This year’s biggest outdoor living trends are all about enjoying your backyard alfresco — but with the comfort and ease you expect from your indoor spaces. Today’s outdoor spaces are transforming into an extension of the home.
The phrase, "growing green" just means that it is time to make decisions based on conservation when landscaping the yard. Native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees can add value to your home including curbside appeal. Using native plants also has many positive effects that you may want to consider including saving money, improving your health, and provide food for you and the local wildlife.
They’re Easier to Take Care Of
The advantage of going native in the yard is that the plants are already acclimated to the environment. According to Celebrity Greens, around 70 percent of homeowners’ water bill is from watering their lawns. If using local grasses, trees, flowers, and shrubs, this cost should lower considerably as the plants are used to the rainfall amount. Another benefit is less fertilizer and mulch is needed for the plants to thrive. Planting native perennials also mean that once established, they will not need to be replaced next year. Not only is the yard easier to maintain, but it is also easier on the pocketbook.
Better for the Ecosystem
Would it give you a sense of pride knowing that you are helping stabilize the local ecosystem? The local pollinators will love you also. According to Cornell, one of the most positive impacts you can make to the environment is to create a sanctuary to support and encourage thriving wildlife. If you enjoy the local wildlife, research what are native food sources will attract the animals you enjoy watching. Also, check to see what plants make good companions. Plan your Choose a landscape that helps the local ecosystem, requires easy care, and is pleasing to the eye.
Not All Local Plants Are Native
There is some research to be done here. Over the years, plant species have been introduced from other places around the world. You may have seen a plant all your life, but that doesn't mean it’s native to the area. Prairie Nursery advises that you make sure what you are planting is a true native of the area. One reliable source to use is your local agricultural center. You can also learn more about native wild foods as well as local herbs. These have several uses including: culinary seasoning, well-being, teas, and first aid. Many of these plants can be harvested from the wild.
With all of this in mind, are you ready to become a part of the native "green growing" movement?
Here’s another article you might enjoy: 10 Tips for Urban Gardening
Here are some basic tasks you need to do now to prepare for wintry weather and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
(BPT) - No matter where you live, there are bound to be weather challenges this winter. Your home may suffer damage, minor or major, from the onslaught of colder weather, along with wind, heavy rain, ice storms or even major snow systems. This can affect not only the integrity and value of your home, but may lead to costly repairs down the road. That's why it's smart to prep now, to prevent bigger problems in the future. It's also a good idea to make sure that your home is prepped for spending more time indoors.
Here are basic tasks to prepare for wintry weather, and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
1. Perform a safety check
Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order? Make monthly testing of these safety features a regular part of your seasonal household chores. For battery-operated units keep up-to-date with battery changes as per manufacturer instructions. Also be aware and take action if you hear any low battery alarms. Also, do you have a home fire extinguisher in your kitchen?
2. Ensure clean indoor air
Make sure your home’s heating and air conditioning units are in good condition, and schedule regular tune-ups to avoid unpleasant surprises. Change your furnace filter frequently, so your air quality stays clean indoors, where you’re likely to spend more time as temps get cooler. Also, consider setting up a schedule with a professional to have your ductwork cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Keep the outside out
Check weatherstripping around exterior doors, replacing where necessary, then seal and caulk exterior wood, since wood trim can rot around windows and outside doors. Walk around the outside of your home with spray foam gap sealer and caulk to plug gaps, cracks and holes in siding and around windows. Find and seal air leaks where you may be losing valuable heat and letting in the cold. Many energy companies offer an energy audit to discover where you may be losing both heat and money — and advise you on ways to improve your insulation. Making sure your gutters are cleaned out and in good condition helps protect your home's exterior from exposure to moisture due to rain, ice or snow melt.
4. Install back-up power
Power outages occur for many reasons, usually outside your control. In major storms, outages can last for days or even weeks when a large area is affected. To protect your home and family, an automatic standby generator gives you peace of mind — even when you’re not at home.
Look for a unit that comes in a durable aluminum enclosure with options that can withstand up to 181 mph winds and can be installed as close as 18 inches from your home (important for areas with tight lot lines and strict building codes), such as select models of KOHLER standby home generators. They will automatically start and restore your power in seconds, whether you’re home or away.
Units can be monitored remotely from your smartphone or laptop. The unit is permanently installed near your home, and provides high-quality power that can run your sump pump, furnace or air conditioner, and major appliances — plus delicate electronics. KOHLER generators feature commercial-grade engines built to withstand extreme workloads over many years, and they come with a five-year warranty. This is not a do-it-yourself job; you will need to work with a professionally licensed and insured generator installer.
5. Trim your trees
Now is a great time to get your trees trimmed, while it’s easier to access branches without all the extra foliage. Trimming dead branches helps prevent problems that can occur due to wind or ice storms, when a falling branch could endanger a power line, car or home. Like all professional contractors, work with tree service companies that have proper credentials and insurance.
6. Check your roof
Whether you inspect your roof yourself or hire a professional, it's a good idea to take care of repairs before winter wind, hail, snow and ice do their worst. Look for blistering, curling, buckling — or missing — shingles. Moss or lichen growing can indicate decay underneath. Any visible sagging of your roof, rust or cracks around flashing or vent pipes should also be repaired promptly to avoid later problems like leaks.
Don't let the calamities of winter take you and your family by surprise. Doing prep work and maintenance on your home now, with a focus on safety, will ensure that you're ready for anything that may come your way — even if it's just hunkering down in your home for the season.
Summer is here, and with the season comes plenty of time outside in the yard. When the weather is pleasant, you want to be able to enjoy a beautifully maintained outdoor room, but nature's elements and natural growth can leave your yard looking overgrown or old. There are, however, a few things that you can do to maintain your outdoor space on a weekly and daily basis to help keep it looking fresh and inviting.
More than likely, you'll need to mow your lawn at least once or twice per week, according to this source. When you mow your lawn, make sure that you double check the height of your blades so that you avoid scalping your grass. Also, be careful around smaller plants in the landscaping. It's easy to mow over a seedling if it's just starting to sprout. Usually, you should mow grass about 2-3 inches high. This lets you stimulate growth by cutting it back without taking so much of the top off that the roots aren't protected. For small plants and seedlings, put wire fences around them so that you don't accidentally cut them down with an edge trimmer.
Beware of Sun Damage
Rays from the sun can do a lot of damage to almost every piece of metal and plastic that you have outside. After a few years, you will likely begin to notice that your patio furniture is a lighter color than it was even a couple of seasons previously. One of the simplest solutions is to use patio furniture covers. According to this source, protecting property, such as patio furniture, is dependent somewhat on climate, but in general, lightweight covers do best. That way, whenever you're not using you're furniture, you can easily put the covers on to protect furniture from the sun and storms.
WoodStaining wooden decks and furniture is the type of job that most people try their best to put off because it can be labor intensive. It can take some time to sand and apply protectant to the wood, but it looks great when it's finished. A coat of paint or sealer can also prevent wood from warping, helping you protect your property for years longer. There's even a simple test to know when to apply a new coat of stain or sealant. According to this source, you should just drop some water on the boards to see if it beads up. If it doesn't, the wood needs some TLC.
When you're looking for a few ways to make sure that your outdoor space always looks its best, there are a few simple techniques that can make a great impact. More than likely, you're already doing some of them, but you might need to tweak them to get the best results.
If you’re redoing your outdoor space, why not update your indoor space while you’re at it? Take a look at these tips for taking the headache out of a remodel!
When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you’re planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your “to-do” list should be hiring a contractor. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions.
5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Decking Contractor
(Family Features) When it comes to tackling a backyard makeover, there is no time like the present to start planning. Unless you're planning to build your own deck, one of the first items on your "to-do" list should be hiring a contractor.
Quality deck builders can book up quickly and often have waiting lists by early spring. By doing your research in advance, you can ensure a spot in the project queue and have a brand new deck in time to make the most of outdoor living season.
While many questions are obvious, such as costs and timelines, homeowners sometimes overlook other key considerations when vetting contractors. To help ensure you find the right professional for your project, consider these five often overlooked questions:
1. Are you and your company licensed and insured? Make sure the contractor you choose has insurance and the required licenses to obtain permits by calling his or her insurance company for verification. Without such coverage, you could be held accountable for property damage or injuries that occur on your property.
2. How will the permit process be handled? Nearly every deck building project requires a permit. If you build without the necessary permits, you may have issues with paperwork or have to pay a fine when you try to sell your home. Most deck builders handle the permit process but be sure to obtain a copy for your records.
3. What decking materials do you work with? Your deck is a permanent addition to your home that affects its value, so it's important to choose a contractor who is skilled and comfortable working with your preferred material. If you want to build with composite, for instance, Trex Company, a leading brand of wood-alternative decking, has an international network of pre-screened and hand-selected contractors, known as TrexPros, who have completed specialized training in working with high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking.
4. Can you provide references? It's one thing to read online reviews, but to personally speak with a previous customer offers another level of reassurance. Once your preliminary questions have been answered and you feel comfortable with the contractor, take the time to contact a few references to ask questions about the quality of work and overall experience to help ensure you are making a good hiring decision.
5. Do you offer a warranty? Typically, contractor warranties only cover structural damage related to the construction of the deck. Reputable builders should provide a written statement that spells out the type and length of time they will guarantee their workmanship. Be sure to also inquire about any manufacturers' warranties on the products being used. For example, Trex decking is backed by a 25-year limited fade and stain warranty.
Find more information and other common questions at trex.com.SOURCE:
If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
Home Improvements with High ROI
(Family Features) If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
With a variety of styles available, you can find a metal roof to match nearly any home style. For example, CertainTeed Metal Roofing offers profiles crafted to simulate Spanish barrel tile, slate and wood shake. Made from high-performance, deep-drawn steel, these roofing systems offer a lifetime-limited warranty and are engineered with a special multi-layered paint process that resists the elements while offering realistic color details and gradations. Find inspiration and explore a design gallery at CertainTeed.com.
If you’re still uncertain about the right investments for your home, it may be wise to consult a local real estate expert who can provide insight on the features that bring the most value in your market.SOURCE:
As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
(BPT) - As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it all comes down to how homeowners intend to use their space as each “zone” of the deck will require a general square footage.
“People want somewhere to cook, and then eat, and then have a conversation, and you start adding up these areas and you realize you can’t do all this in a 16-foot by 12-foot deck,” said Pologruto, the owner of Decks & More.
Dining — 320+ square feet
Outdoor kitchens and dining areas are growing in popularity, but do require significant space. A grill with some counter space for cooking and a large table and chairs for dining will take up around 320 square feet of deck.
Seating — 250+ square feet
Adding an additional seating area, whether a quiet morning coffee spot or an after-dinner conversation pit, will require more space. A conversation area for about six people will add another 256 square feet to the deck. Adding a fire element to the seating area, will require not only the space for the actual fireplace or fire pit, but also appropriate distance between the fire and any seating.
Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet
Homeowners looking to include a water feature like an in-ground pool or hot tub can expect it to require additional deck space. A four-person hot tub could take up as many as 100 square feet of deck, but Pologruto cautions homeowners to build in plenty of room to walk around, and enter and exit the hot tub, bringing the total to between 150 and 200 square feet.
Parties — 15 square feet per person
As a general rule, Pologruto said homeowners should determine how many people they expect to host on their deck and estimate about 15 square feet of deck per person. To comfortably fit around 20 people, the deck will need at least 300 square feet of open space.
“Remember though, if you plan to have 50 people over, they won’t all be out on the deck at the same time, so plan for your deck to hold about 30 people,” he said.
With the added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size.
The deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products, and says if homeowners are already preparing to spend the money to build a large deck, they should go the extra step and upgrade to a composite board.
“If you’re smart and have the money, do the composite — it just makes more sense,” he said.
Overall, from his experience, Pologruto said most homeowners don’t need a 3,000-square-foot deck, and should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet, although some of the decks he builds are more than twice that size.
Planning to include the right amount of space will leave you with the most comfortable outdoor living area to suit your needs.
Once the structural elements and hardscape features of your outdoor living space are in place, it’s time to turn attention to the details that really bring the area to life.
Add Life to Outdoor Spaces
(Family Features) Once the structural elements and hardscape features of your outdoor living space are in place, it’s time to turn attention to the details that really bring the area to life.
Vibrant textiles like cushions, pillows and rugs can all soften the look of a space while adding colorful charm, but another effective place where you can introduce plenty of character is the landscaping.
Often, homeowners treat the landscape and the architectural components of an outdoor living space as distinct design elements. Making the landscape seamlessly integrate into the area not only transforms the way the space looks, it enhances the outdoor ambiance.
Create Climate Control
Keep Prying Eyes Out
Go Low Maintenance
Consult with experts at your local nursery or garden center for advice on the trees and plants that work best in your climate zone, and find more tips for creating your ideal outdoor living space at eLivingToday.com.
Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space
Regardless of the size of your deck – or budget – these simple tips from the experts at Trex can add interior function to your outdoor oasis:
Absolute Al Fresco
For more information and outdoor living inspiration, visit trex.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (patio with orange cushion chairs)SOURCE:
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