Tips for Reviving Your Lawn After Winter

Tips for Reviving Your Lawn After Winter

Waking up your lawn can be challenging, and there is added pressure if you want to put a home on the market. Early spring is one of the best times of the year to make your home look great. This busy season coincides with an uptick in activity in the real estate market, making it that much more critical for you to get your lawn back in great shape.

Here are a few helpful tips for reviving your lawn after the beating it likely took this winter:

Feed It Well
Spring is the most critical time to give your lawn a boost. Winter drags on in many areas of the country, which can deplete a yard come spring. If you find yourself in this situation, try applying a quick-release fertilizer to prepare your lawn for spring. This fertilizer will get to the roots and green up your yard in a few days. However, be cautious when applying a quick-release fertilizer, as putting too much in one spot can kill your grass.

Other fertilizer options include slow-release fertilizers that’ll feed your lawn over time. This kind of fertilizer usually comes in granules or pellets that sit on top of your soil. They dissolve over time and provide the best long-lasting energy option for lawns.

Water in the Morning
Fertilizer applications need moisture to work best. Watering your lawn in the spring may seem counterintuitive given the rainfall that some climates receive, but watering your lawn regularly is essential to help the grass grow strong. Consider watering your yard in the morning before 10 a.m., as this will allow the lawn time to soak up the water and dry out under the afternoon sun. Watering in the evening or at night may seem smart, but it can actually cause lawn care problems such as disease and fungi.

Ease Into Mowing
While your lawn may have grown a little throughout the winter depending on your location, lawns need some time to ease into the spring. Refrain from mowing your lawn on a low setting as temperatures go up. Short lawns expose the root system, which can create a stressful situation for the grass. Consider doing a light mow early on in the season to take off the tips of the blades. Doing so will ease your lawn back into the growing season and will help keep it looking great.

Start Fighting Weeds
Homeowners looking to put their home on the market should combat any weeds in their lawn. There are many weed and feed chemicals to help prevent weeds. These mixes often include different fertilizers, so be sure to read the directions so that you don’t give your lawn too much. Locate any problem areas in your yard and consider applying weed control to those areas, as well.

Seed Thin Spots
It’s common for bare spots to appear after a long winter. Immediately care for areas of the lawn that have thinned or are completely bare. These spots can cause problems, not only with weed growth, but also in presenting a beautiful lawn to a prospective buyer. Rake out these spots in your yard and apply a good amount of seed. Give these spots extra water a few weeks after you seed them to encourage new grass roots to take hold.

There are many ways to help your lawn come back after a long winter. Mow the grass on a high setting until it has had time to recover, fertilize and water the lawn to boost growth, and be sure to keep weeds away by using preventive measures. Follow all the tips listed above and your lawn will be back to its former glory in no time.

 

SOURCE: Katie Kuchta

Think Spring! How to Map Out Your Garden Goals

Think Spring! How to Map Out Your Garden Goals

Advanced planning is a good idea in all cases, even when it comes to your outdoor space. Don’t wait until spring arrives to create the backyard of your dreams. Map out your goals now by following these steps from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and TurfMutt:

Call a family meeting. Discuss ways everyone in the household, including kids and pets, can embrace time spent outdoors and make better use of your yard. From stress reduction to promoting exercise, getting outside is key to a healthy life.

Sketch out your current yard and its available green space. Make note of existing trees, bushes, structures and flower and gardening beds so that you can identify what needs to change and what is currently working for you, your family and your pets.

Visualize you and your family in the space. What outdoor activities would you like to do more of? This could include anything from al fresco family dinners, entertaining, yoga, or simply relaxing in a hammock or comfortable lounge chair. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to create a play zone for your children and/or your pets so that they can get more outdoor activity.

Develop your improvement and maintenance goals. List the play and work areas that will make your dreams a reality. What would enhance this space for your family? What do you need in the yard to provide a safe and welcoming place for families to gather and for kids and pets to play? Enhanced landscaping, play structures and areas for specific activities, such as patios, decks, outdoor kitchens and fire pits, need to be identified.

Determine which plants are best for your climate. Selecting the right plants, trees and shrubs for your climate zone is important for keeping maintenance to a minimum and maximizing benefits to the environment. Figuring this out now will make shopping at your local nursery more productive later.

Map out a timeline and plan for your yard. Mark the areas where improvements and maintenance are needed, and where you might need more landscaping. Develop a timeline, based on your needs, the climate zone and weather for your community to identify when certain tasks should be completed. There are better times to plant than others, depending on where you live and your goals.

Take stock of your lawn and landscape tools. Does your outdoor power equipment need to be serviced before the spring season? Or maybe you’ve recently moved to a home with a yard and need to purchase a lawn mower, trimmer, edger, leaf blower or other equipment for your home. Now’s a good time to take stock of the equipment and tools you’ll need so that you’ll be ready for seasonal changes.

Know when to call in a pro. Be realistic about what you can and can’t handle on your own. If you think you need professional assistance, now is the time to line up consultants and obtain bids. This will put you a step ahead of the spring rush.

How to Do Away With Dust in Your Home

How to Do Away With Dust in Your Home

If you find yourself at home with itchy, watery eyes and a sneezy, stuffy, runny nose, you could be allergic to dust, more more accurately, dust mites — microscopic organisms that feed off the dust around your house.

Dust mite allergies are actually one of the most common indoor allergens.  Luckily, there are important steps you can take to keep them at bay.  Try these suggestions from the editors at Self magazine:

Clean once a week.  While cleaning once a week is a good starting point, twice a week would be even better.  If making time to clean is a challenge, the task will become less arduous once you come up with a consistent routine and stick with it.

Use a damp dust cloth.  Instead of dusting with a dry cloth, dampen it first.  This will allow you to actually pick up dust as opposed to just moving it around.  A good dusting spray will also do the trick.

Vacuum the right way.  This can be achieved by using a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, which is particularly good at capturing dust mites.  It’s also important to change the filter regularly.  To determine the frequency that’s recommended for your machine, follow your vacuum’s instructions.

Wear a mask and gloves.  In addition to wearing a mask and gloves while cleaning, be sure to cover yourself with long sleeves and pants.  A face mask creates a physical barrier between your mouth, nose and the contaminants that trigger your allergies.  Protective clothing and gloves will help prevent allergens from irritating your skin.

Leave your house for a few hours.  Cleaning tends to kick up dust mites and allergens, so once you’ve done a deep clean, get out of the house and allow them to settle.  Try to leave a window or two open, weather permitting.

Declutter your home as much as possible.  Take the time to eliminate clutter so that dust has fewer places to settle and hide away.

Wash your bedding weekly in hot water.  Believe it or not, bedding is a prime area for dust mites, so keep this task at the top of your priority list.  It’s also a good idea to vacuum your mattress, as well.

Change your AC and heating filters.  Air conditioning and heating vents regularly filter air throughout your home and capture dust and dust mites in the process, so be sure to change these every three months.  A good way to remember this important task is to change them with the seasons.

If your allergies are too severe to tackle these tasks on your own, hire someone to do this type of cleaning.  Your health and well-being are worth the investment.

Cool Kitchen Gadgets Too Cute to Pass Up

Cool Kitchen Gadgets Too Cute to Pass Up

There are gadgets that simply make life easier, and then there are those that not only do the job, but that are just too cute to pass up.  Kitchen divas–or wannabe kitchen divas–need to check out these seven worthwhile gizmos:

The ultimate hot dogger.  Love a good hot dog?  Pop both the hot dogs and buns into this bright red retro toaster-for-two, then add the mustard and kraut.  You can do it for about $20.

Clip-on colander.  Tired of hauling out that big colander to drain the water out of the pasta?  Strain it with ease, using a lightweight gadget that clips on to the pasta pot.  Available for about $12.

Quick and easy breakfast champ.  Having a small space shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a complete breakfast.  This three-in-one breakfast center lets you fry your egg on the oven-top griddle, toast a biscuit in the toaster oven and brew a hot pot of coffee all at the same time.  It’s a steal at about $35.

Chef n’cob corn stripper.  Don’t be that person who tries to strip an ear of corn and winds up with kernels all over the kitchen.  This clever corn stripper will make you an expert for only about $7.

Dinosaur soup ladle.  Show off your homemade soup by serving it at the table with an adorable dinosaur shaped ladle that takes no space to stow away because it stands up on the counter and smiles at you.  A must-have at under $20.

The Sushi Bazooka.  Want to look like an accomplished sushi chef? The Sushi Bazooka makes it easy to create perfectly round sushi rolls at home.  The tube opens up so that you can pack it with layer of rice on both sides and veggies or fish in the middle.  All you have to do is close the tube, push the roll out and wrap it in nori.  And thanks to this gadget, you can it for under $15.

Spaghetti measurer.  Never know how much spaghetti to cook?  This nifty measurer tells you just how much to cook for a kid, the average grown-up and the big eater.  This nifty took will set you back about $11.

SOURCE: Barbara Pronin

5 Signs Your Heat Pump Needs Service

5 Signs Your Heat Pump Needs Service

We’re in the throes of the cold winter months in much of the country, which means many of us are spending a great deal of time thinking about our heating systems. In the U.S., roughly 40 percent of homes are heated via electric heat, rather than gas or oil.

Some electric systems encompass the more traditional baseboard or wall heaters, which are significantly less efficient than a heat pump, although cheaper in upfront costs. Heat pumps can cost more initially but are three to four times more effective at heating using the same amount of electricity. Some places even offer rebates if a heat pump upgrade is installed in a home. If you have a heat pump, then it’s important to take care of it to keep it in top shape.

Did you know heat pumps not only work overtime in the winter, but also cool the air in the summer? Because of their multiple capabilities, it’s easy to see how the heat pump can get overworked in its year-round job.

It’s important to pay close attention to appliances like your heat pump and make sure to keep up routine maintenance—about once per year—to keep them functioning properly; however, you may need to have an expert make a house call if you’re experiencing any of these issues:

Sudden Increase in Energy Bills
Unfortunately, air conditioners and heat pumps tend to use a lot of electricity. When you first install one of these appliances in your home, it’s completely normal for your electricity bills to increase; however, if your energy bill suddenly skyrockets even though your usage hasn’t changed, you might want to take a closer look at your heat pump.

Sometimes the fix for a sudden increase in energy usage is as simple as replacing the air filter to improve airflow and energy efficiency. Other reasons may require the attention of an HVAC professional. Low refrigerant charge, refrigerant overcharge or even faulty installation might be affecting your heat pump’s efficiency.

Airflow That Isn’t Flowing
In some cases, poor airflow may have something to do with your ducts. If your ducts are clean, clear and don’t have any leaks, the problem may be with the heat pump itself. Poor airflow can be caused by a number of factors, including dirty air filters, dirty coils, the outside unit may be blocked or the blower motor may be malfunctioning. While you can usually handle dirty air filters, blocked outside units and dirty coils on your own, a malfunctioning blower motor and other more technical issues are best left to the professionals.

Unusual Noises
Your heat pump may be one of the louder appliances in your home, but if the normal humming sound is interrupted by rattling, flapping, screeching or other unusual noises, it may be a sign of a problem. Loose fan belts can result in a rattling or flapping noise, while screeching is usually caused by a poorly-lubricated central air fan motor. You may even hear a bubbling sound if there is a leak in your refrigerant. If any new noises concern you, it’s best to play it safe and call your HVAC technician to check things out.

Smells That Aren’t Quite Right
Your heat pump needs immediate attention if the air coming out of the appliance smells off. Musty or rotting smells are a concern due to the implication of mold formation or an animal making its way inside your unit. Any sort of burning smell is something you should immediately act on due to potential fire hazard. A burning smell typically indicates there is something wrong with your heat pump electrically, which can quickly become dangerous. If you do smell burning coming from your unit, turn it off immediately and don’t turn it back on until an HVAC professional has examined it and fixed any problems.

The Heat Is on and You’re Still Shivering
If your heat pump is running at full blast with a steady airflow and your home is still cold, something isn’t right. The problem may be with your fan or the fan motor, or there may be an issue with the thermostat. It’s also possible that your heat pump’s electronic control board or printed circuit board assembly is malfunctioning. The thermistor, which signals the main control board to turn the compressor on or off, may be failing as well.

Routine maintenance should help keep your heat pump functioning properly, but it’s vital to never ignore any signs that your heat pump might need service. It’s always better to deal with a problem in the early stages before it gets out of control. Make sure you have a trusted HVAC professional you can contact if issues to arise. No one wants to find themselves with a broken down heat pump in the middle of the winter!

Show Your House Some Love This Month

Show Your House Some Love This Month

February is here, and along with the feeling of love that’s currently permeating the air, it’s important to remember that just because it’s the middle of winter doesn’t mean you can’t give your home a little love, as well.

Let’s start inside with projects that can be done right now.

The folks at lunchboxarchitect.com suggest sprucing up your bathroom vanity with a glossy granite vanity top that will cost you as little as $150. Or, spend less than $50 installing lamp dimmers to give you full control of the brightness in any room.

Moving along to the laundry room and kitchen, a recent Maytag survey found that 44 percent of millennials and 41 percent of parent homeowners plan to remodel these spaces this winter (compared to 29 percent of all homeowners).

So what are a few practical laundry room spruce-ups you can easily knock out this February?

The experts at constructionresourcesusa.com say that if you have front loading appliances, adding a countertop above them will help create the illusion of a larger space, while at the same time providing a smooth, flat surface for doing your folding. .

Not sure where to start? Miranda Benson at dolly.com offers up these tips:

– Avoid shelving that can make an already cramped laundry room feel claustrophobic. Instead, try hooks to hang your ironing board, or a pegboard if you need space to hang clothes.

– Save even more space by mounting a fold-out ironing board with an upper shelf to store your iron higher up on the wall. Just make sure it has room to cool down.

– Further expand your drying space by attaching drying racks to your walls that fold out when needed.

– Get even more space by installing a tension rod just like you would use to hang a curtain. Leave your hangers on the rod while your clothes wash, and when they’re dry, you can easily hang them and transfer them back to your closet.

– Eliminate wasted space by installing pedestal drawers directly underneath your washer and dryer for cleaning supplies, extra towels, or anything that can get a little warm from the dryer.

Finally, how about adding some tile? The team at fireclaytile.com says that not only is tile durable and easy to clean, it will also give your laundry area a clean and fresh look when it’s incorporated on almost any surface, including walls, backsplashes, floors and countertops.

SOURCE: John Voket

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