landscaping http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12050/all en-US 13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000013042218.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gardening is a satisfying lifelong hobby that keeps me fit, saves me money on food, and &mdash; without sounding too cheesy, I hope &mdash; lets me live a more beautiful life.</p> <p>Many people turn to home gardening hoping to gain these benefits, only to find at the end of the summer that they've spent hundreds of dollars on dead trees and bug-ravaged vegetables.</p> <p>Many garden failures are caused by human error, rather than a plague of locusts. The following 13 basic skills are worth spending time to master, as they will not only help you get the most enjoyment out of your garden, but also save you money, too.</p> <h2>1. Soil Analysis</h2> <p>Before you plant, it's important to know if your garden soil can actually support life.</p> <p>The first thing you will want to know about your soil is its pH. Is your soil alkaline, acidic, or neutral? Soil that is too alkaline or acidic keeps plants from absorbing key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, so your plants suffer malnutrition. Although you can send your soil to a professional lab for testing, there are several inexpensive ways to <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Test-Soil-pH">test soil pH at home</a>.</p> <p>The second thing you need to know about your soil before you plant is its structure. Soil that is too sandy won't hold nutrients, and soil that has too much clay can suffocate a plant's roots by limiting its access to water and air.</p> <p>Although some people are blessed with perfect soil, most of us have dirt with less than ideal pH and texture. Luckily, even <a href="http://www.hobbyfarms.com/6-soil-problems-and-amendment-solutions-5/">poor soils can be improved</a> by adding amendments.</p> <h2>2. Composting</h2> <p>One of the best soil amendments to add to your garden is compost. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost">Compost is an excellent soil conditioner</a> that improves the texture and nutrition levels of all types of dirt. Also, since compost is made from household garbage, it saves you money in two ways: It's a free and natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, and it cuts down on your garbage bill and your water bill.</p> <p>Compost is really just controlled rotting. Contrary to popular belief, a well-tended compost pile isn't stinky, and composting is not a hard skill to learn, as microbes and worms do most of the work! Compost is made from two types of waste: green and brown. Green waste is made up of nitrogen-rich waste like grass clippings, coffee grounds, and food waste. Brown waste is made up of carbon-rich waste like dead leaves, pine needles, sawdust, or shredded paper. If the compost gets too stinky, add more brown waste. If the compost isn't breaking down fast enough, add more green waste. Well-balanced compost has a nice loamy smell and texture.</p> <p>Composting dramatically cuts down on what my household sends to the landfill, which is good for the planet. In addition to composting all of my plant-based food waste and yard trimmings, I also compost greasy pizza boxes and used cardboard food containers that cannot be recycled.</p> <p>Compost also helps my heavy clay soil retain water, which is vital, since Southern California is currently suffering from an endless drought.</p> <h2>3. Tracking Sunlight</h2> <p>Most vegetables need plenty of sun to thrive, so if your yard is shady year-round, you will be disappointed in your harvest. How much sunlight your growing area gets determines what you can grow. Although there are sun tracking apps, it's easy to <a href="http://getbusygardening.com/how-to-determine-sun-exposure/">track sun exposure</a> with just a pen and paper.</p> <h2>4. Seed Starting</h2> <p>Planting your vegetable and flower garden from seed has two huge advantages. First, there are far more varieties available in seed form than as seedlings. Second, unless you are like me and read seed catalogs with the intensity that most people reserve for pornography, <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/garden-hack-citrus-peel-starter-pot-seedlings/">gardening from seed</a> is the least expensive way to grow plants.</p> <p>FYI, you can buy seeds and plants that produce food with Food Stamps! Consider stretching your SNAP benefits by keeping a small garden. If you buy a package of tomato seeds for $3.00 and grow 10 tomatoes from just one plant, that is a huge return on your investment.</p> <h2>5. Seed Saving</h2> <p>Why buy seeds when you can just use seeds that you grew yourself last season? Saving seeds isn't just a great way to shrink your garden budget. It's also a great way to grow your community. My friend Steve has an impressive victory garden that he grew from seeds that he &quot;checked out&quot; from the <a href="http://www.kclibrary.org/seedlibrary">Kansas City Public Library</a> with his library card. If you love the idea of a seed library as much as I do but can't find one in your area, the Richmond, California Public Library has a tutorial on <a href="http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/create-a-library.html">how to start your own</a>!</p> <h2>6. Container Gardening</h2> <p>Not everyone has fixable soil or even open ground to use as a growing space. Luckily, container gardening allows even apartment-dwellers to create their own green space. Although I am incredibly vain about my vast collection of terra cotta pots, you can grow ridiculous amounts of food in containers such as plastic storage tubs and recycled food buckets. That said, Pinterest is full of brilliant ideas for <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/romanapartment/upcycled-garden-planters/">upcycled planters</a>, made from items you probably already own, for all kinds of vegetation.</p> <h2>7. Plant Propagation From Stem Cuttings</h2> <p>I learned how to <a href="http://needlesandleaves.net/blog/2013/5/31/propagating-leggy-succulents">grow succulents from cuttings</a> as a kid and never looked back. Every year when I trim back my succulents, I save the cuttings to use as barter currency with the neighbors, to sell at my garage sale, or to pot up and give as gifts. Plants are great gifts, for just about every occasion. This one little skill makes/saves me at least $100 every year between what I save on buying gifts and what I sell for cold hard cash. More importantly, I managed to plant 90% of my front yard with plant cuttings I collected from my friends and neighbors. I saved hundreds of dollars on my landscaping budget because I barely had to buy any greenery.</p> <p>But why limit yourself to just succulents? There are so many great indoor and outdoor plants that can be grown from cuttings.</p> <h2>8. Transplanting</h2> <p>My husband loves to collect&hellip; everything. So he's always out in the yard, sticking something new into the ground. Unfortunately, up until recently, about 50% of what he planted immediately croaked. I only discovered the cause of his brown thumb this year. He had no idea that he needed to immediately water plants after transplanting to prevent shock. Now that he's learned the basic rules of transplanting, he hasn't lost a plant.</p> <h2>9. Watering</h2> <p>Everyone knows you can kill a plant by underwatering, but did you know the most common cause of death in indoor plants is overwatering? Fortunately, learning the proper way to water your plants, both inside and out, is not rocket science. Also, learning <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/22/six-ways-to-save-water-in-your-garden">good watering techniques</a> will cut down on your water bill, even if you don't live in a drought-stricken area.</p> <h2>10. Mulching</h2> <p>I love to mulch, because it provides immediate gratification. The yard looks instantly tidier after mulching. Also, mulch cuts down on weeds, and helps the soil retain water.</p> <p>I am a great proponent of liquor store mulch, aka <a href="http://permaculturenews.org/2012/07/20/gorgeous-gardens-from-garbage-how-to-build-a-sheet-mulch/">sheet mulching</a>, because I don't even have to weed before I lay down the sweet, sweet topcoat. Also, it's basically free. Here's how I mulch:</p> <ul> <li>Get cardboard boxes from my corner liquor store.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cover my dirt, weeds and all, with flattened cardboard boxes, working around existing plants. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water until the cardboard is super wet. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel green waste onto the cardboard. I use manure that my chicken-raising neighbor is so happy to give me for free, but you can use compost, grass cutting, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel brown waste on top of everything to hide the stinky green waste. I used dead leaves and shredded cardboard boxes, but you can use what you have on hand. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water, water, water.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Wait. By the following year, you will have lovely topsoil to grow in and far fewer weeds.</li> </ul> <p>By the way, if you aren't planning on growing a garden next season and just want to make your current planting look better, many cities offer free mulch, made from chopped up city trees, as part of their recycling programs. Just lay down that wood mulch over cardboard and call it a day.</p> <h2>11. Managing Pests</h2> <p>My mother is a master gardener. The second she thought my sister and I were old enough to handle garden tools without goring each other, she enlisted us in slug patrol. Every morning before school, we had to go out to the garden and decapitate every slug we found. To this day, I can throw a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009JXFUMW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B009JXFUMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KTHMWMHZ3FKPFQSI">weed digger</a> five feet with deadly precision.</p> <p>But killing slugs <em>Game of Thrones-</em>style is just one of the ways I manage pests in my garden.</p> <p>My favorite method of pest management is companion planting, because the plants do most of the maintenance work. One of my very favorite garden hacks is The <a href="https://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-three-sisters">Three Sisters</a>, an Iroquois planting method that is perfect in its simplicity. The three sisters are corn, climbing beans, and squash. These three crops are planted together in a mound of dirt. The corn provides a trellis for the beans. The beans are nitrogen-fixers, so they fertilize the soil for the corn and the squash. The squash's prickly leaves act as mulch, and they shade the roots of the other two sisters. The squash also acts as a defense against rodents and raccoons that don't like crawling through the prickly leaves to eat the beans and the corn. So genius.</p> <p>Because I am a beekeeper and own a koi pond, I cannot use chemical garden sprays without also killing my pets. Luckily, there are plenty of homemade bug sprays that do the job and are made of things you can find in your kitchen.</p> <h2>12. Pruning</h2> <p>There are a number of reasons why you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-diy-projects-from-ruining-your-life">leave tree pruning to the experts</a>, but pruning shrubs and other small plants is easy, once you know how. Although most people think of pruning as decorative, proper pruning actually keeps plants healthy by removing dead or dying parts of plants that have been damaged by weather, disease, bugs, or animals. Pruning can also make a plant more productive by forcing the plant to put more energy into producing fruit or flowers.</p> <h2>13. Maintaining Tools</h2> <p>I am terrible at this. After spending approximately $539,287 to repeatedly replace wood-handled tools that I left in the yard to the mercy of the elements, I finally had to purchase way too expensive, rust-proof, all metal tools. Don't be me.</p> <p>Actually, maintaining tools is remarkably easy. If you clean your tools after every use and store them in a dry place, you can make most hand tools last a lifetime.</p> <p><em>Do you have a green thumb? What garden skills save you the most money and time?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green">How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home composting frugal person garden gardening green thumb how-to landscaping skills Thu, 26 May 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Max Wong 1717714 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_gardening_000088044735.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to dress up her garden for cheap" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's spring, and you've had enough of being cooped up indoors. Outdoor living is experiencing a boom, with Americans now spending $60 billion a year sprucing up the space outside their homes, according to Garden Media Group. That's $200 for every American &mdash; even more when you consider all the people who don't have any outdoor space to spend on.</p> <p>So what if you don't have $200 or more, but you still want your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing" target="_blank">yard and garden to look nice</a>? There are lots of ways to brighten things up for free or cheap, especially if you're crafty.</p> <p>A word of advice before we start: If people start stopping by your yard asking how much your lawn ornaments cost, <em>you've gone too far</em>! Being mistaken for a yard sale is never a compliment.</p> <h2>Planters</h2> <p>You can spend anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars for pots to put plants in. But almost anything can hold a plant as long as you put drainage holes on the bottom. My uncle, the plumber, used to put his petunias in old toilets and bathtubs. It's not what I would choose, but it represented him.</p> <p>Start with these creative planter ideas, then think about what kind of containers would represent you. If you don't have the items around the house, many can be found free or cheap on Freecycle, at garage sales, or at thrift stores.</p> <h3>1. Give Pricey Planters the Boot</h3> <p>Have you got a single, outgrown child's boot in the back of your closet? <a href="https://feltmagnet.com/crafts/How-to-Make-a-Flower-Pot-out-of-an-Old-Rubber-Boot">Poke some holes in the bottom</a>, weight it with gravel, and you're ready to plant. If it's a plain old brown boot, you could always dress it up by painting on a design.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>2. Tin Pan Garden</h3> <p>Instead of buying terra cotta or plastic bowls for hanging planters, repurpose thrift store metal bowls, cups, or even coffee cans. Macrame straps were the crafty way to hang planters in decades past; for an update, try <a href="http://2knitsters.blogspot.ca/2010/08/my-mom-bought-this-little-gem-on-one-of.html">beaded wire</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>3. Have No Seat</h3> <p>Use an old, broken-down chair to dress up an ordinary planter. These instructions involve <a href="http://gardentherapy.ca/outdoor-chair-planter-project/">removing the seat</a>, if the chair has one, and putting on a fresh coat of paint.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $10&ndash;$20.</p> <h3>4. Barney Rubble Planter</h3> <p>For a rustic look, <a href="http://www.tampahomebody.com/tree-log-planter/">hollow out a fallen tree</a> trunk or limb and put plants inside.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free, if you have tools for the hollowing and drilling drainage holes.</p> <h3>5. Pedal Planter</h3> <p>It's a classic that's perfect for bike enthusiasts or those who want to imagine cycling along the canals of Amsterdam while they sit in the yard: The old <a href="http://www.organizedclutter.net/2013/07/add-bike-to-your-garden-just-for-fun-of.html">bicycle with a basket full of blooms</a>. Organized Clutter explains how she plopped a coconut fiber liner into an existing bike basket to make her planter.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5&ndash;$10 for the liner, assuming you can find a nonfunctional bike for free.</p> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Outdoor lighting can be pricey, but going without reduces the number of hours that you can enjoy your patio &mdash; especially if you live in a region where it's warm during the winter months when daylight is shorter. You're not going to get long lasting, quality fixtures with a shoestring budget, but these ideas can help you enjoy the evenings until you can afford something more permanent.</p> <h3>6. Tuna Can Lanterns</h3> <p>You wouldn't believe it, but you can make an <a href="http://inmyownstyle.com/2011/06/trash-and-thrift-store-treasure-outdoor-candle-lantern.html">elegant outdoor lantern</a> using an old broomstick, a tuna can, and a hurricane shade. A coat of metallic paint has the whole thing gleaming in a jiffy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5&ndash;$10 for hurricane shade, spray paint, metal adapter, and candle.</p> <h3>7. Repurposed Holiday Lights</h3> <p>Everyone has a string of old holiday lights in their basement, with only half the lights working, right? Instead of throwing those away, turn them into pretty outdoor orbs by combining them with another forlorn item: A round glass shade, frequently found in thrift stores.</p> <p>Ball up the light string and shove it in the globe. Once plugged in, you have a <a href="http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/landscape-lighting/">mystical glowing ball</a> you can place anywhere in your yard for effect and illumination. Just be sure to use light strings meant for outdoor use.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1&ndash;$15 for glass shades (cheaper for used, more for new).</p> <h2>Hacks and Crafts</h2> <p>These ideas will appeal to the makers among us &mdash; those who love finding new ways to use familiar materials.</p> <h3>8. Solar Renewal</h3> <p>When solar yard lights get old, the plastic covering their solar cells can cloud over, limiting the amount of energy they receive from the sun. One blogger figured out that you can rejuvenate these with a <a href="https://blog.kriegsman.org/2012/04/19/rejuvenating-solar-garden-lights-with-nail-polish/">coat of clear nail polish</a>, of all things.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1.</p> <h3>9. Moss Graffiti</h3> <p>Did you know you can gather moss, stick it in the blender with sugar and buttermilk, and <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Moss-Graffiti">paint it onto a wall</a> to create a live, growing mural or sign? I sure didn't!</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $2&ndash;$3.</p> <h3>10. Hacker Couch</h3> <p>The author of <em>The Basement</em> created a <a href="http://kaylasbasement.blogspot.com/2014/07/diy-outdoor-bench-update.html">bench from cinder blocks</a> and two-by-fours in less than an hour.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> About $40; more for optional cushions.</p> <h3>11. Magical Marble Fence</h3> <p>With a drill and a handful of marbles, you can transform a boring backyard fence into a magical fairyland. Just drill holes into a wooden fence and <a href="https://gardendrama.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/garden-art-on-the-cheap-diy-glass-marbles-in-your-fence/">place marbles into the holes</a>; sunshine will provide the dazzle.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1.</p> <h3>12. Key Chimes</h3> <p>What to do with those mystery keys that have been on your key ring for years? Paint them and hang them with string to make a <a href="http://giving.innerchildfun.com/2013/04/recycled-crafts-for-kids-diy-key-wind-chime.html">DIY wind chime</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>13. Rock Garden Markers</h3> <p>Use stones and paint to make cute <a href="http://craftsbyamanda.com/painted-rock-garden-markers/">labels for each row</a> of the garden instead of using store bought ones.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>14. Mega Mushrooms</h3> <p>Turn a planter upside down and give it a paint job to <a href="http://www.birdsandblooms.com/backyard-projects/diy-garden-projects/diy-garden-%C2%ADmushrooms/">create cheery mushrooms</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5.</p> <h3>15. Owl You Need</h3> <p>Rolled strips of cardboard can be used to fashion <a href="http://empressofdirt.net/owl-craft-project/">a whole family of owls</a> to watch over your garden in an earth-friendly project.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free.</p> <h3>16. Step Right Up</h3> <p>Get the kids involved in making <a href="http://pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com/2009/08/daddy-camp-cement-stepping-stones.html#.VyvTX_mDFBc">stepping stones</a> by pressing just about anything into wet cement: old toys or costume jewelry, marbles, and beads.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5.</p> <h3>17. Gnome Home</h3> <p>A tree or even a stump in your yard can be turned into a <a href="https://snapguide.com/guides/make-a-gnome-home/%20">fairy house</a> that kids will love to discover. Twigs can be used to frame windows, and a small piece of wood can be shaped into a door. If your gnomes want their <em>own </em>outdoor living space, use found objects or dollhouse furniture.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <p><em>How are you dressing up your landscape for free or cheap this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/52-uses-for-rubber-bands">52 Uses for Rubber Bands</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home decorating gardening hacks landscaping lighting outdoor living plants Tue, 24 May 2016 09:00:03 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1711684 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kids_yard_swings_000079618051.jpg" alt="Learning how to get the best yard in town naturally" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want a gorgeous, lush lawn without all the chemicals and other icky stuff? It's not as hard as you might think. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you can whip your grass into shape without calling a service or spending much at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper?ref=seealso">Secret Lawn Tonic Golf Course Groundskeepers Love</a>)</p> <h2>Amazing Aeration</h2> <p>Before the season even starts, you should&nbsp;<a href="http://www.planetnatural.com/aerate-the-lawn/">aerate your lawn</a> so it can have its best year yet. By letting it breathe, you get rid of nasty compaction issues that can cause bigger problems down the line. To aerate, you'll want the grass to be pretty dry. Insert a&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1qjqnlK">garden fork</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1TMK4yd">sod coring tool</a> every few inches to get the oxygen in. If you have a big lawn, you might consider going in with a neighbor and renting a power lawn aerator for a day or two. After you've finished this process, collect soil plugs with a bagged mower and add them to your compost heap.</p> <h2>Beer Fertilizer</h2> <p>My grandfather is known as a lawn king of sorts in my hometown. He swears by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Easily-getting-rid-of-dead-spots-on-your-lawn-effo">feeding his lawn with beer</a>. The fermented sugars and other nutrients improve the soil and help to get rid of dead spots. All you have to do is pour about eight ounces of regular beer per 10-inch spot that needs love. Beer can be fresh or flat, hot or cold. Wait about a week and if the area is still droopy, repeat the process.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part I</h2> <p>Not into brews? That's okay. You can actually use your favorite bath time soak to nurture your lawn.&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1UW0MMF">Epsom salts</a> help keep your grass green and healthy all year round &mdash; they may even soften grass. You'll want to use about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfsalt.com/epsom-salt-for-lawns">three pounds of salts</a> per 1,250 square feet of lawn. To apply, use a lawn spreader. If you'd rather add water and spray, use a tank sprayer or a hose with a spray attachment.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part II</h2> <p>The National Gardening Association explains that epsom salts also work wonders in your vegetable and flower gardens by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&amp;id=68">enriching the soil with magnesium</a>. The group conducted a study where gardeners from across the United States sprayed their peppers and roses with the stuff. The results? Four out of six gardeners reported that their pepper plants were more robust. All the rose plants were bushier with greener foliage and more roses. To try this at home, add one tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water, spray plants, and repeat the process every 10 days (peppers) or six weeks (roses).</p> <h2>Kind Killer</h2> <p>This weed killer is kind to the environment and won't cost you much. In fact, you might already be using it for many tasks in your home. Simply spray all those pesky weeds with plain white vinegar. You'll want to do this on a day with no rain in the forecast (can dilute the effects). My mother-in-law says that heartier, more persistent weeds respond better to something stronger like pickling vinegar. Just pour vinegar into a spray bottle and use as liberally as necessary.</p> <h2>Wondrous Water</h2> <p>Whether or not you live someplace where you have a cap on water usage, it's a good idea to conserve this precious resource. Try building&nbsp;<a href="https://1craftylane.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/diy-rain-barrel/">your own rain barrel</a> to collect what falls from the sky. You just need a 32-gallon plastic trash can, brass faucet, flexible downspout, and utility knife. Cut a hole in your can's cover, attach the downspout to your gutter, and then connect the two components. Wait for the rain and then use your faucet to tap into the magic.</p> <h2>Modified Mowing</h2> <p>How often and how short you cut your grass has an impact on its overall health as well. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately. Regardless, grass cut too short can be more prone to problems like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/what-is-the-ideal-height-to-cut-the-grass">weeds, drought, and heat damage</a>. So, if you're experiencing little precipitation, it's a good idea to let grasses grow taller as a defense. For guidelines on how tall or short you should keep your grass in general, call your local extension office, garden center, or seed supplier.</p> <h2>Clover Comeback</h2> <p>So many of our neighbors seem to battle to keep white clover out all season long. We've embraced clover because it's actually a natural way to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/clover-comeback">crowd out weeds</a>. Clover also spreads quickly and covers the ground with greenery to blend with your other grasses. It grows well in shadier areas of your lawn and those with poor drainage. Best yet, it's a legume and can convert nitrogen into its own free fertilizer. Learn to love this misunderstood ground cover!</p> <p><em>What are some natural ways you care for&nbsp;</em><em>your lawn?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-high-tech-tools-to-help-your-garden-grow">6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall">10 Things You Should NOT Do to Your Yard This Fall</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living Home eco friendly gardening greener grass landscaping lawn spring summer weeds Mon, 25 Apr 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1693274 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_sitting_outside_000066201595.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways to improve curb appeal for almost nothing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you're selling your home, or simply looking to spruce it up, improving your curb appeal is a great way to increase value. But it can be really expensive if you head off to your local home improvement warehouse and buy items at full retail. That said, with a little bit of planning and forethought, improving your curb appeal can be done for next to nothing. Here are six ways to make it happen.</p> <h2>1. Score Free Mulch</h2> <p>Having a fresh layer of mulch or bark in your flower and planting beds is a fantastic way to improve your curb appeal. But buying individual bags can be darn expensive, especially if you're doing a large area. So instead, try calling a local tree trimming service and ask if they have any free mulch available. After all, many such businesses have excess woods chips available and are happy to find ways to get rid of it. Often they'll even deliver a truck load to your home if they happen to be doing a job in your general vicinity.</p> <p>Worst case scenario, you might have to swing by their work yard and shovel up a truck load. But you can't beat the free price tag, and your plants and flowers will thrive with the new mulch. Plus, it will help keep down weeds and give your yard a fresh new look.</p> <h2>2. Find Great Deals on Paint</h2> <p>Another cheap way to effectively spruce up the front of your home is with a fresh coat of paint on your front door, shutters, or moldings. While the job itself can be fairly inexpensive if you can tackle it yourself, a great way to save even more is to look for &quot;whoops&quot; paint at Home Depot, Lowe's, or even from your local paint store. These are the paints that were either incorrectly tinted or were rejected by the customer and are being sold at a big discount.</p> <p>Simply ask an employee where their &quot;whoops&quot; shelf is located and check out the colors they currently have available. You can typically get paint for 50%&ndash;75% off the original price. Surprisingly, many of the colors you'll find are quite neutral in color and would look beautiful on your home as either a main or accent color.</p> <h2>3. Hide Garbage Cans and A/C Unit</h2> <p>If you have garbage cans or an A/C unit that can be seen from your front yard, consider building an inexpensive <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/outdoor-projects/how-to/a9248/hide-those-ugly-garbage-cans-with-a-diy-privacy-screen-15710370/">lattice screen</a> to hide them. In a few short hours, you can hide these big eye sores. Lattice screens can be made of either wood or vinyl. The vinyl option will cost more upfront but will require less maintenance in the long-run.</p> <h2>4. Big Discounts on Plants</h2> <p>Surprisingly, one of the single best ways to score deals on plants, shrubs, and flowers to beautify your front yard is at your local nursery &mdash; but only on specific days. Almost every nursery across the country has two big sales per year. One is in the fall when they clear out a large chunk of their inventory before winter, and the other is in early spring when they offer discounts to entice shoppers to start planting for the warmer months. These two sales often see discounts in the 50% off range making them no-brainers for those looking to improve their home's curb appeal.</p> <p>Be on the lookout for sales flyers from local nurseries and score savings that will typically beat the big-box stores, plus the quality of the plants and trees is typically much higher.</p> <h2>5. Add Garage Door Hardware for Updated Look</h2> <p>A really cheap way to spruce up an otherwise ordinary garage door is to add new hardware to give it a terrific new look. For less than $35, and 30 minutes of your time, you can upgrade your door with inexpensive hardware. The new hardware will really make your garage door a focal point rather than an eyesore.</p> <h2>6. Find Deals on Exterior Lighting</h2> <p>New exterior lights can really improve the look of your home, but if you've ever priced them, you know they can be expensive. But having worked at The Home Depot, I have a tip that can save you a lot of money &mdash; they almost always have floor model light fixtures for sale at a steep discount.</p> <p>Due to a large and ever-changing inventory, they're constantly updating their stock with new lighting fixtures, which gives you ample opportunity to save on floor models. Simply ask an employee what floor models they are trying to get rid of and they'll point you to the best deals &mdash; deals that can light up the front of your home, and beautify it in the process, at 50% to 75% off the original price.</p> <p><em>How do you improve your home's curb appeal without breaking the bank?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-50-or-less">15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-home-improvements-that-add-thousands-to-your-listing">9 Easy Home Improvements That Add Thousands to Your Listing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-diy-projects-from-ruining-your-life">How to Keep DIY Projects From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-paint-the-exterior-of-your-home">How to Paint the Exterior of Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Real Estate and Housing cheap fixes curb appeal home improvement landscaping painting renovations Tue, 22 Mar 2016 09:30:35 +0000 Kyle James 1677207 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Easy Home Improvements That Add Thousands to Your Listing http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-home-improvements-that-add-thousands-to-your-listing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-easy-home-improvements-that-add-thousands-to-your-listing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_painting_wall_000050211242.jpg" alt="Woman making home improvements that will add thousands " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone wants to get the maximum dollar for their home when it's time to sell. But not everyone wants to get swamped by a giant renovation project all for the sake of selling. Fortunately, there are easy home improvements you can do that increase the cosmetic appeal of your home and make it more attractive to buyers, leading to more money in the bank for you.</p> <h2>1. Prune and Plant</h2> <p>Your landscaping has a huge effect on your home's curb appeal, and it doesn't cost much to spruce it up. It's also a task you can do yourself to save yourself some extra bucks. Prune back overgrown trees and shrubs, and make sure the lawn is mowed and neat. If your front yard is a bit bare, planting some shrubs and plants can make it look cared for and manicured. Ask your local garden center for some free advice.</p> <h2>2. Freshen Up Your Kitchen and Bathrooms</h2> <p>While renovating the kitchen and bathrooms can bring a large return on your investment, they also are among the most expensive projects to tackle around the home. If you're not planning to overhaul the kitchen and bathrooms entirely, you can still enhance them cosmetically. Remove dated wallpaper and paint the walls a soothing color. Replace mildewed caulk and scrub dirty grout. Change the cabinet pulls for something more modern, and the faucets for something that feels substantial and stylish. Hang a new shower curtain and clean towels, and give everything a thorough cleaning.</p> <h2>3. Clean Your Carpet</h2> <p>Dingy carpet is pretty much certain to turn off potential buyers. If replacing the carpeting isn't an option, at least invest in a thorough deep cleaning.</p> <h2>4. Replace Dated Lighting</h2> <p>Bringing dated light fixtures into this decade can do a lot to make your home seem modern and attractive. Even inexpensive fixtures found at your local home improvement store can be a huge upgrade compared to decades-old monstrosities (unless of course, those monstrosities are trendy again now). Old ceiling fans can be replaced with sleek modern varieties. Consider also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-brilliant-diy-light-fixtures">adding a statement light fixture</a> to impress potential buyers (it needn't break the bank; just look it). Save on electrician costs by having him/her install several fixtures on one trip for a discount.</p> <h2>5. Doll Up Your Door</h2> <p>Much like the landscaping, your front door is one of the first impressions buyers will get of your home. If it's looking a bit worn out, consider painting it and replacing the hardware. You don't have to spend a lot to get a more contemporary handle and lock, and it will give your home's curb appeal a fresh look.</p> <h2>6. Repair the Little Things</h2> <p>Broken light switch or outlet plates, broken drywall, missing light fixtures, missing trim, rattling fans &mdash; none of these seem like a big deal by themselves, but taken all together can make your home seem distressed and really turn off a potential buyer. Consider hiring a handyman to repair a bunch of these little things at once.</p> <h2>7. Paint Walls and Trim</h2> <p>A layer of paint can do wonders to make your home seem newer and more valuable. Like it or not, many potential buyers will focus on scuffed walls, dated paint colors (or bright paint colors), or yellowing trim. Fix any gouges or dings in your walls with some spackle, and paint your home a fresh neutral to keep things bright and appealing. Paint your trim a bright white to make your home seem updated and clean.</p> <p>Painting the exterior of your home can also be an excellent investment, as curb appeal is a big factor in appealing to potential buyers. Consider doing the job yourself, as painting is one of the easier DIYs you can do around your house.</p> <h2>8. Renew Your Deck</h2> <p>A tired, worn-out old deck can be enlivened with a good power washing and a coat of stain, as long as the wood is still sound. Keeping your deck maintained and in good condition sends the message that the interior of the house is in good shape, too. Add a seating arrangement so potential buyers can picture themselves enjoying the space.</p> <h2>9. Add a Programmable Thermostat</h2> <p>Potential buyers like to see energy-saving upgrades in the home, and installing a programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways to do this. For a couple hundred dollars, these thermostats can save you money by customizing when to heat or cool your home.</p> <p><em>Any little fixes we missed? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-home-improvements-that-add-thousands-to-your-listing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-diy-projects-from-ruining-your-life">How to Keep DIY Projects From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-6-home-d-cor-flaws-ruin-your-house-hunt">Don&#039;t Let These 6 Home Décor Flaws Ruin Your House Hunt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-50-or-less">15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cheap renovations curb appeal home improvements landscaping painting selling your home Wed, 09 Mar 2016 10:30:23 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1668458 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_diy_home_improvements_000051008898.jpg" alt="Man saving big with DIY home improvements" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every year, I draft a grand to-do list for backyard projects. And &mdash; every year &mdash; I barely cross even a few items off this list. Usually my goals are too lofty. Or maybe some of them are frankly too expensive. Whatever the case, I've found the solution. These easy (and cheap) DIY projects are novice-friendly and will transform your outdoor spaces from blah to beautiful. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try?ref=seealso">17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing</a>)</p> <h2>1. Pallet Deck</h2> <p>Here's yet another awesome use for wood pallets &mdash; <a href="http://hoosierhomemade.com/how-to-build-a-wood-pallet-deck/">make a deck</a>! Pick up however many pallets you want for the size of your deck. Then clean them up, sand them down, and paint for a durable finish. Clear the area you want to stage by removing the grass, weeds, and debris. Lay concrete blocks in the soil &mdash; four feet apart &mdash; before setting your pallets on top. Grab your chairs, decorate, and enjoy!</p> <h2>2. Paver Patio</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/patio/installation-how-to/diy-paver-patio/">paver patio</a> project takes a bit more patience, but it will pay off. You'll first clear the area and tamp the soil so it's firm and level. Lay landscape fabric, crushed stones, and sand over the area to prevent weeds from peeking through the stones. Then it's time to lay the pavers. You can rent a brick cutter or just lay whole bricks and stones. Whatever you do, position pavers no more than ⅛ inch apart. Total cost? $550 with all supplies.</p> <h2>3. Garden Fountain</h2> <p>There's nothing better than listening to the sound of running water outdoors. Try making this <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Garden-Fountain-Out-of-Well-Anythi/">DIY garden fountain</a> out of, well, anything. The schematic might look a little intimidating, but it's basically a basin for your water with a pump and decorative &quot;sculpture&quot; that the water flows through. You can find a pump at most garden stores, just make sure you get one that's labeled &quot;submersible.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Raised Beds</h2> <p>Create a garden out of nothing with this <a href="http://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2013/05/our-diy-raised-garden-beds.html">raised garden bed</a> project. This couple built a whopping <em>five </em>cedar beds for around $100. You'll make all your cuts before assembling the boxes using galvanized screws. The mitered frame is completely optional, but it definitely gives the beds that finished touch. Then excavate the ground, fill with dirt, and get planting.</p> <h2>5. Fire Pit</h2> <p>My husband and I want to build a <a href="http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2013/04/its-the-pits/">fire pit</a> in our backyard. First, you'll want to check with your local government to make sure open flame fires are permitted in your neighborhood. From there, you need a metal ring, retaining wall blocks, drainage gravel, decorative rocks, and outdoor construction adhesive. After choosing your pit's location, you'll dig out the area and tamp the dirt. Lay your gravel around the metal ring. Then surround with the blocks, which you'll fasten together with the adhesive.</p> <h2>6. Stepping Stones</h2> <p>Get this! You can make these cute <a href="http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/how-to-make-stepping-stones-with-a-cake-pan/">stepping stones</a> in a cake pan. No, really. You'll first want to gather some decorative mosaic glass or even smashed china for flair. Cut out a piece of contact paper, and arrange your glass in a pattern inside the pan. Slap on some gloves, mix together concrete, and cut out some metal mesh to give your stone stability. Scoop in a layer of concrete, lay the mesh, and finish with more concrete. Let sit for two days before removing.</p> <h2>7. Compost Bin</h2> <p>Many store-bought compost bins cost a pretty penny. This <a href="http://savvysavingcouple.net/2013/01/21/diy-how-to-make-your-own-compost-bin-for-under-5/">DIY compost bin</a> is well within most anyone's budget at just $5. Heck, you may even have the materials you need sitting in your garage. Take an 18 gallon plastic bin (with top) and drill 5/16 inch holes about two inches apart in all directions. Then add kitchen scraps, leaves, paper, and a scoop of soil to get started. You should have rich compost in around five weeks.</p> <h2>8. Privacy Screens</h2> <p>Our neighbors' yard (and all their stuff) is right next to our deck. So, we'd love to build a few of these quick <a href="http://www.hometalk.com/2087206/how-to-make-an-easy-patio-privacy-screen-step-by-step-tutorial">privacy screens</a> to give us all some space. The tutorial is so easy, I may even try constructing it completely on my own. And at just $30, I figure it's worth a try. You'll take standard wooden lattice panels and build frames for them. Then screw in some hooks to hang. It's as simple as that. I might paint mine for some extra oomph.</p> <p><em>What's on your backyard to-do list this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home backyard decks gardening landscaping outdoors patios Wed, 13 May 2015 13:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1415531 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things You Should NOT Do to Your Yard This Fall http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mowing-lawn-166736424-small.jpg" alt="mowing lawn" title="mowing lawn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The air is starting to chill and the leaves are starting to fall. Pools are coming down, and plans for how to prepare the yard for winter are being made. There is never enough time, it seems, to get everything in order for the new season, but it isn't the occasion to take shortcuts; in fact, skipping out on the proper way to handle your yard and garden could cause big damage come spring. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-improve-the-life-of-your-lawn-mower?ref=seealso">7 Ways to Improve the Life of Your Lawn Mower</a>)</p> <p>Avoid killing your outdoor space for good with these common mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Cut Your Grass Too Short</h2> <p>Depending on the species of grass you have growing in your yard, a buzz cut can kill the lush carpet covering your lawn and cause high-dollar damages, too. In fact, zoysia grass is not recommended to be cut down to less than two inches high, especially in the fall before it goes dormant. Leaving a little more length on your blades isn't really an eyesore, and it will help preserve your lawn in the long run.</p> <h2>2. Just Do a Once-Over</h2> <p>When mowing, aerating, or reseeding your lawn for the winter, be sure you do it once, and then go over it again diagonally. This will prevent your yard from having &quot;lines&quot; that will appear unattractive come spring.</p> <h2>3. Stop Watering</h2> <p>Unless it has reached freezing temps in your area of the country, continue to water as you normally would. Shrubs, fruit trees, and hedges are especially dependent on water this time of year, as they are getting what they need before they go dormant. Failing to water could cause significant damage to your precious plants.</p> <h2>4. Use the Wrong Fertilizer</h2> <p>If it's still warm enough to use fertilizer, opt for an easy-to-apply spray instead of a granular product. The small pieces of granular fertilizer can sit on your yard for months, failing to dissolve in to-dry conditions. You may end up with a burnt lawn if this happens.</p> <h2>5. Forget to Mulch</h2> <p>As long as the ground hasn't frozen, you still have time to apply mulch around your trees and on top of garden plants such as asparagus and rhubarb. Use the right kind of mulch for the plant, and be certain that you aren't spreading dangerous pests or fungus by moving recycled materials from a diseased plant to a healthy one.</p> <h2>6. Skip Raking</h2> <p>It is so much work, but it is so vital to a healthy yard! Layers of snow over layers of leaves can lead to mold and fungus damage. Plus, it makes it ridiculously difficult for that first mowing next year.</p> <h2>7. Spray Weed Killer When It's Cold</h2> <p>While the fall is the ideal time to get one last weed killing in, you do not want to do this in areas where it is not consistently above 60 degrees. So, southern folks are probably safe; here in Nebraska, we are past that point, already.</p> <h2>8. Leave Spring Planting Until the Spring</h2> <p>If you want beautiful spring bulbs, now is the time to put them in. Tulips, lilies, and even garden &quot;roots&quot; such as asparagus can go in now for a head start on next year. While getting behind on flowering plants isn't the end of the world, waiting an extra six months for asparagus is a big deal (especially since they need two full years to mature before the first harvest.) This is also a great time to plant new trees and shrubs.</p> <h2>9. Forget to Shop</h2> <p>Stores are clearing out all of their spring and summer gardening supplies right now! Stop in to get things you know you'll need like pots, soil, seeds, tools, and more. With savings of up to 90%, it's foolish to wait. Don't forget to check your local dollar store, too!</p> <h2>10. Overlook Pests</h2> <p>Do your apple trees have orange spots on the leaves? Did your fruit all end up with worms in it? Many of the pests that plague the family orchard and yard need to have an aggressive plan to stop them, and fall is the perfect time to take notes of what you see so that you can be proactive next year. Take pictures of any damage done to your yard and garden now, so that you can research the damage and purchase the right tools next year. Many issues, such as fungus and codling moths (the bugs that makes &quot;wormy&quot; apples) need to have sprays applied to trees in the early spring before symptoms appear. Taking notice now is the only way to get ahead of these problems.</p> <p>Taking care of your lawn and garden the right way will depend on location, choices in greenery, and personal style. Being diligent about this last stage of the year can allow you to take a break during the winter before another season of yard work in the spring!</p> <p><em>What are you doing (or have already done) to prepare your yard for winter? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home fall gardening landscaping lawn lawn care winter Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1240478 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Money and Water With These 6 Clever Landscaping Hacks http://www.wisebread.com/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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garden-3534792-small.jpg" 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="http://www.wisebread.com/10-gardening-lessons-learned-the-hard-way">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="http://www.bhg.com/gardening/gardening-by-region/regional-gardening/hardiness-zone-map/">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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-time-and-money-on-your-lawn">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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-lawn-mowers">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="http://www.sunset.com/garden/earth-friendly/salvage-garden-design-ideas-00400000043273/">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="http://www.wisebread.com/moments-in-the-garden-of-eatin">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="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193520212X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;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="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-own-furniture-9-helpful-tips-for-non-carpenters">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> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-water-with-these-6-clever-landscaping-hacks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-not-do-to-your-yard-this-fall">10 Things You Should NOT Do to Your Yard This Fall</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> 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 http://www.wisebread.com 6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer's Market http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Realtor_gives_family_keys_to_n_14087699-2.jpg" 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="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-tip-how-to-sell-your-home-when-your-neighbors-are-too">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="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">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> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-decorate-an-apartment-without-losing-your-deposit">7 Ways to Decorate an Apartment Without Losing Your Deposit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Real Estate and Housing cheap decorating landscaping selling a home Tue, 27 Sep 2011 10:00:12 +0000 Chris Birk 717079 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow http://www.wisebread.com/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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/turnips.jpg" 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="http://www.wisebread.com/vegetable-gardening-four-cheap-hacks">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="http://www.plantjotter.com/">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="http://www.wisebread.com/save-the-tomatoes-autumn-tips-to-prolong-the-growing-season">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="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-plan-your-garden">garden planning</a> guide and some nice descriptions of various plants in their crop guide, the robust community surrounding <a href="http://www.homefarming.com">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="http://www.facebook.com/pages/FlowerPedia/168695909663">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="http://www.timberpress.com/books/dirrs_tree_shrub_finder/dirr/9781604692136">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="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/herbs/id332584732?mt=8">Herbs+</a>, you can effectively use <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cutting-the-grocery-bill-reducing-the-cost-of-a-good-spice-rack">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="http://davesgarden.com/">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> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-high-tech-tools-to-help-your-garden-grow">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money">9 DIY Landscaping and Gardening Skills That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-4-get-free-stuff">Getting by without a job, part 4--get free stuff</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living Technology gardening landscaping smartphone apps Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:48:12 +0000 Linsey Knerl 553482 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For http://www.wisebread.com/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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006796079S.jpg" 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="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice">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="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-lawn-mowers">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="http://www.wisebread.com/pesky-pests-easy-homemade-mosquito-and-insect-traps-and-repellent">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> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap">7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home car repair Home repair landscaping Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:00:08 +0000 Chris Birk 491468 at http://www.wisebread.com Landscaping for Energy Conservation http://www.wisebread.com/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="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/858409_84677485.jpg" 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> <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="http://www.couponsherpa.com/">Coupon Sherpa</a>, a source of reliable online, printable and grocery coupons. You can download the free <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/mobile-coupons/">Coupon Sherpa iPhone app</a> with in-store mobile coupons, or check out more great tips from the <a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/">Ask Coupon Sherpa blog</a>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/6-tips-to-shopping-consignment-stores/">6 Tips to Shopping Consignment Stores</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/5-ways-to-sell-your-stuff/">5 Ways to Sell Your Stuff</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.couponsherpa.com/ask-coupon-sherpa/9-steps-to-shopping-for-gluten-free-foods/">9 Steps to Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/coupon-sherpa">Coupon Sherpa</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/landscaping-for-energy-conservation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-green-living-habits-thatll-save-you-every-month">12 Green Living Habits That&#039;ll Save You Every Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-household-products-vinegar-can-replace">30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home energy costs garden planning landscaping Tue, 20 Apr 2010 13:00:02 +0000 Coupon Sherpa 32068 at http://www.wisebread.com