-care annuals, perennials, or shrubs. And extra-tall perennials that rise above the fence provide additional screening.

Keep It Simple
There’s no rule saying a fence has to run the length or perimeter of your yard. Put a panel or two just where you need it. It’s a great way to save money.



Determining the Best School District to Buy a Home In

 SchoolBusinNiceNeighborhoodsmby Bryn Huntpalmer

Purchasing your dream home in Oregon or Washington involves more than just the open house walk-through. Even if you find the perfect space for you and your family, you may need to do more investigating. School districts and communities are really important things to consider before making an offer on a home. But, how do you go about making wise decisions regarding these things without knowing anyone nearby to ask?

When purchasing a home, it’s a good idea to spend just as much time checking out school districts as it is looking at the ensuite. Even if you don’t have school-age children, the school district your new home is located in can drastically affect your resale value and can influence prospective future buyers. Here are some easy ways to find the very best school system in which to buy a home.

Check Out School Digger & Great Schools

To start, get online and begin researching schools near where you’d like to move. Whether you’re headed to Portland, Oregon or you’d like to look at homes near Vancouver, Washington, you should familiarize yourself with School Digger.com and Great Schools.org. School Digger has been used by over forty million people and gives you access to public school rankings for free. All you have to do is get on the website and select your state. Once you have selected your state, a list of school districts will appear. From there, you can see the average standard test score, the student to teacher ratio, and the percentage of students eligible for free lunches.

Great Schools is really similar and reviews private schools in addition to public ones. On this website, you can see school ratings on an interactive map and can read real reviews. By using these simple tools, you can begin to get a good idea of the best school district to buy a home in.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Agent on White PorchReal estate agents are your best friends when looking for a new home. Agents are extremely knowledgeable regarding school districts. While looking at homes, get comfortable with your agent and don’t hesitate to ask questions. “Your first conversation about schools should be with your real estate agent,” moving.com explains, “who can provide information on local neighborhoods and the choice of schools your children might attend, whether public or private.”

Utilize Social Media

These days, everyone is taking to Twitter to live-tweet the Oscars or ask about the best double stroller for their toddler. Why can’t you reach out to total strangers and ask about school systems? It may sound silly, but reaching out to other parents on social media may surprise you. To find out about different school districts, ask questions in a parent group on Facebook or use hashtags to find relevant topics on Twitter.

Although this is a fun way to learn about different areas, make sure to consider all of the opinions you come across and use this information to simply add to your own more in-depth research.

Ask Future Neighbors

It may seem old school (pun intended), but going door to door and asking questions is an efficient and candid way to find out about your prospective neighborhood. When looking for your perfect home, it’s suggested that you visit those living next door and ask questions. So while I don’t recommend canvassing a neighborhood, you can go on a casual walk around the ‘hood and ask anyone you happen to see out while you’re there.

In addition to finding out about the school district, you’ll also learn about local crime and other community events. If you don’t end up learning any information, you’ll at least have met a new friend to wave to when you get home after a long day at work.

Visit Different Schools

BooksAppleOnce you’ve done a lot of research and have dwindled your list down to a few areas, it’s time to hop in the car and visit. Most schools are more than accommodating and welcome visitors. Just look up the phone number for the districts you’re interested in and ask if you can spend an afternoon observing.

Andrew J. Rotherham on behalf of TIME explained that he and his wife visited some different schools while finding the best fit for his kids. What they learned surprised them! “our sit-in approach quickly eliminated the most coveted public school near our house because its administrators forbid classroom visits except during the comically inept tours the schools gives.” While on the tours, take notes and check-in with your partner afterward to talk about your findings.

Try to relax, you will eventually determine the best school district to buy a home in and can move forward with your home purchase. Fingers crossed you’ll become a Portland resident in no time and you’ll relax knowing your kids are receiving the best education possible.


About Bryn Huntpalmer
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas, where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker, Scary Mommy, About.com and on her personal blog Her Own Wings. For home design information and tips check out Modernize!

Note: This is a guest post and the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate.

The Basics: Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit

Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach

As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed new legislation that:

  • Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
  • Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Here is a little more information about how the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream.

Who Qualifies for the Extended Credit?

  • First-time home buyers who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
  • Current home owners purchasing a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, who have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight.

 To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.

Which Properties Are Eligible?

The Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

How Much Is Available?

The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000.

The maximum allowable credit for current homeowners is $6,500.

If you have specific questions or need additional information, please contact a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.

Prudential Northwest Properties in the spotlight


Prudential Northwest Properties got extensive exposure in Pamplin Media Group’s recent special publication Realtors Make Things Happen.

Bert’s motivational and philanthropic endeavors were featured (page 4), along with Rob Levy’s progressive use of technology (page 12), and the value of the current and accurate market data in our Property Investment Profile, Market Tracker and HomeFinder Pro consumer reports (page 14).

Read all the articles here.

HomeFinder sends you homes you’re looking for

You can’t afford to miss timely market information. Our HomeFinder system automatically:

  • Scans the MLS database every six minutes
  • Alerts buyers to new properties almost immediately
  • E-mails complete buyer listing sheets
  • Includes address and all property details (including property address, street map and driving directions)
  • Sends automated updates as soon as new photos are available

For even more detailed information, ask a Prudential Northwest Properties broker about signing up for HomeFinder Pro.

©2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.