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June
27

Birding Spots in Rockingham County

Birding Spots

Many birds reside in our region during all or part of the year, and local lakes, parks, and trails provide unparalleled opportunities to cross rare and unique birds off your checklist. Our real estate agents are excited to share their favorite birding spots in Rockingham County.

  • Lake Shenandoah - Harrisonburg, VA 22801
    A 36-acre reservoir managed by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Lake Shenandoah is known far and wide for its excellent bird-watching opportunities. It's a major waterfowl stopover in winter, but during the summer visitors will see indigo bunting, gray catbird, song sparrow, and many other species in the bushes and vines around the lake. Meanwhile, green and great blue herons wade in the shallows, and mallards and wood ducks paddle along the shoreline. A footpath encircles Lake Shenandoah, providing access mere minutes from these Harrisonburg homes for sale

  • Silver Lake - 2328 Silver Lake Rd, Dayton, VA 22821
    Rockingham County's Silver Lake—not to be confused with the lake of the same name in Haymarket, VA—is a small roadside lake that would be easy to overlook. Located just a few minutes from these Dayton homes for sale, the 10-acre lake could justifiably be called a pond, but because it's surrounded by open farmland, it essentially serves as an oasis for birds. During summer, various swallow species can be seen skimming just above the surface looking for a meal. Barn, tree, bank, and northern Rough-winged swallows are all likely to be in attendance, as well as chimney swifts and belted kingfishers. 

  • Paul State Forest - Ottobine Rd, Dayton, VA 22821
    Spanning 173 acres, Paul State Forest is a picturesque woodland of black birch and American hornbeam, as well as groves of American holly grove and a scattering of bigtooth aspen. Numerous bird species are right at home here, and it's a particularly great place to spot woodpeckers. Red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers are common, while pileated and red-headed woodpeckers are occasionally seen. A variety of thrushes, tanagers, warblers, and vireos also call these woods home, and raptors are also a common sight. Paul State Forest has 2 miles of gated forest roads that are closed to motorized vehicles but open to hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. 

  • Switzer Lake Area - Switzer Lake Rd, Hinton, VA 22831
    Switzer Lake (also known as Skidmore Lake) is a 112-acre reservoir located not far from these Rockingham County homes for sale. It's an outstanding destination for bird watching near Hinton homes for sale. Osprey and bald eagles may sometimes be seen swooping low above the lake to grab a fish for dinner while herons stalk the shoreline. The surrounding wooded hillsides are home to an array of woodland birds, and you might see wild turkeys and ruffled grouse in grassy areas along the roadsides. Switzer Lake Area provides access, and the lake is also great for kayaking and fishing. 

  • Wildwood Park - 648 W Bank St, Bridgewater, VA 22812
    Eastern wood-peewee, mourning dove, blue jay, chimney swift, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, Carolina chickadee, red-eyed vireo, and American goldfinch are just a few of the birds that you may hear or see at Bridgewater's Wildwood Park. And with its mix of woods and meadows, this 10-acre park is also a haven for over 70 species of butterflies. Wildwood Park is located toward the western edge of town, a stone's throw from numerous Bridgewater homes for sale. The community of Bridgewater also has some additional birding locations, including a bird sanctuary and the Cooks Creek Arboretum. 

If you're looking for more information on bird watching in Rockingham County, check-in with the Rockingham Bird Club. It's a great local organization that can provide a wealth of insights, along with a chance to connect with your fellow birding enthusiasts in our little corner of Virginia!

Contact us today to learn more about bird watching and other outdoor adventures in Rockingham County. If you're looking for your dream home in Harrisonburg and the surrounding areas, our real estate agents are here to help every step of the way. 

June
20

What to Know Before Adding a Pool To Your Property

Pool Tips

Having a pool in your own backyard sounds idyllic; on a hot, muggy summer day, you can cool off with a refreshing swim within minutes. Or, instead of the traditional cookout, pool parties are on the itinerary for your friends and family members.

Before you decide to install a pool, our real estate agents recommend considering the following factors that could potentially affect your decision. 

zoning

  • The Zoning Laws in Your Area
    Zoning laws aren't typically your first concern when you envision having your own pool, but they can impact your ability to install a pool on your property. Many towns have strict laws concerning fencing and safety precautions for residential pools. These laws can affect your budget and plans for your pool. Or, you may need to apply for a permit to add certain types of pools. If you install a pool without the right permits, you'll have trouble selling your home if you decide to add it to the inventory of Rockingham homes for sale

Pool Parties

  • How You Plan to Use Your Pool
    Spend a few minutes envisioning how you will use your pool. Do you want to add a daily swim to your exercise regime? Or, are you more interested in having a fun spot for summer parties and gatherings? Your purpose for the pool will impact the best design and materials for your pool, as well as the surrounding area. For example, if you want to use your pool for entertaining, you'll likely want to add a large patio to accommodate chairs and pool toys for your guests. Or, if your pool plans involve lots of lap swimming, an endless pool gives you the aquatic area you need without taking up as much of your yard. 
  • Whether You Plan to Remain in Your Home Long Term
    While you might not know your exact plans for your future, consider if your current home is a place that you want to stay for years or indefinitely. Adding a pool is a significant expense, and it usually doesn't provide a stellar return for your investment when you add your home to the list of Bridgewater homes for sale. Some potential homebuyers may even view a pool as a negative when shopping for potential homes. If you only plan to remain in your home for another couple of years, installing a pool may not be the best use of your funds. However, if you plan to remain in your home for a decade or more, the expense seems a bit more reasonable to ensure your home is suited to your needs and preferences. 

Budget

  • Your Budget
    There are a lot of costs associated with installing a pool, and you want to make sure that your budget can handle the expense. In addition to the cost of the pool itself, you have to factor in expenses for preparing your yard or, if you're installing an in-ground pool, the costs associated with excavating your property. There are also a seemingly endless number of features you can add to your pool, like ambient lighting, jets, and waterfalls. These extras will quickly cause the price of your pool to balloon. Another detail to think about is whether you prefer a chlorine or saltwater pool. Chlorine pools are usually initially cheaper, but they're difficult and more expensive to maintain. Saltwater pools have a higher upfront cost, but the maintenance is less cumbersome, and they're cheaper to operate. A pool also has ongoing costs that you'll need to account for. You'll likely pay a higher homeowner's insurance premium due to the liability of owning a pool, and you'll spend more on utilities to keep your pool running. Pools also need maintenance and periodic repairs to keep them running smoothly. 
  • How Quickly You Want to Start Using Your Pool
    Unfortunately, a pool is a home improvement project that can potentially take months to complete. If you want access to a pool immediately to improve your personal fitness, this isn't realistic. Plan on joining a local gym with an aquatic center to get your training done while your pool is being installed. Or, perhaps you're hosting an event and want to make sure your pool won't disrupt the aesthetic. If you're in a situation where a yard undergoing construction isn't acceptable, it may be best to delay your pool's installation. It's best to install a pool with minimal expectations about how long the installation process will take. Materials may be delayed, or the project just might take longer than expected. 

A pool sounds like a fantastic outside addition, but there are a lot of factors to think about that will influence your final decision. Want a home with more outside space? Contact us today!

June
13

Summer Learning: Augusta County Historical Places

Augusta County

Shhh! Don't tell the kids, but learning can be fun. Our real estate agents love to combine culture and entertainment at these impressive historical attractions near Augusta County homes for sale.

  • Frontier Culture Museum - 1290 Richmond Rd., Staunton, VA 24401
    How did the early immigrants blend their histories to create a new culture in the colonies? Learn about their fascinating stories at the Frontier Culture Museum. Permanent exhibits include replicas of West African, Irish, English, German, and Native American farms from the 1700s along with an 1820s American farmhouse and early American schoolhouse. The museum also hosts lectures, concerts, and special holiday events. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for high school and college students, and $7 for ages 6-12. Hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily through December 1.

  • Bare House and Mill - 157 Wilda Rd., Stuarts Draft, VA 24477
    Bare House and Mill, situated on scenic fields not far from Stuarts Draft homes for sale, are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the original home was destroyed by fire in the mid-1850s, it was soon replaced by a Greek Revival/Italianate two-story brick home that still stands. The mill, which was shut down after the 1870 floods, has been ravaged by time, although the limestone ruins hold evidence of a rare undershot wheel.

  • Valley Railroad Stone Bridge - Jolivue, VA 24401
    As air travel has taken over as the preferred method of transportation, structures such as the Valley Railroad Stone Bridge have become a rare sight. The four-arch bridge, which spans Folly Mills Creek, was constructed in 1884 as part of the Valley Railroad line connecting Staunton and Lexington. While the line was discontinued in 1942 and the tracks were subsequently removed, the stunning bridge has been maintained as a charming landmark for area travelers. The remarkable masonry engineering displayed by the bridge landed it on the National Register of Historic Places. 

  • The Stonewall Brigade Band - Gypsy Hill Park, 600 Churchville Ave., Staunton, VA 24401
    Art meets history with the Stonewall Brigade Band, the oldest continuous community band in the country. In 1855, the band started with all brass instruments as the Mountain Saxhorn Band. Since then, it's grown into a full band, adding woodwind and percussion instruments. The Stonewall Brigade Band performs free summer concerts at 8 p.m. each Monday night from June through August. Their Gypsy Hill Park bandstand, built expressly for the band, dates back to 1889.

  • R.R. Smith Center for History and Art - 20 S. New St., Staunton, VA 24401
    Local culture is showcased at the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art, housed in an 1894 hotel in Staunton's Beverley Historic District. The building is home to the Staunton Augusta Art Center, with exhibits that change every six weeks, and the Augusta County Historical Society, which holds archives that can be used for ancestral research. Be sure to stroll the adjacent Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden, a lovely tribute to the donor's late fiancée. Gallery hours are 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

  • Harnsberger Octagonal Barn - Weyers Cave, VA 24486
    Built around 1867, the Harnsberger Octagonal Barn is a significant departure from the classic red-sided rectangular barns. The unusual design was influenced by architectural theories that were in fashion after the Civil War. Local carpenter William Evers supervised construction, and the barn is still in use, not far from Weyers Cave homes for sale.

  • Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum - 20 N. Coalter St., Staunton, VA 24401
    As the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson helped lead our country during the early years of the 20th century. Today, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum is located in the city of his birth, right down the street from Staunton homes for sale. Tour his family home, and explore seven galleries featuring artifacts from Wilson's life and times. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for ages 6-17. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily except Sunday when doors open at noon.

Summer is a perfect time to buy or sell your Augusta County home. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty to get started.

May
9

Impress Buyers With These Outdoor Staging Tips

Impress Buyers with Outdoor Staging

Your home's exterior is your best chance to make a good first impression on home shoppers. Your exterior has a huge impact on your ability to sell quickly and drive clicks to your listing online. Taking the time to ensure your garden, lawn, and patio area are all in tip-top shape before listing your home is essential for success.

Home staging is the process of dressing up your home in such a way that it is attractive to home shoppers. It's a process that can help your property sell fast, and it can also help you earn a higher sale price. When it comes to home staging, many sellers are quick to prioritize the interior; however, our real estate agents always tell clients to not forget about the outdoor space. Here are a few tips to keep your home's exterior looking great:

Deep Clean

  • Deep Clean Everything
    Deep cleaning isn't just for the indoors. It's also an important element of outdoor staging. This means pressure washing your siding, porch, and patio, as well as cleaning the windows, gutters, and downspouts. Make sure to also rid your yard of any leaves, branches, or debris. At the end of the day, you want your home to shine bright like these Augusta County homes for sale.

  • Boost Your Curb Appeal
    Curb appeal is a term that describes the view of your home from the street. Curb appeal encompasses all elements of your facade, including your front door, landscaping, driveway, and front porch. There are many easy ways to give your curb appeal a boost. Paint your front door, buy a new mailbox, add some porch furniture, or even replace your address numbers. Your efforts will really show on your listing photos!

Refresh Landscaping

  • Refresh Your Landscaping
    Spring and summer are the perfect times to wow buyers with amazing landscaping. Make sure your lawn is mowed, bushes and hedges are trimmed, add a fresh layer of mulch in any garden areas, and clear out any weeds. Flowers can really help set the scene, so either plant some new ones or buy some potted flowers for the porch or patio. 

  • Add Comfortable Seating
    Outdoor gathering spaces are important selling points, so make sure to optimize yours. Whether it's a porch, patio, or firepit in the yard, comfortable seating is a must. Big, comfy patio furniture with a nice center table can make for a nice scene. Or, stage a nice backyard gathering spot with Adirondack chairs. 

Painting

  • Add Some Paint
    Take a look at the various elements that make up your exterior and determine where a fresh coat of paint is needed. Consider your fence, deck, porch, front door, and garage door. If anything is looking a bit faded, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way towards brightening things up. 

  • Ditch the Personal Decor
    The goal of any home staging effort is to make things as neutral as possible. When home shopping, buyers are trying to imagine themselves in the space. Personalization can make this difficult. Take the time to remove any outdoor clutter, such as garden decorations, toys, yard ornaments, porch decor, or hanging flags.

Exterior Lighting

  • Add Some Exterior Lighting
    While most home shoppers will be visiting your property during the day, some may drive by your home in the evening. This is when it can really pay off to have some beautiful outdoor lighting. Add some garden lights that reflect off of your facade, or line your sidewalk and driveway with LEDs. String lights also make for great options on outdoor patios. 

Real Estate Agent

  • Find a Good Real Estate Agent
    Staging a home is both an art and a science. Because most sellers don't have a ton of experience in home staging, it can be helpful to turn to a real estate agent who does. Real estate agents are in the loop on all the latest design trends, and they know what buyers want. A good agent is very capable of guiding you through the staging process and making the most of your property.

Buyers are more likely to pay close attention to your home's exterior in warm weather months, so taking the time to stage your outdoor area is well worth the time. If you're planning to list your home for sale this year, we can help. Contact us today.

April
18

Staycations in Rockingham County

Rockingham Staycation

When it's time for vacation, do you head to the great outdoors or immerse yourself in cultural and historical attractions? However you spend your leisure time, you'll find it around Rockingham County. Plan a memorable staycation featuring these great activities and locations recommended by our real estate agents

  • Rosendale Inn - 17917 Farmhouse Lane, New Market, VA 22844
    Steep yourself in more than two centuries of Shenandoah Valley history at Rosendale Inn. Since its opening in 1790, this charming bed and breakfast has hosted presidents, foreign ministers, and other noted figures. Its convenient location, not far from New Market homes for sale, provides easy access to vineyards and other local attractions. Choose from four presidential-named suites or the Joseph Salyards Cottage, named for a prominent local scholar and educator.

  • Edith J. Carrier Arboretum - 800 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 22807
    Located on the campus of James Madison University, Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is a 125-acre woodland sanctuary and botanical garden. Its namesake, the wife of a former JMU president, was a tireless ambassador for the school. The dog-friendly arboretum includes 3.5 miles of trails where visitors can view wildflowers, trees, birds, and wildlife. Programs and events, such as Nature Study and Wildflower Walks, give people of all ages a chance to learn more about the natural features of these stunning grounds right down the street from Harrisonburg homes for sale. Hours are dawn to dusk daily, and admission is free for all visitors.

  • Grand Caverns - 5 Grand Caverns Dr., Grottoes, VA 24441
    Star in your own science fiction movie when you enter the Grand Caverns. This incredible site is only minutes from Grottoes homes for sale, but it feels like a whole other world. The caverns include more than 200 verified Civil War signatures, providing a fascinating link to a major chapter in Virginia's history. When you're ready to go top-side, enjoy a game of mini-golf or relax by the pool. Don't forget to make a stop in the gift shop for a t-shirt to commemorate your visit. Grand Caverns is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Visit the website for tour information and prices. 

  • Massanutten Water Park - 1200 Adventure Dr., McGaheysville, VA 22840
    The whole family can make a big splash at Massanutten Water Park, within a short distance from McGaheysville homes for sale. With indoor and outdoor facilities, the water's fine any time of year. Indoor features, including the Endless Wave, where kids can hang ten, are heated to a constant 84°F. The outdoor park, which is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, includes three new water slides. When the kids are ready for a break, challenge them to games at Diamond Jim's Arcade. Visit the website for the current schedule and prices.
  • Swift Run Campground & Pool - 19540 Spotswood Trail, Elkton, VA 22827
    Fall asleep under the stars at Swift Run Campground & Pool, "where the road ends, and nature begins," by Elkton homes for sale. The main campground has a total of 50 sites for tents and RVs up to 44', with space for an additional eight tents on the overflow site. A heated shower house is open year-round, while two swimming pools are available during the summer months. Kids will have fun with catch-and-release fishing in the nearby pond, and the Swift Run Gap entrance to the iconic Appalachian Trail is only 1.5 miles away. Holidays are a special time at the campgrounds, with pig roasts, karaoke, and other delightful activities. Rates are $25 per night for tents and $32 per couple per night for full hook-up.

  • White Oak Lavender Farm - 2644 Cross Keys Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22801
    Once you visit White Oak Lavender Farm, you may never want to leave. Lavender is a versatile flower with soothing properties and applications ranging from cooking to bath and body products. The Haushalter family's farm grows more than 8,00 lavender plants, which are used in products sold on-site. Their Purple WOLF Vineyard, whose name includes an acronym of the farm, produces wines that may be sampled and purchased in the tasting room. Learn more about this fascinating place with a self-guided audio tour of the farm and entrance to the Discovery Area, with interactive gardens, farm animals, a life-size checkerboard, a pond, and picnic tables. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission is $3 per person and $12 for families of up to five members. 

Life in Rockingham County is like a never-ending vacation. Learn more about Rockingham homes for sale when you contact us at Old Dominion Realty.

April
4

Helpful Tips for Planting a Tree This Spring

Tree Planting

Trees provide some much-needed shade in the summer and can even attract beautiful birds to your land. The right trees may also increase the value of your property as they improve your home's curb appeal. If you've been looking for the perfect time to add a new tree to your landscape, that time has come. Spring is the best season for tree planting. To help ensure your trees grow strong and healthy, our real estate agents have some helpful tips to share.

  • Plan Ahead When Choosing a Planting Site
    When deciding where to plant a tree, make sure you consider how your home and yard will look with a mature tree in that spot. Ensure the tree won't interfere with your home or structures once it's grown. 

  • Choose the Right Tree for the Site
    Consider the conditions in the site where you'll be planting, and choose a tree that can thrive under those conditions. For example, if you're planting in a shady area, you need a tree that tolerates shade. If your soil is poorly drained, look for a tree that can tolerate some flooding. Take your time reading the labels at your local garden center to ensure you pick a suitable tree.

  • Remove the Container
    While you can technically plant a tree that's been wrapped in burlap, doing so will slow down the tree's root growth. So, whether the tree is contained in burlap, wire casing, or a plastic pot, it's best to remove the root container before planting.

  • Create a Wide Hole
    When digging a hole in which to plant your tree, you need to make sure that the hole is wide enough. The loose soil in the hole around the root ball makes it easier for the tree's roots to expand when it first begins growing. Experts generally recommend the hole is at least three times as wide as your tree's root ball, but it's perfectly okay to dig wider than this.

  • Don't Pack the Soil Too Tightly
    After you put the root ball in the hole, you'll need to refill the hole with loose soil. Be careful not to pack this soil down too tightly. Pack it firmly enough that it holds the tree upright, but not so firmly that the tree's roots will struggle to push through it.

Mulch

  • Mulch Around the Tree
    After you plant the tree, put some mulch around it. Organic mulch will break down over time, serving as a natural fertilizer for the tree as it grows. Wood mulch tends to look the nicest, but you can use pine needles, straw, or even leaf litter if desired.

    When mulching around the tree, be careful not to pile the mulch directly against the trunk. Doing this could trap moisture against the tree trunk, leading to rot.

Water

  • Avoid Overwatering
    Sometimes homeowners, having the best of intentions, end up overwatering their young trees after planting. Overwatering the tree can be even worse than not watering it enough. Long-term exposure to overly moist soil can cause root rot, which will eventually cause your tree to wither and die.

    A good strategy is to always test your soil before watering. Stick your finger or a stick into the soil, and see if it's still moist an inch or two beneath the surface. If the soil at this level is still moist enough to clump together, your tree does not need watering yet. When you determine that the tree does need watering, make sure you water for long enough to penetrate into the deeper soil. Consider setting a hose about a foot from the tree, then letting it flood the area for about an hour.

planting tips

  • Wait a Year Before Fertilizing
    The soil and mulch should contain enough nutrients to sustain the young tree for its first year. Fertilizing too soon after planting can cause the roots to remain "stuck" in the area where you dug rather than expanding out into the surrounding soil.

    Once a year passes, you can fertilize the tree, but make sure you use a fertilizer formulated specifically for young trees. General-purpose fertilizers are sometimes too high in nitrogen, which can cause a tree to develop too much foliage and not enough branch growth.

If you follow the tips above when planting your trees, you should have many years of shade and beauty to look forward to. If you're new to the area and still looking for Staunton homes for sale, feel free to contact us. We'll help you find the perfect spot so you can plant your own trees next spring.

February
21

Create a Vertical Garden This Spring

Vertical Garden

If you're thinking of creative ways to revamp your landscaping this spring, a vertical garden can make a beautiful addition to any yard. A vertical garden is simply any collection of plants growing on a vertical structure. The structure can really be anything...try a wall, fence, or homemade frame. Vertical gardens not only look great, but there are so many plants that can grow vertically, so you'll have plenty of options.

Our real estate agents have noticed vertical gardens are becoming quite the trend these days. We've even spotted a few at these beautiful Rockingham County homes for sale. Creating one might seem like a significant effort, but they're actually quite easy. Here are some tips to help you get started with your own:

  • Start By Choosing The Best Spot
    The success of your vertical garden is largely contingent on where you decide to put it. In many cases, choosing a location that receives adequate sunlight is most important. However, if you're primarily growing plants that enjoy the shade, this may factor into your location decision. In either case, you can easily turn a vertical garden into an aesthetically pleasing exterior element, so you'll most likely want to put it in a spot that is visible. Some people attempt to grow ivy up a trellis or fence to create an enclosed garden or even to increase the privacy of the backyard.

  • Create A Sturdy Frame
    One of the most common vertical gardening mistakes is using a flimsy frame. Your frame needs to be strong enough to support your plants but also to withstand rain, hail, and strong winds. Thick, sturdy wood is often the best bet -- steer clear of thin boards or loose wire.

Garden Tips

  • Select Your Plants
    Some plants are easier to grow vertically than others. Remember, in many cases, you'll be working with a limited amount of soil, so selecting plants with shallow roots is the way to go. Succulents, leafy vegetables, vines, ivy, and flowers all make for great choices.

  • Support Your Plants
    Not all plants naturally grow vertically, so some might need a bit of extra support. Forgetting to support your vertical growing plants can cause them to hang and block the necessary sun exposure your other plants need to survive. Make good use of fasteners and clips to keep your plants growing up.

  • Protect Your Property
    If you're growing a vertical garden against your home or shed, it's important to take the right steps to protect your exterior wall. A vertical garden will need to be watered frequently, so you'll need to be sure to use a protective backing layer to prevent damage. If your garden is placed against the side of your home, make sure to place a pooling tray at the bottom to prevent water from collecting near your foundation. 

Planters

  • Add Planters And Hanging Baskets
    While ivy or plants with shallow roots are great options for vertical gardens, you can also supplement your greenery with planters and hanging baskets. These items can be great for supporting your heavier plants. Just make sure they're well-secured.

  • You Can't Go Wrong With Ivy
    When many people think of vertical gardens, they think of a beautiful vine climbing the side of a brick wall. Using a clinging vine, such as a perennial vine, as the foundation for your vertical garden can add a beautiful and enchanted vibe to your home's exterior.

  • Ladders Make Good Shelves
    If your frame is running out of space, you can add a ladder to either side of your garden to give you some extra shelves. Ladders can make it easy to hang baskets or support heavier planters.  Choose a wooden, rustic ladder to enhance your garden's look.

    Vertical Garden Maintenance

    • Don't Forget To Prune
      Like a horizontal garden, a vertical garden requires lots of pruning and care. With a vertical garden, overgrowing plants are more likely to overshadow others, which is problematic if you're growing plants that need lots of sun. Make sure to regularly prune throughout the week.

    Vertical Garden Tips

    • Water Frequently
      When it comes to watering, vertical gardens have one problem: gravity. Gravity pulls water down instead of giving it the chance to soak into the soil. As a result, vertical gardens often need to be watered more frequently. 

    If you're looking to make your property stand out among these beautiful Rockingham homes for sale, a vertical garden makes for a great addition to your home's exterior. For more home improvement tips, contact us today.

    February
    14

    6 Places in the Shenandoah Valley for Equestrians

    Shenandoah Valley Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding is a personally rewarding activity that pays physical and emotional dividends. Plus, the Shenandoah Valley offers some beautiful scenery perfect for exploring on horseback. When our real estate agents want to recharge, they saddle up at these wonderful places around Shenandoah County homes for sale.

    1. Secret Passage Ranch - 321 Spring Mountain Way, Fort Valley, VA 22652
      While Secret Passage Ranch may sound mysterious, its philosophy is warm and welcoming to all. They believe each ride should be a completely personalized experience, so they go the extra mile to satisfy every person's needs. Horses are carefully matched with riders, and trails are chosen to accommodate the least experienced rider in the group. Before hitting the trail, riders are given time in the arena to get acquainted with their horse. Located just 30 minutes from Woodstock homes for sale, the ranch also has a beautiful guest house built in the 1740s that can be booked by the room or by the entire house.

    2. Fort Valley Ranch - 299 S. Fort Valley Rd., Fort Valley, VA 22652
      Do you love exploring new areas? At Fort Valley Ranch, nestled in the Massanutten Mountains near Fort Valley homes for sale, no two rides are ever the same. In addition to trails located on the ranch grounds, riders have access to hundreds of miles of trails in the scenic George Washington National Forest. Choose from one-hour, 90-minute, half-day, or full-day guided horseback rides. Bring your horse or ride on one of theirs. Little ones can get in on the fun with hand-led horse rides. Fort Valley Ranch is open year-round, and reservations are required.

    3. Double H Stable - 5197 Reliance Rd., Front Royal, VA 22630
      With a name that holds echoes of cowboys and the Old West, Double H Stable honors the place horses hold in our national history. Double H, not far from Front Royal homes for sale, has gained recognition from the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several national publications for the beauty of their grounds and superior riding experiences. Unlike many other riding facilities, trotting and cantering are allowed on the trails that criss-cross their 250 acres. Group and private rides are available, accommodating riders as young as 6.

    1. Jordan Hollow Stables - 657 Pine Grove Rd., Stanley, VA 22851
      When you arrive at Jordan Hollow Stables, just minutes from Stanley homes for sale, you may be greeted by an array of animals. Dogs, goats, roosters, and rabbits are only a few of the critters you might encounter on the grounds. The 90-minute guided rides are offered at a walking pace or a walk/trot pace, based on your personal preference and skill. Ride with a group that shares your level of experience or assemble a private group of family and friends. Surprise your significant other with a private ride for a romantic date night. Jordan Hollow Stables is open year-round, and reservations are required.

    2. North River Gorge Trail - George Washington National Forest
      Many of nature's spectacular features can be seen along the North River Gorge Trail, making it a popular spot for horseback riding. Just under five miles long, the trail winds through the gorge between Lookout and Trimble Mountains. Completing the trail involves fording the river a total of nine times. The trail is rated as easy, with minimal elevation and gentle grades, so it's a good place for beginners to get some saddle time. North Fork connects to the 26-mile Wild Oak Trail, which has a rating of moderate, providing an additional option for riders. Both trails are open year-round, with no fee for use.

    3. Little North Mountain - George Washington National Forest
      Little North Mountain is an eight-mile stretch along the Tuscarora Trail, which was established in the 1960s as an alternative to the iconic Appalachian Trail. Spanning 250 miles, the Tuscarora branches off from the AT near Mathews Arms Campground in Shenandoah National Park, merging back atop Blue Mountain near Duncannon, PA. The Little North Mountain section ascends from Fetzer Gap to the mountain's ridge, then proceeds south to Sheffer Gap. After crossing Cedar Creek, it once again ascends, this time to the ridge of Paddy Mountain. The trail is open year-round, with no fee for use.

      Imagine life with the splendors of the Shenandoah Valley surrounding you. Now make that dream a reality when you contact us at Old Dominion Realty. 

      January
      10

      Winter Adventures in Grant County: Must-Have Hiking Gear

      Winter Adventures Grant County

      Access to beautiful scenery and numerous outdoor activities attracts many people to Grant County homes for sale. The fun continues all year long, as our real estate agents share a list of must-have gear along with helpful tips for cold-weather hiking.

      Hiking Clothes

      CLOTHING

      • Layering is often used as a fashion statement, but for winter hiking, it's an essential strategy to keep you warm and dry. This also allows you to adjust your clothing to fit your level of exertion, such as moving from uphill to downhill.
      • Cotton traps moisture, which makes it a poor choice for a base layer of clothing. Choose synthetics or Merino wool, which will hold a thin layer of heat while wicking away moisture.
      • Most of the insulation comes from the mid-layer. Down or synthetic puffy jackets are light but substantial enough to provide plenty of warmth.
      • Finally, think of the outer layer as a "shell," designed to keep wind and rain out. Waterproof material is required, and you should go larger than your usual size to accommodate the layers beneath.
      • When it comes to the bottom half, a mid-layer is optional. With your legs doing the majority of the work, they tend to stay warmer. Many hikers also find the extra layer to be too bulky, preventing comfortable movement.
      • When it comes to hiking, wet feet are more than just an inconvenience. They're an actual danger to your health. But resist the temptation to go with super-thick socks that can cause poor circulation. Better to bring an extra pair in case the first ones get wet.
      • Of course, waterproof footwear is a must. You might be able to get away with Scotchgarding your summer hiking shoes, but if you plan to do any regular hiking, a good pair of winter boots is well worth the investment. Expecting deep snow? Consider adding a pair of gaiters.

      Hiking Hat

      ACCESSORIES

      • OK, it turns out Mom wasn't quite accurate when she said we lose most of our body heat through the head. But it's still important to keep your head and ears warm. Whether you use a beanie, earmuffs, or headband is a matter of personal preference.
      • Gaiters, buffs, and scarves will keep wind and cold from creeping down inside your collar.
      • Don't make the mistake of thinking that sunlight isn't a factor during cold weather. Despite the temperatures, it's surprisingly easy to end up with a serious sunburn. Apply liberal amounts of sunscreen, lotion, and lip balm, and frequently reapply during your hike. Protect your eyes with polarized sunglasses that will cut down on glare.
      • Gloves vs. mittens has long been the subject of debate among experienced winter hikers. Fortunately, you don't really have to choose. Opt for a hybrid solution that combines glove liners with mitten shells.

      Hikers in WV

      EQUIPMENT

      • Cold-weather hiking adds another purpose to the already essential backpack. Make sure it has sufficient room to store the layers of clothing you'll be adding and subtracting throughout the hike.
      • Counteract the dry winter air with lots of water. You may also want to pack an insulated container of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
      • Microspikes are like chains on your car tires, providing a greater level of traction on icy surfaces. They're small enough to carry with you at all times, just in case.
      • Focus on protein bars and other portable types of food that you can eat without having to stop.
      • A first-aid kit should be a part of any outdoor activity. Other emergency gear includes a map, compass, GPS device, knife, and firestarter.

      Hiking Petersburg

      COLD-WEATHER HIKING TIPS

      • Whenever possible, hike with a companion. If you do go out by yourself, share your plans, including your intended route, with a friend or family member.
      • Daylight hours are short in the winter. Start early to avoid getting stuck on the trail at dark.
      • Check weather reports and trail conditions right up to the time of departure. Continue to monitor the weather during your hike.
      • Don't let pride jeopardize your safety. If the weather turns bad or you don't feel physically able to complete the hike, head for home and save it for another day. 
      • Weather and location can interfere with the operation of tech devices. Bring extra batteries, keep devices warm, and have a contingency plan if there is no cell phone reception.
      • Stay hydrated by taking regular sips of water. Don't wait until you're thirsty.
      • Pay attention to your level of warmth and adjust your layers accordingly. You don't want to be so warm that you start sweating, which will cause chills when the moisture starts to dry or get so cold that it's impossible to warm up.
      • Know the symptoms of hypothermia: shivering, drowsiness, slurred speech, and lack of coordination. 

      Life in Grant County in never short on opportunities for adventure. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty to learn more.

      January
      3

      7 Places to Visit in Rockingham County in 2022

      Rockingham County

      Cradled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Rockingham County is one of the best places in Virginia to experience spectacular scenery and outdoor adventure. It's also a perfect area to sit back and simply relax. Our real estate agents are proud to call it home. 

      With a new year upon us, we're excited for everything 2022 has to offer. If your travels bring you to Rockingham County and the Harrisonburg, VA area this year, be sure to check out some of our favorite local attractions. 

      1. Family Adventure Park - 3827 Massanutten Dr, Massanutten, VA 22840
        Massanutten's Family Adventure Park offers thrills in every season, with rock climbing excursions and 2-hour canopy tours complete with bridges, hanging vines, and zip lines 470 feet long. In winter, the focus shifts to snowy adventures, with 16 snow tubing lanes on slopes up to 900 feet. Located conveniently to many Rockingham County homes for sale, Family Adventure Park is connected to Massanutten Resort, which is a perfect family destination that offers outstanding accommodations and dining options. 

      2. Bluestone Vineyard - 4828 Spring Creek Rd, Bridgewater, VA 22812
        Bluestone Vineyard gets its name from the blue limestone that's a major component of the soil in the Shenandoah Valley. That soil, along with the valley's unique climate, makes it a perfect place for growing wine grapes, and Bluestone Vineyard produces some of the best award-winning wines in Virginia. With its beautiful tasting room overlooking the rolling hills of the Allegheny Mountains, this is one of eight unique vineyards that make up the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail

      1. Edith J. Carrier Arboretum - 780 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807
        A 125-acre woodland sanctuary in the heart of Harrisonburg, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum offers an experience that feels very much like getting lost in another world. With 3 trails that explore 16 unique exhibit gardens, the arboretum displays nature's splendor at its best, no matter the season. That being said, it's especially beautiful when adorned in spring wildflowers or during the brilliant fall foliage season. The arboretum is located on the campus of James Madison University, not far from these Harrisonburg homes for sale. It's open to the public every day from dawn until dusk, free of charge. 

      2. Explore More Discovery Museum - 150 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801
        Formerly known as the Harrisonburg Children's Museum, the Explore More Discovery Museum is one of Harrisonburg's great, family-friendly attractions. Featuring 18 distinct exhibits and themed play areas, the museum offers unmatched opportunities for kids to grow, learn, explore, and have fun. Highlights include CK's Kitchen & Farmer's Market, where kids can select produce, dig up vegetables and prepare a healthy lunch, to the Super Service Garage, where youngsters can learn to service and repair kid-sized cars. 

      3. Shenandoah National Park - 3655 US Highway 211 East, Luray, VA 22835
        One of Virginia's most visited parks, Shenandoah National park, straddles the Rockingham County line, and the Swift Run Entrance to the park is just 30 minutes from Harrisonburg. Entering the park here, at its midpoint, allows you to explore it both north and south along the iconic Skyline Drive. Nearby points of interest include the Hensley Hollow Overlook, with its sweeping views across the valley, and the South River Falls Trail, with its dramatic waterfall. Shenandoah National park also includes several campgrounds and hundreds of miles of hiking trails

      1. Endless Caverns - 1800 Endless Caverns Rd, New Market, VA 22844
        Thanks to its karst topography, in which the limestone and dolomite bedrock is worn away by slightly acidic water over millions of years, the Shenandoah Valley has one of America's largest concentrations of caves. Among the most famous is Endless Caverns, which was discovered in 1879 and is currently open to 75-minute guided tours. The caverns are only seemingly endless—the actual length of its mapped passages is about 6 miles—but still offer fascinating cave formations and awe-inspiring chambers. 

      2. Shenandoah River South Fork - VA-649, Elkton, VA 22827
        Traversing the length of Rockingham County from north to south, the South Fork of the Shenandoah River is a reliable respite on hot summer days. The river is a beloved local destination for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and float tubing. The Island Ford Bridge is a popular put-in for float trips. Depending on the flow rate, it typically takes 3 to 5 hours to float from here down to the next major take-out spot in Elkton, VA. Island Ford is a popular fishing spot as well, and anglers are often rewarded with catches of smallmouth bass, channel catfish, rock bass, and sunfish. 

      Contact us today to learn more about life in the Shenandoah Valley. Our real estate agents are dedicated to helping you find your dream home in Rockingham County and the Harrisonburg area. 

      November
      8

      Take a Scenic Tour Near Luray

      Luray Scenic Drives

      What makes Luray homes for sale so special? Part of their appeal is how close they are to a wide range of spectacular outdoor scenery and attractions. When they're in the mood for a leisurely day of sightseeing, our real estate agents hit the road and head on out to these scenic spots. 

      • Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway - Route 39, Lexington, VA 24450
        While its official name is Route 39, this road is better known as the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway. Beginning just minutes from Lexington homes for sale, the route parallels the Maury River, one of the top whitewater rafting locations in the state, which makes for stunning views from one of the many overlooks along the way. The real showstopper is Goshen Pass, a 3.7-mile gorge carved out by the Maury. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy as you take in the scenery at Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve.

      • Crossroads - Route 11, Lexington, VA 24450 
        Today's vehicles are a far cry from the covered wagons that first traveled the Crossroads in the 1700s. This highway that runs from Staunton to Salem is part of the legendary Wilderness Road. European immigrants who disembarked in Philadelphia forged their way south along this route, eventually turning Roanoke into a major hub. Don't miss the Natural Bridge, the most well-known attraction along this route. The 200-foot tall, 90-foot wide limestone arch still ranks as one of the country's most impressive natural landmarks. Be sure to spend some time exploring Lexington's charming Main Street, which includes the Stonewall Jackson House.

      • Skyline Drive - 3655 US Hwy. 211 E., Luray, VA 22835
        Shenandoah National Park, Virginia's crown jewel, is frequently found on lists of the country's top parks. Skyline Drive bisects the park from north to south, offering convenient access to Shenandoah's numerous scenic views, hiking trails, and attractions. The 105-mile-long highway is studded with nearly 70 overlooks, but take time to venture further into the park for a truly fascinating experience. Keep your eyes peeled for appearances from deer, bears, coyotes, foxes, birds, and other wildlife that inhabit Shenandoah. Finish with a relaxing stop in Waynesboro, home to three of the breweries on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.

      • Blue Ridge Parkway - Afton, VA 22920
        Where Skyline Drive ends, right down the road from Afton homes for sale, the Blue Ridge Parkway picks up. Spanning 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park through the forests of North Carolina to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the route is often referred to as, "America's Favorite Drive." The Virginia portions of the Parkway, from Afton to Fancy Gap, encompass the Ridge and Plateau regions. You could spend an entire day exploring the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Other attractions include Humpback Rock and Peaks of Otter, which features Johnson Farm, a working farm restored to its 1930s appearance, with costumed interpreters conducting discussions and programs.
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      • Route 501 - Lynchburg, VA 24501
        If you want to explore further into Virginia, use the Blue Ridge Parkway as a jumping-off point. One such route comes at mile marker 63.7, where you can turn off onto Route 501. Spend a delightful 30 minutes viewing the pleasant countryside until you end up in Lynchburg, one of the many cities in Virginia that's rich in history and culture. There's fun for the whole family at Amazement Square, an interactive learning museum near Lynchburg homes for sale. Don't miss the CityArts Mosaic mural, right across the street, that took seven years to complete. Too nice to be indoors? Rent some bikes and check out downtown's Riverfront Park or stop by the Lynchburg Community Market to pick up fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked goods. 

      • Luray Caverns - 101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray, VA 22835
        By itself, Luray Caverns, dubbed, "Geology's Hall of Fame," is well worth the trip. The Caverns form an incredible underground world of 10-stories-high cathedral-sized rooms with impressive stone formations. But this popular attraction also includes Shenandoah Heritage Village, a seven-acre recreation of a 19th-century farming community with artifacts from Native American days up to the 1920s. Still want more? The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum chronicles the history of transportation, with more than 75 historic vehicles on display. Toy Town Junction features an exhibit of the comprehensive collection started by Dr. Richard Worden in 1941 when he was a five-year-old boy receiving his first toy train. Hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekends. Tickets, which include admission to all three attractions, are $32 for adults and $16 for ages 6-12. 

      Whether you're buying or selling a home in Luray, we can put you on the road to success. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty to get started. 

      November
      1

      Shenandoah National Park Photography Guide

      Shenandoah National Park

      Shenandoah National Park offers stunning views! And when you take a camera along with you, you can share the views with others after your trip. Delight family and friends with postcard-ready shots of the stunning scenery near Shenandoah homes for sale. Visit these majestic locations scouted by our real estate agents around Shenandoah National Park. 

      • Dark Hollow Falls
        The trail to Dark Hollow Falls is only about a mile-and-a-half round trip, but its steep inclines require a bit of effort. Nevertheless, it's one of the more well-traveled trails in the park, with stunning views of the 70-foot cascading waterfalls making it worth the trip. Continue past the trail to reach Lower Dark Hollow Falls, which is smaller in size but considered by many to be more photogenic. For best accessibility, head out early in the morning before the crowds arrive.

      • Big Meadows
        With its seemingly endless vistas of open land, Big Meadows is a surprisingly pleasant contrast to the landscape in the rest of the park. The meadows are a popular location for couples who are taking engagement photos, especially during fall when the fields come alive with vivid reds, yellows, and oranges. The Point Overlook, just a few miles south of the lodge, is known for great shots of the sunset. And the photos don't have to stop when the day is over. Big Meadows offers breathtaking views of the Milky Way and other objects in the night sky.

      • Natural Bridge
        Located at the southern tip of Shenandoah, Natural Bridge has been the subject of innumerable photos, yet the sight never gets old. The organic limestone formation, which measures 215 feet high by 90 feet across, has been named both a state and National Historic Landmark. As a top Virginia attraction since the 18th century, Natural Bridge is itself the centerpiece of a state park with Instagram-worthy sites such as Monocan Indian Village, Lace Falls, and Virginia Safari Park.

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      • Skyline Drive
        Thanks to digital cameras, you no longer have to worry about running out of film when traveling 105-mile-long Skyline Drive. The route is a continuous sequence of picturesque scenes that demand to be photographed. Almost 70 outlooks along the way provide different views at every stop. Be sure to check out Hogback Overlook, the longest one along the drive, at milepost 20.8. Watch for deer, turkeys, and other photogenic wildlife crossing the road to "star" in your photos.

      • Stony Man Summit
        Even though it's the second-highest peak in Shenandoah, Stony Man Summit is one of the easier trails, making it a nice destination for a family photo session. The entire round trip is less than two miles, but the summit features glorious panoramas of the Valley, Massanutten Mountain, and points beyond. You may even be able to spot New Market homes for sale from a distance! As the name implies, the peak is covered with a number of rocks and stones, which you can use to get several different perspectives.

      • Hawksbill Summit
        You can literally see for miles atop Hawksbill Summit, the highest peak in Shenandoah. Take your pick of three different trails, ranging from 1.6 to 2.8 miles round trip, each with its own special features. Once you reach the top, 360-degree views of the Valley, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Virginia Piedmont will keep your head on a swivel. The beautiful balsam firs on the summit, more commonly associated with Canada and New England, are a fairly unusual sight near Broadway homes for sale

      Tips for Taking Photos Like a Pro

      • Film may no longer be a concern, but don't forget to take extra batteries and memory cards so you won't miss a shot.

      • Sunrise and sunset provide the most flattering natural light.

      • When photographing landscapes, wide-angle and telephoto lenses are a must-have. A UV lens filter will produce darker, richer colors.

      • Overlooks are convenient locations for photo ops, but don't stop there. Go off-road and walk the trails for a greater variety of subjects.

      • Don't let the big picture keep you from seeing what's right in front of you. Look for details such as trees, birds, flowers, and other small-scale subjects that make for equally interesting photos.

      • Be prepared for changes in weather. No matter how sunny the day may start out, clouds and fog can roll in anytime, especially at higher elevations. The good news is that darkness can add a moody, dramatic element to your photos. 

      • Remember that photography is an art form. Put your individual stamp on your photos by experimenting with different angles and effects. Trust your creative eye!

      There's nothing like the view from the backyard of your own Shenandoah County home. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable agents. 

      October
      11

      Where to See Fall Foliage Around the Shenandoah Valley

      Shenandoah Valley Fall

      When Mother Nature brings out her fall paintbrush, the spectacular scenery around Shenandoah County homes for sale bursts with vivid color. Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway are especially noted for their impressive landscapes. Our real estate agents point out where to see stunning fall foliage around the Shenandoah Valley.

      • Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park, 3655 U.S. Hwy. 211 E., Luray, VA 22835
        Perhaps the best way to take in the glory of Shenandoah National Park is a three-hour journey along the iconic Skyline Drive. With nearly 70 overlooks along the way, you can create your own personal tour near Luray homes for sale. If you prefer sightseeing on two wheels, sign up for the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, returning on the weekend of October 15-17.

      • Mabry Mill - 266 Mabry Mill Rd. SE, Meadows of Dan, VA 24120
        Enjoy some classic fall scenery at Mabry Mill, located at Milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The once-functioning mill and adjoining pond are favorite subjects for both professional and amateur photographers. Hike the half-mile Mabry Mill Trail for great views of the sawmill and blacksmith shop as well as Matthew's Cabin, an authentic building that was relocated to add to the classic setting. 

      • Sky Meadows State Park - 11012 Edmond Ln., Delaplane, VA 20144
        The 1,860 acres of Sky Meadows State Park were once part of a family farm back in our country's colonial time. Today, the woodlands and gently rolling pastures are home to nine miles of bike trails and 22 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Kids will have fun watching for the red-headed woodpeckers and other species that make Sky Meadows a renowned spot for birdwatchers near Delaplane homes for sale. Park hours are 8 a.m. - dusk daily.

      • Peaks of Otter - Milepost 85.6, Blue Ridge Pkwy., Bedford, VA 24523
        Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill make up the charmingly named Peaks of Otter, overlooking the town of Bedford along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Ties to the past include Johnson's Farm, a living farm where visitors can play games and work in the garden, and Polly Wood's Ordinary, a cabin that provided the first lodging for travelers in the mid-1800s. Afterward, make a side trip to Bedford homes for sale or one of the many wineries not far from Peaks of Otter.

      • Hanging Rock Overlook Trail - Potts Mountain Rd., Potts Mountain, VA 24131
        You'll feel on top of the world when you take in the breathtaking vistas from Hanging Rock Overlook Trail. Thanks to the out-of-the-way location, Hanging Rock flies under the radar for many sightseers, allowing you to enjoy the viewing in relative solitude. Amazingly, the journey to the top is less than a mile, making it easily accessible for hikers at any level of experience and a great place to take in the scenery. The reward is 360° panoramas of the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains. 

      • Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest - 1542 Bateman Bridge Rd., Forest, VA 24551
        Can't decide between cultural activities or outdoor adventures near Forest homes for sale? No need to choose. Visit Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest for a nice blend of history and nature. Get a fascinating look at the ongoing restoration of Jefferson's private retreat, designed to be "the best dwelling house in the state" and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. The two-mile drive to the house affords a beautiful overview of the property while walking trails wind along roads and through fields for a look at the land Jefferson loved. From March 15 through December 30, Poplar Forest is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. with weekend hours during winter. Admission is $18 for adults, $10 for ages 12-18, and $6 for ages 6-11.

      • Natural Bridge State Park - 6477 S. Lee Hwy., Natural Bridge, VA 24578
        As the name implies, the highlight of Natural Bridge State Park is an incredible 215-foot limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. The bridge has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark and named to the National Register of Historic Places. Tourists have been drawn to the site as far back as the 1800s when European visitors to the new country traveled by horse-drawn carriages to view the bridge. Don't miss Lace Falls, a 30-foot cascade that's even more delightful when framed by fall colors. Be sure to stop by after looking at Natural Bridge homes for sale. Park hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. Admission is $9 for adults and $6 for ages 3-12.

      The Shenandoah Valley is truly a home for all seasons. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty to learn more about Augusta County homes for sale

      September
      27

      How to Prepare for Hiking the Appalachian Trail

      Appalachian Trail

      If you've been exploring Elkton homes for sale, you probably already know how proud this community is to be a part of the Appalachian Trail. In fact, we recently celebrated becoming the 50th designated trail community. Other designated communities span all the way from Georgia to Maine. 

      Close to four million hikers head out on the trail each year. If you've ever dreamed of joining them, you'll need to spend some time getting yourself prepared. Our real estate agents have had the opportunity to speak to many hikers over the years and have learned a lot from them. Here are a few of the most important tips they've shared with us. 

      Appalachian Trail Rest

      • Budget Wisely
        You don't just have to be physically fit to hike the trails, you also need to make sure you're in good financial shape. You may think that being away from civilization means you won't need money, but that's not true. Making sure you have enough money will make your adventure far more comfortable. There will be times when you want to stop at one of the trail communities for a hot meal or a cold beer or pay for a shower. When you do, you'll want to make sure you can afford it without worry. 

      • Don't Forget Your Sunscreen
        Even though there's lots of cover over much of the trail, it's still far too easy to get a sunburn. If you do, your hike will be uncomfortable, and it could even make you sick. Do yourself a favor - pack plenty of high-quality sunscreen and remember to reapply it often. 

      • Rain-Test Your Gear
        There's nothing worse than getting out on the trail only to find out that your gear doesn't stand up to rain as well as you think it will. Make sure this doesn't happen to you by setting up your tent and gear in the backyard, turning on the sprinklers, and sitting inside to see how it performs. You may feel pretty silly doing it, but it's much better to find out you have a problem when you're just a short drive away from the store rather than when you're out on the trail.

      Appalachian Trail Marker

      • Pack Lightly
        It's critical to make sure you pack all the essentials, but you'll also want to remember that the less weight you have to carry, the better off you'll be. Before you add anything to your pack, make sure to consider whether it's really important. As a rule of thumb, you should try to carry no more than 25% of your body weight throughout your hike. 

      • Prepare "Bump Boxes"
        A "Bump Box" is a box you pack with essentials like clean clothes, a new book, or anything else you think might give you a boost while you're out on your journey. You'll want to mail these to the towns you're planning to travel to so they're waiting for you when you arrive. Sometimes, knowing you have a bump box waiting for you is the extra push you need to make it through when you feel like giving up.

        Hiking Trails

        • Practice Makes Perfect
          Before you hit the trail, it pays to take some time to get familiar with all your gear. Make sure you know basic things like how to start your stove and how to set up your tent. You'll also want to practice hiking with your backpack. This way, you can make sure it fits comfortably and that you can handle the amount of weight you're planning to carry. 
        • Bring Duct Tape
          There's a reason why it's a long-standing joke that duct tape can fix anything. Having a roll with you on your hike is sure to come in handy. From repairing broken equipment to taping a broken finger, there are countless ways this little trick may save your tail. 
        • Designate a Support Person
          At some point along the way, chances are you're going to need the help of someone back home. Make sure you know who you can count on before you head out. You may need something physical - like having them mail you a new pair of hiking shoes - or you might just need some moral support.

        Appalachian Trail Tips

        • Believe in Yourself
          Doubting yourself will make the hike less fun and may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Head out on the trails committed to doing your best, and remember that even if you don't get as far as you had hoped, you will still have done something that many people never will. 

        If you want to live along the Appalachian Trail, consider purchasing one of the beautiful Elkton or Luray homes for sale. The experienced agents at Old Dominion Realty would love to help you find your dream home. Contact us today to get started. 

        September
        20

        Orchards and Markets for Farm Fresh Apples

        Apples in Shenandoah ValleyFall is in the air, and it's the best time of year to visit your local farms in the Shenandoah Valley! Our real estate agents love this season because of the amazing variety of available crops—apples, grapes, pumpkins—and the fun fall festivals that return year after year. 

        If you happen to be in the Charlottesville or Harrisonburg area this fall, be sure to check out some of our favorite local farms, orchards, and markets!

        • Back Home on the Farm - 2915 Willow Run Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
          Offering one of the most fun-packed farm experiences in Virginia, Back Home on the Farm is the sort of place you'll want to visit again in every season. The greenhouse is alive with flowers in spring, and the farm stand is packed with produce in summer. But in fall, the farm is abuzz with activity, including wagon rides, you-pick pumpkins, nightly campfires, and a 7-acre corn maze. The farm is located just outside Harrisonburg, convenient to many Harrisonburg homes for sale.

        • Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse - 17768 Honeyville Rd, Timberville, VA 22853
          Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse is a popular wedding venue in addition to being a working farm, and it's not hard to see why. The place is stunning, with spectacular views across acres of rolling farmland. Autumn is pick-your-own apple season here, and the farm grows more than 30 varieties. Be sure to check out the cider (hard and otherwise) that is made right here on the farm, just minutes from these Timberville homes for sale.

        • Hickory Hill Farm - 3034 Fruit Farm Ln, Keezletown, VA 22832
          Hickory Hill Farm is a picturesque, family-owned farm that has been run by the same family for 30 years. You'll find a different crop ready for harvest in every season: blueberries in June, tomatoes and sweet corn from July through August, and grapes from August into September. The farm is located in Keezletown, not far from these Rockingham County homes for sale. They also sell their produce at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, which is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from April through Thanksgiving. 

        • Turkey Knob Growers - 17581 Mechanicsville Rd, Timberville, VA 22853
          Peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall—it seems there's always something sweet ready to be picked at Turkey Knob Growers. Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the farm grows several varieties of apples, which they package and ship to stores and markets all over the United States. You can also pick up apples in person at their farm stand or order online through their website. Turkey Hill is one of the oldest orchards in the Shenandoah Valley; they've been going strong since 1918. 

        • Overlook Produce and Farm Adventures - 609 Friedens Church Rd, Mt Crawford, VA 22841
          There's a lot to explore in any season at Overlook Produce and Farm Adventures, but fall is definitely our favorite time to visit this Shenandoah Valley farm. They offer a vast pumpkin patch with over 50 varieties of pumpkins and gourds in virtually every size, shape, and color. Fall also brings a sunflower harvest and corn maze, and be sure to check back in next spring for strawberry season! Overlook Produce is just of I-81 and a stone's throw from these Mount Crawford homes for sale.

        • Carter Mountain Orchard and Country Store - 1435 Carters Mountain Trail, Charlottesville, VA 22902
          Offering pick-your-own and pre-picked apples from August through November, Carter Mountain Orchard and Country Store is a beautiful place to spend a day in the fall. They also grow peaches that are available well into September and recently launched their own wine label using home-grown grapes. This is a great time of year to enjoy a glass of wine in their beautiful outdoor space. The farm is a short drive from these Charlottesville homes for sale and also has an on-site bakery that's known for making some of the best apple cider donuts around. 

        • Cross Keys Farm - 3022 Cross Keys Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22801
          You'll find just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of at the farm stand at Cross Keys Farm. Each crop is grown right here on the farm and available fresh for as long as it's in season. In fall, apples are the star of the show. Cross Keys Farm includes an orchard that grows modern apple varieties like Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady, as well as unique heirloom apples like Albemarle Pippin, Arkansas Black, and Esopus Spitzenburg.

        Fall is a great time to be in Virginia, but we happen to think it's a pretty special place to call home in any season. Contact us today to learn more about life in the Shenandoah Valley area and talk to our real estate agents about finding your Virginia dream home.

        August
        23

        About the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail

        Shenandoah Valley Wine TrailLooking for an all-new way to experience the Shenandoah Valley? Our real estate agents have it!

        Shenandoah Valley homes for sale run the gamut of styles, but beautiful surroundings are the norm no matter your architectural tastes. From across Virginia and all throughout the country, people visit year-round to drink in the sights and unique culture of the Shenandoah Valley area.

        The Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail helps show it all off in an experience you'll never forget!

        Shenandoah Valley's Unique Wine Trail Helps You See All That Makes the Area Great

        The Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail is full of surprises on its 200-mile stretch of wineries, breweries, and cideries. As you venture from one end to the other of this north-south trail, you'll see so much of what makes Virginia unique. 

        Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and Allegheny Mountains to the west, the Valley runs from the state line of West Virginia down to the James River. The Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail provides a family-friendly (and largely pet-friendly!) opportunity to explore it all.

        Not surprisingly, the wine trail is an epicenter of family-owned businesses. In addition to the different beverage-makers, you'll also find plenty of antique stores, art shops, and housewares vendors. 

        You'll pass through many communities if you're determined to see all the trail has to offer. Small, historic villages are plentiful, as are college towns. 

        While winery visits reach their height in the fall, most businesses along the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail are open year-round.

        Unique growing conditions and soil of the Shenandoah Valley have given rise to a profusion of grape varietals. Rocky, fertile soil, and a mild, relatively dry growing season have attracted wineries of all sizes and styles. Virtually all of them have gotten in on the fun and now offer tours and tasting rooms open to the public.

        Let's take a closer look at some of the wineries you can stop at on the trail!

        The Winery at Kindred Pointe 3575 Conicville Road, Mt. Jackson, VA 22842
        Owners Amy and Bruce Helsey bought the property for The Winery at Kindred Pointe in 2005 and named the spot after one of Amy's favorite books, Anne of Green Gables. What started out as a horse boarding business has grown into a beloved winery near Mount Jackson homes for sale. Pick up a bottle of wine from their historical series, which features artwork of local historical significance by artist John Paul Strain.

        Barren Ridge Vineyards  – 984 Barren Ridge Road, Fishersville, VA 22939
        In the late 1800s, a small apple orchard was planted, which became the modern-day Barren Ridge Winery we know and love. Located near Fisherville homes for sale, this winery offers stunning views of West Virginia and the Alleghany Mountains. Take in the views and sip on local wine from their tasting room.

        12 Ridges Vineyard – 24981 Blue Ridge Parkway, Vesuvius, VA 24483
        12 Ridges Vineyard is a cool climate vineyard and tasting room where your palate will dance with flavors from the Shenandoah Valley and around the world. The brand focuses on a traditional sparkling wine with the goal of becoming the foremost in Virginia. Tastings can be done on the terrace or outside on the scenic hilltop, all within driving distance from Vesuvius homes for sale.

        Honey & Hops Brew Works – 212 East Main Street A, Front Royal, VA 22630
        Honey & Hops Brew Works will introduce you to mead, a trend that's sweeping the nation. Using familiar principles of fermentation with honey rather than grapes, Honey & Hops offers rich, award-winning flavors: The favorite may be Black Trails blueberry mead. "Mead and Chocolate" events are popular for couples. Check them out after looking at Front Royal homes for sale

        Sage Bird Ciderworks – 325 North Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
        Sage Bird Ciderworks is a local producer of small-batch, handcrafted cider using local ingredients. The apples are the key to this iconic "Apple-Achian" cider, including a curated selection of a dozen distinctive Shenandoah Valley varieties. Most Sage Bird ciders are dry, but there's something to suit every taste. All this within minutes of Harrisonburg homes for sale.

        Contact us to find out more about Shenandoah Valley real estate.

        August
        9

        Summer Rain: What is a Rain Garden?

        Summer Rain GardenA rain garden is one of the most attractive and effective ways to handle runoff on your property, protect groundwater, filter impurities, and improve landscaping aesthetics. Our real estate agents have seen beautifully designed rain gardens in Shenandoah County homes for sale and thought it'd be great to put together a beginner's guide to creating a rain garden.

        What is a Rain Garden?

        A rain garden is a shallow, bowl-shaped depression in the landscape designed to collect and soak up rainwater. Rain gardens typically slow the flow of water runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs, downspouts, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and lawns. Typically, heavy rain pours so quickly that the water doesn't get enough time to soak into the ground. This also means the soil does not absorb enough water for plants.

        The shallow depression is usually 6 to 8 inches deep, has loose soil, and can be placed at any point along the runoff pathway. The rain garden creates a "trap" for runoff water, which slowly filters into the ground instead of entering the storm sewer system and our waterways. When designed properly, a rain garden should soak up to 30% more water than a conventional lawn. Also, the water should not stand for more than 48 hours. Rain gardens can be large or small and can complement any style of landscape.

        Why Are Rain Gardens Important?

        What do you gain when you collect runoff water? Aside from being beautiful and creative, a rain garden serves a functional purpose in maintaining the natural water cycle and protecting the local environment. As cities and suburbs grow, they increase impervious surfaces, which create increased stormwater runoff problems. A rain garden allows water to be absorbed into the ground, reducing drainage problems and the potential for flooding.

        Here are more benefits of a fully functional rain garden:

        • Reducing the amount of water that runs off to a storm drain
        • Keeping your home's foundation and basement safe by diverting water away from it
        • Helping protect the community from flooding, stream bank erosion, and drainage problems
        • Attracting beneficial and pollinating birds, insects, butterflies, and mosquito-consuming dragonflies
        • Enhancing the beauty of yards and surrounding neighborhoods

        Choosing Plants for Your Rain Garden

        The best plants for rain gardens need to be able to withstand temporary standing water and dry conditions, reduce erosion, increase water absorption, and look beautiful. Native plants are always recommended, and it's a good idea to mix up different species to help manage stormwater and create a beautiful garden.

        Large shrubs and trees: These slow down rainfall before it reaches the ground, preventing it from running off immediately and allowing it to better soak into the soil.

        Shorter, deeply rooted plants: Direct water into the ground and hold the soil.

        Tall grasses: Trap pollutants, suck up water, and prevent silt from being carried by stormwater to rivers and ponds.

        Some of the best plants for a rain garden include:

        Black Eyed Susan

        • Black-Eyed Susan
        • Joe Pye Weed
        • Switchgrass
        • Oakleaf Hydrangea
        • River Birch
        • Bald Cypress
        • Black Willow

        Scarlett Bee Balm

        • Scarlet Bee Balm
        • Southern Blue Flag
        • New England Aster
        • Summersweet
        • Astilbes
        • Purple Coneflower

        Marsh Marigold

        • Marsh Marigold
        • Swamp Oak
        • Sweetgum
        • Red Maple
        • Buttonbush

        Spike Rush

        • Spikerush
        • Smooth Alder
        • Swamp Rose
        • Cardinal Flower

        Daylily

        • Daylilies
        • American Beautyberry
        • Red Osier Dogwood

        The exact plant for each rain garden will vary based on the soil conditions, sun exposure, and how much water the garden will hold.

        Build Your Own Rain Garden

        How big your rain garden will be depends on the size of the impervious area draining into it. As a general rule of thumb, make the bed 20% to 30% the size of the area from which the water is funneled. For example, if you have a 1000 sq. ft. roof, create a 300 sq. ft. rain garden to accommodate runoff water. Here are tips for creating a successful rain garden:

        • Dig out dirt from a dry area that's downhill from the water source and at least 10 feet away from your home's foundation.
        • Don't plant your garden over septic systems, under trees, or in areas that already get standing water. You may want to do an infiltration test to determine how fast the soil allows the water to drain. Dig a hole about 10 inches deep and fill it with water. The water shouldn't take more than 48 hours to drain.
        • Amend the soil to improve drainage. Replace heavy soil with sand, compost, and good-quality topsoil.
        • Add a few small stones to the garden to protect the soil from being washed away and create a bowl where water can pool to about 6 inches deep.
        • If the water doesn't naturally flow to your garden, consider digging a trench to direct water from one or more gutter downspouts to the garden.
        • Planting your rain garden is the final step. In the center of your garden, plant perennials and native plants that tolerate flooding. These should be followed by plants that tolerate short periods of standing water. The outer edges should have plants that prefer a drier soil. Ensure you don't plant the roots too deep into the soil and leave enough space to avoid overcrowding when the plants mature.
        • Once all your plants are in, mulch the inside of the rain with compost or shredded hardwood to give the garden a tidy appearance and keep out weeds.

        If you're looking for Shenandoah homes for sale or Augusta County homes for sale, we can help simplify the process for you and find your dream home. Contact us today to start the process.

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