Winston Salem Real Estate and Community News

Welcome to the place where I will share up to date information about "the happenings" in real estate and in the Triad region of North Carolina. I hope that you will come back to visit often as Pam's ponderings will be many!

Talk to you soon ... Pam

May 23, 2019

8 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Damaging Delicate Surfaces in Your Home

It's easy to misuse all-purpose cleaners and DIY substitutes in routine home upkeep, so think twice and make sure the tools you gravitate to aren't doing more harm than good.

Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Don't Use Abrasive Scrubbers to Clean Laminate Countertops

Steel wool and other scouring pads can be too abrasive for laminate, and if you're not careful, they'll leave permanent and irreversible scratches, and dull a glossy finish.

Instead: Opt for a paste of water and baking soda to lift stains that set into your laminate surfaces, and use a soft sponge to tackle messes on these surfaces.

Don't Use Vinegar to Clean Granite Countertops

Avoid all acidic cleaners like vinegar, ammonia, bleach, and lemon, as they can damage granite countertop's sealant and lead to discoloration and erosion in the surface of the stone.

Instead: Opt for a store-bought granite cleaner, or use a soft sponge with dish soap to keep it clean on a daily basis. It may seem expensive to reseal the granite annually, but the routine maintenance will help to keep the countertop durable and free of stains.

Don't Use Water to Clean Microfiber Upholstery

Gilles Mingasson / Getty Images

Though marketed as a tough, easy-to-clean blend of (typically) polyester/nylon, many microfiber products are damaged when homeowners clean stains with ordinary water, as it can leave watermarks and spots.

Instead: Rubbing alcohol is better for spot treatment on microfiber. Apply it with a spray bottle, and use a dry, clean cloth to lift the stain as it loosens.

Don't Use Disinfecting Wipes to Clean Leather

Harsh wipes saturated with cleaner and disinfectants will damage leather upholstery in your home or car. Cleaners with bleach and bleach substitutes can dehydrate the natural material, and you'll even risk lightening the color of the leather.

Instead: Use Castile soap or liquid washing soap diluted in water, and apply it to the leather gently without letting it saturate the material. Wipe it clean with a second wet, damp cloth, and then dry the surface with a clean, dry towel. If necessary, add a natural leather conditioner to polish and protect the refreshed surface. For more ideas, see this tutorial on cleaning leather in your car.

Don't Use Bleach, Glass Cleaners, or Steel Wool to Clean Stainless Steel

Carley Knobloch

Chlorine-based bleach and ammonia-based glass cleaners can both cause permanent damage to stainless steel appliances or sink basins, and abrasive scrubbers like steel wool can also quickly scratch and dull appliances surfaces if you scrub against the grain. Both harsh chemicals can lead to a ruined or discolored finish, and over time, they can also deteriorate the finish.

Instead: Apply gentle cleaners using a microfiber cloth, and if polishing, always work with the grain for an even application.

Don't Use Harsh Cleaners on Wood Flooring or Furniture Surfaces

Emily Fazio

Tough cleansers can weaken and remove the polished finish that protects floors and furnishings, leaving the wood itself susceptible to damage.

Instead: Keeping wooden surfaces dust- and dirt-free is the best routine for wooden finishes, as it helps to keep the polished finish intact. Don't forget to refresh the polish occasionally to keep the finish looking like new.

Don't Use a Steam Mop to Clean Laminate Floors


The intensity of a steam mop can cause irreparable moisture damage when used to clean laminate flooring.

Instead: Sweep often, and use soapy water and a well-squeezed mop to tackle dirty spots. Always make an effort to dry the floor by hand to avoid excess water soaking in between the floorboards or tiles.

Don't Use Soap to Clean Cast Iron

Sam Henderson

Soap and heavy scrubbers will remove the seasoning on the surface of cast iron cookware, and as it can take a while to achieve that perfect cooking finish, you'll want to leave it in perfect condition if possible.

Instead: To clean cast iron, you can rinse it in hot water with a soft, non-abrasive sponge, but if the mess is mild you can also simply wipe the pan clean with a dry dishrag. In all instances, be sure you avoid soaking the cast iron, and allow it to dry completely to prevent it from rusting.

Original Article via HGTV


Posted in Home Maintenance
May 10, 2019

This Is How Much Money Folks Can Save by Shopping Around for a Mortgage (It's Quite a Lot)

We all know to shop around and check the sales when it comes to buying pricey items like a new car, a big-screen TV, or even a refrigerator with smart features. But many buyers don't realize they should do the same when it comes to mortgage lenders.

The average home buyer can save nearly $90 a month—or more than $31,000 over the life of a loan—simply by comparing interest rates offered by different companies, according to a recent LendingTree report.

The online financial services marketplace looked at mortgage rates and fees over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the 50 largest U.S. cities to come up with its findings.

"Different lenders will give you both different mortgage rates and fees," says LendingTree's Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze. "If lenders want to attract a lot of borrowers, they may have a low interest rate to be more competitive. ... [So] if you shop around and talk to more lenders, you might find a lender offering a better interest rate."

Nationally, the median home list price reached a new high of $310,000 in April, according to data. That makes every extra dollar count all the more.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates were an average 4.14% on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages as of May 2, according to Freddie Mac. For even 1 additional percentage point, borrowers can be charged tens of thousands of dollars before the loan is paid off.

Where can home buyers save the most money?

Those in the priciest cities can potentially save bundles. Buyers in San Francisco can potentially shave more than $44,000 off their mortgage payments over the length of their loans by shopping around.

And they'll want to save every dollar they can. The median list price in the city was a whopping $1.35 million, according to data.

"The more you borrow, the more you can save by lowering your interest rates," says Kapfidze.

Other cities seeing the most potential savings were San Diego, where buyers may be able to keep nearly $43,000 in their pockets. It was followed by Denver (more than $42,000), Seattle (more than $41,000), and Albuquerque, NM (just over $40,000).

The big savings aren't just for people living on the coasts. Even buyers in cheaper parts of the country, such as Oklahoma City, can save about $24,000 by finding a lender offering lower mortgage rates.

"Wherever you are, there's going to be an opportunity to save," says Kapfidze.

Original Article via



May 8, 2019

When Is the Best Time to Sell Your House? 5 Factors to Consider

When is the best time to sell your house? Timing can make a big difference in terms of selling your home quickly and for the most cash. But here's the thing: The rules on pinpointing that best time might not be what you think.

The assumption that spring is always the best time to sell is not necessarily true. The general direction of your local economy and mortgage interest rates come into play as well.

There’s no crystal ball for reading the housing market, but there are ways to stack the deck in your favor. Here are five things to consider before putting your house on the market.

1. Spring isn’t always the best season to sell your house

Though conventional wisdom maintains that the spring home-buying season (April to June) is the best time to sell, that’s not always the case. In fact, one recent study even found that sellers typically net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November. Surprised?

One reason may be that the spring home-buying season generally means you’ll have more competition from other home sellers—and that may require you to price your home more aggressively in order to attract buyers.

"Listing in the spring means you are positioning yourself to compete with several other homes," says Jersey City, NJ–based real estate agent Cheyanne Banks. "So as a seller in the spring, you have to price and market your home flawlessly to show buyers that your home is more desirable than the place next door.”

Additionally, a number of experts recommend listing a home in February or March so that the property hits the market before the competition ramps up—which may explain why a 2018 study by ATTOM Data Solutions of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017 found the second-best day of the year to sell a home is Feb. 15, with sellers netting an average premium of 9% above their house’s estimated market value on that day. (Sellers nab a 9.1% premium above market value on June 28.)

Winter is also a hot time of year for people relocating for jobs, says Jennifer Baldinger, a real estate broker in Scarsdale, NY.

“One of the biggest months for corporate relocation is January-February, so those buyers who need to move quickly are out in full force looking for new homes,” she says.

2. Keep an eye on the local economy

The strength of the U.S. housing market as a whole certainly plays a role in home prices. According to a analysis of annual price growth rates, a home's value generally increases 3% to 4% a year when the economy is strong, driven by inflation and natural population growth. From 2011 to 2016, the national housing market was recovering from the bubble at a slightly higher speed: 6.3% a year, on average.

You’ll want to assess your local economy's conditions when figuring out when to list your home. One benchmark you can use is the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which monitors single-family home sales in 20 major U.S. cities. Another valuable resource is the Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability trackerfrom the National Association of Realtors®.

3. Mortgage rates matter, too

Generally, more people buy homes when mortgage rates drop, historic data shows. As a result, prospective sellers should be monitoring the mortgage market, says Jack Guttentag, author of “The Mortgage Encyclopedia.”

Need help keeping an eye on interest rates? has a mortgage rate trends tracker, which lets you follow interest rate changes in your local market.

4. Wait until your home's in good shape

To fetch top dollar for your home, the property must show well. This may require you take time to make repairs to your house.

"Any defect or condition that affects the intended function or operation of a major house system should be fixed," says Kathleen Kuhn, president of HouseMaster, a national chain of home inspection offices.

Translation: Taking care of leaks, built-in appliances not functioning properly, insect infestations, plus any imminent safety or environmental hazards, is crucial before listing your home. Even making cosmetic changes (e.g., repainting the kitchen or sprucing up the property's landscaping) can make your home significantly more appealing to home buyers.

Keeping up with your neighbors is also important. If all the houses on your block are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then it’s likely worth it to spend the extra cash—and the time—primping your own home for sale.

5. Your personal preparedness is a priority, too

Yet no amount of timing should eclipse what time is right for you—personally, professionally, and otherwise. Are you ready to move on, or up into bigger digs? Many homeowners sell when they change jobs or when their children switch schools, or when the kids fly the coop and the parents are ready to downsize. So, take stock of your own situation when deciding whether to put your house on the market now or wait.

Original Article via

May 8, 2019

Did You Make the Most Common Home-Buying Mistake? Here Are 6 Ways to Fix It

What's the most common home-buying mistake? If you're reading this from a cramped living room, or while lying in your itty-bitty "master" bedroom, you probably know the answer: buying a too-small home.

The mistake is so common that I—a seasoned real estate writer!—made it, too. And plenty more otherwise-smart homeowners are realizing their starter home might be their forever home and wishing they had sprung for a few more bedrooms.

"All too often, this mistake is made by first-time home buyers upgrading from an apartment rental," says Mark Cianciulli, co-founder of The CREM Group.

But soon enough, the buyers realize their mistake—just like we did. Our cozy two-bedroom suited us fine until we began floating the idea of having kids. Panic quickly gripped us: As two work-from-home adults with three animals and regular visitors (thanks, out-of-state fam!), we didn't even know where we'd put them.

Suddenly, calling our home "cozy" seemed like a euphemism for something far more sinister.

Fellow small-home buyers, don't give up hope: Making your adorable abode work long-term isn't an impossible task. Here's how to make your cramped space function for you.

1. Add on to your home

If you adore the neighborhood, adding space to your existing home can turn a cramped cottage into a lifelong home. Check local restrictions first, then consider whether you could double your square footage with a second story, or transform an unused part of the backyard into a master suite.

This is the easiest way to make a tiny house suit your family's growing needs. But keep your budget in mind.

"This can be an expensive undertaking," Cianciulli says. "You're essentially building a new portion to the home."

Costs vary dramatically depending on your location. Expect to spend $80 to $200 per square foot to expand your home's footprint, and $100 to $300 per square foot to add a second story.

2. Inside, think vertical

You're not interested in selling, and you definitely don't have the budget to add on. No sweat! Think up. Find a talented carpenter and get yourself some serious built-ins—complete with hidden helpers.

"It's relatively easy to complement built-ins with clever, space-saving furniture that not only looks great, but serves many purposes," says Andrew Hillman, a broker at Hillman Real Estate.

Create gorgeous workstations by integrating a desk that folds into a bookshelf, or upgrade your laundry space with pull-out drying racks. Use every inch of real estate to make your home feel like a mansion.

3. Reconfigure the layout

Ready to knock down some walls Chip "Demo Day!" Gaines–style? Your floor plan will thank you.

"The best and most economical solution can be reconfiguring the existing layout of the home," Cianciulli says.

Perhaps your home would feel larger if you transformed your rarely used dining room into a master bedroom. Or maybe the living room is awkwardly placed, interrupting the home's flow.

"Even if each day has you frantically searching for ways to streamline and simplify, each home has the potential to be efficient with the right design," says Larry Greene, the president of design and remodeling company Case Indy.

But this isn't a DIY job: Hire a professional architect or remodeling company to creatively reconfigure your space. Consider going with a local company that has worked with similar homes.

"They'll be able to show you how remodelers have dealt with similar design problems and provide solutions that are specific to the challenges of your local area," Greene says.

4. Swap out your furniture

Maybe you used to have an oversize living room—so you bought a huge sectional. Now it's crammed into your current home's much-smaller TVroom, making the entire floor plan feel cramped.

It's time to ditch old furniture that doesn't suit your space and integrate sleek, smaller pieces.

A few years ago, Hillman helped a buyer purchase a small city apartment. Then came buyer's remorse. Hillman stepped in to help her redesign, choosing minimalist, transformative furniture.

Soon, "she was happy about her hip, trendy, spacious small home," he says. "She's now addicted to optimizing and organizing her home with creative furniture concepts."

In addition to ditching bulky items, choose furniture that has storage or does double duty, like this industrial pop-up coffee table ($599) from West Elm.

5. Expand your outdoor space

A versatile outdoor living area "immediately expands your living room outward, making it a fun place to entertain and relax with guests," Greene says.

If you're located in a warm climate—or even one that enjoys a decently long summer—create unique, cozy dining and entertaining spaces outside. Need inspiration? Lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess' comfortable outdoor living room is serious backyard goals.

If you live in a cold climate, you don't have to sacrifice outdoor living, either. Transform a rarely used porch into a sunroom and enjoy natural light all year long.

6. Sell your home

OK, fine: This isn't really salvaging the situation. But any discussion including the words "I hate my house" deserves at least a quick peek at this last-ditch option. If you're suddenly expecting triplets, a two-bedroom bungalow very well might strain your sanity.

If you're truly down in the dumps, consult with your real estate agent. This is "the obvious solution," Cianciulli says, but also a major commitment.

Consider exhausting all the options above before you settle on selling, and prepare to make difficult sacrifices. If you picked your too-small space because it fit your budget and you loved the surrounding neighborhood, don't expect to find a larger home nearby unless you're willing to pony up significantly more cash.

Original Article via

May 4, 2019

DIY for Dummies: 5 Home Improvement Projects Perfect for Beginners

It starts like this: You’re listening to a co-worker describe tiling their own kitchen backsplash last weekend. “That doesn’t sound so hard,” you think to yourself. “I could do that!”

And sure, you could—but should you?

Some projects, like renovating your entire kitchen or turning a closet into a full bathroom, are too ambitious for most beginners. But even if you’re a DIY newbie, there are plenty of projects you can tackle without specialized expertise or experience.

Plus, becoming more handy around the house is empowering: “You’ll make mistakes along the way, but figuring out how to correct those mistakes will teach you as much or more as if you’d gotten it right the first time,” says Shawn Finley, owner of Noble and Oak Renovation & Restoration in Liberty, MO.

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get going? Start with one of the projects below for an easy entry into the wonderful (and let’s be honest, sometimes stressful) world of DIY home renovation.

1. Paint a room or a piece of furniture

Painting is the ultimate DIY project for newbies.
Painting is the ultimate DIY project for newbies.


You don’t need to be an art school grad to paint a room. Beginners will love the fact that painting is an inexpensive, low-risk job that offers instant gratification.

“Just by painting your walls, you’ll uplift the look of your home in an instant,” says Michelle Swier, owner and partner of MKE Design Build in Milwaukee.

“Special prep work, paints, and equipment are pretty important to give good results, but painting a room is a great way to get practice and learn how paint flows, dries, and hides,” Finley adds.

If you’re unsure about colors, Swier suggests a using a fresh coat of white paint on trim and a bright white on ceilings. For walls, choose any shade that suits your style.

Not ready to commit to that big of a change? Start smaller, by painting a nightstand or an old piece of furniture that could use an update.

A word of warning: If you’ve never painted before, giving your kitchen cabinets a face-lift might be too risky for your first DIY project.

2. Replace or refresh your hardware

Changing out hardware can make your home feel like new.
Changing out hardware can make your home feel like new.


The best DIY projects for newbies are the ones that make the biggest impact for the least amount of money and effort. Swapping out your cabinet and door hardware fits this bill.

Walk around your home and determine which hardware doesn’t match or could use an upgrade.

“Don’t be surprised that you may find several different finishes and styles that are ready to be swapped,” Swier says. “This is a great beginner DIY task that can give your home that fresh look.”

All you need is a screwdriver and a free afternoon. If you’re replacing drawer pulls, don’t forget to measure the distance between the screws to make sure your new pulls will fit.

If you want to up the DIY ante and save some money, keep your existing hardware and give it a makeover with spray paint. After removing your hardware, lay it down on an old sheet or on cardboard in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. A few light coats of spray paint can breathe new life and personality into rusty old knobs and pulls.

3. Touch up trim and caulk

Trim is often overlooked: It brings every room together, but over time, it endures wear and tear—especially baseboards, which attract dirt and dust and get scuffed up.

If your trim is looking worn, you can easily brighten it up by cleaning it with an all-purpose cleaner or a Magic Eraser. For seriously scuffed trim, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders.

Then, check around the house for places where your caulk could use a touch-up.

“It’s usually not hard to find places where trim has separated from the wall a little, or maybe around a window or door casing,” Finley says. “If it happens to be on an exterior wall, recaulking can help save energy, which is always a good thing.”

Caulking is an easy task for DIY beginners, but Finley suggests going slow, to avoid mistakes.

“It’s easy to add more caulk, but once you have too much on the work piece, it can turn into a messy headache,” he says.

4. Create a gallery wall

Take your art game to the next level with a gallery wall.
Take your art game to the next level with a gallery wall.


We've all probably hung a framed painting at one point or another. But to graduate from Wall Art 101 to 201, try your hand at assembling a perfectly curated gallery wall. It’s an extra challenge, but nothing a newbie can’t master.

For this project, you’ll need a tape measure, picture hangers, and a level. A gallery wall requires plenty of measuring to determine where each piece should go, and the level will help you hang everything evenly. If you’re hanging heavier pieces, use a stud finder to locate the sturdiest part of the wall that can support the most weight—or, in lieu of picture hangers, use drywall anchors and screws.

The good news: A gallery wall is forgiving if you make a few mistakes here and there.

“If something isn’t quite right, you can usually fix it by adjusting the location of the picture to cover the wrong hole you made,” Finley says.

5. Create a home maintenance to-do list

Let’s face it: Routine home maintenance doesn’t offer the satisfaction of a dramatic before-and-after photo for the ’Gram. But it’s one of the most important tasks you can learn to handle on your own.

To get started, break up your maintenance to-do list into two columns, for indoors and outdoors. Go for a walk around the exterior of your house and take inventory of what needs attention now and what you’ll need to address in the future.

“Take note of tree limbs that need trimming, siding on the home in need of repair, and make sure that downspouts and gutters are moving water away from your home,” says Jenny Naughton, executive vice president and risk consulting officer at Chubb, a global insurance provider.

Then, do the same for the interior.

“Create or use an online inspection checklist to remind yourself of routine maintenance, like testing sump pumps and replacing HVAC filters, as well as visual inspections of water line connections to toilets, refrigerators, and washers,” Naughton says.

At the end of the day, learning how to handle routine maintenance will give you the insight into identifying issues before they get out of hand, which can save you money and hassle in the long run.


Original Article via

April 30, 2019

DIY Paper Stars for Memorial Day/Fourth of July


Original Article via Lia Griffith


Posted in Home Decorating
April 30, 2019

Study: First-Time Buyers Are Better Mortgage Shoppers


Newbie home buyers are more likely to shop around for a better mortgage loan term than repeat buyers, a new study from LendingTree shows. Studies have shown that shopping around for a mortgage can be a smart move, too: Home buyers could see a median lifetime savings of $40,959 in interest on a $300,000 loan by comparison shopping.

LendingTree researchers recently compared first-time buyers with repeat mortgage borrowers to see who is the more savvy shopper.


First-time buyers may be new to the real estate world, but they are entering the loan process prepared, the study confirmed. Fifty-two percent of first-time buyers consider more than one lender when choosing a mortgage, slightly more than 48 percent of repeat borrowers who do the same. Further, 29 percent of first-time buyers apply for a mortgage with more than one lender compared to just 20 percent of repeat buyers.

Researchers also note that first-time buyers may be more likely to shop around because they are concerned about qualifying for a loan. Only 24 percent of home buyers said they were very familiar with the different types of mortgages available, compared with 52 percent of repeat borrowers who said they were. Not surprising, first-time buyers also were less familiar with all aspects of the mortgage process, given it’s the first time they’re going through it.

Original Article via Realtor Magazine
Posted in Real Estate News
April 30, 2019

10 Things to Do in Your Garden in May

No matter where you live, May is a busy time in the garden. No matter what your gardening interest/obsession—vegetables, flowers, roses, shrubs, and trees—it’s time to don your work gloves and dig in. 

Solenia begonia hanging basket1. Decorate with Hanging Baskets
Brighten porches, patios, and pergolas with a generous helping of flowering hanging baskets. Filled to the brim with geranium, bidens, verbena, calibrachoa, petunia, annual phlox, or other flowers, hanging baskets require minimal care to keep them looking great all summer. Water them every day and offer them a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer every 10 days to keep them at their finest.
Tip: Remove faded flowers to encourage the development of new blooms. Your baskets will look tidier if you clip off dead flowers.

2. Plant Tomatoes
Across most of the country, May is the ideal time to set out tomato plants. These heat-loving vegetables grow best when the nightly temperatures remain above 50 degrees F and all frost danger has passed.
Tip: If you’ve had problems growing tomatoes in the past, look for disease-resistant varieties. Look for the letters VFNT on the plant tags. This means that variety is resistant to verticillium, fusarium, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus – common diseases.

Patio with Tropic Escape hibiscus and mandevilla3. Go Tropical
Put away your passport! Plant a paradise in your own backyard with tropical beauties such as Tropic Escape hibiscus and mandevilla. These easy-care tropicals, along with other jungle favorites such as variegated ginger, canna, bird-of-paradise, palm, and ti plant, thrive as far north as Canada and Minnesota during the summer months. Move the plants indoors when frost threatens.
Tip: For best effect, plant hibiscus in a large pot and let annuals such as verbena or calibrachoa trail over the pot’s edge.

4. Spice Up Your Garden
Frost-sensitive herbs such as basil, dill, rosemary, marjoram, cilantro, and fennel can be planted now. These herbs require a sunny spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. They need well-drained soil that doesn’t stay muddy after a rain. Or, you can plant them in containers right outside your kitchen door and snip fresh herbs whenever you need them.
Tip: The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning when the moisture and oils in the leaves are the most concentrated. Harvest right after the dew dries.

Cannas by Costa Farms5. Bring On the Bulbs
In the northern part of the US, most spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths have finished flowering. Clip away the dead flower stalks, but leave the foliage in place until it dries naturally. This allows the plant to build up strength for next year’s blooms. Meanwhile, it’s a great time to plant summer-flowering bulbs such dahlia, gladiolus, canna, tuberous begonia, calla, and caladium. Plant them in beds, borders, or containers. In frost-free areas, these bulbs will bloom all summer and can remain in the garden all year round.
Tip: Tall dahlia varieties require a stake or support to keep them from toppling in the wind. Install supports when you plant the bulbs so you can train the plants as they grow.

6. Light Up the Shade
Add a much-needed dose of color to shady spots in your landscape with versatile perennials such as hosta and heuchera (often called coral bells). Both of these super-easy perennials come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Hostas, for example, are available in 4-foot-tall giants as well as 4-inch-tall dwarfs. Plus, both hosta and heuchera are prized for their colorful foliage as well as their stalks topped with pretty flowers.
Tip: Tough enough to grow in almost any soil, hosta and heuchera will do better in a rich, organic mix. Mulch them to preserve soil moisture and eliminate weed competition.
See more easy perennials for shade!

7. Camouflage an Eyesore
Fast-growing and beautiful vines quickly scramble up and over unsightly buildings, garages, or fences. Annual vines such as morning glory, hyacinth bean, and cypress vine can be started from seed sown directly in the garden. Just sow the seeds about 6 inches away from the structure you want to cover. Perennial vines such as wisteria, honeysuckle, clematis, and trumpet vine offer a more permanent solution, but require sturdy supports to keep them upright. Tropicals such as mandevilla, jasmine, and sky vine are a spectacular option for frost-free climates.
Tip: Some perennial vines such as wisteria and trumpet vine can be vigorous and require regular pruning to keep them in check. Avoid planting them against your house where they might grow out of control.

Azalea8. Prune Shrubs
Early-flowering shrubs such as pussy willow, forsythia, azalea, and lilac can be pruned now (right after they finish blooming) if you want to shape them. If you wait more than three or four weeks after the shrubs flower, you’ll be removing developing flower buds for next year. Always use pruning shears, never use a hedge trimmer, and clip the branches off at different lengths inside the shrub for a more natural look. Avoid giving your landscape a severe crew cut. 
Tip: If you have an old, severely overgrown shrub such as a lilac, cut the limbs back to the ground to rejuvenate the plant. You won’t get flowers for a few years, but the plant will sprout fresh growth from the base. Sprinkle a little granular fertilizer around the plant after pruning.

9. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch -- and Mulch Some More!
The best way to keep your garden (and your back) healthy is to mulch your garden with several inches of compost, pine needles, shredded bark, grass clippings, straw, or even newspaper. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture during the hot months and prevents weeds from taking over. Weeds that do germinate will be easier to pull. As the mulch decays it adds organic matter to your soil.
Tip: Some mulches last longer than others. Shredded bark and pine straw, for example, only need to be replaced every few years and are ideal for established landscapes. For vegetable and flower beds use mulch that decays faster such as grass clippings or straw. That way you can add new plants each spring without digging through mulch
See our guide to mulch.

10. Bring On Butterflies
Attract colorful butterflies to your backyard by planting a banquet of flowers they love. For example, nectar-rich perennials such as coneflower, black-eyed Susan, salvia, phlox, butterfly bush,and dianthus will attract butterflies. To lure the most butterflies to your landscape, include plants the caterpillars can feed on. Parsley, carrot, dill, and fennel, for example, are a favorite food for the larvae of Black Swallowtail butterflies. Their black-and-yellow striped caterpillars devour the leaves of these plants so be sure to plant extra in your garden.
Tip: Annual flowers will also attract butterflies. Zinnia, cosmos, tithonia, pentas, and lantana are all nectar factories that butterflies will flock to. Grow some in containers and enjoy butterflies around your deck and patio.
Get more tips for on how to make a butterfly garden.

Original Article via Costa Farms

Posted in Gardening
April 30, 2019

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in May

We've been fantasizing about it for months, and finally warmer weather has arrived. We know: You just want to fire up the grill and start working on your tan—we do, too! But before you can kick back in your hammock (or in your pool on your giant patriotic bald eagle float, if that's your thing), there are a few tasks you’ll need to tackle.

And you can bet they're all outside.

“The old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’ rings true and makes May prime time for landscaping and lawn care in most of the country," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

But it goes beyond gardening and yard work. Now's the last chance to take care of all that winter wear and tear and transform your home's outdoor space into something worthy of the host with the most.

The good news? We're here to make it as quick and easy on you as possible—with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores, you can knock them out and get back to that pool float ASAP. We’ve provided tips for doing each task faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.

1. Inspect brick and stone patios and walkways

Task: Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on hardscape surfaces made of loose (unmortared) brick, stone, and concrete paving materials. Check to see if frost heave and erosion have caused pavers to shift, rise, or sink. You’ll want to fix any unevenness for safety as well as aesthetic reasons.

Shortcuts: Repair hardscape surfaces using a wheelbarrow filled with playground sand and a sturdy trowel. Pry up displaced pavers, smooth and even out the bed with fresh sand, and replace the paver.

Call in the pros: This is a good job for a handyman. Expect to pay $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.

2. Feed your lawn

Task: After a wet spring, your lawn might be looking quite rich and lush. Since Mother Nature did the hard work, you can sit back and relax, right? Not so fast. Grass loves nutrients, so now's the time to add high-nitrogen fertilizer to help suppress weeds and keep your lawn looking great all summer.

Shortcuts: A push-powered broadcast spreader makes quick work of fertilizing your lawn. You’ll find spreaders suitable for an average suburban lawn for $35 to $100. If you have a cooking compost pile, you can substitute home-grown compost for commercial fertilizers.

Call in the pros: A lawn care company will spray on a chemical fertilizer for about $40 an application.

3. Repair wood fences and gates

Task: Cycles of cold and wet weather cause wood to move, twist, and warp. That can make garden gates fall out of alignment, and can cause fence pickets to loosen or fall off. Check for signs of loose fencing, and fix sagging gates.

Shortcuts: A cordless battery-powered nail gun ($250) makes quick work of refastening pickets and fence supports. Use only galvanized nails for outdoor work. Use a power drill fitted with a screw tip or a hex driver to remove or tighten loose screws and bolts in gates.

Call in the pros: This is a good job for a handyman. You’ll pay $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.

4. Mulch flower and vegetable beds

Task: Prevent evaporation and help keep weeds in check by insulating planting beds with 2 to 4 inches of mulch.

Shortcuts: Set aside a mulching day, and have a landscaping service deliver bulk mulch and dump it where you can get to it easily (like your driveway). Plan on 1 cubic yard of mulch to cover 100 square feet, with mulch 3 inches deep.

Call in the pros: A landscaping service will put in the mulch, but it'll cost you—to the tune of $250 to $560 for 500 square feet, depending on your location.

5. Wash windows

Task: As your yard takes shape and your gardens come into full bloom, you’ll want to see everything clearly. It's time to wash away winter’s dirt and grime from your windows.

Shortcuts: Have a partner clean the outside while you do the inside of the same window. That way, you can identify which side of the glass contains lingering streaks and smudges, and get rid of them on the spot. Plus, who wants to clean alone?

Call in the pros: In addition to cleaning the glass, a professional window washer will remove and clean screens and remove accumulated dirt from sliding tracks for $2 to $7 per window.

6. Get your grill in gear

Task: Nobody wants a rack of ribs with last year's grill gunk on them. Before you fire up the ol' barbecue, make sure your grill is clean and that any gas hoses and connections are secure.

Shortcuts: No matter what kind of grill you have, invest in a grill brush or other coarse cleaning brush, remove the grates and metal plates beneath them, and soak them in hot soapy water for five to 10 minutes. Then scrub hard. To rinse, spray them with the hose.

Cover the area where the grates usually go with foil, and use a stiff grill brush to clean grime from the hood and inside walls. Use a cleaner specifically designed for your grill's surface (e.g., stainless steel, porcelain, or cast iron), and reassemble all parts.

Call in the pros: There are professional grill cleaners who will take your barbecue from slimy to spotless, but it will cost you the equivalent of a few porterhouse steaks. This Denver cleaning service offers quotes from $185 to $279.

7. Make sure your AC is cool

Task: Now's your last chance to double-check your air-conditioning unit and make sure it's in good working order before the mercury starts to rise.

Shortcuts: Hook up a garden hose and spray the outside of the condenser to remove any dust that's settled on the unit and connections. (Yes, dust can affect your AC's effectiveness.) Don’t use a brush, and be careful if pressure washing—you could damage or bend the fins. Make sure to change the filter, too.

Call in the pros: Having a pro service your AC system costs $100 to $250 and includes cleaning the condenser and lubricating the fan motor.

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Posted in Home Maintenance
April 24, 2019

Open House 6005 Crescentbrook

Open House Sunday 4/28 2:00 - 4:00PM

6005 Crescentbrook Lane, Clemmons, NC 27012


CHARMING IN CRESCENT MEADOW! This stunning home with open floor plan flows beautifully from the kitchen, dining & 2-story living room to the deck for easy living and entertaining. The main level master and upper bedrooms and recreation room are just what the growing family needs. And for the owners that work from home, there are two .. yes two ... offices. The exterior has that "wow" factor with accent lighting, irrigation in the front yard, 3 car garage & front porch with ceiling fans.


Posted in Homes For Sale