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12 Questions to Ask a Contractor

Thinking about some maintenance or home improvement projects and in need of a professionals assistance, here are some key questions to ask when interviewing your contractor.  We also suggest do you have examples of your work you can share with us?  This question is similar and relates with the reference questions in this infographic. Ask if you can actually see the work via Skype, Google Hangouts or in person.  We also like to know Read more

Fall Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Home and Yard Looking Great

Shutterstock: Elena Elisseeva

Shutterstock: Elena Elisseeva

Guest Blogger: Jeff Caldwell

Autumn is a busy time of year for any homeowner. With the leaves starting to fall, it’s time to kick into overdrive to get ready for the winter ahead. Use these tips to make sure your landscape is at its best throughout the winter months so that it’ll be ready to go for spring.

The Perfect Time to Aerate Your Lawn

Aeration is important for long-term lawn health. It loosens hard-packed soil, which makes it easier for your lawn to develop healthy roots. Aeration also helps water and fertilizer absorb into the soil more efficiently, which promotes lush growth. The downside of lawn aeration is that the aerator cuts plugs of soil out of your lawn and scatters them everywhere. When you aerate your lawn in the fall, those plugs will break down over the winter so that you don’t have an unsightly mess in the spring.

Dealing with All Those Leaves

For many people, fall means endless raking. Instead of raking and bagging all those leaves, or worse, burning them, use them to feed your landscape. You can either compost the leaves, or you can mulch them up with your mower. If you choose to mulch them, make sure to spread the chopped up leaves evenly throughout your yard so that you don’t have dead spots in the spring. Over the winter, the mulched leaves will break down and provide valuable nutrients for your grass.

Get Your Lawn and Garden Equipment Ready for Storage

Lawn mowers, chain saws, weed eaters — all of your power equipment needs to be prepared for the long winter ahead. Start by cleaning your equipment thoroughly, making sure to remove any grass clippings or debris that could cause rust. Clean out air filters, drain out gasoline and make sure everything is properly lubricated. Winterizing your equipment the right way will ensure that you get a head start on your spring landscaping.

Take Care of Patio Umbrellas and Awnings

If you have sun shades, patio umbrellas or awnings, fold them up before the leaves start to fall. Piles of wet leaves can create several problems, like stains, stretched canvas and weakened supports. As you’re taking down awnings, shades and umbrellas, use WD40 or a similar product to keep all moving parts working freely.

If possible, store your shades in the garage or another protected location. This will prevent unnecessary weathering, and it will keep your canvas safe from local wildlife — folded canvas and plastic makes a desirable winter shelter for mice, chipmunks and other small animals.

Now’s the Time to Seed and Feed Your Lawn

Grass doesn’t grow that well in hot weather, which is why autumn is a great time to seed bare patches and feed the rest of your lawn. The best time to start is right around Labor Day. This gives your grass and seed plenty of time to form strong, healthy roots before the ground gets too cold.

When you seed and fertilize in the fall, your grass will grow in much thicker in the spring. That extra growth makes your lawn far more resistant to weeds and heat stress in the summer.

Taking Care of Details

In the rush to be prepared for winter, it’s easy to overlook details. Most homeowners pick up their hoses, change furnace filters and do a variety of other small jobs. Make sure to add these details to your list:

  • Empty Plant Pots: It’s tempting to leave the dirt in the pots on your porch or patio so you can reuse it again in the spring. However, that dirt will accumulate moisture over the winter, which can crack your plant pots when they freeze.
  • Check Outdoor Spigots:If your outdoor spigots aren’t frost-free, make sure that you shut off the water supply to them. If you don’t, the water in the faucet will cause it to burst during freezing weather.
  • Clean Gutters Again:You may have cleaned your gutters in the spring or early fall, but make sure you do it one more time after all the leaves are gone. Clogged gutters lead to ice dams on your roof, which can tear the gutters off or cause damage to your roofing.

If you want your backyard to look great for the fall and winter months, there’s a lot of work to be done. However, fall yard maintenance isn’t just about looks — it also helps make life easier in the spring.

About the author: Jeff Caldwell is Brand Manager of Superior Shade (http://www.superiorshadeinc.com/) in Carrollton, GA. Superior Shade provides sun protection with products including custom shades, cantilevers and umbrellas. The company provides custom products for your outdoor needs.

12 Tips on Preparing for Disaster Recovery

National Preparedness Month is not over yet.  Throughout September, we continue to highlight areas to help you and your family become more educated on how to prepare your home for an emergency. In this graphic, ICF International identifies 12 tips to get you prepared for any disaster recovery. They identify areas that support your family and your community.  This infographic focuses on the items that are not generally top of mind, but must be if your family is displaced from your home or your community.    For the full set of 12 tips, click on the infographic below.   Read more

Home Remodeling Tip: New Draperies

HomeZada Remodeling Tipnew+draperies

Draperies add a lot of character to rooms.  Draperies can also introduce fabrics and colors that can either be the highlight of a room, or they can be an element that brings the rest of the room’s decor together. Rooms like dining rooms, living rooms, family rooms and master bedrooms are common to invest in higher end custom draperies. Of course you can also find packaged draperies that will Read more

Top Five Millennial Friendly Cities

Millennials are looking for cities where they can buy affordable homes and still find activities to support their careers and family life. Millennials are experiencing more student loan debt which is why affordable housing and locations are necessary.  Here are the top five cities based on this criteria.  Read more

Maintenance Tip: Replace batteries in smoke detectors

replace batteries in smoke detectors

Smoke detectors play a vital role in maintaining a safe home. They are usually placed in high areas in various rooms in the home. Many detectors will chirp when the battery needs to be replaced. It may be a good idea to keep a regular schedule to essentially replace the batteries in the smoke detectors all at once. Many also have a test function that you Read more

National Preparedness Month – Hurricanes

Hurricane season is a time when many that live on coastal cities and states are aware of the potential risks of living in these beautiful areas of the country.  Getting prepared for a hurricane requires the following steps provided by FEMA:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.

FEMA also suggests using social media to get you news and alerts across so as not to tie up phone lines.  When hurricanes hit, FEMA says text 1st.

Additionally, take an inventory of all that you own so that you can ensure reaching your insurance provider with accurate data swiftly.

This infographic helps you understand what a hurricane is, what dangers exists and the costs of associated with hurricanes.

Stay Safe!

3 Signs Your Gutters are Beyond Repair

Workman Clearing Autumn Leaves from Gutter

Guest  Blogger: Paul Kazlov

Gutters play a crucial role in protecting your roof and walls from water damage. A functioning gutter provides excellent drainage and keeps rainwater from wreaking havoc on your beautiful home. Because excessive water is infamous for flooding basements and incurring costly structural damages, gutter maintenanceis required for effective precipitation drainage and Read more

5 Simple Spruce Ups to Take Your House From Drab to Fab

Courtesy: Gal Time

Courtesy: Gal Time

Finding that perfect shade of lipstick can be the difference between drab and fab. Like putting together a fabulous outfit to wear out on the town, sprucing up your home is all in the details.

By giving your property a makeover that focuses on the details, you can quickly become the talk of your neighborhood. But you don’t have to spend a fortune — or all your spare time Read more

5 Reasons to Create a Home Inventory

In a few days, we are entering September and it is National Preparedness Month. During National Preparedness Month, FEMA recommends you take the necessary precautions to protect your family and home against any challenging weather or disaster situation, unexpected house fires or burglaries. As part of FEMA’s recommendations, having a home inventory is a great way to understand your home and your possessions in order to properly document your home contents. Here are a few reasons to create a home inventory.
reasons for a home inventory preview (3)

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