Four Leaf Clover Anyone—How about Three?

How we forget—or never even knew.  When I was a little girl, looking for a lucky four leaf clover in the grass was something we kids did to wile away lazy afternoons when we wanted to be outside but not necessarily playing organized games.  I have no recollection of what we did if someone found one and I don’t actually remember ever finding one myself.  As an adult I never thought about them again except around St. Patrick’s Day when the world abounds in graphic designs of the mythically elusive good luck charm.

But sometimes old, thankfully becomes new again.  My friend recently posted a photo of her new lawn on Facebook—her new all clover lawn.  And a flood of childhood memories came rushing back.  Clover used to just be part of the lawn—all lawns.  In fact, lawn seed used to be judged by the quantity of clover it actually contained!  No one considered it a weed.  Until the 1950’s that is, when companies began selling weed killers to  promote the proverbial perfect American lawn. Apparently scientists were unable to develop a weed killing formula that left both grass and clover and just killed weeds.  So clover became a weed and the innocent childhood pastime of looking for four- leaf clover came to an untimely end.

My friend's new lawn with a bunny having lunch

So here we are today, and the perfect American lawn may be going the way of say, newspapers.  If you’re like many busy Americans the lawn wars  ( the ones between neighbors and the ones with weeds) are no longer fun.  Homeowners would just as soon be freed from the slavery of grass cutting, grass watering, grass fertilizing and grass envy.

Not only that, many Americans are more knowledgeable and more concerned about the impact that chemical fertilizers are having on the environment related to our streams, lakes, creeks, rivers, and even oceans, and want to minimize their impact these delicately balanced ecosystems.

White Clover or as it is commonly known, Irish Clover is making a comeback in the American yard.  And here’s the good news about clover.  It doesn’t need much mowing.  Yay!  At least not like grass.  It might get to about 8 inches but if you can get used to that height it won’t grow any longer.  It’s pretty drought resistant so doesn’t need a lot of watering.  It’s actually a fertilizer in itself and thus promotes healthy plants.  Oh, it’s an evergreen so as long as it’s not covered with snow, you’ll have a green lawn year round.  And it’s actually resistant to insects and diseases that might affect other grasses.

There are a couple of downsides to be aware of in the name of full disclosure.  Clover attracts bees.  So if someone in your family is prone to allergic reactions from bee stings, think carefully about where you plant clover if you plant it at all.  And it apparently doesn’t hold up to lots of traffic when planted alone.  So if you have a yard where you expect kids to play in a lot, clover won’t be as sturdy underfoot as traditional grass.  But you could mix the grass with clover and get the kind of retro yard that I grew up with.


What’s in a Footprint?–A Growing Market for Smaller Homes

A smaller house is a greener house, plain and simple–even if it doesn’t have EnergyStar this and EnergyStar that–even if it doesn’t have foam insulation, solar panels or a tankless hot water heater.  It’s greener because it’s carbon footprint is smaller.  A small house in a walkable neighborhood is even greener.

I have an adorable 1931 completely remodeled home listed for sale in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA.  Clarendon is one of the most “sought after” neighborhoods in the city because of it’s proximity to shopping, metro, restaurants, night life, etc.  Because of it’s desirability, it’s a fairly pricy neighborhood.  The house has just under 1200 square feet–so not large.  But it has been opened up so that there’s a wonderful flow.  It has large windows and amazing light. The landscaped yard is lovely and low maintenance. And the fact that this small house was not knocked down to build a larger house makes it greener still.

Part of the neighborhood has a dense concentration of high rise condominiums. A condo with comparable square footage could run nearly $600,000 with a condo fee of over $400 per month.  Buildings use 40% of all of the energy used with high rise buildings using the majority of that.  Most high rise condo buildings are not very energy efficient.  So their carbon footprint makes a giant sucking sound.

Why I wonder, would someone be okay living in a high rise condo paying nearly $600,000 for 1100-1200 square feet and a $400 a month condo fee but feel that a 1200 square foot house with no condo fee is too small.  Now I have nothing against condos and I understand that condo living fits a certain lifestyle.  But I do wonder if there is also the perception that a house has to be bigger than a condo or apartment?  If so,  that perception is changing according to all recent studies.  The small home movement is growing.

When I was a child, which was admittedly a long time ago, the first home my parents bought had three bedrooms, one bath, a living room, dining room, kitchen and a big backyard with an apple and walnut tree.  There were four kids and I don’t ever remember thinking our house was too small.  I do remember yelling at my siblings to hurry up in the bathroom and I remember the nightly bath schedule.  By the time I was 13 we had moved to a house that had 4 bedrooms, one and a half baths and a den.  We thought we were living in the lap of luxury!

For many decades most families lived in homes about the size of the homes I grew up in.  Now there is a clearly defined trend towards smaller homes. The changing demographics of the average home buyer shows that  single women made up 21 percent of the homebuyers in 2009.  These women are professional with busy schedules and no time for the maintenance of a larger home.

The National Association of Homebuilders is reporting that the average size of new homes has been declining for the last four or five years and young people and empty nesters are flocking to smaller homes.  And the Wall Street Journal Development Blog reported just this month:

Gen Y housing preferences are the subject of at least two panels at this week’s convention. A key finding: They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO. A whopping 88% want to be in an urban setting, but since cities themselves can be so expensive, places with shopping, dining and transit such as Bethesda and Arlington in the Washington suburbs will do just fine.

“One-third are willing to pay for the ability to walk,” Ms. Duggal said. “They don’t want to be in a cookie-cutter type of development. …The suburbs will need to evolve to be attractive to Gen Y.”

So my little beauty of a listing is right in line with the national trend. Small is beautiful! Have a look.



Gayle Fleming


My purpose is to serve my clients and advocate for their highest and best good, so they attain their real estate goals.

Water–The New Oil

This morning I installed an EcoFlow (Waterpik)* shower head.  Of course I installed it incorrectly the first time because it I’m spatially challenged and it is absolutely impossible for me to complete any mechanical project correctly the first time. But still it only took me 15 minutes to install, even with the mistakes.

So why use an EcoFlow showerhead?  Well, a regular showerhead uses about 20 gallons of water for a five minute shower while the EcoFlow uses about 7.5 gallons.  The EcoFlow showerhead uses 40% less water than a 2.5 GPM showerhead, which is now the minimum standard.  And you can save even more by using the pause button on the showerhead while you lather up.  I love this feature.  Oh, and if you’re worried about not getting a strong water flow, don’t.  The shower is just as satisfying as using a regular showerhead.

Why should you be concerned about water usage, especially if like me, you don’t even pay the water bill because it’s included in the condo fee.  And even if you pay for water, in the US it’s subsidized at artificially low prices, substantially lower than anywhere else in the developed or developing world.  However, safe clean water is becoming a problem worldwide.  Our rivers are at risk, there is diminishing ground water, water pollution and climate change are threatening the world’s water supplies.  In the US the average American uses one hundred gallons of water per day while the worlds poorest people get by on less than five gallons.

The EPA’s new WaterSense program can help you to make wise water conservation decisions and the average family could save about $170 per year by installing water conserving fixtures in your home.  “Giving your main bathroom a high-efficiency makeover by installing a WaterSense labeled toilet, faucet, and showerhead can save your household more than 7,000 gallons annually—that’s about enough water to wash six months worth of laundry.”  Not all water saving fixtures have the WaterSense label because many brands are still being tested for qualification in the program. Currently there are no tax incentives for this program but there are regional incentives listed on the WaterSense webpage.

And when you get ready to sell your home and hire me, the EcoBroker certified and NAR Green Designee real estate professional to sell your home, I know just how to market all of the green and sustainable features to today’s buyers who really care about these things.

If you want to learn more about our endangered water resources, National Geographic’s “Fresh Water 101” is all about water.

Interesting  Water Factoids:

Only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh and two thirds of that is frozen. That leaves less than 1% to grow crops, cool power plants, supply drinking and bathing water, etc.

Farms and ranches use 64% of all fresh water.

It takes 4000 gallons of water to produce 500 calories from beef.

*There are other brands of low-flow showerheads. WaterPik is the one I chose.



Gayle Fleming


My purpose is to serve my clients and advocate for their highest and best good, so they attain their real estate goals.