Spring Gardening Tips

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Spring is here, which means it’s time to revamp your garden. It’s time to live surrounded by flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors, assortments of fruits and vegetables, maybe even a new tree or bush for your front yard. No matter what it is you’re planting this year, there are a few essential steps to make them grow to be more beautiful, or delicious, than ever.

  1. Clean Out the Garden

It’s time to clean your garden and remove all the debris (leaves, leftover snow, etc). Get rid of weeds, making sure that you get the roots so they won’t grow back. This is also a good time to sharpen your garden tools, if needed, because you’re going to require them for plant maintenance and soil care.

  1. Revitalize the Soil

Add organic material like compost or manure can add moisture, which is beneficial to your garden because your soil is likely dried out and packed after winter. You might need to test the soil to see what nutrients it needs, so you give it the right mixture. You might also need to add more fertilizer to increase the health of the soil and increase the life of your plants.

  1. Trim Old Plants

Pruning plants that survived the winter will ensure that they’ll grow again in the spring. Make sure to wait until mid-April or even May in case there’s an unexpected freeze. Blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers. Summer plants should be pruned in early spring.

  1. Add Mulch

You should think about adding mulch to your flower beds and garden in addition to fertilizers and organic materials. One to three inches of mulch helps to prevent weeds and diseases, while also keeping the moisture in the garden and maintaining the temperature. The rule of thumb is to keep the mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent roots from rotting.

  1. Plant New Flowers and Shrubs

Once you’ve gotten the garden in shape and handled all of the old plants, it’s time to turn your attention to new plants. Some recommendations for good spring plants include:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
  • Redbuds
  • Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
  • Lilacs
  • Tulips

Leaning towards perennials can be more cost-effective and less time-consuming than annuals. You should lean towards planting more perennials rather than annuals, because annuals have to be replaced every year where ass perennials can last up to 3 years and can typically survive a few surprise winter frosts even while in bloom.

What to Do for the Rest of Spring?

Once your spring garden is up and running again, it’s important to keep in mind that the work is not quite done. It will need some care so it stays colorful and beautiful throughout the season. Here are some quick tips for garden maintenance throughout the rest of the season:

Mid-Spring:

  • Consider new flower beds.
  • Plant some hardy annuals.
  • Transplant seeds.
  • Mulch.

Late Spring:

  • Deadhead and remove bulbs.
  • Keep up on weeding.
  • Prune flowering shrubs.

Spring Cleaning Tips

 

Spring is JUST around the corner, and you know what that means: Spring Cleaning! Oh, the joy. As unappealing as it sounds, we have a few tips to make the whole process easier on you so that you can enjoy more of the sunny weather and less of the scrubbing.

1. Lime build-up around the faucet
The best way to get rid of lime buildup around the faucet it is to lay paper towels over the fixture, soak it with vinegar and let it set for an hour. The deposits will soften and become easier to remove.

2. Finish your floors
Wax or apply a sealer to your floors to protect them from another year of wear-and-tear. Better yet, use a combination wash-and-wax floor cleaner; the benefit to this is pretty self-explanatory.

3. Clean your coils
You should clean your refrigerator’s condensor coil to prevent your fridge from overheating due to dust build-up. To remove dust from coils attached to the hard-to-reach back side of the fridge, carefully pull the refrigerator out several feet and vacuum thoroughly; finish by sweeping or vacuuming the floor area you’ve revealed.


Tips for Summertime Curb Appeal

While we still have plenty of summer left, we’re getting down to the wire when it comes to preparing to sell homes this season. Summer can take a toll on our pocketbooks with vacations, days off of work, and expenses preparing for the upcoming school year. If you’re preparing to sell your home, it can be easy to stress about last-minute fixes and upgrades. Curb appeal may fall to the bottom of the totem pole. This is disheartening because the way your home looks on the outside is a lasting first impression that may make or break the decision to buy.

Don’t stress—we’ve compiled some of our favorite hacks to add instant curb appeal without breaking the bank.

 

1.) Manicure Your Lawn

You more than likely already regularly mow your lawn and trim the hedges, so a little extra TLC can go a long way. Make sure to fertilize all plants in your lawn to make your yard look green and lush. Choose additional plants that fit with the scale of your home and plant a new tree if you feel so inclined.

 

2.) Upgrade Your Seating Area

The more functional your home appears, the better. A seating area can make a home feel cozy and give it an eclectic vibe. Put some new chairs on your porch. Create a new nook with a seating area and garden stool and add some pillows to make the space pop! A little bit of creativity can go a long way here.

 

3.) Paint a small area

A slight rejuvenation in color can really liven up your space. Consider painting your door, shutters, or trim. Paint is generally around $30 a gallon, so you won’t be anywhere close to maxing out your credit card. Choose a color that adds a splash, but still blends in enough with the homes around you.

 

4.) Replace/add exterior lighting

If your lighting fixtures are looking a little worn, it may be advantageous to replace them to give your home an invigorated look. A good #ProTip for saving money is to look for fixtures that have the same mounting system as your current ones. Make sure that your exterior lighting illuminates your entryway in order to enhance safety. Another quick lighting project to consider is adding path lights.

 

5.) Get a New Mailbox

Whether you have a mailbox on the curb or mounted onto your home, a little bit can go a long way when you replace your current fixture. This is a great first impression to capture the attention of guests (and new potential homeowners). Mailboxes also start around $20-30 making it another manageable expense. Make sure you are following all city regulations when installing your new mailboxes!


Tips for Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung! As the cold weather begins to go into hibernation and the sun takes its place in the spotlight, your home could use a little extra love during the transition. During the winter months, dirt from muddy boots can get tracked into your home and pet hair can linger in nooks and crannies. With just a teeny bit of time and effort, you can freshen up your home in no time to go hand-in-hand with the sense of renewal that comes with spring!

1.) Make a Schedule

Our lives are too busy to dive head first into spring cleaning willy nilly. The last thing we want to do is create more stress for ourselves. Scope out your home and prioritize—which spaces need the most TLC? Is there anywhere you regularly skip in your routine cleaning that is in dire need of attention? Map out what rooms/areas you’re going to tackle and when. A set schedule will keep you on task and make the process less overwhelming.

2.) Love Your Walls & Windows

During our routine cleaning, it’s easy to place top priority on the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and commonly frequented areas. Your windows and walls can fall to the wayside and there could be dust and residue build up you don’t even notice. Take a sponge or damp towel and make sure to wipe your walls from top to bottom. When cleaning the windows, make sure to take off the screen and remove dust. A steam cleaner with a squeegee is an excellent way to get your windows in tip-top shape.

3.) Get Rid of Clutter

We can get lazy in the winter months and let mail stack up, gather piles of laundry in the corner, and who knows what else. Feeling stressed? It’s no wonder because studies show that disorganization and chaos attributes to your stress level. If you have old magazines that have collected dust, toss them. If you have kitchen items all over the place, put them in the pantry or get a basket for fruit and veggies. Trust us—you’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders.

4.) Invest in a Good Vacuum

So much junk can gather on your carpets and rugs over the winter. Plus, during the beginning of spring, allergens can run rampant. If you don’t want to fully commit to shampooing your carpets during the spring, we highly recommend investing in a HEPA vacuum. HEPA filtration removes dirt and dust as well as impurities in the air. High-quality vacuums tend to come with a variety of attachments, so you can really dig into corners, walls, and beyond.

5.) Conquer the Kitchen and Bathroom

We can see the look of horror in your eyes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A kitchen refresh can simply entail wiping down your cabinets and shelves in your refrigerator. If you have family members who are sensitive to allergens or you just haven’t done it in awhile, consider replacing your bathroom fan. Make sure to clean out any junk drawers and any old cosmetics and beauty products sitting dormant. Check any shower liners for mildew and replace them if so. A little bit can go a long way with these spaces!


Tips for First Time Home Buyers

CONGRATULATIONS! You’re taking the plunge and setting out on the exciting journey to buy a home. We know the market is tighter than ever. In fact, in the Utah housing market, demand is exceeding supply all over the state. Like any milestone, buying a home can be full of ups and downs. Rather than discourage you, we want to give you some of the best tips we’ve ever heard for first time home buyers. That way, you can set yourself up for success and enjoy this moment!

1.) Get Your Financials In Order

A homebuyer’s credit score could very well be the most crucial piece of the puzzle when qualifying for a loan. Before you begin shopping, see what you can do to clean up your credit score. You can use tools like AnnualCreditReport.com or creditkarma.com to view your potential FICO score. Additionally, you can see if there are any errors on your report and get in touch with any collection agencies if you need.

To qualify for the best loan rates, you generally need a credit score of 740 or higher. To give your score a boost, pay down credit cards so your balance is less than 30% of the limit and avoid late payments. Paying bills on time is the single most important thing you can do, so if you have any outstanding payments or have fallen behind, make a concerted effort to get back on track.

 

2.) Know Your Assets and Liabilities

After your ducks are in a row with payments and you don’t owe exorbitant amounts of money, you need to carefully evaluate how you spend money. Do you have heaps of money left over every month or are you feeling stretched thin? Make sure you track your spending for at least a couple months prior to shopping for homes as it will reflect how lenders evaluate your income. If you are self-employed or a commision-based professional, you may have a harder time being approved for loans, so make sure you have at least 2 years of solid income records.

 

3.) Investigate Alternate Options

Many people shy away from buying homes because they aren’t close to having a 20% downpayment or their credit is lower than 740. Did you know that Federal Housing Administration loans let you put just 3.5% down, and offer better rates for those with less-than-pristine credit? Mortgage powerhouses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also launched similar programs. The fact of the matter is, nothing is completely cut and dry and there are options out there.

 

4.) Get Pre-Approved

Are you confident with how you look on paper and are looking for a quick and seamless deal? Have a mortgage lender check your credit and verify your income and assets. Some lenders may even provide pre-approval letters which are “as good as cash” in the eyes of some sellers.

 

5.) Be Patient and Flexible

Playing up your flexibility won’t only save your nerves, but it can give you an edge over pushy buyers. Have your agent get in touch with the sellers and gauge what they need as far as a closing window, option to rent back, etc. The more flexibility you give them, the better shot you might have to seal the deal.


Home Resolutions for 2017

By now, anyone who’s boasting a “New Year, New You” might sound like a broken record. There’s no denying that a new year brings a sense of renewal as it opens a platform to hone in on some new goals and expectations. While health, fitness, and finances tend to dominate “New Year’s Resolutions,” we can also flip the script and spin those areas of improvement. It’s not rocket science or a huge financial undertaking—look and see some of our favorite Home Resolutions for 2017:

 

1.) Get Organized (Rid Yourself of Clutter!)

Not everyone is a hoarder, but we could all stand to get rid of some excess when it comes to our home’s space. The easiest solution is to reconfigure your storage space. Get high storage shelves for hallways or pull-out storage units for your room or communal spaces. If you’re in a pinch for space to begin with, there are several ways to get creative like utilizing shoe organizers to store keys, notepads, and small household items.

 

2.) Get out of Debt (Budget)

Saving money and getting out of debt are popular resolutions, but homeowners should take this resolution one step further and allocate funds specifically for their homes. The U.S. Census Bureau finds that the average cost of home improvement and maintenance is about $3,300 per household. A yearly home budget will prevent overspending and will allow you to plan for bigger projects like new roofing or a new appliance. Lending institutions recommend setting aside 1%-3% of your home’s value for yearly improvements. For instance, if your home is valued at $500,000, save $5,000 annually for upkeep.

 

3.) Trim the Fat (Monitor Energy Use)

Saving energy help the environment, but it can make immense differences in your savings. An easy place to start for gaining control of your energy use is your HVAC ductwork. These ducts can leak your heating and cooling system through holes and loose connections. Plus, sealing and insulating your ducts can improve your heating and cooling systems up to 20%, according to Energy Star. You might not even need to hire a contractor. You can use a duct sealing called Mastic (metal-backed duct tape) and seal the connections at vents and floor registers.

 

4.) Volunteer (Get Out in the Community!)

Volunteering isn’t only a selfless act of kindness, it also provides immense balance in your life. Consider joining a neighborhood watch program and discussing community concerns and priorities. A community garden is a great way to not only eat healthier and sustain the environment, and you can meet and connect with your neighbors, too.