Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.
There is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower back and forth. Did you know there are correct ways to mow your grass? Plus, knowing what the proper cutting length is and what to do about lawn clippings are important in keeping a healthy lawn.
Mow at the Right Frequency
There is a correct way to mow a lawn to get the cleanest, well-kept look. By keeping the grass at the right length, it keeps your grass stress-free and healthy. Grass should be a little longer during the hot summer months, especially in places that are in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9b like Houston, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Tampa. When grass is permitted to grow a little longer, the roots grow deeper, and the grass gives the soil cover from the hot sun. It forms an insulation that lets the soil better maintain its moisture.
Mowing at the right frequency is key. During fall, the most common lawn mowing frequency in Houston is bi-weekly, or every two weeks, with 83 percent of Houstoniteschoosing this option. However, if you get lawn treatment and water more frequently, you may want to consider weekly.
Plus, the blade of the mower needs to be sharp. If the blade is dull, then it will shred the tops of the grass. Shredded grass tips can leave grass susceptible to diseases.
The Correct Way to Mow Your Grass
The first thing to do is to adjust the height of the mower so that the mower doesn’t butcher the grass. Also, if the lawn is shady, then it will benefit from setting the mower blades at a higher height. Because photosynthesis helps grass grow, a longer blade of grass has more surface for conducting photosynthesis. This is one secret to developing a healthy lawn when parts or all of it stay in the shade.
Also, don’t scalp the grass by cutting it too short. When a lawn is scalped, it becomes vulnerable to disease and invites weeds. By scalping a lawn, it exposes the soil, and the grass becomes sparse and weak. Plus, this gives the sun an opportunity to feed the weed seeds in the soil so that they start to grow. A lawn that is cut too short will have a system of poorly developed roots and this will cause damage to a lawn from hot days or drought.
The best rule of thumb is to follow the one-third rule: If more than a one-third of the grass blade is cut off, it can damage the grass.
Another tip is to mow when the grass is dry. When grass is mowed when wet, it’s not harmful to the lawn, but the results can look mediocre. This is because grass that’s wet will clog the mower and this makes it more difficult to mow. The grass also clumps and causes an uneven cutting pattern. In addition, if clumps of wet grass are left on the lawn, then it can kill the grass under the clumps.
When you mow in the middle of the day in the sun, it causes the lawn stress. The individual blades of grass will lose water quickly and recover more slowly. You can either mow in the cooler part of the day or mow the area when it’s covered in shade. This will let the grass rebound quicker. Also, when mowing, don’t always follow the same pattern. This can create ruts and compacts the soil. Compacted soil and ruts can cause unhealthy grass, which can provide places for weeds to start growing.
What to Do With Grass Clippings?
One problem that crops up is what do you do with the grass clippings when finished? A solution to that is called “grasscycling.” This is when you let the grass clippings lay on the lawn after it’s cut. When this is done, it can provide up to 25 percent of what the lawn needs as fertilizer. It also saves money on fees and yard waste bags. A specialized mulching mower isn’t necessarily required, but you can put a mulching blade on the mower that you already have. Grasscycling works well if your grass is mowed often. It can be done on grass that is cut when it’s longer — if you don’t have a mulcher, rake the piles of clippings flat after mowing and then run the mower back over them.
As you can see, there is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower around the yard. If done correctly, it can revitalize your lawn.
Katie Kuchta is a marketing guru, gardening and outdoor living expert, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos. Follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
An uncluttered counter is essential in a small apartment. It looks attractive, feels more airy, and encourages you to cook, rather than sending you running for the takeout menu. So get creative with kitchen storage ideas, and you can make clean counters a reality.
No Drawers? No Problem!
Some tiny NYC kitchens lack drawers. This may seem like a big problem, but with a few clever kitchen storage ideas, you can work around it. For utensils, you have plenty of options. Mason jars work great. You can do what Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic did, and put them on the counter where they double as an attractive interior design element — but if you’re striving for empty counters, simply put them inside a cabinet. If you don’t want to use mason jars, you can use the kind of utensil caddytypically used for outside dining. It has separate compartments for each type of utensil, making it the perfect storage tool for forks, knives, and spoons.
If you like to cook and bake, you’ll have lots of mixing bowls, ramekins, and dishes. In order to allow them to be organized inside your cabinets and take up as little space as possible, it’s important to look for nesting bowls. Try Williams-Sonoma’s glass or melamine bowls — they’re incredibly useful for cooking while taking up minimal space.
Use Your Oven
Where’s the best place to store big, bulky pots and pans in a tiny kitchen? The oven! This saves invaluable cabinet space in a compact kitchen, and it takes only a few seconds to remove all the pots when you need to use the oven for cooking. If you have the appropriate overhead space, a pot rack can also be a good space saver — but be sure that your pans are attractive enough to be on constant display (copper is always a beautiful, high-quality option).
Maximize Wall Space
Use your wall space whenever possible. You can hang up a magnetic knife rack; you can also hang spices on the wall or the refrigerator, if you get magnetic spice containers. Both options look fun and eclectic, while saving valuable cabinet space.
Create More Counters
When your counter space is sparse, you need to get creative. Here’s an idea: Buy a large wooden or marble cutting board and place it over two of the stove burners. Instant extra counter space! When you’re not using the cutting board for cooking prep, you can put something on it like a French press or a spoon holder. It’s a win-win … but you must be careful of your stove dials! Always be vigilant about not accidentally brushing against them and turning them on while the cutting board is in place.
With these tips, your compact kitchen will be a clean, uncluttered space, perfect for whipping up meals and hosting friends!
If you plan on selling your home next year and want to get the highest price possible, you should put it on the market at the beginning of the spring selling season. There tends to be less competition at that time, so homes listed in early spring will typically sell faster and closer to their list price than those listed later in the year.
You’re probably thinking that spring is many months away, and you have plenty of time to get your house ready to sell. But spring comes early in real estate and home sales start heating up in February, right after the Super Bowl.
So, really, you have only about three and a half months to get ready.
Most people drastically underestimate the amount of work involved in preparing a home for sale. Don’t be one of them.
Home Sale Prep List
Here’s a list of things you can do NOW, to make sure your home puts its best foot forward when the spring market rolls around.
- If the leaves are still on the trees, take photos of the exterior of your house now. Your house will look so much better than it will in January or February when the photographer shows up to take listing photos. One caveat: make sure there are no Halloween or other seasonal decorations in your photos.
- Make a schedule. Set February 1 as your go-to-market date and work backwards from there, listing all of the things that will need to be done to get your home ready for sale. Then put them on your calendar and start knocking them out.
- Have a pre-listing inspection done on your house. This is the same kind of inspection that your buyers will have done once their offer is accepted. It will cost you between $400 and $600 but it is well worth it. It will identify everything that needs fixing, and then you can take the time to get multiple bids and schedule the work.You will be shocked at how long the inspector’s list of needed repairs is, but it’s better to find out about them in advance and get them taken care of than to have your buyers hold your home sale hostage over the inspection credits they want.
- Have your real estate agent or home stager walk through the house with you and point out low cost updates or changes that you can make to maximize your home’s appeal. This could include rearranging or editing the furniture, applying a fresh coat of paint, removing wall-to-wall carpeting, or updating cabinet hardware or light fixtures.
- Get rid of the clutter! Undoubtedly you will have lots of stuff that needs to be packed away, donated, or disposed of, and dealing with it can be very time-consuming. Plan to tackle one room (and its closet) each weekend. Sort everything into four piles: give away, throw away, sell, and keep. Be ruthless. If you have trouble letting go of things or you find it all too overwhelming, line up an organizer to help you.
If you have been keeping china, glassware, or furniture to pass on to your adult children, ask them if they even want it. Chances are they don’t, so now is the time to sell it or donate it.
Selling your home is a big undertaking. Doing these five things now will get you well on your way to a successful home sale and help you maintain your sanity in the process.
So, it’s been a month since you moved into your new home. The empty boxes are stacked in corners like miniature Leaning Towers of Pisas and you are missing some key pieces of mail. The moving checklist guided you day by day, but now that the moving storm has subsided, how do you complete the settling in process?
Ready for the best news ever!? Unlike your two-month long moving-in check list, there is a short list of tasks that will not only ensure you don’t miss the next People magazine, but will also help Mother Earth and others in need. Too good to be true? You can thank me later. Follow these five steps and you will forget you ever moved.
1. Boxes! Boxes!
To truly feel moved in, the first task is to get rid of all the empty moving boxes. So many of us are guilty of just leaving the empty boxes in the garage or attic to gather dust. Instead be green and save green by asking your moving company if they have a box return program. For instance, NorthStar Moving Company will give you back 25% of the original cost of their boxes if you return them.
Other ways to reuse boxes is to flatten them and put them out on recycling day or use them for storage of keepsakes, holiday décor and other items you only need on occasion. The most creative and inspirational way to reuse moving boxes is to join the Global Cardboard Challenge to celebrate child creativity!
2. Mail Yourself
Does your mailbox seem light? While you may be thankful to not be getting all of your bills you certainly don’t want to miss a due date. Check in with the post office to make sure they have your mail forwarding service set up correctly. Then send a friendly postcard to yourself, address it to you at your old address and wait and see if it gets forwarded to your new address.
3. Update Your Driver’s License & Consider Becoming a Donor
No one enjoys visiting the DMV and the good news is you don’t have to! You can change your address online. You must report your new address within 30 days of your move to the Department of Transportation Registry of Motor Vehicles.
This is also an opportunity to revisit being an organ donor. You can register to become an organ donor on your state’s DMV website as well. The number of donors willing to make organ donations are not growing as quickly as the number of people who need them. 20 people in the United States die each day while waiting for organ and tissue transplants. The number of patients in the U.S. waiting for transplants is currently over 116,000 people. Even more are waiting for much-needed tissue transplants.
While you are on the subject, consider a program to donate your whole body. The organ donor symbol on the back of a driver’s license is different from body donation, they are completely separate programs with entirely different consenting processes. Only 1% of organs donors specify to donate their whole body. There is a great need. You could potentially make a difference in the lives of many people.
4. Survey Your Stuff
After a month of living in your new home you now know what furniture, kitchen tools, artwork and even clothes fit into your new place. Rather than stumbling over the stuff that you don’t need, give it to someone that does need it and will give it a good home.
Create two labels: “donate” and “give to friends & family.” Donate clothing and household items that don’t have sentimental value to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for someone else to enjoy.
For the items that are sentimental, keep them in the family by giving them to loved ones. But, don’t just hand it to them, throw a party, a reverse housewarming party! Instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, ask them to pick one (or more) of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with old friends and meet new friends after your move. Your unneeded things will be in a home where you can visit them often.
There is no “debate” that every American needs to cast their ballot, so it is vital to register to vote. Your voter registration does not move with you. If you move within your existing county, you must complete a new voter registration form to update your new address. If you move to a different county or state, you must re-register with your new county and/or state.
Visit the EAC website to download and print the National Mail Voter Registration Form. Once you have completed the registration form, mail it to the address listed under your state in the “State Instructions.”
See, in just five steps you are now clear of moving remnants and clutter, sipping coffee with your New York Times and are the shining example of being a responsible citizen. Enjoy your new life!
The keys are yours, now what?
Congratulations! You’re a new homeowner. While you may not be able to wait to move in, there are a few things you should consider tackling before hanging those family photos on the walls.
1. Change the locks – For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to change out the locks on your exterior doors to ensure that anyone the previous owners may have given a key to can no longer access the property. According to Home Advisor, the average homeowner spends between $100-$300 hiring a locksmith.
2. Paint – Don’t love the lemon yellow the previous homeowners chose for the master bedroom? Painting your new home will be infinitely easier if you can do so before moving furniture into the space. Head to your local paint store to pick up a few samples to test before committing. Take your time and be sure to view the color swatches in different lights before committing. There are also handy online visualization tool like the Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer.
3. Take care of your floors – Like with painting, treating and refinishing floors is much easier without furniture in the way. Costs for this project will vary depending on the size of the job, but you can estimate roughly $200 for supplies and equipment. Check out this useful guide to refinishing wood floors from This Old House before heading to the hardware store.
4. Make any necessary repairs – Does the bathtub need to be re-caulked or the tile re-grouted? Do the floor boards creak? Make a list of priority repairs and tackle them one by one. You’ll be happy you did a few months from now when other projects crop up on the honey do list.
5. Clean from top to bottom – The only thing better than a new home is a clean new home. Now is the best time to give every nook and cranny of your home a deep clean. Scrub the inside of appliances like the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher and microwave. Wipe down walls and baseboards with a damp cloth. Looking for clever ways to banish grease and grime? Check out our Home Tip of the Day video series.
6. Set up your utilities – Call your electric, gas, cable and water utility providers to make sure service is transferred to you after closing. You’ll also want to research when trash and recycling pick-up are scheduled for your zone.
7. Change your Address – While you may want those mortgage bills to be sent elsewhere, it’s important to file a change of address with the US Postal Service to ensure that all mail is forwarded to your new address following your move. Also be sure to alert friends and family of your new address. They’ll need to know where to send that housewarming gift!
Now, the only thing left to do is celebrate! Looking for great housewarming party ideas? Try one of these backyard flings!