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

Oct. 1, 2019

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM

The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCMAs the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

Original Article via Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 1, 2019

Monster Mash-Up Pumpkins

Mix and match pumpkins and gourds to create these adorable monsters.


To make eyes, wrap 12-gauge orange and black aluminum wire into spirals; attach to gourd with hot glue. On a second, slightly larger gourd, add vertical or horizontal stripes with painter’s tape and black paint. Once dry, stack eye gourd on striped gourd, using skewers to secure if necessary. Pierce sides of striped gourd with awl and insert black-painted stick arms.


Original Article via Woman's Day

Posted in Home Decorating
Oct. 1, 2019

10 Tips for October Gardening

  1. Care for your lawn by raking or brushing leaves off the grass. Try collecting them in a leaf bag, which will turn them into useful leaf mould. You can also cut the grass for one last time this year. Make that last cut slightly higher to protect the lawn from winter frost.
  2. Trim hedges so they are crisp and tidy for the winter.
  3. October’s the time for clearing up. Greenhouses, ponds, gutters and water butts may all need cleaning out, wooden garden furniture will need covering or storing for the winter and terracotta pots will need bringing inside.
  4. Divide herbaceous perennials. Plant some back in the ground; take others to pot up and give away to friends in the spring.
  5. In the veg patch plant garlic cloves with their pointed ends up, and spaced 10cm apart.
  6. Plant bulbs for a colourful spring display. Try planting clumps of five or seven bulbs of the same variety through a border for a really effective display.
  7. Plant out spring bedding and biennials, such as wall-flowers, for spring displays. Pots and hanging baskets can be planted with spring bedding, and teamed with bulbs, grasses, cyclamen and violas for a colourful and textural display.
  8. ‘Plant’ prepared hyacinths in vases for winter scent and colour in the house.
  9. Harvest pumpkins for eating as well as carving.
  10. Enjoy the apple harvest! Why not visit an apple day in your area, where you can taste local varieties?  

Original Article via Eden Project

Posted in Gardening
Oct. 1, 2019

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in October

Ah, October. Temperatures are dropping, the days are growing shorter, and the pumpkin spice latte is, in a word, inescapable. But before you go hog wild with the Halloween decorations and settle in for that horror movie binge session, take some time to prep your home for winter's onslaught (buzzkill, we know!).

Luckily, we're here to make it a breeze with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this month. Some of these are so quick and easy that you won't even miss a beat of that "Friday the 13th" marathon (although we'd recommend skipping "Jason X." He's in space—do we need to say more?) Read on for details about where to start, and who to call if you need reinforcements.


1. Clean your dryer vents

This one's a lot more serious than it sounds. Excess lint can dramatically increase the risk of fire.

"A key indicator of a dryer vent needing to be cleaned is if clothes aren’t drying as fast as they usually do, or if it takes multiple cycles to get them completely dry," says Maria Vizzi of Indoor Environmental Solutions.

DIY: Prevent buildup from the get-go by emptying your lint trap every single time you use your dryer. If possible, move your dryer closer to an exterior wall; if your vent pipe is particularly long or has to snake around corners, you're at a greater risk of a clog.

Call in a pro: If you want peace of mind that all your vents are squeaky clean, call in a professional. You'll spend anywhere from $90 to $180.  Look for a dryer technician specially trained by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

2. Seal your outdoor surfaces

Cold temperatures and snow can cause your paint to peel, leading to moisture intrusion and wood rot, says Brian Osterried, a product manager at paint company PPG. Protect your exterior surfaces by applying a stain and sealant.

DIY:  Clean the surface first—taking care to remove any built-up ickiness between planks or in crevices—using a screwdriver or putty knife. Wait at least 48 hours before sanding the surface using 80-grit sandpaper, then sweep or vacuum, and apply your sealant.

Call in a pro: The cost of professional sealant jobs vary depending on size and the surface to be sealed, but for an average deck, expect to spend around $800.

3. Store your yard furniture

The fastest way to make your outdoor furniture look faded is to leave it out in the elements. Store your grill, deck chairs, and outdoor set in a shed or garage.

Shortcut: If you don’t have the storage space, invest in durable covers for your furniture to protect it from snow and rain.

Call in a pro: We suppose you could hire a personal assistant for this task (who are you, the Queen of England?!), but this one really just requires a little lifting and five minutes of your time. You've got this!

4. Stow that hose

If you live where it snows (yes, it's time for that word again—sigh), it's a good idea to drain and store your garden hose before temps start significantly dropping.

"Hoses with water in them will freeze and burst," says Lisa Turner, author of "House Keys: Tips and Tricks from a Female Home Inspector."

DIY: Here's a clever hack: Unroll your hose on a downslope and then recoil it upslope so the water drains out, Turner recommends. You can store the hose outside in a shed or underhang if most of the water is removed. But it’s best to stash it inside if possible.

Next, shut off the water supply to your external faucets. Then drain the line by turning the faucet on and letting the residual water drain out.

For extra protection from freezing temps, install a foam insulator cover over each external faucet.

Call in the pros: If you see any faucet damage or leaking that won’t stop, call in a pro ASAP to repair or replace it. Expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $300.

5. Do a 'fall cleaning'

"Open those windows up wide and do a thorough fall cleaning of your home that includes dusting areas that don’t always make the cut, like ceiling fans and ceiling corners," says home organization expert Marty Basher.

DIY: Wash your draperies, dust your blinds, remove your window screens, and wash the windows inside and out.

Call in a pro: Depending on where you live, a professional home cleaningcould run you upward of $100. Now is also the time to have your carpets and rugs professionally cleaned to rid them of dust and other allergens (you should do this once a year). For a professional carpet cleaning, expect to spend anywhere between $100 and $250.

6. Feed and seed your lawn

"After a long, hot summer your lawn could probably use a bit of extra TLC, and seeding is proven to be the most effective way to repair damage," says Bryan Raehl, general manager of Agronomic Lawn Management in Virginia Beach, VA.

Plus, by seeding now—before the first frost of the season—you can allow seeds to begin taking root in the soil and get a jump on spring growth.

DIY: Choose a seed for your lawn that's right for your budget and your geographic region. You can complete a soil test, which will allow you to measure your soil's health and nutrients, using a DIY kit. You'll then have to prepare your lawn, lay the seeds by hand or using a spreader, and water.

Call in a pro: If you don't know what you're doing (or if your thumb isn't the greenest), call in a professional landscaper, who will charge between $250 and $1,300.

7. Inspect your gutters and downspouts

Maintaining gutters and downspouts, which direct water away from your home, can go a long way toward preventing catastrophic roof leaks—especially if you live in an older home. This is particularly important during autumn, since it's prime time for those gutters to get clogged with fallen leaves and twigs.

DIY: If you're comfortable shimmying onto the roof, grab a ladder and have at it. Clear leaves, dirt, and pine needles from gutters, and examine downspouts for damage or loose pieces. Use a hose to flush out small bits of debris, and check the underside of the gutter to ensure no water leaks through. Inspect the downspout to verify that water is running freely through it and away from your home. Then inspect the flashing around your chimney and any openings in the roof (like skylights) for leaks.

Call in a pro: If you're afraid of heights (guilty!), call in a pro for a thorough inspection. Expect to shell out around $150.

Original Article via

Posted in Home Maintenance
Sept. 6, 2019

Mortgages Rates Fall Again—and the Fed Could Push Them Even Lower

Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level since October 2016 due to weaker economic data over the past week.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49% during the week ending Sept. 5, down 9 basis points from the previous week, Freddie Mac reported Thursday.


Rates for 30-year home loans have only increased nine times so far this year — otherwise, they have dropped or remained flat from week to week.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage moved down 6 basis points to an average of 3.00%, according to Freddie Mac. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.30%, falling 1 basis point.

Mortgage rates roughly track the direction of the 10-year Treasury note. The yield on the 10-year note has generally fallen since mid-August, though this week it began to show signs of a rebound amid growing optimism sparked by planned trade talks between the U.S. and China.

“Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data,” Freddie Mac wrote. “While economic growth is clearly slowing due to rising manufacturing and trade headwinds, economic fundamentals are still solid for U.S. consumers.”

‘Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data. While economic growth is clearly slowing due to rising manufacturing and trade headwinds, economic fundamentals are still solid for U.S. consumers.’

Freddie Mac

The Federal Reserve released its latest edition of the Beige Book, its periodic commentary on the state of the economy, on Wednesday. Although the Fed’s language painted a fairly rosy picture of the economy, most downside risks persist. As a result, many analysts expect the Fed to cut interest rates by 25 basis points when it meets later this month.

“If there were some sense among Fed staffers that the rate cut should be postponed, they certainly did not establish a defense of that position in this Beige Book,” Ward McCarthy and Thomas Simons, Jeffries’ chief financial economist and senior money market economist, wrote in a research note Wednesday.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard has gone further than some of his other colleagues, arguing that a 50-basis-point trimming may be what’s needed to keep the Fed ahead of the curve on international trade’s effect on the U.S. economy.

Moves by the Fed don’t directly trigger moves in the mortgage markets, since the Fed manipulates short-term interest rates and not long-term rates like those on mortgages.

However, the Fed’s signals are typically baked into mortgage rates in advance of an expected cut to short-term rates. Therefore, people looking to take out a new home loan can reasonably expect mortgage rates to move downward in the coming weeks as long as the Fed is expected to cut rates.

Original Article via

Sept. 6, 2019

The Property Brothers Reveal a Home Feature Every Pet-Friendly Home Must Have

Drew and Jonathan Scott are accustomed to finding homes that suit their clients' highly specific needs. However, in the latest episode of "Property Brothers," the Scotts are challenged to meet the needs of some furry, four-legged clients, too.

In the episode titled “Owning an Oasis,” Las Vegas couple Mike and Sophia have a family that's growing—by one canine member. Though they already have a dog, they’re planning on adopting another, and the small backyard they have in their rental is hardly enough space. They need to get into a new, dog-friendly home with a big backyard.


Will the brothers be able to get this couple, and their pets, into the right home—and on schedule? Here’s what they do to make this family feel right at home, and some lessons we can learn from this renovation.

Leveling the floor creates better flow

When Mike and Sophia first tour their future home, they hate the big step down from the entryway to the living space. The step is awkward, so Jonathan decides to raise the floor of the living room to give the house a better flow.

Sure enough, Jonathan's plan works. With the floor raised and the rooms level, the former living room, now dining room, doesn't feel so strangely separated from the rest of the house.

When Sophia and Mike finally see the finished product, they love the change.

“This works a lot better,” Sophia says.

An updated fireplace makes all the difference

fireplace will usually add value to a home, but most buyers probably wouldn’t be too excited about the outdated fireplace that comes in Mike and Sophia’s new home.

With light brown tile and shiny black doors, the fireplace drags the whole house back to the 1980s. Luckily, Jonathan knows just how to fix it up. He changes out the dated tile with some geometric gray and white tile and puts in a larger mantel.

And in the end it's all worth it.

“The fireplace really turned out well,” Mike says. “I love the big mantel, and even the tile work is really cool.”

This fireplace's white and gray tile is modern and chic.
This fireplace's white and gray tile is modern and chic.


Tile is perfect for pet-friendly floors

So what's the one thing every pet-friendly home must have? Floors that can withstand the scratching of a dog's nails! Jonathan knows the house's original dark hardwood floors aren't going to work, so he replaces this surface with porcelain floor tiles with a wood-grain finish.

“I love these floors because they look beautiful,” Jonathan says. “They bring the warmth of hardwood, but they are completely puppy-proof and they will last forever.”

These floors are not only puppy-approved, but they also look great!
These floors are not only puppy-approved, but they also look great!


Skip the shower door

To stay on budget, Jonathan looks for ways Mike and Sophia can save during renovation. One spot where he sees money-saving potential is the shower door, or lack thereof.

Instead of installing a shower door, Jonathan suggests simply putting in a fixed glass panel. He explains that this glass wall would keep the water from leaking onto the floor just as well as a traditional door, but would save the couple about $800 to $1,000. They agree to try it.

By the time the shower is finished, it’s clear the couple made the right choice. Not only is the shower functional, but it also looks great.

“You don’t need to have a door when a shower is this big,” Drew says, “and it’s actually more stylish to have that open flow to the shower.”

This shower is stylish and cost-effective.
This shower is stylish and cost-effective.


Wall-mounted faucets are less expensive than free-standing styles

Sophia and Mike’s master bathroom needs some serious work—and part of that means a new bathtub.

They decide on a modern, free-standing tub with a free-standing faucet, but they later change their mind. When Jonathan points out that a wall-mounted faucet would be less expensive than the free-standing one, Mike and Sophia decide to take his advice. They choose a faucet with a brushed-gold finish, and the result gives a lot of character to the room.

“Going with a wall-mounted faucet is saving them money but not sacrificing style,” Jonathan says.

These gold fixtures look great over the modern tub.
These gold fixtures look great over the modern tub.


A kitchen island trumps a peninsula

Sophia and Mike’s home comes with a strange kitchen feature: a peninsula. It has an unsightly rock design, and it takes up a lot of space. So of course, the Scott brothers plan on taking the peninsula out and replacing it with an island.

When the work is done, Drew admires the now more open space.

“You don’t need to block off a walking path,” he says, “This is better flow overall.”

Mike and Sophia are also pleasantly surprised by the finished product.

“This kitchen is really exactly what we needed,” Mike says.

While a peninsula doesn't leave much room for walking around, this island leaves plenty of space
While a peninsula doesn't leave much room for walking around, this island leaves plenty of space


Transom windows add more light

French doors may brighten a house, but Jonathan has an idea to make these stylish doors even better: He adds a transom window above the doors.

“It’ll just let in even more light, and it raises the height of the doors,” Jonathan says.

Of course, the result is beautiful. Paired with floor-to-ceiling curtains, these doors are perfect in this space, and the extra window brightens the space up even more.

These French doors, with a transom window on top, let in plenty of natural light.
These French doors, with a transom window on top, let in plenty of natural light.


Do the Scott brothers deliver?

With a great living space, a gorgeous kitchen, and a stylish master bathroom, it’s hard not to be impressed once the brothers have finished their work. And sure enough, Mike and Sophia are excited.

“This is stunning,” Sophia says upon seeing the interior.

Mike is excited, too, saying, “This is just amazing.”

In the end, it’s the perfect home for this couple—and their pets.

Original Article via

Sept. 6, 2019

HOA Drama and Other Issues Buyers Wish They'd Considered Before the Deal Closed

Everyone hopes that life after closing on a house will be smooth sailing, but some unsuspecting buyers end up in turbulent waters. The following anecdotes outline missteps that first-time home buyers can make and, most importantly, how to identify those red flags before you're locked into the sale.

No room to grow

Many of the first-time homeowners Chicago-based real estate agent Jonathan Self speaks to say that they underestimated how much space they would need.

“The family expanded faster than they had planned, and they now need to move without owning the house for enough time to reap any benefit of price appreciation," he says. "Life happens, but you want to make sure you've had four to five years minimum in the home at the normal rate of appreciation—and that's just to break even.”

To avoid having to move because of a lack of space, buyers should ask themselves the following questions: Is the size of your family going to change? Is there a chance an older family member will need to move in with you? Do you have space for a dog, if you want one?

Some first-time homeowners get tripped up by perfectly staged homes.

“Finding the right home isn't just the sexy, fun stuff like finish selections,” Self says. That's why you need to consider how much space you and your family will really need down the road so you can stay put.

HOA drama

First-time homeowners would do well to understand the pros and cons of a homeowners association before moving into an area that has one. That's why Self goes as far as going through the HOA's meeting minutes with his clients who are considering living in one of these communities.

“Neighbors are always an X factor, and as agents, we do what we can to investigate. But your best bet at spotting any internal HOA drama is to check out those meeting minutes and budget line items,” he says.

A lack of HOA meeting minutes or transparency with the budget is also a big red flag.

Becky Beach, a business owner and blogger at in Austin, TX, says her HOA dues are $500, but a lack of communication means she and the other homeowners do not know what the money is going toward.

Living in a community with an HOA suits many buyers, but you want to know what you're in for before signing on the dotted line.

Rushed to buy a home

Aleka Shunk, founder of the blog Bite Sized Kitchen, warns first-time home buyers against a hasty home purchase like the one she made.

While searching for a home in New Jersey, one of her friends sent a flyer from neighbors looking to sell their home. The Shunks loved the home and the area, and the highly motivated sellers wanted to move within six weeks. One of the sellers was an agent, and preferred that the Shunks didn’t use an agent on their behalf—and also said the home would be sold as is.

“I found a local inspector who said there were a few small problems, but overall the house was in good shape," Shunk says. "I also hired a lawyer to handle the legalities.”

However, a few months after moving, the problems started.

“I woke up to no water in the bathroom faucet, and then a neighbor informed me that the water was gushing down the driveway,” Shunk says. Water was flowing from the ceiling in both the garage and living room. After a week of frigid temperatures, two pipes burst—to the tune of $40,000 in water damage. The cause of all of these problems? There was little to no insulation throughout the house.

“We were just so excited and could not wait to get into our own home,” Shunk says. “However, because we rushed, we did not have time to ask many questions.”

It took three months to fix all of the damage, and the family is saving up enough money to properly insulate the house. The lesson: Don't rush into buying a home, and always get a second opinion.

DIY real estate transaction

Many buyers—first-time or not—underestimate the value of having a real estate agent represent them. You may be capable of combing through online listings, but navigating the negotiations, paperwork, and legal stipulations that arise during a real estate deal requires experience.

“This is a big transaction, therefore, it is very helpful to have another qualified person speak and deal on your behalf,” says Mark Cianciulli, a real estate broker and founder of The Crem Group in Long Beach, CA.

For example, he says, even a home being sold as is can be negotiated—especially one like the Shunks' that came with major problems.

“Because we did not use an agent, we did not know the right questions to ask,” Shunk says. “What does ‘as is’ even mean?”

While she did use a lawyer and got a home inspection, Shunk says she trusted the seller to ensure that everything was taken care of.

Original Article via

Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 29, 2019

What’s the Latest on Interest Rates?

Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since Q4 of 2018, settling at near-historic lows. This is big news for buyers looking to get more for their money in the current housing market.What’s the Latest on Interest Rates? | Keeping Current MattersAccording to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey,

the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.60 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2016.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes how this is great news for homebuyers. He states,

“…consumer sentiment remains buoyed by a strong labor market and low rates that will continue to drive home sales into the fall.”

As a potential buyer, the best thing you can do is work with a trusted advisor who can help you keep a close eye on how the market is changing. Relying on current expert advice is more important than ever when it comes to making a confident and informed decision for you and your family.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home is on your short list of goals to achieve, reach out to a local real estate professional to determine your best move.

Aug. 29, 2019

10 September Gardening Tips

1. Plant Annual Flowers
In frost-free regions, September is an ideal time to add annual flowers, such as begonia, ageratum, zinnia, and celosia, to your garden. They thrive in the mild autumn temperatures and bloom through the early winter. Make sure to water them every day or so for the first week or two to help get them established. Also, mulching them helps maintain consistent soil moisture. Look for transplants with bright green leaves and thick stems. Avoid tall, leggy specimens. 
Trial Garden Tip: Pair annual flowers with ornamental grasses for a spectacular effect. The blooms of the annuals contrast nicely with the dramatic, airy seed heads of ornamental grasses.

2. Add Color with Mums and Pansies in Your September Garden
Instant impact! That’s what you’ll get when you add ready-to-bloom chrysanthemums and pansies to beds, borders, and containers. These easy-care plants relish cool weather and provide an injection of color in your September garden. Look for stocky plants that are still in bud so that you can enjoy them longer. Blooming plants are great if you need color for a same-day event, but they’re further into their bloom cycle and won’t last as long as budded specimens. 
Trial Garden Tip: Chrysanthemums are available in two basic types: florist and garden. Florist mums make wonderful gifts, but do not do well outside. For landscape use, look for garden mums.

3. Improve Your Soil
Fall is a great time to improve the soil in your September garden. After you remove dead and dying vegetables and flowers, spread a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of rotted manure or compost over the surface of the soil. Spade or rototill it into the top several inches of soil and rake smooth. If the area had been mulched previously, just spread the soil amendments over the mulch and then rototill everything at the same time. In smaller beds, use a garden fork to turn the soil. If you want to protect your soil from wind erosion during the winter, sow a cover crop of annual rye grass now in September. It grows quickly and keeps the soil in place until spring. By then, the grass will be dead and you can turn it under to add an extra dose of nitrogen to your soil.
Trial Garden Tip: If you have a source of fresh horse or chicken manure, spread it directly over your garden in early fall. Winter snows and rains help break it down so its high nitrogen content won’t burn your crops in the spring. At other times of the year, fresh manure needs to be composted before applying.

4. Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Enjoy a bounty of bloom in your garden next year by planting spring-flowering bulbs now. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and other early-bird bloomers can be massed in beds by themselves or tucked in between established perennials and shrubs. Planting bulbs is easy: Just dig individual holes (8 inches deep for large bulbs like daffodils, 4 inches deep for smaller bulbs such as crocus), drop the bulb in, and cover with soil. Or, dig one large hole and toss in a dozen or more bulbs.  Planted this way, they’ll pop up in one impressive drift of color. 
Trial Garden Tip: Select a variety of bulbs that bloom at different times to ensure color from early spring through to early summer. Some species, such as snowdrops, bloom as early as February, while late bloomers such as alliums flower in early June. 

5. Clean Up Vegetable Gardens
The best way to prevent insects and diseases from affecting your vegetable garden next year is to clean it up this fall. Always remove rotting fruit, diseased foliage, or dead vines as soon as they appear. This is especially true with crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, melons, and squash. Pests and diseases love to overwinter on these vegetables if they are left in the garden to rot. Compost your garden refuse as soon as possible and, if your crops have been ill over the summer, consider burning the remains or bagging them for garbage pick-up.
Trial Garden Tip:  Make sure any leaves or tendrils are cleaned off tomato cages and supports before you store them for the winter. It only takes one insect egg case or spore clinging to the support to cause havoc in your garden next spring.

6. Bring Houseplants Indoors
If you haven’t done so already, bring vacationing houseplants indoors before frost. Give each plant a cleansing spray from the garden hose, then inspect them closely for insect hitchhikers hiding in the foliage. Wipe the pots clean to remove any soil that may have splashed up on them during the summer. Let them dry and then carry them into the house placing them on saucers to protect your floors from runoff. Some plants may also have put on a lot of new growth over the summer and will require a bit of pruning to shape them up before you bring them inside.
Trial Garden Tip: To prevent unexpected soil pests from moving indoors, sink each pot in a bucket of water for a few hours before bringing the plant indoors. This process drowns or uncovers any slugs, snails, worms, or beetles hiding below the surface of the soil.

7. Enhance your Landscape
September is an ideal time to add shrubs and trees to your landscape. Hydrangeas, roses, and other flowering shrubs and trees flourish during the cool, moist fall weather. Just be sure to do a little research before you add any plants to your landscape: Look for varieties that are hardy in your climate and won’t grow too large for the space you have. And always remember that even the smallest sapling will eventually grow into a tree that could swallow your home if planted too close. 
Trial Garden Tip: Improve winter survival of trees and shrubs by watering them deeply right up until hard frost.  The soil should be moist before it freezes solid.

8. Improve Your Lawn
Give your lawn some attention this month. Most cool-season lawns benefit from dethatching, aeration, and fertilization. You can also seed or sod new lawns at this time or fix bare spots in older lawns. It’s also the season to control perennial weeds such as clover and dandelion. In the fall, these weeds prepare for winter by pulling nutrients and starches from their leaves into their roots. When you apply a lawn herbicide in the fall, the plants will also draw the chemical into their roots and die. Southern grasses such as bahia, Bermudagrass, zoysia, and St. Augustine can also be fertilized this month. Choose a fertilizer that contains controlled-release nitrogen that will feed the turf as it needs it.
Trial Garden Tip: There’s no need to purchase lawn tools such as aerators, dethatchers, or rototillers: They are all available to rent at your local home store.

9. Dry Flowers
Savor the colors of your September garden all winter long by creating dried bouquets of your favorite flowers. Strawflower, globe amaranth, celosia, sedum, statice, yarrow, and artemisia are just a few examples of flowers that are easy to dry and preserve beautifully for winter bouquets. Just cut the blooms (leaving as long a stem as possible) in the morning after the dew evaporates. Bundle them, and hang them upside down in a dry, well-ventilated, dark location. After a week or two they can be taken down and mixed together to create everlasting bouquets or wreaths. 
Trial Garden Tip: Use a piece of foam core at the bottom of your vase to keep dried flowers in place. Just stick each stem into the foam base for stability.

10. Engage a Kid
Now that school is back in session, engage the budding scientist in your life with a terrarium project. Terrariums are fun and allow children to create a miniature world all their own. Plus, kids learn valuable lessons about how soil, plants, water, and air interact in a perfect environment. They can even choose between a jungle or desert themes. 
Jungle-theme terrariums can include plants such as peperomia, pilea, fern, nerve plant, selaginella, begonia, philodendron, and saxifrage. In a desert garden, try mammillaria, echeveria, sempervivum, portulacaria, crassula, kalanchoe, sedum, and haworthia.
Trial Garden Tip: Any glass container can be transformed into a jungle terrarium. Avoid the urge to water too frequently: Misting your plants once a day provides needed humidity without flooding the container. Dish gardens planted with desert plants should only be lightly watered once or twice a month.

Original Article via Costal Farms

Posted in Gardening
Aug. 29, 2019

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in September

For most of the country, September signals the end of summer's dog days and a return to fuzzy sweaters, chilly evenings, and, of course, pumpkin spice everything (this is America, after all).

But before those first autumn leaves begin to fall, it's crucial to take a few steps to stave off any cold weather home breakdowns. Luckily, we're here to make it as easy as possible for you with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this month. These quick, relatively painless tasks can potentially save you major repair costs down the road.

1. Check walkways for cracks

1. Check walkways for cracks

"Before the grass is covered with snow, or it's too cold to venture outside, check walkways for cracks and loose paver material," says Ryan Williams, general manager of 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric. "Fix walkway and entryway areas before slippery weather can cause a tripping or falling accident."

DIY: Small cracks can be fixed with simple epoxy and shouldn't take more than a few hours.

Call in a pro: Serious cracking and concrete damage will require professional repair—expect to spend north of $1,000, although exact costs will depend on the severity of damage and cost of materials and labor in your area.

2. Clean and repair the siding

"After a long summer, siding can become dirty or mildewed," says Chris Granger, vice president and general manager of Sears Home Services.

September is a great time to use a pressure washer to clean it up—and inspect for more serious problems before winter comes. Check first for rotten or warped areas, and inspect your caulking, which can shrink and crack over time.

DIY: You don't necessarily have to shimmy up a ladder for a close-up of your siding; the pros we talked to recommend using a smartphone camera or drone to zoom in on problem areas. Inspect the butt joints where two pieces of siding meet and, if you spy cracks, consider tackling the job yourself.

How? A day ahead, thoroughly wash your work surface with soapy water. Once the area is completely dry, squeeze a bit of caulk into the gap in the siding, then smooth it with your finger. Wipe it once more with a damp sponge to even out your work.

(Pro tip: Be sure to never caulk the underside of your siding, which could prevent the boards from expanding and contracting during changing weather.) Once you've fixed any problem areas, let everything set for a few days. Then follow up with a good pressure wash (you can rent a machine for around $35).

Call in a pro: If your siding has seen better days (think missing, bent, or cracked pieces), consider replacing it. As a general rule, fiber cement siding is priciest, followed by wood, aluminum, and vinyl. Replacing vinyl siding on an average 2,200-square-foot home will set you back more than $6,500 (in addition to the cost of removing existing materials). If you choose wood or fiber cement siding, you'll likely spend twice that. For an expert pressure washing, expect to spend $100 to $300.

3. Check and repair leaky faucets

"Before the temperatures start to dip, examine leaky faucets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility room locations," Williams says. "Most likely, whatever time and money you spend now will be considerably less than a broken pipe in the dead of winter."

DIY: Just turn on the faucet, turn it off, and watch for any telltale dripping. Your fix might be as easy as replacing the washers on the faucet's knobs, or you might have a worn cam washer, valve seat, or spring. We have you covered with our step-by-step guide to fixing a leaky faucet.

Call in a pro: If you'd rather not deal with it yourself, you can always hire a plumber. Estimates for fixing leaks vary, but expect to spend at least $100.

4. Make sure windows are sealed tight

All double- or triple-pane windows should have a tight seal around their perimeter that separates the individual panes of glass and traps inert gas between them, providing a break between the temps inside and outside your home. If you notice that your windows are frequently foggy, that's likely a sign of a failed seal.

DIY: Try cashing in on your windows' warranty first; many companies will cover failed seals for a decade or longer.   

Call in the pros: If your warranty won't cover a total replacement, check out a professional window defogging company. These pros will reseal the window's perimeter and replace the gas between the panes for an average of $300 (depending on location and the number of windows).

5. Sweep the chimney

When temperatures finally fall, you'll want to be ready to light your fireplace. But before your first toasty blaze of the season, make sure your chimney has been cleaned.

"Built-up soot in your chimney can increase your risk of a chimney fire, and a clogged chimney can also increase the presence of carbon monoxide in your home by not allowing it to escape when you have a fire burning in the fireplace," says Lindsey Pasieka of

Call in the pros: No DIY here—leave this (dirty) job to a pro, who'll charge an average of $225 for an inspection and sweep.

6. Change the air filters and tune up the furnace

This one really should be a maintenance task you do every month, Granger says. Dirty air filters can lead to higher energy bills and irreparably damage your HVAC system.

DIY: Changing your air filter is a fairly straightforward task—just be sure to check the size of your existing filter before you hit the hardware store. Pros also recommend removing all vent covers and vacuuming pet dander, hair, and other debris that can accumulate and gunk up your HVAC system.

Call in the pros: Take things a step further by hiring a professional to tune up your unit before winter arrives. A good contractor will ensure your thermostat is working properly, fix loose electrical connections and gas connections, and check your unit's blower motor and heat exchanger. Expect to spend $80 to $150.

7. Service the yard equipment

Autumn—not spring—is actually the best time to show some love to your lawn equipment before you put it away for winter.

"It’s harmful for equipment to sit all winter long with old oil in the case and dirt on the other components," says Lisa Turner, author of "House Keys: Tips and Tricks From a Female Home Inspector."

DIY: Change your oil and filter, replace air and gas filters, and install new blades if necessary. Then perform the lubrication and adjustment maintenance required by your equipment's manual. But you don't want to drain the gas tank completely, Turner says. Instead use a premium gasoline without ethanol but with a gas preservative. Just before you store it, fill the tank with this mix.

Call in the pros: If your unit won't start or turn over, the cost for a lawn mower repair pro will run about $35 to $115. If your lawn mower's engine needs to be replaced, you could shell out $800 to $900 for a new engine.


Original Article via

Posted in Home Maintenance