Archives for the month of: March, 2013

One of the best ways to increase the curb appeal and enjoyment of your home is to improve the lawn and landscaping around it. Now is the time to start working on it. Here are a few things you need to do when winter is on its way out and spring is just around the corner.

Early care and repair

The first thing you’ll want to do before mowing for the first time is some cleaning and evaluation. After the soil dries a little, rake it. In addition to getting dead grass, leaves and tree debris, this will help you to identify problem areas. High and low spots will become apparent and can be addressed while the soil is still soft. It’s also a good time to address thatch, which is above ground roots common on many types of grass that can deny the soil water and sunlight. You can buy a rake made especially for this, but for large jobs, you may need to rent a dethatcher.

Seeding in the spring

Although most experts agree that fall is the best time to seed your lawn, if you want to plant warm weather grasses, spring is the best time. Warm weather grasses grow better in the southern states and in areas prone to drought conditions. A good rule of thumb is that if you live in the northern half of the continentalUnited States, you should plant cool weather grass, and the best time for that is in the fall. Some of the major types of warm weather grasses include Bahia, Bermuda, Centipede,St. Augustineand Zoysia.

Spring fertilizing

If your lawn doesn’t need a lot of seeding, it is absolutely essential to get some fertilizer on it in the spring. There are dozens of commercial fertilizers available, however, avoid the weed and feed variety if you’ve just planted grass; the seedlings will not survive.

Plant some flowers

The type of flowers you plant depends as much on the climate and soil as much as your personal taste. For early spring, you’ll want to put out hardier species that can survive late season cold snaps and even snow. Adding splashes of color to the landscape brightens the exterior of the home. Early spring is also the time to think about the flowers you’ll be planting in late spring such as bulbs and perennials. One or two large pots or flower boxes announce the coming season. Fill them with pansies, violas and Johnny jump-ups, all of which can survive the cold temperatures of spring.

If you’re not sure exactly what you need to do, consult the experts. Spend an hour or so at a nursery. When it comes to grass, no one knows better than the greenskeeper at the golf course. Many landscapers will offer a free consultation, too.

Check back with us from time to time. We’ll be offering tips and advice for homeowners to help you maintain your landscaping, which will not only increase the curb appeal, it will increase the enjoyment of your home.



The recycling, restoring, repurposing revolution

As the old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Whether you call it shabby chic, DIY, upcycling, recycling, repurposing, restoring, refurbishing, reusing objects to decorate your home has become a worldwide revolution over the past few years.

The movement was born out of the philosophy that many people have begun to embrace – the need to live a more sustainable lifestyle. They understand that it is better on the environment to reuse things rather than throwing them out. This is harmful to the environment in two ways. First, it puts an extraordinary amount of waste into landfills. Second, it puts more strain on natural resources because something will have to be made new again from scratch.

Some proponents have gotten involved for financial reasons. The economic climate over the past few years has been fairly unstable, to say the least. People are making do with what they have. An entire industry has sprung up around this movement. The people who find the items (have you seen “American Pickers” or “Storage Wars”?) get paid for the service. There are artists and craftsmen who take an older piece and turn it into something new, functional, beautiful and stylish. This also means that retail space is filling up with these items.

This also offers an opportunity for a creative outlet. The number of projects do-it-yourselfers can create is practically endless, limited only by their imagination, materials and budget.

Some are saying that the movement is in the decline; however, the number of places that sell repurposed furniture continues to grow. Do a search for information and you’ll find blogs, websites and Pinterest pages dedicated to it.

Whether you are interested in the movement to help the environment, save some money, or simply because you like the style, no matter what you call it, there’s not really a downside. And if you decide to do it yourself, you’ll have a hobby that is both relaxing and rewarding.

Check back from time to time. We’re going to have posts on a regular basis dedicated to this revolution and share ideas for projects, decorating and tips from people who do it for a living.

Are you interest in stretching your green thumb this spring? Perhaps a gourmet herb garden is the solution for you. Not only will herb plants fill your home or yard with their lush color and beautiful smells, but cooking with fresh herbs is a great way to give your meals that extra splash of flavor. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your own fresh herb garden, so you and your family can enjoy flavor-enhancing herbs all year long.

Which herbs should I grow?

When deciding on what herbs you’d like to plant in your garden, be sure to consider your favorite meals; you want to make sure you’re growing the right herbs for you. If you’re unsure which herb plant to include then take a look at these chef favorites.

Rosemary – This is a warm climate herb, so if you live in climates with cold winters it’s probably best to grow this plant inside. Rosemary is primarily used in a lot of Mediterranean dishes and nothing beats a rosemary-roasted chicken.

Chives – From the onion family, chives have a similar but milder taste. If you’re a fan of eggs in the morning or a baked potato for dinner chives would make a great addition to your garden.

Thyme – This woody stemmed sweet herb is very popular in French cuisine and pairs well with lamb, chicken and tomatoes. It’s commonly found in stews and sauces.

Mint – You will find mint in two varieties, peppermint and spearmint. Spearmint is milder in flavor and can be used in cooking and even in beverages. Peppermint is nature’s own cure for an upset stomach. 

How do I care for my herbs?

Before you start your herb garden, there are a few things you’re going to want to consider. First is light, because most herb plants will require about 6-8 hours of light. If you find your herbs with long stems and few leaves, this is the tell-tale sign they aren’t getting enough light and are seeking it.  Next is space; most herbs will grow to fill the space you provide, if your garden is relatively small, you will have to prune your herbs more regularly; not only does this stimulate more growth and better harvest, but it will also prevent herbs from crowding out other plants it shares the garden with. Tip: Mint is a super invasive plant; it’s probably best planted in its own container. Lastly, you need to take water and soil into consideration. Most plants will require about an inch of water per week. Also, if you decide to plant your herbs inside, they’ll occasionally require fertilization. To make sure they’re growing in healthy soil, add vegetable potting mix once during mid-growing season.

More care tips.

  • Potted herbs need good drainage, so make sure there is a large hole at the bottom of your plant’s pot and a dish underneath to catch water runoff.
  • If you live in an area with hard winters (below freezing), you need to plant your herbs inside to maintain a healthy garden all year long.
  • Make sure you’re regularly harvesting or pruning your herb garden. This will encourage stronger growth from your plants.
  • Be sure to harvest in the morning, when freshness and fragrance will be at their peak.
  • Make sure you give perennial herbs time off in the fall. You can harvest them all year, but they’ll require some time to prepare for winter.
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