April brings many lovely things: warmer temperatures, flowers beginning to bloom, and hopefully a check from Uncle Sam once you’ve filed your taxes. It’s enough to make you giddy with possibilities — no matter the size of your refund. “While it’s typically not sufficient to fund major home improvement projects such as a new addition or a kitchen renovation, it can often provide enough cash to accomplish a wide range of home up-fits and improvements,” says Leigh McAlpin, principal of Dwelling Interiors & Design in Charleston, SC. Here’s how to use your refund to refurbish or enhance your home.
Your tax refund feels like found money, doesn’t it? Here’s how to use it to spruce up your living space.
Posted by Michelle Hainer on Trulia
Ever find spare change lying around you houses, either in drawers or behind cushions? When all these coins and loose change add up, think about how you can use it for some last minute and affordable (really affordable) home improvements. Maybe your home improvement projects are a bit more than your spare change, so try using your spare change for cleaning tips or landscaping projects.
Posted on HomeZada
Watering the lawn efficiently and appropriately involves more than simply watering every day.
Another useful tool is the soaker-hose system. Like the dripper system, the soaker system uses a timer and a main hose to which smaller branches are attached. In this case, the smaller hoses are manufactured with “weeping pores” that allow water to soak out all along their length. Once the porous branches are attached to the main hose, and placed strategically at the bases and root systems of plants, the water is turned on. The soaker hose allows moisture to soak gently into the soil.
Dust off your vases, pitchers, and extra coffee mugs. Your home will be overflowing with fresh-cut blooms in no time.
Have you ever ended up with a bed of dead flowers, mountains of mulch and a whopping garden center receipt? Let’s do something about that, shall we?
Get your gardening groove back with these nine tips.
1. Start with a clean slate
There are two kinds of flowerbeds: Those that have been well-prepared, and those that are covered in weeds.
Give your unplanted bed the once-over. Does it receive enough sunlight? Does water tend to collect there? Have you removed all weeds, roots, and rocks so that your plants will thrive? It’s a lot easier to fix these problems now than it is once you’ve planted the flowers and laid the mulch.
2. Start seeds
Start a flowerbed from seed to save money, raise unusual varieties and enjoy the satisfaction of having grown a whole garden from a handful of tiny seeds.
Since some seeds transplant poorly, check the packet and make sure you don’t have to sow directly in the ground. Start seeds in trays, pots or in coir pots, using a seedling mixture, place them in a sunny spot, and transplant as soon as they have developed sturdy stems.
3. Prepare nursery plants
Nursery-grown bedding plants give you instant gratification, but the short time between purchase and planting is crucial to their survival.
Pack them closely in your car to avoid damage, and take them home immediately so that they don’t fry in your car during other errands.
Water nursery plants as soon as you get home, as often as necessary after that, and a few hours before planting to help their fragile roots survive the trauma of transplanting.
4. Get the winning edge
Even the most carefully planned border can look sloppy without a clearly defined edge. Avoid those inexpensive and quickly deteriorating edges made of plastic, and choose a more natural and long-lasting alternative.
The cheapest solution is to make a shallow trench around the bed with your spade and maintain it throughout the season. For something more refined and permanent, set an edge of brick, concrete or stone in leveling sand. The initial cost may be higher, but they will save you a lot of work and make mowing easier.
5. Plan for the seasons
Choose annuals if you plan on replacing them in a season or two, and plant perennials if you’d like them to last longer. Plant evergreen shrubs or ornamental grasses to provide structure and year-round interest.
Also consider the plant’s eventual height: Plant low-growing flowers (usually annuals) at the front of the bed where they can be easily viewed and then replaced at the end of their season.
6. Give them space
Follow the guidelines on the seed packet or plant tag as closely as possible. One that is often overlooked is the amount of space to leave around each plant so they have room to grow. To cover a lot of ground quickly, choose spreading varieties like ‘Superbells’ and climbing nasturtiums.
7. Dig the perfect hole
Dig each plant’s hole to be twice as wide as the original pot, so the roots will have plenty of room to grow. To give them an even better head-start, make a little trench around the inside of the hole so the roots will spread down and out.
This step isn’t necessary for annuals, since they won’t be around long enough to enjoy their strong root systems, but it is helpful if you have clay soil.
8. Plant it right
When planting transplants and nursery plants, always place them so that their crowns (where the plant meets the soil) are level with the soil in the bed. If the crown is above the soil level, the plant may dry out when soil washes away from the roots. If planted too low, soil will settle around the crown and rot the plant.
Push the soil around the transplant and firmly tamp it in place with a trowel so no gaps are left between the roots.
9. Mulch better
Mulch is essential for conserving moisture and preventing weeds, but one inch is all you need. Established garden beds don’t even need mulch because the plants themselves are then capable of protecting the soil.
Avoid landscaping fabric, since it actually keeps moisture from percolating into the soil. Instead, lay down sheets of newspaper before mulching.
Mulches vary by region, but whichever kind you use, follow this one rule: Don’t ever pile it up against the plants. They’ll rot in no time, and you’ll soon have nothing more than an ugly bed of mulch in their place.
Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow
Here are three quick, easy ways to improve your home’s exterior (and you can do them all in a weekend).
Whether you’re polishing your home’s appearance to put it on the market or just making some cosmetic changes for your own satisfaction, exterior improvements can have a big impact. As you gather inspiration for revving up your home’s curb appeal, keep in mind that low-cost updates and a little extra landscaping can go a long way. Pretty soon you’ll have the best-looking house on the block.
Looking for more curb appeal ideas? Check out Digs Guides.
Posted by Zillow Group
A great-looking yard and exterior help attract potential buyers, but today’s sellers need to take it a step further.
Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spend extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too.
The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.
To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.
Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.
Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.
While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.
The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.
What sellers should do
Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.
The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.
Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.
Posted by Brendan Desimone on Zillow
If you thought spring was the only time to plant and indulge in some gardening, you’ve come to the right place! There’s no need to worry about your garden turning dull and lifeless as fall approaches as there’s a lot you can grow depending on where you stay.
Even if you don’t want to grow plants in the cold months, preparing your garden for next spring will be helpful in more ways than one.
Here are some great fall gardening tips you’ll find helpful.
Clean up the Place
Start with clearing the ground of fallen leaves and twigs. Remember to save the leaves to make compost. Pick up fallen flowers and fruits, and dispose diseased or infested plantsappropriately after uprooting.
Check the ground carefully for weeds and get rid of them. Some perennial weeds can be killed more easily with fall weedicides than with summer applications.
Don’t Uproot it All
While you may want to uproot annuals that flower in summer, leave a few of them untouched. Certain annuals and perennials like ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and Russian sage will add interest to your fall and winter garden.
Store Bulbs and Seeds
If you had planted some great annuals in the summer, you can store the bulbs and seeds for next spring. For bulbs, let root structures dry out for a few days after you dig them up. Shake off excess soil and store in a cool, dark place in sawdust or peat moss. Seeds of open-pollinated plants can be stored in paper envelopes placed inside glass jars indoors.
Freshen up the Soil
Freshening up the soil will help your fall plants grow to their full potential. Further, by growing plants that can replete the soil with nutrients, you’ll be doing your future spring plants a favor.
Move the existing layer of mulch to one side. Compacted soil can hinder root growth so use a garden fork and fluff up the ground. You may want to test the pH of the soil at this stage and make amendments as needed.
Once you’re done, see if the old mulch can be reused; you might have to add in fresh organic matter if the mulch has decomposed considerably.
Shred the dead leaves you picked up while clearing your garden and spread them over the ground. Shredding leaves is important as whole leaves will form a mat and prevent water from flowing through the soil. Wet the shredded leaves down or cover with a light dusting of compost to stop them from blowing away.
If you’re planning to grow fall vegetables in your garden, use straw as mulch. This will help as you can easily scatter and move straw about. Moreover, it will provide an excellent home for spiders who will help keep pests away.
Take Care of Green Cover
Grass will turn green again after the blistering-hot summer and will grow vigorously next spring if you fertilize it while it’s still green. Refrain from mowing it too short, and continue to aerate and water it until it turns brown. If snow cover is scant where you live, you can water your lawn once a month throughout the winter.
Synthetic grass won’t require as much care and maintenance. However, continue caring for your synthetic turf as you normally do to keep it looking lush and natural.
Choose Fall Plants Wisely
Before you start planting fall varieties, identify your fall gardening goals. Do you want to grow plants of a particular color or texture, or do you want to fill in blank spots created by dead warm-weather plants?
Decide on a fall garden plan and remember to stick to established gardening guidelines to ensure your garden looks as pretty as it does in the warmer months.
When it comes to selecting plants, note that depending on where you live, you can grow several plants and vegetables in your garden in fall and winter. Try growing vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and chard, and you’ll fall in love with the taste of home-grown produce! Do plant some quick growers like radishes and spinach- these can go from seed to table in a month or so.
To add color, you can grow ornamental grasses or succulents. Trees that show fall colors will also be a great addition to your garden.
Gardening in fall allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature season after season. With fewer pests to deal with, your fall plants are sure to grow better. And when you plant perennials in fall and winter, you can relax knowing that they’ll grow bigger by spring and be better adapted to brave the hot summer!
Now that you’ve read these tips, you know that fall gardening isn’t tough at all. With just a little care, you’ll have a beautiful garden to look at even in the cold months.
Posted by Francesca Holmes on HomeZada