Buying and affording a home is becoming a little bit easier for military families with the help of PenFed Foundation’s Dream Makers program. The Dream Makers program is funded by private donations from individuals and corporations and awards grants to military families to help them buy a new home. The program awarded its first grant in 2007 and today hopes to award a total of $1 million in grants.

To be eligible for a grant you must:

  • be a member of the PenFed Foundation (Pentagon Federal Credit Union)
  • be a member of a military branch of service, including the Coast Guard (widows are also eligible)
  • be a first-time home buyer
  • have a gross annual income of $55,000 or less, or 80 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size
  • The program does more than just help military families buy homes it also provides emergency financial assistance and child care to wounded warriors and their families through its Military Heroes Fund and interest-free loans to service members through its Asset Recovery Kit program.

    If you would like to donate to the program or apply for a Dream Makers grant click here for more information.

Homeowners have different amounts of time they can spend in the garden; for most of us, it is never enough. If you have a busy schedule and cannot devote a lot of time or energy to caring for your landscape, you can still have a beautiful, eye-catching garden.

With a bit of research and planning, you can discover plants that thrive in your garden and require little in the way of care or maintenance. Consider about the configuration of your garden, making a sketch of areas that are sunniest and those that receive shade. Note the content of the soil.

Likely some areas of your property have soil that is loamier or sandier than others. Take several soil samples from your yard, marked with the location, to your local county extension office for soil analysis and advice on what you need to do to supplement your soil and improve growing conditions.

Creating a low-maintenance garden and landscape is about more than selecting the right low maintenance plants. It is important to factor in your United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone, your unique gardening environment and then working with it. Matching plants to the conditions in your garden and the plants requirements when you plant them, and you will have save time later.

Group plants with similar water requirements together, keeping all your thirsty plants in one spot for ease of watering. Consider installing a drip irrigation which is an inexpensive and healthier way for plants to obtain moisture and a lot less work for you.

Low Maintenance Plants

When looking for low maintenance plants for the garden, choose perennials that you only have to plant once. Perennials and annuals that self-seed grace the garden every spring with bursts of color and fresh greenery; all without effort on your part.

It is best to choose perennials rated for your USDA hardiness zone and growing conditions. If a plant grows in the wild in your “neck of the woods” it will grow in your garden. If established in the wild, the plant is acclimated to your make it through the winter where you live, tolerant of rainfall amounts, soil quality, and climate.

Hardy Perennials

Gardener’s in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6 suggest peonies, butterfly weed, daffodils and tulips for sunny, permanent spots in the garden. The many different striking varieties of geranium are perfect for borders, pots, baskets, and containers, but must be dug and stored or brought indoors in areas subject to freezing.

In these same hardiness zones, ferns, hostas, and bleeding heart are hardy perennials that tolerate shade and cold temperatures.

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