landscaping en-US Save Money and Water With These 6 Clever Landscaping Hacks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-money-and-water-with-these-6-clever-landscaping-hacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="garden" title="garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Warm months always bring out a bit of the gardener in every homeowner. The grays and browns of winter transform into the vibrant greens of summer and coax even the most die-hard homebody outside. If you've noticed that your little slice of heaven could use some TLC but don't want to spend a mint, here are a few budget-friendly landscaping ideas. (See also: <a href="">10 Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way</a>)</p> <h2>1. Plant for Your Region</h2> <p>Plants do best in their native climates. To protect your landscaping investment, consider your region or climate zone as you choose your trees, shrubbery, flowers, and other vegetation. A handy <a href="">zone map</a> can help you stay on track with your selections and ensure that everything you plant matures and thrives year after year.</p> <h2>2. Go for Low H2O</h2> <p>Everyone <a href="">loves the look of a lush lawn</a>, but few of us enjoy the accompanying water bill. To keep your landscaping project on budget, don't forget about the long-term maintenance costs. Landscape for your region and climate, and select plant varieties that do well without a lot of extra water. It's not only good for your wallet; it's good for the planet. (See also: <a href="">The 6 Best Lawn Mowers</a>)</p> <h2>3. Buy in Bulk</h2> <p>Superstores make buying all sorts of landscaping supplies extremely simple and convenient, but that convenience comes at a premium price. Individual bags of mulch, pea gravel, and sod can add up quickly. Large landscaping supply companies can often drop off supplies by the truckload at much lower overall price. Don't need a whole truckload? Split it with your neighbors. Another option for less expensive materials may be as close as city hall &mdash; some municipalities offer free mulch as long as you're willing to haul it away.</p> <h2>4. Reuse and Repurpose</h2> <p>The salvage business is booming, but there are still treasures out there just waiting to be found and repurposed. Check out estate sales, auctions, thrift stores, and even the curbside on trash day. Shallow planters can be given new life as birdbaths, old fences and columns can become decorative accents and trellises, farm tables can be transformed into potting stands, and old stumps or blocks of stone can become garden benches.</p> <p>Get inspired by thumbing through outdoor design or gardening magazines, and challenge yourself to recreate your favorite ideas on a budget. <a href="">This piece</a> from Sunset magazine inspired me.</p> <p>The reuse idea can carry over into your plantings too. Is a neighbor's backyard being overtaken by bamboo? Offer to help cut them back in exchange for a few starts that you can add to your own yard. Ask friends and family to keep you in mind if they're removing old bushes, small trees, or replacing perennials. Weave these donated items into your larger design plan to save big bucks on buying new.</p> <h2>5. Turn Your Yard Into an Edible Garden</h2> <p>Over the past several years, there's been a quietly growing movement that aims to completely change the way we think about our lawns.</p> <p>The lawn-to-garden movement advocates that homeowners transition their yards from passive highly-manicured displays into <a href="">dynamic food- producing spaces</a>. The movement is driven in part by a local food sensibility that encourages folks to know where their food is grown and spurn produce that has to be imported. It's also motivated by simple frugality and self-reliance &mdash; by the idea that we can each take a more active role in our food production and lessen our dependence on big agri-business.</p> <p>For landscapers on a budget, what better way to be paid back for our labors than to use our lawns to source food? From tomatoes to herbs and from cucumbers to radishes, your lawn has the potential to save you money and put food on the table. Explore how to turn part of your lawn into a fresh, local, and organic produce stand. If your city or community has strict zoning laws or covenants that prohibit such activity, chat with your neighbors and see what changes can be made through the power of organized action. For a comprehensive guide on the lawn-to-garden movement, check out Fritz Haeg's seminal book on the topic, <em><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=193520212X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn</a></em>.</p> <h2>6. Get That Green Thumb Dirty</h2> <p>Sure, you may not have a backhoe sitting around in the garage, but there are landscaping projects that you can do yourself. Digging, hauling, planting, pruning, and even <a href="">some light construction work</a> can help you save big on landscaping contractor costs. Consider hosting a landscaping party and enlisting a few (brawny) friends to help out on a Saturday afternoon. Cold beer and warm pizza go a long way toward motivating and repaying your helpful crew.</p> <p>Regardless of the scope of your project, landscaping doesn't have to break the bank. With some careful planning, creativity, and help from friends and family, your yard can go from drab to fab in just a few weeks. And now is the perfect time to put those green thumbs to the test &mdash; just don't forget the sunscreen!</p> <p><em>What are your favorite budget landscaping ideas?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Save Money and Water With These 6 Clever Landscaping Hacks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Real Estate and Housing first time homebuyer gardening landscaping lawn care outdoor furniture Mon, 29 Jul 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 980896 at 6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer's Market <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Family getting keys to a house" title="Family getting keys to a house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="148" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to real estate, appearance matters. Especially in a buyer's market.</p> <p>Prospective home buyers hold most of the cards in today&rsquo;s real estate climate. That means sellers need to adjust expectations and prepare for the long haul. One of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your odds is to ensure your home looks the part.</p> <p>A disheveled, unkempt yard or messy interior turns off open house visitors. The key is to enhance the aesthetics without eating through your savings. Remember how the house sparkled when you fell in love with it? Make it sparkle again without overspending by checking out these tips below. (See also: <a href="">How to&nbsp;Sell Your Home When&nbsp;Your Neighbors Are Too</a>)</p> <h3>1. Tackle What Buyers See First &mdash; the Outside</h3> <p>Get rid of any pet excrement, as well as weeds, fallen branches, limbs, and bushes that cover nice parts of the house. Keep the lawn cut short. Trees and bushes near the house should not be more than two feet taller than the roof line. If you&rsquo;re willing to spend a few bucks, buy mulch to pour around trees and shrubs. Clean the siding, bricks, gutters, doorways, decks, and sidewalks by renting or borrowing a neighbor&rsquo;s power washer. Being thorough might take a day, but it&rsquo;s far less expensive to rent the machine than to hire somebody.</p> <h3>2. Clean Like You Never Have Before</h3> <p>Prospective buyers do not want to see clutter. Kids' toys, tools, dirty dishes, stacks of old magazines, and all other unsightly objects need to be packed away. The house must look tidy, which will in turn make it look spacious and comfortable. Cupboards, cabinets, and closets should be organized and decluttered. With things out of the way, scrub every inch of the house. Dust baseboards, lamps, fans, and shelves. Clean all the mirrors, windows, bathrooms, floors, stairs, and parts of the kitchen. Pretend you&rsquo;re having houseguests for a weekend or a very critical in-law for dinner. That should be enough to make you use a little extra elbow grease.</p> <h3>3. Be a Handyperson</h3> <p>Leaky faucets, jammed drawers, and broken light switches are just a few of the several <a href="">repairs you can make</a>. Unless you know for certain that your attempt will exacerbate the problem, there&rsquo;s no need to hire a professional. Having a well-maintained home supports your asking price, too. Fresh paint is a must. Generally, real estate agents suggest neutral-colored walls.</p> <h3>4. Experiment With New Layouts</h3> <p>Move furniture, lamps, throw rugs, and whatever else to see which rooms look spacious and inviting. Just because you&rsquo;ve had a room set up the same way for years does not mean it will look welcoming to potential buyers.</p> <h3>5. Add Some Visual Flair</h3> <p>Greenery adds a nice element to the interior but shouldn&rsquo;t cost much. Search your yard for colorful flowers worthy of a vase. Group small plants together on coffee or dinner tables to give the room a visual center. To ensure everything in the room can be seen, let the natural light in. Again, windows and sunlight make a room feel spacious.</p> <h3>6. Appeal to the Other Senses</h3> <p>The prospective homeowners are looking at your home, but they have four other senses. Turn on some easy listening and keep the house smelling fresh. Surely, they won&rsquo;t want to move into a sterile, quiet home. Not only should it look, sound, and smell like home, but it should feel like it, too.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer&#039;s Market" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Chris Birk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Real Estate and Housing cheap decorating landscaping selling a home Tue, 27 Sep 2011 10:00:12 +0000 Chris Birk 717079 at 6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-high-tech-tools-to-help-your-garden-grow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Baby turnips" title="Baby turnips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In many areas of the country, the seeds have been planted for various veggies and flowers. Trees have taken root in preparation for years of fabulous fruit. Time, sweat, and tears used to be the only way to ensure a bountiful harvest &mdash; and even then, there was no guarantee that weather and critters would cooperate with your best laid plans.</p> <p>While I can&rsquo;t promise that these six tools will usher in a promise of return on your investment, they are fun to use and can help fill in the gaps of your gardening strategies. (See also: <a href="">Vegetable Gardening: Four Cheap Hacks</a>)</p> <h3>PlantJotter</h3> <p>This subscription-based site offers a free 30-day trial, which makes it perfect for testing out before you buy. Features of <a href="">PlantJotter</a> include a handy journal, planning guides, photo book, and a maintenance calendar, all designed to help you reduce the guesswork of caring for and harvesting your garden. As with most gardening tools, PlantJotter won&rsquo;t tell you exactly what to do (there&rsquo;s no &ldquo;Hey! It&rsquo;s Thursday, time to <a href="">pick those tomatoes</a>!&rdquo;). It does, however, provide you with a loose framework and a personal history of your gardening, something that will help you improve year after year. In my experience, I&rsquo;ve found that <em>your own experience</em> is the key to successful gardening.</p> <h3>Home Farming</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t mind garden tools with a commercial sponsorship, this free site by Triscuit is actually very useful. In addition to a simple <a href="">garden planning</a> guide and some nice descriptions of various plants in their crop guide, the robust community surrounding <a href="">Home Farming</a> may be the most helpful of all components. With over 1,000 questions already asked by community members, the answer to your burning gardening question has likely been addressed. It also features some nice social media perks, such as the posting of your garden status to Facebook.</p> <h3>FlowerPedia App</h3> <p>If blooms are your thing, you&rsquo;ll surely love the smartphone app from <a href="">FlowerPedia</a>. While not free, it&rsquo;s priced way below a good hard-copy field guide, and it features photos and descriptions of over 150,000 species from around the world. Use it to identify that rogue perennial that pops up every year, or see what is blooming on a map near you. (This could be a fun way for kids to help learn their botany, too!)</p> <h3>Dirr&rsquo;s Tree and Shrub Finder</h3> <p>Not sure what that woody shrub is in your yard? The <a href="">Tree and Shrub Finder</a> app can help with that! Priced a little higher than most apps, this is actually an application version of the actual complete field guide for trees and shrubs. It includes zone info, water and light requirements, and planning tips. Because it&rsquo;s written by an actual expert, it has the most clout of any other app of its kind! (I could see this as being an invaluable tool for students as well as landscaping enthusiasts.)</p> <h3>Herbs+ App</h3> <p>Many people love growing herbs. They are simple, easy to care for, and have a plethora of uses. Armed with a great app like <a href="">Herbs+</a>, you can effectively use <a href="">herbs for cooking</a> and medicinal purposes wherever you go! Perhaps the best features of the app are the crisp, full-color photos, which help you identify unknown herbs, and the ability to view the Wiki page for each &mdash; without ever leaving the app!</p> <h3>Dave&rsquo;s Garden</h3> <p><a href="">Dave's Garden</a> claims to be &ldquo;hand down favorite website of gardeners around the world,&rdquo; and I believe it. It provides an endless supply of videos, a fantastic community forum, and article info you can&rsquo;t get anywhere else. Perhaps the most useful tidbits, however, come in the form of the collaborative tools. My favorites are The Garden Watchdog (a free directory of 7,292 mail-order gardening companies that have been peer reviewed by the community) and PlantScout (a searchable database of vendors by plant type). There is also a neat seed and plant swap component that really brings garden lovers together!</p> <p>Growing a garden may not be all that high-tech. Getting it right, however, may take a little extra skill that we can best acquire from our computers and iPhones.</p> <p><em>Do you have a savvy site or awesome app that we should know about?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Technology articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Green Living Technology gardening landscaping smartphone apps Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:48:12 +0000 Linsey Knerl 553482 at 5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the season for cleaning, fixing, and repairing things around the house. The problem is that many people simply open their wallets and pay for work that they could probably handle themselves, from leaky faucets and downed tree branches to pest control.</p> <p>You don't have to be a professional handyman to take care of common hiccups. In fact, a little bit of patience and diligence can eliminate repair and maintenance costs and help heal your bottom line. (See also: <a href="">DIY Home Improvement: 10 Free Options for Training and Advice</a>)</p> <p>Given that, here&rsquo;s a look at five household fixes and chores you can probably handle solo:</p> <h2>Landscaping</h2> <p>Hiring somebody to rake your leaves, mow your lawn, fertilize, and mulch your shrubbery isn't always worth the cost. Instead of getting an itemized list of tasks done by a lawn service, you&rsquo;ll get physical activity and money to put in your savings. Plus landscaping your yard gives you the freedom to do whatever you want creatively with the peace of mind that it&rsquo;ll be done to your specifications. (See also: <a href="">The 6 Best Lawn Mowers</a>)</p> <h2>Vehicle Maintenance</h2> <p>Minor car maintenance and repairs don&rsquo;t require a new skill set. Changing your oil, replacing a dead battery, and installing new headlight bulbs all take a few minutes to learn but can save hundreds of dollars in the long run. Beyond repairs, clean your cars at home. Washing your cars inside and out lets you scrub every nook and cranny. Now there won&rsquo;t be anybody to blame if crumbs litter your passenger seat, except your messy passengers.</p> <h2>Plumbing Repairs</h2> <p>Leaks and clogged drains happen. They&rsquo;re inevitable. But don&rsquo;t call a plumber who solves the problem in 10 minutes and charges you for an hour. O-rings, plumbing tape, and clog-removing chemicals easily save you a bundle of money. If trying to fix simple plumbing problems sounds intimidating, at least give it a try before diving for the phone. Worst case scenario, you have to call a professional. At the same time, avoid exacerbating problems by taking on projects beyond your means. There's no shame in knowing your limitations.</p> <h2>Pest Control</h2> <p>Pesticide sells for less than $15 at hardware stores and comes with spraying mechanisms. Pay close attention to the directions and clear areas you plan to spray beforehand. Be sure to mind the pets, too. <a href="">Killing the insects</a> yourself keeps the pesky ones away, but you still need a hired hand to take out termites. Don&rsquo;t let a termite bond lapse, and keep a pest-control company under contract for termite extermination if termites are prevalent in your area.</p> <h2>Mending Walls</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s common for drywall nails to pop out, be an eyesore, and ensnare clothes. Use a nail set to hammer obtrusive nails back into the stud. Then, about two inches above or below the loose nail, tap in another nail flush with the wall. Spackle the dents, let dry, and sand smooth. Paint as necessary.</p> <p>These are just a handful of do-it-yourself fixes. Please feel free to share your tips below.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Chris Birk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Home articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home car repair Home repair landscaping Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:00:08 +0000 Chris Birk 491468 at Landscaping for Energy Conservation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/landscaping-for-energy-conservation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="house" title="house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Until alternate forms of energy become inexpensive and widely available, heating and cooling costs are going to continue eating up a large portion of our monthly budgets.</p> <p>While it may take some time to fully experience the benefits of energy-conservative landscaping, the long term benefits may well be worth it. Trees, shrubs, vines, and man-made structures can modify the climate around your home to reduce heat gains in summer and heat losses in winter.</p> <p>Over time, investing in green landscaping can reduce your heating bills as much as 25 percent and summer cooling bills by 50 percent or more.</p> <p>Here are six factors to consider for energy-efficient landscaping.</p> <h2>1. Air Infiltration</h2> <p>Air infiltration is the passage of outside air driven by the wind through cracks around windows and doors. This forces an equal amount of interior air out of the home through openings that face away from the wind.</p> <p>In winter, air-filtration can represent up to half your total heat loss on the windiest, coldest days. Fortunately, properly placed plants can reduce air infiltration by reducing wind velocity near the home.</p> <h2>2. Conduction</h2> <p>The amount of heat conduction depends on the insulating property and thickness of your building materials, the surface area available for heat flow, and the temperature difference between inner and outer surfaces. Landscaping can help reduce this heat conduction.</p> <p>Exterior surface temperatures are controlled primarily by the outside air temperature, wind velocity and solar radiation. In summer, trees and shrubs can reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the outside surfaces of a home, and thus reduce heat conduction into the house. In the winter, blocking cold winter winds will reduce conductive heat loss.</p> <h2>3. Solar Radiation</h2> <p>Large expanses of east- or west-facing windows will admit undesirable solar radiation in the summer, while large south-facing windows can help heat a home in winter. Planting vegetation around your home can regulate solar radiation during different seasons of the year.</p> <p>Strategically planted greenery along your home's sunny borders will shade south-facing roofs and walls that receive the most direct midday sun. You also can place plants to shade east- and west-facing walls that receive direct sunlight.</p> <h2>4. Planting Shade</h2> <p>If you live in a region with a great deal of sun, plant deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves each fall) in an arc on the east, southeast, south, southwest, and west sides of your home. Plant shade trees based on their mature height, shape of tree crown, position of the sun, desirable views, and roof and wall height. Remember, small trees grow faster than large trees and will provide early protection. Taller trees should be planted so they won't shade smaller trees when they reach maximum height.</p> <p>Summer shade for a south-facing roof generally depends on overhanging tree crowns. You'll want to plant shade trees as close to the home as practical so the crowns absorb the maximum sunlight. Select a species that won't easily break and promptly remove diseased or damaged limbs.</p> <p>In colder climates, planting trees for maximum summer shade can reduce your home's winter sun exposure by up to one third. However, the winter sun is typically less than 45 degrees above the horizon, so tree trunks will provide the most shade. For this reason, it's best to plant shade trees along the southern edge of your home. Remember to prune the lower trunk for maximum solar heating in winter. You may need only two or three large deciduous trees with well-developed crowns.</p> <p>Also, trees aren't the only way to create energy-saving shade. Consider covering east- or west-facing walls with vines or shrubs.</p> <h2>5. Wind Protection</h2> <p>Windbreaks can save you up to 25 percent in heating costs. Evergreens planted upwind will divert cold winds away from your home. The optimum distance for reducing wind velocity is about one to three times the tree height. However, a windbreak can provide reasonable protection at a distance of six-times tree height.</p> <p>Because windbreaks can lead to snow drifts, extend a row of trees 50 feet beyond the ends of the area being protected. Where space is limited, a single row of evergreens should do it. However, up to five rows of several evergreen species is more effective for larger properties. If you're planting several rows of trees, leave at least six feet between trees. Remember to consider the mature shape of the tree and how it will ultimately grow.</p> <p>Because it takes time to establish an effective windbreak, you might want to construct a fence with an open weave pattern until trees reach their optimum heights.</p> <p>Windbreaks have the additional advantages of protecting your privacy and improving the aesthetics of your home. Some greenery also will attract wildlife and provide them with winter protection and food.</p> <h2>6. Landscape Plan</h2> <p>Before you begin planning, it greatly helps to develop a scaled sketch. Measure the height of your home, and create a plan using one-quarter inch for each foot. Mark compass directions, doors, solar collectors, windows and other glass areas. Observe how the sun and wind affect your home during a winter storm through snow-drift directions and patterns. Sketch in windbreaks to block this wind flow.</p> <p>Next, you'll want to check out sun exposure during different seasons. How does the light strike the house between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the winter and summer? Incorporate into your plan measures to reduce this exposure.</p> <p>To determine the best vegetation for your home, consult with your county Extension agent.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Landscaping for Energy Conservation" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by the <a href="">Coupon Sherpa</a>, a source of reliable online, printable and grocery coupons. You can download the free <a href="">Coupon Sherpa iPhone app</a> with in-store mobile coupons, or check out more great tips from the <a href="">Ask Coupon Sherpa blog</a>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">6 Tips to Shopping Consignment Stores</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Ways to Sell Your Stuff</a></li> <li><a href="">9 Steps to Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Coupon Sherpa</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Home articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home energy costs garden planning landscaping Tue, 20 Apr 2010 13:00:02 +0000 Coupon Sherpa 32068 at