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Preparing Your Lawn and Landscaping for Winter



The things you must do to care for your lawn and landscaping change when fall and winter arrive. Fall brings mild temperatures and often moderate precipitation. It's a good season to perform restorative maintenance like fertilization and aeration. In winter, many plants either die or go into a time of no growth. Hard frosts and freeze/thaw cycles can wreak havoc on sensitive plants. Knowing what to do to prepare your lawn and landscaping for winter can help you protect your property, and ensure that your garden and lawn will be in good condition when spring and summer come around once again.

Aerate

Soil can become compact after a summer of intense temperatures, especially if your lawn didn't get enough water over the course of the season. Aerating your lawn prevents and reverses compaction, encourages good root development and prevents thatch from building up.

You can aerate your own lawn by renting a lawn aerator, or by hiring a landscaping company to do this for you. After aeration, your lawn will be covered in small, muddy chunks of soil, but soon enough those pieces will dissolve back into the earth.

After aerating your soil, spread a thin layer of compost over the aerated area. Compost adds nutrients to the soil, restores the soil's natural texture, and prevents the soil from becoming hard again.

Mulch

As the temperature outside drops, shallow roots become vulnerable to damage. Mulching around perennials and trees can protect these roots from the lowest temperatures. Mulch also keeps moisture in the ground, which can prevent some plants from drying out.

When mulching a vegetable garden, use undyed organic wood mulch. In a flower garden, feel free to use dyed mulches and mulches made from alternative materials. Spread the mulch on thick, but avoid piling mulch against the trunks of trees. Mulch piled against trees can lead to disease.

Re-Seed Your Lawn

Fall is a good time to re-seed your lawn. The cool temperatures are perfect for germinating seeds. Do this in mid-fall, when the last of summer weather has dissipated, but before the winter chill is in the air. Keep seeds well-watered for the first several weeks. Cut back your watering routine gradually until the new grass is hardy and healthy.

Fertilize Trees

Fall is a good time to fertilize your trees. Cool (but not freezing) temperatures are good for root development. Fertilizing at the right time will encourage the roots of your trees to grow stronger before the coming winter. When temperatures drop, a well-fertilized tree will be better able to withstand the frost and ice.

Before fertilizing, follow all manufacturer instructions. Trees have varying fertilizer requirements depending on the species, age of the tree, whether it produces fruit, and so on. Purchase the fertilizer to match the needs of your tree. Most fertilizers are made for specific types of plants, so you can find the right kind of tree fertilizer for your lawn.

Plant Bulbs

Planning in advance is a key part of growing a garden. Bulbs start growing in late winter and early spring as the ground thaws. Most bulbs need a period of cold weather before they will blossom. Plant bulbs in the fall to ensure that your bulbs will be ready to grow in spring. Tulips, daffodils and crocuses are common examples of bulb plants that need to spend time in the ground before they will sprout in early spring.

Rake Leaves

Rake your leaves regularly throughout the fall. Leaves left on the ground can lead to the growth of fungus in trees and plants. If left on the grass, leaves will starve the grass of sunlight and weaken the plant, causing disease. Leaves are a good ingredient for compost, so if you don't have a compost pile already, consider starting one now.

Continue to Mow Your Lawn

Grass continues to grow, even in fall. Allowing the grass to grow too long can lead to problems down the road. Continue to mow your lawn as needed, keeping in mind that grass may not grow as quickly in fall when temperatures are cooler. Strive to keep your grass the same length as it was when you were mowing it in summer.

Winterize Your Irrigation System

Water left in the pipes of your irrigation system can freeze in the middle of winter, causing the pipes to burst. Winterizing your irrigation system eliminates the water from the pipes to prevent this from happening.

If you're not able to keep up with lawn maintenance or are uncomfortable with certain DIY tasks, consider hiring a landscaping company to take care of your lawn throughout the winter and into the spring. Your lawn care company can help you keep your property in good condition, by tending the flowers, grass, trees and soil itself.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Selling a House with Kids

Selling Your house with kids
After welcoming your newest bundle of joy, it’s quickly becoming apparent that your house isn’t big enough for everyone. However, before you can upsize to a more comfortable home, you need to sell your house. If this is your first time selling with kids in the house, be forewarned: Staging, cleaning, and moving is harder with children than without. Not only do you have to navigate around nap schedules, but you also have to keep kid clutter under control so buyers don’t walk into a messy house. This guide will walk you through everything you need to do to get your house ready to sell — and keep it that way.

Repair

You don’t want an inexpensive fix like a dripping faucet or dead tree to scare interested buyers away. DIY minor repairs to save money or hire them out to save time. If a repair costs more than $500, check with your agent before spending the cash.

Address cosmetic issues as well. Your child’s brightly painted bedroom might not be a “problem” to you, but buyers won’t view it the same way. Repaint to colors with broad appeal, replace carpeting that’s showing its age, and refinish wood flooring to restore its luster.

Declutter

Decluttering makes your home feel spacious and ensures buyers see your home, not your stuff. Start by getting rid of things you don’t plan to move. If you handle this task early, you can sell your items and put the money toward moving expenses. Clothing, books, and music are the most popular items in the secondhand economy — which, according to Gumtree, is a multi-billion-dollar sub-industry around the world — but you can sell anything in good condition.

Pack items you’re keeping but don’t need over the coming weeks. This includes excess furniture, dishes, linens, tools, recreational equipment, and children’s toys. Don’t exclude baby gear, which can clutter up a house. If you have playpens, bassinets, and jumpers in the living area, choose one or two favorites (ideally ones that fold up for storage) and pack the rest.

Deep Clean

Now that your home is clutter-free, cleaning is easy. First, clean carpets, drapes, and upholstery to eliminate odors, then prevent new messes by restricting drinking and eating to the kitchen and keeping pets off furniture. If that’s not an option, use slipcovers and lightweight rugs to protect furniture and flooring and remove them before showings.

You should also clean inside cabinets and under appliances, wash windows, scrub baseboards and crown molding, and clean all the other neglected areas of your home. If you need help, use this handy checklist so you don’t miss anything important.

Stage

Staging makes your home look larger, brighter, and clearly defines the purpose of each room. Start by reducing the amount of furniture in each room, pulling large items away from walls, and rearranging to facilitate traffic flow. You still need to live in your house while it’s on the market, so use staging tricks to keep everyday items accessible yet out of sight. A lidded storage basket is great for stashing diapers and wipes, while a storage ottoman or wooden chest offers a quick place to hide toys when buyers are on the way.

Maintain

After all your hard work, your home looks perfect. But how will you maintain it over the coming weeks? The most important thing is preventing big messes like juice spills on the carpet or your toddler’s artwork on the falls. Set rules and use baby gates to control where little ones go.

You also need cleaning routines so your house is never more than 15 minutes from show-ready. Do dishes, laundry, and tidying up daily, sweep and vacuum several times per week, and schedule time on weekends for bigger chores.

When your realtor does call about a last-minute showing, you’ll have just a few more tasks before you can leave the house. Stow away playpens and bassinets, turn on lights and open the curtains, check for off-putting odors coming from the trash or fridge, and give surfaces a quick wipe before buyers arrive.

There will be moments during the selling process where you wonder if all the hard work is worth it — and it is! When everything is done and you’re settled into a home that’s right for your family, you’ll be grateful you made the decision to move and stuck it out through closing day.

Image Via Pexels

Do Your Part for Conservation as a Homeowner

light bulb
America has become a nation of waste.

When it comes to water, the amount that just one individual misuses each year would fill three fuel tankers, while the energy they burn off needlessly could run an electric oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 207 days. That adds up on utility bills while also damaging the environment, both of which are less than ideal for obvious reasons.

You can do your part to help by making some adjustments to your household that keep waste to a minimum or by seeking out eco-friendly upgrades when you’re in the market for property. Here are some suggestions.

Turn Off Taps

Personal hygiene takes up 12 percent of water usage in the home, and much of that swirls down the drain if you keep it running while you brush your teeth. Turn off the tap after you’ve wet down your brush, then turn it on again when it’s time to rinse. It’s as simple as that. You could also use a cup if you’re really enthusiastic about saving

Fix Leaky Faucets

A drip can waste between 15 to 20 gallons of water a day, according to Today’s Homeowner, and 90 percent of such leaks are due to faulty washers. These are easy to replace, and according to HomeAdvisor, “Repairing leaking pipes and faucets is one of the most effective ways to conserve water around the house.” Turn off the water supply, take off the valve stem, and replace that troublesome metal donut. Put everything back together, and you’re done.

Install Aerators

Aerators are wire screens on the tip of faucets that cut down on the gallons per minute that flow out while increasing the pressure of the stream to make it easier to get that grease off your dishes. Installing an aerator also mean less splashing so you don’t get your clothes wet while you’re washing up

Seal Up Gaps

When it comes to heating and cooling, the average home loses the same amount of energy through air leaks each year as it would if you left a window open all winter long with your heat running. Some common problems include a lack of insulation in rim joists, warped dampers on fireplaces, and gaps around plumbing stacks. Luckily, these can be fixed with a little know-how and some materials from the hardware store.

Improve Insulation

Though it may cost up to $6,000 for the average home, this effort would pay for itself in lower heating bills within a matter of years, according to Greener Ideal. The attic and basement are the easiest areas to beef up, and there are even environmentally-friendly options to get the job done using cellulose insulation made from recycled newspaper.

Switch to LED Bulbs

First off, LED bulbs consume between 70 and 90 percent less energy than old-fashioned incandescent versions, which adds up to as much as $80 in savings on your electric bill over the course of the bulb’s life span. If that’s not enough reason to make the change, they also last longer, which means you’ll spend less on replacements in the long run.

Install Solar Panels

Not only will you cut down on intake from the grid, you could get a new source of revenue by exporting the excess energy you generate right back into it, says SaveOnEnergy.com. That means your neighbors without solar panels would rely less on the local power plant, so you’ve done everyone a favor. You’ll also save money, which is always a plus.

Landscape Efficiently

You’ll use less water while keeping your garden lush by planting native species rather than thirstier ones, especially if you live in an arid region. Moreover, using mulch traps moisture in the soil where it belongs, while watering in the morning cuts down significantly on the amount of moisture that evaporates throughout the day.
Once this crucial work is done, you can rest assured knowing that you’ve done your part for the environment, and you’ll be saving money. Just don’t forget to spread the word to your neighbors, as we’re all in this together.

Image Via Pexels

What You Can Do Locally to Help Combat Climate Change

climate change
Climate change is real, and it’s happening at an alarming rate. Man has hastened the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases present in our atmosphere through industrial processes and agricultural proliferation. The global temperature is increasing, polar ice is melting, and the sea levels are on the rise. The effects of climate change are far-reaching and have the potential to impact weather, food production, animal habitat, and much more. Here’s what you can do, locally, to help combat it.
Start At Home
You can’t look outward until you look inward. In other words, figure out how to implement some green changes at home first. Your first step is to invest in energy-efficient appliances (dishwasher, washer/dryer, and fridge) and lighting options. Next, practice water conservation. Take fewer baths and more showers. Save cooking water to help water plants. Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater for your lawn. Remember: If you’re not actively using water, turn it off (this includes while brushing your teeth!).
Change the way you commute
One of the things you probably do every day that contributes the most to climate change is driving your car. While telling you to give up your automobile is not realistic, and recommending that you get a hybrid or electric car may be cost-prohibitive, it’s reasonable to suggest you use your car less. Switching up your commute is a viable solution. Walk more. Ride a bike sometimes. Use public transportation as much as you can. Carpool. All of this helps.
Eat local and sustainable
You can do your part at the local market to reduce the effects of big agriculture on climate change. When shopping for your family’s groceries, try to buy local, organic, and sustainable. Yes, it may cost a little more. But your wallet is a great tool in combating climate change. If you can, buy your dairy and produce at local farmers markets. The less distance your food has to travel before it reaches your plate, the better for the environment. You can even try to grow your own food (or at least some of it).
Recycle, yes, but first reduce and reuse
Remember the three Rs: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. There’s a reason they come in that order. Recycling is good, but it takes energy to recycle stuff. Your ultimate goal should be to mostly eliminate non-recyclable trash and severely limit what you put in your recycling bin. Think reduce and reuse first.

“It turns out that transporting and processing materials for recycling is carbon intensive. Recycling still uses less energy than making new products from scratch, but reducing and reusing are even cleaner,” notes Forbes.
Write Your Local Politicians
You can do all the biking, recycling, and water conservation you can manage, and it won’t be enough to tackle the enormity of our global climate change problem. That’s where local officials come into play. All politics is local they say, but what they really mean is that politics begin at the local level and spread from there. So make sure to write your local government officials about your concerns about climate change.

The vast majority of scientists agree that we are at a tipping point when it comes to climate, and the actions of you, your neighbors, and everyday citizens all around the globe will determine which way we tip.

Photo by Kaur Martin on Unsplash

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