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7 Tips for Landscaping in the Fall
It’s the time of year to begin planning for landscaping in the fall. If you’re not certain which lawn maintenance tasks you should be taking care of, here is a list to guide you.
Rake the Leaves
Before winter arrives, rake leaves and remove fallen branches from your landscaping and yard. Remove debris from sidewalks, driveways, patios, window sills, etc. You may need to use multiple tools to remove leaves, for instance, a rake for the lawn and a leaf blower for the driveway and sidewalks.
Collect the leaves you’ve raked into bags. Depending on your city, they might be picked up by your trash service, or some local parks and community services may offer leaf collection.
Inspect the Trees When Landscaping in Fall
Inspect trees to look for damage from storms or insects. A quick examination can help you identify weak, damaged, or dead limbs. These should be removed before cold, icy weather arrives to minimize the risk of these branches falling and causing damage during a winter storm.
Aerate the Lawn
Annual or bi-annual aeration is recommended to keep the grass healthy, especially for turf that receives heavy traffic. Aerating in the late summer to early fall reduces compaction in the soil, allowing air and water to penetrate deeper into your yard.
Adapt Your Mowing
When to mow your lawn in autumn depends upon the grass type you have. Many cool-season kinds of grass do not need to be cut during the autumn months at all, while warm-season grasses should remain only slightly higher than 1 to 2 inches. You may be mowing less frequently, but you will probably still need to continue to mow.
Include Seasonal Plants and Flowers in Your Fall Landscaping
Colorful mums and pansies are commonly available at garden centers in the fall. By adding seasonal plants and flowers to your outside landscaping or decor, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden a bit longer into the season.
Plant New Grass
Planting grass in fall is a great way to revitalize your yard and landscape. If you have bare spots in your yard, now is the ideal time to prepare the soil and plant new grass. Water new seeds thoroughly and keep the lawn watered throughout the autumn months. Planting in the fall gives grass seed time to establish strong roots before winter.
Landscaping in the Fall: Add Mulch
Spread a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch in your garden beds. Organic mulch improves the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water, so it’s attractive and beneficial for landscaping.
This seasonal transition includes raking leaves, inspecting trees, aerating the lawn, and adapting your mowing patterns. These are important maintenance tasks that should be completed before winter arrives.
7 Easy DIY Kitchen Upgrades Anyone Can Do
Are you looking for a way to change up your kitchen? Many simple DIY kitchen upgrades are cost-efficient and only require a day or two to complete. These DIY projects are simple but will make a big impact on the look of your kitchen.
Simple DIY Kitchen Upgrades
Paint the Walls
Painting is a fast and easy way to clean up the walls and brighten up the kitchen. Sometimes you can even paint over outdated wallpaper by using a primer first, though it’s best to remove the paper and patch up the walls before painting.
Painting is one of the most transformative DIY kitchen upgrades you can complete. You can use paint or stain to refresh your cabinets or old hutch. Sanding the cabinets down to get them ready takes more time than painting.
Install New Cabinet Hardware
Changing out old cabinet hardware will make a kitchen look completely different. Replacing hardware is an affordable and simple update that you can usually complete in an hour. The time and effort required to do this project depend on how many handles or knobs you need to replace.
Add a Backsplash
One way to give your kitchen some personality is by adding a backsplash. Backsplashes come in a variety of colors and materials to add texture and interest to your kitchen.
Peel and stick tiles are easy to install and affordable. Traditional ceramic and stone backsplashes take more time and skill to install with grout, but you can generally still finish the project over a weekend.
DIY Kitchen Upgrades for New Flooring
One area people often overlook when considering DIY kitchen upgrades is the floor. When renovating, we tend to pay more attention to the walls, cabinets, and counters.
Changing the floor can complement the cabinets or wall color you already have. Installing new vinyl or laminate flooring is easy with the correct guidance. Doing this project yourself will save you the labor cost of having the floor professionally installed.
Replace Light Fixtures
One simple DIY kitchen upgrade that changes the look of your kitchen is updating the light fixtures. Track lighting over counters and sinks provides focused light for workspaces while decorative pendant lights over an island add color and character.
DIY Kitchen Upgrades for Cabinet Lighting
Adding extra lights underneath the cabinets brightens up the counter space. It is a simple and cost-efficient alternative to replacing dark countertops.
Update the Sink Faucet
Replace your current faucet with a more functional and water-efficient model. Pull-down styles are handy for easily rinsing off dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. You can even find motion-detecting kitchen faucets for extra convenience.
Making changes to your kitchen is one of the best ways to update your home. Simple upgrades for your kitchen can save you money and time.
4 Steps to Babyproofing Your Home
If you’re expecting a new baby, you have a long list of things to do to prepare. Before you bring an infant home from the hospital, get your house ready. Here are a few easy tips for babyproofing your home.
Use Outlet Covers When Babyproofing Your Home
Babies are curious by nature. Once they are able to roll over and crawl, it’s important to purchase and install outlet covers. Many power outlets are located low on the wall and are easy for small children to reach. Choose a product that plugs into the outlets to prevent babies from sticking their fingers or toys into the outlet.
Prevent Furniture From Tipping
When a baby is learning to stand, he or she will use furniture to pull up. Before this developmental stage, secure your furniture to the wall. Kits are available that include bolts and straps to anchor the furniture and prevent it from tipping. Install straps on the changing table, bookcases, dressers, and other furniture that could be pulled over.
Install Babyproofing Gates in Your Home
Baby gates are great for keeping small children out of dangerous areas. You might install one to block off the bathroom or laundry room. Add a gate at both the top and bottom of any staircase to keep your baby off the steps. You’ll find gates that screw into the wall and others that are portable and easy to move around the house. If you have a deck attached to your home, make sure there is a sturdy gate to keep the baby out of that area.
The cords on window blinds and electrical cords can be dangerous for small children. Secure blind cords high up on the wall, as they can be a strangulation hazard. Extension cords should not be used when the baby is crawling or beginning to walk. Keep appliance cords tied up and out of reach. Inspect the nursery to make sure there are no cords near the crib.
Babyproofing Your Home for a Toddler
Small babies aren’t very mobile, but will still manage to explore. As your child gets older, you will need to reassess your babyproofing needs. Toddlers are just as curious and you’ll want to add even more protection. Oven knob covers keep children from turning on the stove. You’ll also want to move household chemicals and cleaning supplies to a higher cabinet. Install cabinet locks to keep toddlers out of these areas.
The bathroom is interesting to young children. Add a toilet seat lock and make sure cosmetics and medications are out of reach. You might choose to keep the bathroom off-limits entirely by using a baby gate in the doorway.
You will find products for babyproofing your home online and at home improvement stores. There are various options and you may have to try several types before finding a style that works for your family. By babyproofing before you come home from the hospital, you’ll feel better prepared for the challenges of parenting.
8 Tips to Save Water in the Home: Easy Ways to Reduce Your Water Bill
Do you want to save money on your water bill? Using less water at home is a simple way to lower your monthly expenses. Just some simple changes will help reduce how much water your household consumes each day. Here are eight tips to help you save water at home.
Fix Leaky Pipes or Faucets Promptly to Save Water at Home
Leaking pipes may be the reason you have a high water bill in your home. Constantly running water, even just a slow drip, adds up over time. This leads to higher monthly bills and an unhealthy environment because leaks may cause mold growth.
Leaks are often due to corrosion and can be fixed by replacing parts or adjusting the plumbing pipes. Have a professional check for any other places where water is being wasted, like dripping faucets or a running toilet. A certified home inspector can do this for you.
Reserve Running Water for Essential Needs Only
Limit how much tap water is used when performing essential tasks like washing dishes, and brushing teeth. Use a dishwasher instead of washing the dishes by hand. When brushing teeth, don’t leave the water running the whole time. This will help save water at home and reduce utility bills.
Don’t Water Your Lawn or Garden as Much
If you’re watering your lawn or garden, only water where it’s needed. Purchase an adjustable nozzle for your hose to reduce how much water you are using. Plant drought-tolerant plants in your garden to save water at home. In addition, use rain barrels to collect excess rainwater for watering plants and lawns.
Save Water at Home by Taking Shorter Showers
This may seem like a no-brainer for many people, but taking shorter showers is a great way to save money on utility bills.
Use Your Dishwasher Wisely
Dishwashers effectively clean dishes and use less water than washing dishes by hand. Only run your dishwasher when it is full to save water and extend its lifespan.
Install Low-Flow Showerheads to Save Water at Home
A low-flow showerhead saves up to 20 gallons per minute. Low-flow showerheads send air through the stream to maintain strong water pressure while using less water.
It’s easy to take water for granted, but when your house has a leaky pipe or you are using more water than usual, you’ll notice a spike in your water bill. The above tips will help you to save water at home and reduce your water bill.
Electrical Safety in the Home
Electrical Safety Tips for Your Home
Electricity makes tasks easier, but that doesn’t mean it is without risks. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 31,000 fires a year are related to electrical problems. To help minimize the danger, practice electrical safety in the home.
Don’t Overload Outlets
Each outlet is designed to handle a certain amount of electricity. By plugging too many devices in, you could damage electrical components or cause a fire. Make sure you’re not overloading the electrical outlets. Inspect outlets to see if they are hot to the touch. If you notice one that feels hot, don’t use it and call a professional electrician.
Replace Damaged Electrical Cords
Exposed wiring is a danger that you should not overlook. Replace or repair an electrical cord if it shows signs of damage or failure. If you notice the protective coating on the wiring is stripped away, replace the cord or purchase a new appliance.
Keep Electrical Appliances Away From Water
Water conducts electricity so it’s important that you keep your appliances away from sinks, the bathtub, and even your pet’s water bowl. Always operate devices with dry hands and away from any water source.
Unplug Devices When Not in Use
Unplugging appliances when not in use will save energy and money and boost electrical safety. Many devices continue to draw energy if left plugged in, even when not in use. Unplugging your appliances also protects them from overheating and power surges.
Electrical Safety and Extension Cords
Using extension cords can lead to accidents and injuries. Keep them out of walkways and out of reach of children. Don’t run extension cords under rugs; they can overheat and malfunction or cause a fire. Extension cords are not meant to be a permanent solution for power. If you find yourself frequently using one, hire an electrician to install additional outlets.
Electrical safety is essential to protect your family and home. Teach children about electrical hazards and how to safely use outlets. If you notice hazards, schedule an appointment with a professional to troubleshoot and repair the problem.
5 Ways to Prepare for a Home Inspection
Selling your home has many steps. If you’ve gotten to the point that you’ve accepted an offer and the buyer has scheduled a home inspection, you are in the home stretch. However, the home inspection can be a turning point if it doesn’t go well. It’s important to do everything you can to help the home inspection go easily and smoothly for the inspector and buyer. You won’t be present at the inspection, so check these items off your list in advance to prepare for a home inspection.
Provide Access to All Areas to Prepare for a Home Inspection
A home inspector will need to inspect all areas of your home, including crawlspaces, utility rooms, attics, outbuildings, garages, and basements. You won’t be there to unlock a door or move something heavy out of the way, so if an area is inaccessible, it won’t get inspected. This is a problem because the buyer will receive an incomplete inspection report and wonder if you may be hiding something about the inaccessible area. The buyer will likely have to schedule another time for the inspector to come out, slowing everything down. You want to progress towards the closing as quickly as possible, so make sure that all areas are accessible for the inspection.
It’s important that your pets aren’t running around the house during the inspection. Someone could accidentally let them out the door and they could run away. They also might get into an area they aren’t allowed in, like the basement. Take your pets out of the house during the inspection or put them in a secure crate.
Replace Light Bulbs to Prepare for a Home Inspection
It’s not customary for an inspector to carry around extra light bulbs to troubleshoot why a light won’t turn on. If there is an out light, it will be marked in the report and there won’t be a differentiation between a blown light bulb and a broken fixture or wiring problem. Avoid this situation by replacing any dead light bulbs before the inspection.
Clean Up Clutter
If there are any cluttered areas that will prevent the inspector from being able to inspect things like the water heater or under-cabinet piping, clean this up. The inspection report will be more thorough and the pictures will be easier to understand if there is not a lot of junk in the way. You don’t want your buyer to get frustrated by not being able to see past piles of clutter in the photos of the inspection report.
Any improvements that you have made to your home should be backed up with documentation. If you had a new roof put on 2 years ago or replaced the HVAC system recently, provide that information for the inspector. Proof that you invested in your home will help it look more favorable to your buyer.
Ways to Keep Seniors Safe at Home
Tips to Keep Seniors Safe Around the Home
If you have aging parents or elderly loved ones, you may be concerned about them living alone. A senior’s home should be comfortable and safe to help them maintain their independence. Falls are the most common accidents and cause of injuries in the older population. To help keep seniors safe in the home, reduce the risk of falls.
Safety in the Bathrooms
The bathroom can be especially hazardous for older family members. Install grab bars near the shower and toilet and make a plan to deal with slippery floors.
If you have the budget, install a walk-in tub that is easier for seniors to use. These tubs have a door on the side so you don’t have to step over the bathtub wall. Place a rubber mat on the shower floor to prevent slips and falls. Depending on the individual, a shower chair can make bathing easier and safer.
For an elderly family member, the bed itself should have a firm mattress for more support. Some seniors even use a hospital-style bed that can be adjusted up or down to help them get in and out of the bed. There are also grab bars designed to be installed bedside. You can find styles that reach from the floor to the ceiling and others that attach directly to the bed.
Dressers, closets, and nightstands should be easy for seniors to access. Many seniors have trouble gripping knobs or turning doorknobs. Install handles on doors instead of round knobs. Another option is to replace drawers with shelving that keeps everything within easy reach.
Keep Seniors Safe in the Kitchen
The kitchen is another area that will need attention in order to keep seniors safe. Use lower shelves and under-counter storage to keep things within reach. Make sure older family members don’t have to use a stool to access items in the kitchen.
Install rubber grips on faucet handles. These are usually red and blue to distinguish between hot and cold water. Choose appliances that automatically power themselves off to reduce the risk of fire hazards.
Also, consider placing a rubber mat on the floor under the sink. This will prevent slippery conditions in case water from the sink splashes onto the floor. Just make sure that the mat isn’t so thick that it becomes a tripping hazard.
Keep emergency information written down and next to the telephone. The list of phone numbers should include close family and friends, doctors, and the number to local emergency services.
Make sure your elderly family member has a landline in their home. An older person may forget to charge their cell phone or could misplace it altogether. A landline ensures access to friends and family and emergency assistance, if necessary.
Keep an up-to-date list of medications and a medical history available in case an accident happens. Medical professionals will need to understand current medications in order to safely treat your family member. You can also order personalized pendants and bracelets that include this information.
Common Sense to Keep Seniors Safe At Home
Because houses are different and people have different needs, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to keeping the home safe. Factors like the age of the home and how it has been maintained will impact safety around the property. Grab bars, good lighting, and access to help in case of an emergency are important in any home with elderly family members.
5 Ways to Prepare Your House to Sell in the Spring
Prepare Your House to Sell in the Spring
Spring is a common time of year to list your home for sale. Many buyers wait until spring to begin touring homes because the weather is more pleasant and they would rather move without worrying about the possibility of ice and snow. In spring, plants and flowers start to grow and make your property look more appealing online and in-person. Here are 4 things to do to prepare your house to sell in the spring.
Order a Pre-Listing Inspection
If you’re planning to list your home for sale in spring, schedule a pre-listing home inspection a couple of months prior. A professional inspector will inspect your home with the same thoroughness as a home inspection for a buyer.
Order this service in advance so you have time to address any issues that might be a problem during the buyer’s inspection. Especially if you are counting on the income from your home sale to fund a new home purchase, it is important for your sale to close without a hitch.
Landscaping to Prepare Your House to Sell
Towards the end of winter, focus on landscaping to get your yard looking great for when you list your home. This is a perfect time to prune trees and shrubs so that when they start to grow leaves, they won’t touch your siding or hang over your roof. Pruning is best done between early fall and spring before any new growth is on the trees.
As soon as the ground warms up, plant some grass seed to fill in bare areas. Weed existing flower beds and give them a fresh cover of mulch so as soon as spring hits, you’ll be ready to plant flowers.
Deep Clean the Home
You may be still living in the home when you put it on the market, so you’ll need to deep clean it and keep it tidy. First, perform a deep clean of the whole house. This includes professional carpet cleaning, laundering drapes and curtains, and cleaning behind appliances. Take time each morning to dust, clean the floors, and spray down bathroom fixtures. You need to leave a good impression on each potential buyer.
Take Down Personal Decorations
Family portraits and personal decorations make it difficult for a homebuyer to picture their own family living in the house. You may have specific decor that reflects a personal hobby or favorite animal or style that won’t resonate with someone touring your home. Take down personalized items and stick with neutral landscape or abstract artwork.
Some repairs are simple to complete yourself. Minor cosmetic issues like missing outlet covers, peeling paint, and broken light fixtures are easy to fix and well worth doing. If you schedule a pre-listing inspection, you’ll be able to reference the report and make a list of things to fix.
Consider fixing major issues also, even if you have to hire a contractor. It may seem like a big investment to replace a failing roof, but it may be nearly impossible to sell your home with missing shingles and water leaking in the attic.
When to Hire a Pro for Home Improvement Projects
Home Improvement Projects that are Best Left to a Pro
When it comes to upgrades and renovations, homeowners often tackle DIY projects to save money. There are many things around the house you can do yourself, but there are a few things that are better left to the experts. For the best results, assess your skill level and know when to hire a pro for your home improvement projects.
By hiring a professional to improve your home, you can raise your home’s value and enhance its appeal. Renovations are a significant commitment of time and money, so it can be easier and faster to hire someone to do the job.
Leave Electrical Wiring to the Pros
Any projects dealing with electricity, such as rewiring or troubleshooting electrical issues, can be dangerous without the proper training and equipment. Never attempt to rewire your home or install things that need to be hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Call a licensed electrician who has the training and equipment to perform these jobs safely. A certified electrician’s work will be in compliance with the current building codes for your area.
Call a Plumber
Plumbing is another job that’s best left to the professionals. Well-meaning homeowners can damage pipes or fixtures when trying to fix a plumbing issue on their own. Call a plumber if you have a slow draining sink, leaky faucets, or if you are having issues with your garbage disposal. A professional plumber has the right tools to make quick work of a job that would take the average homeowner all day.
Hire a Pro for Tree Removal
Tree and branch removal is a dangerous job. If you have a tree that needs to be pruned or removed from your property, hire a professional to do the work. They have the proper equipment to get the job done safely and you won’t risk damaging your home by trimming tree limbs.
To Build On, Hire a Pro for Home Improvement
If your family needs more space but relocation is out of the question, building an addition to your home is a great solution. Constructing an extra bedroom, additional bathrooms, or expanding your garage or attic takes careful planning and consideration of your home’s structural foundation. Unless you are a licensed contractor, it’s best not to tackle this job on your own. A professional will also know building codes and have insurance coverage to guarantee a job well done.
Hire a Professional to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors
While it’s possible to refinish hardwoods yourself, unless you have years of experience refinishing floors, hire a professional to do this job for you. As with any home renovation, there are many factors to keep in mind. Sanding will remove the finish and cover your home in dust. If you aren’t skilled using a sander, you can damage the floors and end up spending a substantial amount of money in repairs.
Home Maintenance Services to Schedule for Your Property
When you own a home, you’re responsible for keeping the property in good shape. You may complete some upgrades and improvements yourself, however, many homeowners prefer to hire professionals for tasks around the house. Here are a few home maintenance services you should schedule for your property.
Chimney Cleaning is One of the Home Maintenance Services Best Performed by a Professional
When a fire burns in a fireplace, soot, smoke, and water vapor travel up the chimney. These by-products sometimes condense on the cooler walls of the upper chimney and form creosote, a flammable substance. Over time, creosote accumulates and can lead to a chimney fire. Pine needles, leaves, and even animal nests also become lodged in the chimney and pose a fire hazard.
Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean the flue at least once every year. Fall is the perfect time to have this service performed to prepare your fireplace for use during cooler weather.
HVAC Duct Cleaning
Your HVAC system circulates heated and cooled air throughout your home. It can also circulate indoor air pollutants like dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander. Especially if you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, have your air ducts cleaned every few years.
A professional will remove vent covers and clear materials from the ducts with specialized equipment. This service will help improve indoor air quality and your service provider may also find damaged areas of the air ducts that need to be repaired or replaced.
Inspect Propane-Powered Appliances
Propane is one of the most common types of fuels used in the home. Your household may have a propane-powered water heater, clothes dryer, and/or a gas log fireplace. If your household uses appliances that are powered by propane, it is recommended that you have the propane tank, hoses, and connections inspected at least yearly.
Home Maintenance Services: Tree Care
Trees that overhang your roof or your driveway pose a risk to the property and residents. Pruning overgrown trees and removing those that are dying or dead will help to protect your home and cars from damage.
However, pruning can be a difficult and dangerous job. Hire a professional to take care of tree maintenance. An arborist has the training, safety equipment, and necessary tools to safely remove overgrown branches, or remove a tree entirely if needed.