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Make The Most of Spring at Home With These Backyard Improvements

By Guest Blogger Kevin Jefferson
Winter is still here, but now is the right time to start thinking about the ways you could ramp up your yard for spring.
Spring is the right time for action. When the new replaces the old throughout nature, why not do the same with your back yard? Even the smallest of changes and improvements can help improve the functionality and aesthetic of your backyard, transforming it into the ultimate getaway for some peace or the best place to host your family and friends. So, get geared up for the spring with these tips that will help you make vital backyard improvements.
Refresh your plants
Adding a few plants to your yard is a great way to revitalize the space — and it doesn’t have to cost too much.
When choosing new flowers, it’s vital to pick a theme, so the garden doesn’t look visually chaotic and disconnected. Do some research and select plants based on your region, or choose a theme based on color, such as all-white flowering plants.
From a visual perspective, remember that less is more. Keep your planting simple so that it will make a far better visual impression.
Prices for plants vary considerably; for an affordable option, purchase plants in seed form, cuttings, bulbs, tubes, or small container sizes. Next, put them in some colorful planters that match your overall aesthetics, and get ready for a vibrant spring in your backyard.
Add some color
One easy and effective way to change your backyard’s look is by adding a splash of color to the ground.
You can do it with minimal investment and hassle, simply by adding some colorful mulch or decorative glass chippings. No matter which choice you make, one thing is the same - this type of decoration requires no additional care.
Choose a cool color and texture, then dump it, spread it, and forget it. Perfect!
Prepare your outdoor furniture for spring
Take your outdoor chairs and tables out of storage early for a thorough wash. Then give them any necessary touch-ups, or perhaps even a complete makeover.
Once the spring comes, and you get everything set up, it will be much harder to make yourself do all the maintenance work, so the best approach would be to do it before spring even comes.
If you do not have any outdoor furniture, consider a DIY project where you would turn any tree stumps you have in your shed into stools and even build a picnic table. It is easy to do, trendy, and eco-friendly. What more could you ask for?
Build a treehouse
Speaking of fun DIY projects, if you have kids in the family, this could be the right idea for you.
A treehouse can add a particular aesthetic to your backyard and give it a unique feature that many do not have, while they will have a fun area to play and spend time together.
If you are not that handy, you can always hire a professional to build a treehouse for you, but it is not that hard. Check online to find different creative ideas on improving the look of your backyard with a treehouse.
Consider an outdoor living room
An excellent idea for a backyard makeover is creating an open living room.
This idea provides you with the comfort of the inside of your own house combined with being out in the open, with the sun and fresh air directly there for you to enjoy.
To make this concept into reality, you are going to need a covered patio. Then, some furniture, a table, maybe even a rug. If you can afford it, adding a fireplace or a firepit can be an excellent addition as well.
Use natural stone as the flooring for your patio. Add some durable wicker chairs there, a lovely table, and you have the perfect escape from home close to your home.
Outdoor pizza oven
There is nothing wrong with a classical approach and having a barbecue grill in your backyard. But, if you want to go the extra mile and have something unique, why not get a pizza oven?
Once again, you can make it yourself if you are extra skilled or buy one that is pre-made, but that is not the most crucial part.
What matters is that you and your family - and, hopefully, friends - will have another point of gathering in your yard and fun activity that you can all partake in.
Give French Doors a try
An exciting way you can extend your living area is by using French doors. Use them to extend your home (or your patio living area) by essentially opening an exterior wall between your dining room or kitchen and your patio.
To get the most out of this option, change up the dining room to match the patio (or vice versa). Things like matching floor tiles, furniture, and decorations can enhance the look and make it all seem like one big room.
Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.

Things To Do Before Winter – Your Fall Garden Cleanup

Winter is coming. This means that the time is right for cleaning up your garden. Sure, it is not the most entertaining thing to do, but look at it this way - the better job you do during the fall, the less stuff there will be for you to tend to when spring comes. Whether you live in a spacious log cabin or a plain old house, a well-kept garden can be the crowning jewel of your property.
A well-maintained garden is a sight to behold. Any effort you put into maintaining it now will return to you tenfold once the spring comes. So, roll up your sleeves, roll your eyes if you really have to, and let’s get this started! Here are the things you should do before winter comes.
Get Rid of the Leaves
Here’s the thing - the leaves start falling, and they don’t stop falling, and that’s OK. When raking the leaves, don’t be a perfectionist. Not only will you most definitely fail, but some leaves are necessary to keep nature in balance. Some leaves are needed to serve as sources of protection for insects such as ladybugs and butterflies, which work as pollinators, and your garden needs those.
On the other hand, thick layers of leaves block sunlight and stop air from reaching the grass in your garden. A stuffy environment like that is also great for spreading disease.
Speaking of disease, make sure to eliminate any leaves that show a sign of illness such as Maple black spot disease. Otherwise, you are at risk of those infected spores becoming rejuvenated in the spring and infecting the healthy plants.
Remove Thatch
Even if the word is new to you, you’ve inevitably seen thatch before. It’s that old, yellowed, dead grass that is hiding beneath the living, green grass.
You should remove any thatch buildup, as it prevents water and nutrients from reaching the grassroots. The sooner you rake this pest out, the more time your healthy grass is going to have to recover and recuperate from its harmful impact.
Fertilize your Lawn
Autumn is also the perfect time of the year to fertilize your lawn slightly. Doing so promotes root growth and prepares it for the next growing season. Don’t wait until spring, because the fertilizer will be less effective then.
You should fertilize the lawn in the fall since that is when your grass needs help recovering from the hot days of summer and can make the most of the fertilizer’s nutrients.
This is also the ideal time to eliminate all the weeds, instead of waiting for the spring when weeds are going to appear in full swing.
Perennial broadleaf weeds are the ones that should be removed. They are unfair competition for the plants you want in your garden as they are after the same stuff. The weeds are transporting food (carbohydrates) from their foliage to their roots in preparation for winter.
Find a natural, organic way to get rid of those pests and eliminate them.
The Time to Overseed is Now
If you want a thicker lawn when the spring comes, now is the time for action. Overseed your yard so that it’s thicker and lusher next season.
First, gut the grass shorter than you usually do. Next, remove the grass clippings and gently spread the seeds across the entire lawn. Use a fertilizer spreader and follow the instructions for overseeding that you’ll find on the grass seed bag.
Remember to keep watering the lawn until the new grass is at least three inches tall.
Clean up your Vegetable Beds
When cleaning out the vegetable beds, it’s especially important to pull out any pest-infested vegetable plants or plants that were plagued by any fungal disease, like powdery mildew or blight.
If you have vegetables or flowers that have been infected by such a disease, remove them and either burn them or bury them somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine, as they’ll need at least a whole year without any sunlight to be completely dead.
When dealing with dead flowers, the most accessible approach would be to wait until the first hard, killing frost comes. That is when it will be the easiest to remove the diseased plant material since it is limp and does not crumble.
Clean your Gutters
Before the rainwater starts freezing and the ice dams start forming, it would be wise to clean your gutters to prevent any water buildup. Remove all the fallen leaves and any other debris you might find there.
While tending to the house, remove leaves around your house’s foundation, too, and in other places that invite rotting and mold. This will be much easier if you have a leaf blower with a specialized attachment, but as long as you’re careful, you will be fine.
Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.
By Guest Blogger Kevin Jefferson

4 Essentials Needed to Grow a Strong & Healthy Garden

Growing a garden can be such a healthy and fun hobby for your family. Aside from all of the nutritious produce you can grow, spending time outside can actually help relieve stress and keep you active. Of course, keeping that garden healthy can also provide a source of pride and satisfaction. So before you get started, make sure you have these gardening essentials:
Healthy Ground
A well-chosen plot is the foundation of any healthy garden.
Smart Watering
Plants need the right amount of water, at the right times of day, in order to start and stay healthy.
  • Watering your garden in the morning is usually the best bet for healthy plants.
  • Watering in the evening can sometimes be best.
  • Avoiding overwatering is also crucial if you want to preserve the quality of your produce.
  • Investing in an irrigation system with flow-control valves can make watering easier
Gardening Tools
An irrigation system can make watering your garden effortless, but the right tools and equipment can make caring for that garden easier.
Seeds & Plants
Selecting the right plants for your region, garden size and level of commitment is one of the best ways to ensure that your new garden is a success.
Keeping a garden healthy may seem complicated but it really doesn't have to be. Just grab this guide, pick up a few essentials and get to work on your new garden!
By Guest Blogger Carrie Spencer

How to Get Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn Permanently

How to Get Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn Permanently
By Guest Blogger Kevin Jefferson
An eye-catching lawn is a work of art and one that takes quite a lot of work to achieve. Those who spend hours seeding, watering, and lawnmowing undoubtedly deserve a lush, spotless lawn. Unfortunately, pesky weeds usually have different plans.
As if the usual pests aren’t enough, weeds are always there to create more problems. Not only do they ruin the look of a well-manicured lawn, but they also suffocate grass. How to get rid of these interlopers once and for all?
If you’re looking for an answer to this question, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at methods that will help you permanently eliminate weeds from your yard.
Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
If you want to remove weeds without any side effects, you will have to control them physically. The following methods may be labor-intensive, but they will help you maintain an environmentally-sound lawn.
Pull Them Out
Obviously, this is the most rudimentary method of weed control. While effective, its practicality depends on the size of your lawn.
The only thing you need to keep in mind here is that weeds should be pulled out in their entirety. Parts of weeds left in the soil will cause them to regrow. This eco-friendly method of weed removal becomes a lot easier when you use the right gardening tools.
Use Hot Water
Just like the previous method, using hot water to kill weeds is simple and effective. It works on most types of weed and causes them to die off in a day or two.
However, one needs to be extra careful when pouring boiling water. Not only can you hurt yourself in the process, but also damage the surrounding plants.
Organic Ground Cover
Organic ground covers, such as carpets, cardboards, and old newspapers can stop the sun from reaching the weeds. Just like all other plants, pesky weeds need sunlight to survive - take it away from them.
Cardboards and newspapers are especially useful, as they’re made from organic matters. In other words, they will decompose after a while and improve soil quality in the process.
Burn the Weeds
Yet another straightforward way to eradicate weeds is using fire. However, this method should be employed only at the edges of the lawn, i.e. to kill weeds that grow where the lawn meets the sidewalk or driveway.
Remember that you don’t have to burn weeds in their entirety. Running hot flames over them will cause them to lose internal moisture and die in just a couple of days.
Animal Helpers
Depending on where you live, you may be able to put a stop to weeds by unleashing livestock. The laws of most cities prevent residents from keeping livestock.
However, if you live outside the city, animals like goats can be of great help in eradicating weeds. Just make sure to protect the plants you want to keep.
Using Chemicals to Kill Weeds
Homeowners who are too busy to deal with weeds manually often turn to chemicals. While they’re very effective in eradicating weeds, herbicides can damage other plants; not to mention they’re harmful to humans too.
Homemade Solutions
If you want to use chemicals to get rid of weeds in your lawn, first consider using homemade solutions.
Vinegar is one of the most commonly used options. When sprayed near the roots, vinegar gets inside the weed and kills it, while also preventing it from growing again. On the other hand, spraying weed flowers with vinegar stops the production of seeds.
Another household item homeowners use to control weeds is baking soda. While it kills these interlopers slowly, it is quite effective and successfully prevents regrowth. Other commonly used homemade solutions include salt, bleach, and alcohol.
When the annoying weeds can’t be controlled by any of the means mentioned above, resort to herbicides. Unlike the previous methods, using herbicides isn’t a budget-friendly method of maintaining a healthy lawn, but it’s very effective.
Keep in mind that there are two different types of weed herbicides - pre-emergence and post-emergence ones.
As their name suggests, the purpose of pre-emergence herbicides is to stop the weed seeds from germinating. These preventive herbicides should be used for weeds that are hard to eradicate once they take hold in the ground. Crabgrass is a good example.
Post-emergence herbicides, on the other hand, are used on already grown weeds. Obviously, you should never use these on the entire lawn - spray only the weeds you want to get rid of.
Whichever herbicide you decide to go with, make sure to read the label before buying. Some herbicides work only during a specific time of the year, and some only within a certain temperature range.
Removing lawn weeds is a tricky business. Fortunately, there are many effective methods to choose from - one of the strategies we mentioned above is bound to work for you.
Note from the Author: Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.

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