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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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Declutter Your Home
Spring is a great time to declutter your home. Decluttering can feel overwhelming, but here are a few things to do before, during, and after the process. Before you start your annual spring cleaning, use these tips to declutter the house first. Prepare to Declutter Your read more
6 Small Signs of Major Home Problems
Most people believe that major problems in the home are obvious, but this isn’t always the case. Something that seems minor often leads to major issues. Homeowners should watch out for small signs of major home problems. The following are some signs that should get your attention and be investigated.
A Door That Won’t Close
When a door has trouble closing, it may be one of the small signs of major home problems. It could be the result of a termite infestation or a problem with the foundation. Whether the cause is termites or structural shifting, either is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Bubbling paint on the surface of a wall or ceiling is a possible indication of an underlying mold infestation. If the mold continues to grow, it could damage the wall to the point that it has to be replaced. More importantly, mold is bad for your health.
A Burning Odor From an Electrical Outlet
A strange smell coming from an electrical outlet may mean serious problems with your wiring. Any unexplained burning odors should prompt a call to your electrician.
Flickering Lights are Signs of Major Home Problems
Flickering lights throughout the home may signify a problem with your home’s electrical system. If you have an older home that hasn’t had a wiring update in recent years, your household’s electricity use may be too much for the electrical load capacity.
Water Stains on the Ceiling
Water stains that appear out of nowhere on your ceiling mean you’ve got a leaky roof. Homeowners sometimes choose to ignore these stains if they’re small, but this situation will only get worse over time. Minor roof leaks usually become major during heavy storms.
Cracks in Windows are Signs of Major Home Problems
If you suddenly have a cracked window, it could mean that your home has experienced structural shifting. These types of window cracks usually appear as a relatively straight line that goes from one side of the window to the other.
These are just a few of the small signs of major home problems. Detecting small changes in time for a proactive approach often saves homeowners significant amounts of money and hassle. Don’t hesitate to call a professional over a seemingly minor problem.
Rewarding House Cleaning Projects for Spring
The sun is out and the flowers are beginning to bloom, which means it’s time for some spring cleaning. Enjoy the warmer weather while spending some time improving your home. Here are a few rewarding house cleaning projects for spring.
Remove Debris from the Roof and Gutters
Depending on where you live, your roof may be put to the test during the winter months. Snow and fallen branches can damage your roofing. Springtime brings more rain and you’ll want to have clean gutters to handle the showers. Take the time to scoop leaves and debris out of your gutters. Inspect the roof and remove pine needles, twigs, and tree branches. Replace any broken or damaged shingles.
Windows Should be One of Your Cleaning Projects for Spring
Windows get dirty during the year. Clean them inside and out with spray cleaner. Cleaning the exterior is easy with a window cleaning attachment connected to your garden hose. You’ll be able to easily reach top floor windows and cleaning the lower windows will be a breeze.
Service and Clean the Air Conditioner
It’s important to prepare your air conditioner for warmer weather. Make sure it’s in good working order. Call your HVAC professional to service your system. You can change the filter, check the hose connections for any leaks, and check the drain pans. Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of the system.
After a long winter, your lawn may have downed branches, decaying leaves, weeds beginning to grow, and fallen pine needles. Take a weekend to clean up the yard. Now is a great time to test your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets. Service the lawnmower, buy some gas for it, and make sure it is working properly.
Cleaning Projects for Spring: Get the Grill Ready
Prepare the grill for warm weather cookouts. Check your grill’s burner jets for clogs. Scrub the grates with a sturdy grill brush. Make sure the hoses and connections are working properly. If you have a propane grill, purchase propane so you’re ready for the first barbecue of the season. If you have a charcoal grill, clean out any residue and ash.
As you work to get your home in great shape, enjoy the time outdoors with your family. Spring cleaning helps you prepare your home for entertaining family and friends in the warmer months ahead.
10 Easy Ways to Be a Better Homeowner
Your house may be your biggest financial investment. Take steps to maintain and even increase its value. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to be a better homeowner.
Be a Better Homeowner by Being Mindful of Water Use
Using too much water isn’t simply wasteful. It will also affect your bank account. Here are some ways to save water at home.
- Install a low-flow showerhead.
- Switch to soaker hoses outside and eliminate your lawn sprinkler system.
- Add a rainwater collection tank and store runoff to use in the garden.
- Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can make a big difference.
Research Which Improvements Make the Most Sense
Be a better homeowner by doing a little research before taking on any major remodeling projects. Some renovations bring a better return on investment than others. For instance, you’ll typically recover the price of a new garage door more easily than the cost of installing a new hot tub.
Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Save on utility costs and lower your home’s carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency around the home. Caulk drafty doors and windows and add insulation in the attic and garage.
Be a Better Homeowner by Checking the Gutters
It’s common to overlook gutter maintenance. Twice a year, remove all debris from your gutters. Fall is the most important time to clean the gutters. It can help prevent ice damage to the gutter system during cold winter months.
Start a Neighborhood Watch
Keeping an eye out for all your neighbors is a great way to make sure your home is safe too. Get the neighbors together and form a neighborhood watch group with the aid of local law enforcement.
Develop a Few DIY Skills to Be a Better Homeowner
Learn how to perform some of the smaller home maintenance tasks on your own. You’ll save money when you paint the living room, replace a leaky faucet, or refinish the staircase by yourself.
Improve Curb Appeal
Boosting your home’s curb appeal isn’t something you should only do when selling it. Make your home more attractive at any time. Here are easy some ideas to improve the exterior.
- Paint the front door a bold new color.
- Trim overgrown shrubs and trees and add mulch to the flower beds.
- Stain or paint the wooden fence.
- Pressure-wash the sidewalks and driveway to tidy them up.
Inspect for Termites
Termites are pests that can do a tremendous amount of damage to your home, especially if they eat through major supporting beams. Look for telltale signs of termites and bring in a termite professional if you have concerns.
Change to Energy Efficient Bulbs
Are you still using incandescent bulbs? Replace your bulbs with more energy-efficient options like LEDs or CFLs. The bulbs will last longer and you will save money on your utility bill.
Check Smoke Detectors for Bad Batteries
Keep your family safe. Test your smoke detectors every month and replace their batteries twice every year. This way you’re sure to be alerted in case of smoke or a house fire.