• 5 Things to Know About Starting a Garden

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 24, 2015
    Friday-Favorites-Starting A GardenOne of the first things many new homeowners do (especially if they move during the spring or early summer months) is start planning a garden. There’s just something about a new home and the promise of what’s to come that has all rolling up our sleeves and planning the great bounty of fall.

    Before you start digging up your new lawn and starting planting seeds, however, here are five things you’ll want to remember to make your first garden a success.

    > Plan the Layout of Your Garden in Advance: Some plants require almost no space in a garden box, instead crawling up a trellis to take up vertical space. Others need bright sun and plenty of room to put down their roots. Know ahead of time how much space your garden will have and what kinds of plants you’ll be able to put there. A small, well-planned garden can be more productive than a large, poorly-thought-out one.

    > Start Small: You might be tempted to turn your entire yard into a booming produce market, but it’s usually best to start small and expand your garden a little each year. This way, you can learn what thrives in your soil and area, and what might need more work than you’re willing to put in. You’ll also learn more about the plants as you go.

    > Go for Function over Beauty: When first starting a garden, it’s tempting to buy beautiful accents and expensive equipment to set the tone, but these things are rarely necessary. As soon as the plants start blooming and filling your yard with color, the decorations will take care of themselves. Spend your money instead on quality seedlings and gardening tools that will stand up to regular use.

    > Local Plant Supply Stores are Your Friend: No one knows what grows best in your area than plant supply stores and gardeners who live in your neighborhood. Take some time to talk to other garden enthusiasts or even consider joining a local club. Gardening is one of those lessons that’s often best learned from those who have hands-on experience.

    > Prepare for Pests: Just as soil and weather conditions are unique to your area, so too are insects, animals, and other kinds of garden pests. Know ahead of time what kind of conditions you can expect so you can put up fences or use the right kind of insecticides. This is another reason why local gardeners can help—if it’s common in your area, chances are they’ve already battled it themselves.

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  • Ways to Commemorate a New Home

    by Ryan Cox | Apr 23, 2015

    From popping bottles of sparkling champagne to busting open a piñata in the shape of your old home, the methods of madness utilized by many to commemorate a successful move in can range from hilariously awesome to just plain bonkers.

    However, there’s no doubt that getting settled in at a new place and kicking off the next chapter in your life will be something to majorly celebrate. When narrowing down the best possible options for celebrating this milestone to the fullest, try and remember that there’s only truly one way to do things incorrectly—by not celebrating at all!

     

    Classic Housewarming

    The most go to solution when it comes to new home commemorating tends to be the most overplayed no brainer—regardless of how you choose to celebrate, odds are you’ll be inviting company over to check out the newest of digs.

    When planning the inevitable housewarming party, make the effort to personalize (or simply stylize) your affair as much as you can. Your guests will be expecting a partially moved in apartment and a six pack of beer—do whatever you can to exceed those expectations and then some, whether it be with a wine and cheese social or a crazy masquerade party. The most important thing to remember about this new home is that it is your own, so make sure your get together expresses that to the fullest.

     

    An Arboreal Approach

    A slightly lesser known way of commemorating a new property is somewhat interesting—many people will opt to plant a tree in their new home, whether it be in their front yard, back yard, or even in a little ceramic pot somewhere in their living room (for those settling into an apartment that lacks in the grassy outdoor department).

    While it has an environmental appeal, a more fun aspect of the practice is that it tends to be a great way for you and your friends or family to mark exactly how long you’ve been living at your destination. Watching a tree slowly grow up as you live out the new chapter in your life can take moments that you normally might skim over and truly put them into a better perspective.

     

    Refresh your Retail Game

    Once you’re moved into your new place, you’ll be out of the woods in many financial ways as well—it’s good to remind yourself that you’ve gotten through the hard part, and settle in by buying yourself some much needed household upgrades. Does your toaster have a tricky lever? Or does your vacuum suck in all the wrong ways?

    Whatever it may be, take the initiative and drop the dough on some new appliances or equipment to go with your new home—it’s a new time in your life, so start treating it like one.

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  • 5 Tips For Cleaning and Maintaining Rain Gutters

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 22, 2015

    Rain GutterRain gutters are one of those things you rarely think about until they’re not working correctly. Spring is a great time to perform annual maintenance and checkups on your gutters, since this is the time of year when they’re most in use, protecting you from the drops of rain rolling off the roof as well as other water runoff issues that might otherwise damage the structural integrity of your home.

    The most important rain gutter tip is to keep them clear from debris, leaves, nests, and other buildup. If possible, check your gutters seasonally to scoop out the worst offenders. Most of the time, heading up to the gutter with a pair of gloves and a bucket is all that’s necessary to get the task done. From there, rain gutter maintenance can take on a variety of forms.

    > Do Deep Clean Once a Year: At least once a year, do a deeper clean of your gutters than merely scooping out the debris. After you clear the visible obstructions away, you should carry a hose up the ladder and run water through the entire length of the gutter. Check for blockages and other slow flow issues, as these may indicate a need for more in-depth cleaning or even a gutter replacement. In some cases, you may need to run a length of wire up the gutter from the bottom in order to clear out blockages there.

    > Caulk the Seams: Few gutters are a compete length of pipe unbroken by seams. In order to maintain the right angles and move along your house, it’s most likely composed of several smaller pieces caulked together at the seams. These seams may need to be regularly reinforced and touched up, especially if you’re seeing leaks or drips.

    > Check the Angles: Because the constant flow of water is such a powerful thing (just think of how it carves out canyons and gulches), it can move the angle of your gutters over time. In order to maintain proper flow, gutters should descend at a quarter of an inch along every ten feet of pipe. Check the angles and descent and, if necessary, adjust the gutters so water can escape easily.

    > Look at the Drainage Area: All that water from the roof has to go somewhere…make sure you know where yours lead and what happens to the water where it collects. In areas of high rainfall, you may need to install a drain or dig a dry well to avoid dangerous collections of water that can seep into your home’s foundation.

    > Consider Ornamentation: If you’re updating your gutters to sell a home, or if you recently moved in and are trying to make the new house feel more like a home, you might want to consider buying a decorative gutter. These pieces of artwork allow the water to flow from the roof to the ground just like a regular gutter, and also provide a lovely outdoor feature that can improve the value of your home.

     

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  • 3 Ways to Beat the Moving Blues

    by Ryan Cox | Apr 22, 2015

    Like it or not, even the most seamless of moves will still tend to rank as one of the most stressful events you will take on over the years. From covering all your preliminary bases to packing your entire house in time for your moving date, if one of the steps of the process doesn’t stress you out along the way, odds are that some other step will—getting drained along the way can be downright inevitable.

    Fortunately, getting bummed out by moving doesn’t have to be a losing battle the whole way through. While there’s no doubt that moving will prove to be quite the challenge for both your mental fortitude and your physical capabilities, keeping yourself from letting the drudgery get to you in the long haul is both extremely possible and extremely encouraged!

     

    Keep your Moving Process Light

    Regardless of how big your haul ends up being, it will be important to keep your entire move as light as possible—no, not in terms of weight, but in everything from your mood along the way to your general demeanor during the difficult weeks (or even months) ahead.

    An important thing to keep in mind during the early stages of your move is that the process is going to take a great deal of time from start to finish—even after your moving day, it could potentially take weeks for you to fully unpack, settle in, and finish sorting out all the necessary paperwork.

    Try to do whatever you can to keep your spirits up—whether it be treating the moving process like a game, listening to lots of music along the way, or even setting aside times to get out with friends and let off some steam, treating yourself well (and motivating yourself to stay positive) will make or break your moving experience right from the start.

    Communication is Key

    One underrated aspect of alleviating the negative nature of a moving season is to communicate with friends as much as possible. It may not seem like much, but bouncing your woes and worries off even just a small handful of one or two people can be a highly effective way to air (and sort) your trepidations in a healthy way—one of the main ways that moving becomes a burden for many is that their stress factors become bottled up over time.

    Venting should prove to be a highly effective way to gain a greater grasp on what exactly you can expect to be at odds with throughout your move (and not be blindsided by challenges at the last minute).

    Treat Yourself (and Others)

    Taking small breaks along the way to be nice to yourself and make the process easier on yourself will have a much greater effect than what you may initially expect—whether it be going out to eat, doing a bit of retail therapy, or even just going out with friends at all, everything will go a long way in bringing you back down from your sky high moving stress levels.

    Alternately, it can help your trepidation, just as much to make the effort of doing these same nice things for others—doubly so if you have friends that are taking the time to help you out with your move along the way. Not only will this help ensure that the bond formed through the collaborative moving process ends up being a positive one, but it will ease overall tension and make you feel more secure that you’re on the right path along the way.

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  • 3 Ways to Avoid the Moving Season Chaos

    by Ryan Cox | Apr 21, 2015

    You might not be aware, but moving is an industry that involves a definitive “on” season in addition to periodic “off” seasons, much in the way that everything from fresh produce to housing markets tend to shift along with the seasons and months of the year.

    When it comes to the specifics of moving, busy season tends to range from the months of May through the end of summer, usually around September. But is it possible to make a move work during these crazy months without succumbing to the chaos of competition brought on by migrating school age families, droves of relocating young professionals and more? With the right attitude (and a bit of preparation), you can take on moving season and come out on top.

     

    Call and Reserve Everything

    Be sure to reach out to your movers of choice as soon as you know that you’ll need to move. Last minute moves tend to be troublesome during this chaotic time of the year, but many don’t realize that simply reaching out to a moving company and giving notice can be enough to get them through the summer moving ordeal without too much trouble.

    Call and make reservations as soon as you’re sure you’ll be moving, and you most likely won’t have too much of a bad experience getting the ball rolling.

    Begin Packing and Planning Now

    If your move is a sure or required thing, don’t waste any time dilly dallying while you wait to confirm your moving date—begin packing everything as soon as you’re sure that you’ll be moving, in addition to planning for the required time off from work, recruiting the help of friends, and anything else.

    Hitting the ground running will largely come down to whether or not you get started as soon as humanly possible, and getting a jump start on the process will be your number one way of ensuring that you do.

    Opt for Full Service Movers

    When moving during the most hectic time of the year, you’ll want to go with a moving company that is as equipped as possible to handle the rush of the season without giving rise to amateur mistakes—going with your first or cheapest pick for a summer move will most likely mean that you’ll have saddled up with a company that has booked far too many customers at once to truly ensure that all aspects of your move end up top notch.

    Experienced movers that offer a variety of packages and options will generally be able to get you through the craziness of a May to September move without doing any inadvertent damage along the way—it’s an investment you’ll want to make to keep the headache of the on season from ending up worse than it needs to be.

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