Spring is a great time to make home improvements and get ready for summer! Here are some ideas for home improvements you should complete before spring ends:
A Patio Area
Create a patio area so you can spend more time outside! If you’re interested in creating a patio area, you should first take some time to brainstorm and figure out your vision for the space. Your patio area may be small or large, but if you approach it with an artistic concept, it will turn out beautifully either way!
You cancreate a patio in your yard by laying stone pavers on top of a sand and gravel base. This is easy and cost-effective because you don’t have to pay for concrete. And, if you change your mind in the future, you can easily pick up the pavers and move them somewhere else. You can spruce up your patio space by adding an outdoor grill, campfire pit, umbrella, and table and chairs.
A pool makes a great addition during the summer because it lets you cool off whenever it’s hot, and have fun at the same time! It can be a multi-functional space for fitness, socializing, and relaxation. But before you get a pool, you should educate yourself on the different types of pools out there, and the maintenance costs associated with them.
Before getting a pool, you need to understand the basics of pool filter maintenance. Here are some important things to remember about pool filters: cleaning your pool often and sweeping its walls and floor will help extend the life of your filter, as well as upkeeping the pool generally. As the filter sucks up debris and scum, it will slowly get clogged with debris and the pressure exerted on your filter rises. Make sure to clean the filter often so it can do its job and circulate the water properly.
Get a Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan is an inexpensive way to beat the heat during the summer. If you use it strategically in conjunction with your air conditioning system, a ceiling fan can save you money as well. An air conditioner actually cools the temperature in your home, a ceiling fan works by stirring up the air and creating a wind chill effect on your skin. Because of this, you shouldn’t leave your ceiling fans running while you’re not home, you won’t save money or cool your home.
Creating a patio area, installing a pool, and getting a ceiling fan are three home improvements that you should make before the end of spring. These suggestions can help you create aesthetically pleasing spaces in your home and yard where you can relax and enjoy the upcoming summer.
Read this next: Home Improvements That Can Make a Big Difference for Homeowners
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
(BPT) - Are you ready to put your deck on the best-dressed list this summer, but hesitant to dent your savings? With these simple design ideas, you can make your deck the perfect place for summer festivities.
1. Accessorize with railings.
An easy way to give your deck a beauty boost is to update the railing. The decorative details of this safety feature are easy to overlook during the initial deck building process. Thankfully, with today's products, it's easy and affordable to turn this eyesore into an accessory.
For example, by replacing outdated railings with those that complement your deck boards and home's exterior trim, you can create an outdoor living space that's a well-styled extension of your home. If you have a non-traditional deck, cable rails or mixed medium infills like tempered glass panels may be your style. Or, if you want to mix modern with traditional elements, consider letting guests lean on attractive, but affordable aluminum rail systems like MoistureShield Pro.
"The sleek lines of aluminum railing are the perfect counterpart to today's contemporary spaces," says Brent Gwatney, senior vice president, MoistureShield Composite Decking. "They're a less obtrusive railing option and give decks a high-end, custom feel without the high-end price tag, and tend to be backed with long-term warranties."
2. Block the sun beautifully.
Another way to balance form with function is to shade your deck in style. Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful, low-cost ways to block the sun that go beyond the patio umbrella.
Pergolas are a popular way to shade your space without breaking the bank. You can vary the direction of the beams to create interest, weave fabric panels across the top to create a cozy respite or use the structure to frame a view.
Screening trellises are another affordable option for relief from direct sunlight. They can disguise an unsightly view, soften your deck or provide an attractive backsplash for an outdoor kitchen, while adding shade and privacy. You can even bend high performance decking materials, like composite decking, to curve around existing trees to let nature act as your canopy.
3. Plant a deck-adent garden
Deckscaping is a timeless, low-cost way to turn your outdoor living space into a backyard beauty. Placing shrubs or a curving flowerbed along the perimeter of your deck can soften its edges and add colorful accents. Alternatively, bringing planters on deck with a mix of annuals and perennials can quickly turn a bland deck into a garden retreat full of seasonal blooms.
If your deck is small, consider keeping floor space free with a gorgeous overhead garden. Hanging flower baskets and trellises with climbing vines are simple and affordable space-savers that can make covered deck spaces resemble a spa-like retreat.
4. Dress your deck to impress
To finish your deck and give it that one-of-a-kind feel, outfit it the same way you would an interior room, thinking about color and texture. While this may sound expensive, there are plenty of practical, budget friendly ways to make your deck a stylish extension of your home.
You can easily spice it up with painted furniture and fun accents. Pretty and durable accent pillows made from outdoor fabrics are an inexpensive way to add pops of color. Or if you find an outdoor fabric that you love you can make bench cushions to give your outdoor seating a cozy feel. Accents like an outdoor rug can tie it all together by adding texture underfoot, keeping dirt from being tracked inside your home, and defining areas for different uses.
5. Light up your evenings in style
Finally, don't neglect how your deck looks when the sun goes down. With the right lighting, you can extend your hours outside and keep your deck as charming in the nighttime as it is during the day.
From subtle post lights that cast a magical evening glow to understated recessed lights and rail strip lights that help guide guests' steps, today's deck lighting choices are both functional and affordable.
And, with the emergence of energy-efficient LEDs, you can use them liberally with little effect on your monthly electricity bill. So, let your imagination roam with nighttime illumination options to add after-dark ambience to your outdoor retreat.
The edible backyard: A source for family meals - and fun(BPT) - Have your kids ever asked you where the food they're eating comes from? It's a question many parents are answering right from their backyard and porches.
To create a hands-on educational experience, many families are transforming their usable spaces into fruit and vegetable gardens that feed the whole family, and sometimes neighbors, too. For the price of a few seeds or seedlings, you can produce fruits and vegetables that are delicious, safe, economical, nutritious, and fresh-and the best part is, your whole family can dig in together.
Truly, a lifetime of gardening for your children can start with a simple seed, and the benefits are not only health-giving but educational as well. According to a study conducted by Tractor Supply Company, the nation's largest rural lifestyle retailer, 89 percent of Americans feel their children need a better understanding of where their food comes from.
"Four years ago, we moved from Los Angeles to a small, rural town outside of Ashville, N.C. with dreams of growing as much of our own food as possible," said Beryl Frohriep of WildRootsHomestead.com, a homesteader and Tractor Supply Company contributor who relies on homegrown food for her family of four's plant-based diet. "By growing what we eat, we know what goes into the soil and what comes out of it; our food is fresh, delicious, safe and nutritionally rich. These days, it is my 5-year-old son doing much of the harvest, and I love that we get to learn and grow as a family by working together outdoors."
If you're interested in starting your own backyard garden, here are a few tips from the experts at Tractor Supply Company:
How do I start?
The first thing to do is decide where your garden will go. Choose an area with the most southern facing sun exposure. Next, get a soil test kit at your local Tractor Supply store. If you're going to invest time, work and money into your garden, you should make sure your soil is fertile. This simple, inexpensive test will determine that.
What should I grow?
Simply put, plant the vegetables that your family likes. If your family eats a lot of salad, think about planting lettuces, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and, of course, tomatoes.
It's also smart to think about the types of meals you cook. Do you stir-fry? Grow bell peppers, onions, peas, and broccoli. Do you enjoy Mexican food? Consider various hot peppers and cilantro. Do you create main dishes from vegetables? Then potatoes, squash, eggplant and spinach might be the way to go.
When planning your garden's vegetables, consider adding some that your household considers tolerable, but not great. You may find that homegrown freshness increases the taste, and that vegetable just might turn into a family favorite.
Plant an unfamiliar vegetable or two, just for kicks. If it's not to your liking, give the harvest to neighbors or your local food bank.
How large should my garden be?
A great size for a beginner's garden is 10x18 feet, which can easily feed a family of four to six. However, your garden should reflect the size of your family, availability of space, amount of time you can spend tending to it and the amount of work you're willing to do.
It's important to remember that too large a garden can easily overwhelm you and become a discouraging chore instead of an enjoyable pastime. Keep it manageable. You'll be amazed at the amount of delicious food you can grow in any space-even on a patio or balcony. No space is too small!
Supporting the culture
To help families spend more time together and maximize their garden yield, Tractor Supply Company carries all the supplies a family needs to grow a garden, including mulch, live plants, regular and organic seeds, and garden tools. The rural lifestyle store hosts gardening events featuring expert advice, special products and seed stations for children throughout the planting season. Check with your local Tractor Supply store for details on upcoming gardening events.
For more expert advice on lawn and garden care, visit Tractor Supply's Know How Central, and for homegrown inspiration for your garden, visit Tractor Supply's Pinterest page.
A tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees. Use this five-step checklist to help achieve optimal springtime tree health and ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come.
Keep Your Trees Green and Your Property Value Greener
(Family Features) Mature trees increase property value by as much as 10 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But a tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees.
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come. Use this five-step checklist from Lance Walheim, lawn and garden care expert for Bayer Advanced, to help achieve optimal springtime tree health:
1. Renew Mulch. Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your trees – and one of the easier garden chores to tackle. Two-to-three inches of organic mulch conserves water, reduces compaction and helps control weeds. It’s best placed in a ring that extends outward from the trunk at least 3-6 feet.
2. Be Cautious with Water. Make sure you don’t overwater. Unless there have been prolonged dry spells or exceptionally warm weather, most established trees may not need water until mid-to-late spring. Overwatering in spring can weaken trees and promote disease.
3. Protect Trunks. Make sure lawn mowers and weed eaters do not damage tree trunks by wrapping them with trunk protectors (sold in nurseries and garden centers) or surrounding the tree with a grass-free, mulched area.
4. Prune. Because pruning permanently changes a tree’s structure and appearance, you want to prune intentionally. Light pruning of small trees can improve structure and appearance, but be mindful of branch diameters to help guide your cuts. For more information on how to prune trees without damaging them, visit BayerAdvanced.com.
5. Protect and Feed. Now is a good time to treat trees and shrubs susceptible to damage from insects such as borers, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies and others, and taking this opportunity to provide a nourishing slow-release fertilizer is also a good idea. Using an all-in-solution that doesn’t require spraying, such as Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed liquid or granules, is an easy and convenient way to care for your trees.
As your yard awakens this spring, applying these tree care best practices can help keep your trees healthy and happy for many years to come.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - Mother Nature is the ultimate exterior designer, and she shows off her chops every spring and summer when backyards come alive with colorful flowers, birdsong, warm breezes and the lush aroma of newly mown grass. Is your deck, patio or other outdoor entertaining area living up to her standards?
If your backyard entertaining space could stand some freshening and pops of color, the outdoor living experts at Big Lots point to these eight elements to turn any patio or deck into a paradise worthy of Mother Nature's brilliance:
1. A perfect patio set
Patio furniture is the focal point of any outdoor living space, how you use your patio or deck should guide your choice of furnishings. If you'll be doing a lot of outdoor dining, a table and chairs are essential. Do you envision relaxed evenings chatting with friends in a comfortable setting? Outdoor sofas, love seats, benches and gliders, arranged around a coffee table, can create an intimate area. Shopping for patio furniture doesn't have to be a challenge; you can find a wide selection of affordable styles, colors, pieces and materials at home stores like Big Lots.
2. Colorful cushions and pillows
Even the most-loved, highest quality patio set can benefit from replacing old, faded cushions with something new, colorful and exciting. New cushions can completely change the look of your entire outdoor living space, and remind you why you fell in love with your furniture in the first place. Don't just stop with replacing chair cushions, however. Add toss pillows in colors or patterns that compliment your chair cushions, and pile them on your outdoor sofa to create a comfortable, bright seating area.
3. Fabulous firepits
When the temperature drops on a spring evening, who wants to head indoors? Adding a firepit to your outdoor living space is a great way to extend your enjoyment of it well into the night. You don't have to be a pro at building a fire to enjoy a firepit, either. Big Lots offers a gas-fueled firepit nestled inside a stone-topped table that makes starting a fire as easy as turning on the gas and flipping a switch. Arrange four plushly cushioned rockers around your firepit table, and you have the perfect spot for evening chats.
4. An enlightened atmosphere
Speaking of evenings outdoors, lights extend your entertaining hours and create inviting ambiance for patios and decks. Choose a mixture of light sources, such as candle-lit lanterns for a warm glow, solar lights to illuminate travel paths, and string lights that cast gentle light from above.
5. Smart shade sources
Of course, much of your outdoor time will be spent in the sun, so take steps to provide some shade for your patio or deck. A range of versatile shade sources fit virtually every decor theme, and patio or deck size. Have a large, open concrete patio? A gazebo with a canopy and netting can provide shade and keep insects away from guests and food. Want to move the shade with the sun? An offset umbrella with stand can help you put the shade exactly where you need it at any time of day. Traditional umbrellas shelter seating areas, and add bright pops of color to your outdoor decor.
6. Multiple seating areas
In addition to the focal point of your patio or deck, use patio furniture to create separate seating areas for more flexible entertaining. A small cast iron bistro set or bench situated beneath a tree is a great spot for quiet conversations, sipping your favorite beverage or relaxing with a good book. A glider near the patio or deck is sure to be a favorite spot for parent-child chats.
7. A great grill station
Whether you prefer a big, beautiful four-burner 48,000 BTU stainless steel gas grill or a traditional round charcoal kettle grill, a well-planned and efficient grilling station is a must for outdoor entertaining. Be sure to outfit your station with your grill of choice, a rack of accessories like a grilling tool set and grill brush, and a cooler for briefly storing food before it goes on the grill. Big Lots has everything you need to create a great grilling station.
8. A greener outdoor environment
If you truly want to celebrate Mother Nature's creativity, what better way could there be than to decorate your outdoor living space with her handiwork? Arrange flowers and greens in containers in a variety of shapes and sizes throughout your outdoor entertainment area. A small, brightly colored pot of pansies makes a wonderful centerpiece for your patio table. Plant a tall fern or palm in a large, vividly hued pot and use it as a natural division between "rooms" in your outdoor living space.
You can find all these must-have elements and more at affordable prices at your local Big Lots. For more information, or to find a store near you, visit BigLots.com.
While the stress-relieving capabilities and health benefits of gardening are well known, a twist on this timeless hobby offers a way to add charm and a whimsical feel to your home and garden. Creating an enchanted fairy garden, such as the Fairy Garden Broken Pot or Naturalist Fairy Garden projects, can boost imagination and offer a family-friendly way to hone your green thumb.
Gardening with an Enchanted Twist
(Family Features) While the stress-relieving capabilities and health benefits of gardening are well known, a twist on this timeless hobby offers a way to add charm and a whimsical feel to your home and garden. Creating an enchanted fairy garden can boost imagination and offer a family-friendly way to hone your green thumb.
These miniature landscapes, often hidden in a secluded area of your garden or planted in decorative containers, are an easy way to refresh your interior or exterior decor and can be revamped seasonally to align with any design theme. The possibilities and styles are endless, so to help you get started, the crafting experts at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores created these fairy garden projects featuring a host of tiny details to bring your scene to life. Pottery, moss and tiny figurines will make your garden complete.
Fairy Garden Broken Pot
Crafting time: 3-5 hours
Supplies and Tools:
Tightly fill bottom of planter with smaller pots and packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Cover packing peanuts/bubble wrap with moss, gluing in place with hot glue.
Place fairy items as you desire, securing with hot glue. Trim bottom of plant to a 1-inch stem and secure it in place with hot glue.
Naturalist Fairy GardenCrafting time: Weekend project
Skill level: Some experience necessary
Supplies and Tools:
Flip wooden tray over so bottom is facing up. Spray paint bottom and sides gold. Allow to dry. Using old rag or paper towel, rub on wood stain sparingly, allowing gold to show through stain in areas. Allow to dry.
Measure width of opening between sides of tray. Transfer measurement to green floral foam and cut with serrated knife.
To create hillside for house, cut green foam to resemble a hill with highest point in back corner of long side of foam. Slope downward to create impression of hill toward a river, and contour other side to go slightly uphill, forming river bed. Hot glue foam to bottom of tray. Add foam at top of the hill for more height, if desired.
Place sheet of adhesive moss on top of foam, cutting out areas for river and hut. In river area, apply path of hot glue and dump pebbles on top. Use bigger stones on sides to create river bank. Pour bottle of nail polish onto riverbed, brushing stones to look like water.
Place hut at highest point, gluing it down with liberal amount of hot glue. Nestle bushes and trees around hut, varying sizes of round mosses and trees, and hot glue in place.
Glue white birch rounds behind hut for backdrop to glue trees and shrubs around; giving off appearance of a hut nestled in the hillside. Attach bushes to outside of sidewalls. Glue stepping stones in place to create path to river.
Add additional fairy items to fill out the scene.
Find more inspiration to create magical little villages from start-to-finish at joann.com.
(BPT) - The arrival of spring means new beginnings and a fresh chance to tackle those home improvement projects you've been putting off for the last several months. Get your home ready for summer and make it more beautiful, efficient and functional than ever with these five seasonal projects.
Keep, donate or trash.
Your first step is to declutter the home. Separate items into three categories: keep, donate or trash. Here's a tip: if you haven't used something in the last year, chances are you can get rid of it. Items such as unwanted electronics, housewares and gently used clothing can be donated to charity. For everything else, check with your local recycling program before putting anything in the garbage.
Get serious about spring cleaning.
Give your home a fresh start by wiping down windows, countertops, electronics, appliances, doorknobs, furniture, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Also, be sure to mop floors and vacuum carpet. Never cleaned windows before? Find out how with our free guide.
Bring your deck back to life.
We think winter is hard on us, but just imagine how hard it is on our decks, which weather the bitter cold temperatures, snow and ice all season long. Take a close look at your deck and check for warped, loose or splintered boards. Sweep away anything that may have fallen between the cracks, make any needed repairs, scrub or power wash, and restain if necessary.
Do a color refresh.
Whether you're adding a fresh coat of paint to your interior or exterior walls, or completely changing the colors of your home, spring is the perfect time to renew your home's look. One 2016 color trend: bold entry doors like those from Pella. and pick out your new, colorful front door.
Bloom where you are planted.
Whether you are a homeowner, renter or sublessee, celebrate the end of winter by creating spaces for bright flowers and making the most of your garden. Apartment dwellers, bring the outdoors in with hanging baskets, potted plants or herbs.
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