Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Given the amount of time we spend inside our homes, it’s no surprise it’s where we spend the bulk of our remodeling dollars. But neglecting your home’s exterior can leave it looking tired and rundown. Here are four projects that will boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure the outside of your home looks as good as the inside.

Liven Up Your Landscaping

Brown spots in your lawn, overgrown shrubs and worn-out mulch do a lot to make your house look more worn down that it actually is. If you’re ready to spruce up your landscaping, you’ll want to do so in the spring or fall when the temps are relatively cool, especially if you’re planning on laying sod or planting new trees or shrubs. While you’re planning your project, be sure to take a look at the grade surrounding your home. Over time, it can become compacted and slope towards your house. If that happens, water will will flow towards your foundation instead from away from it, putting your home’s foundation at risk.

Before you do any planting, take care of those brown spots in your lawn. A lush, green lawn might look simple, but it gives your exterior a clean, attractive appearance. You may want to fertilize or seed your lawn depending on how healthy your grass is already. Total lawn seeding costs, on average, a bit over $700, but if you’re only working on rough patches you won’t spend that much. To do more extensive landscaping, you can expect to spend between $1,600 and $5,000 depending on the total area and whether you want part of it to be covered with grass, which is cheaper.

Touch It Up

Your home’s exterior paint should last about 15 years, but over time, it will begin to chip and peel. Left untouched, your siding could start to rot, mold or warp. Thankfully, a little preventative maintenance can help stave off any costly siding repairs. If you notice chipping or peeling paint, it’s time to breakout the sandpaper, primer, paint and paintbrushes. Most of the time, it’s a project that you can knock out in an afternoon. However, it could be that your project involves more work than you have time to put in. If that’s the case, now is a good time to start talking to pros. Pro Tip: Pressure washing your home each spring removes dirt and can help prevent mold and mildew infestations.

Even if your siding is in need of repair, thankfully it’s not an expensive project. The average homeowner only spends $575 on siding repair, and unless your siding is seriously rotten, you won’t need to replace it entirely. A new coat of paint will freshen up that newly repaired siding, leaving more of your budget for other exterior areas that need attention.

Repair Your Roofing and Gutters

Missing shingles and sagging gutters do more than make your home look shoddy; they can cause seriously spendy problems. Water takes the path of least resistance and exploits any crack, gap or hole it can find. Left unrepaired, the damage can quickly make its way down to your sub roofing, or, in the case of damaged gutters, down to your foundation. If you notice that your gutters are having trouble moving water away from your foundation, or if it’s been a while since you’ve had your roof inspected, it’s a good idea to have a roofing pro stop by for an inspection.

The average cost to have your roof inspected is $230, and if there is damage you can’t see, it’ll be worth every penny. Do it before the damage is too extensive. It’s only about $650 to have your roof repaired, but it can cost $6,500 or more to have a new roof installed.

Fantastic Fencing

Has your fence seen better days? If so, taking the time to fix it now could prevent you from having to replace the whole thing down the road. In many cases, all you’ll need to do is pressure wash it, replace missing or damaged boards, and throw on a fresh coat of stain or paint. Unless it’s really worse for wear, you should be able to tackle the project in a weekend. Don’t have a fence? Now’s the perfect time to start gathering estimates from at least three pros.

If all you’re doing is staining or painting your fence, you probably won’t spend much more than $100 if you do it yourself. When installing a fence, you must take into account the length you need and what materials you’d like. Don’t install a chain link fence; it won’t do anything to help your curb appeal. Wood and vinyl both look nice, with wood costing an average of $2,500 and vinyl, $3,500.

Dress up Your Windows

Old shutters, metal gratings and decaying flower boxes give your home’s exterior a sad, neglected air. Remove the old window dressings and replace them with something new and stylish. You may prefer wood shutters, stylish awnings or simply a fresh coat of paint. Choose whatever looks nice with the style of your home (for example, the classic look shutters provide doesn’t always match ultra-modern exteriors.)

New exterior shutters will cost you, on average, just under $1,600, though the project can range anywhere from $700 to $2,500. Assuming your windows are a standard size, vinyl shutters will be, on average, $100 to $250 cheaper than wood shutters per window. However, vinyl shutters come in many styles and colors and often look just like wood unless you get very close.

It’s All About Borders

Make your driveway and front path inviting by creating borders up their lengths. Stone edging, flowers and outdoor path lights are all great options. As always, you want to match your borders with the rest of your exterior decor. Path lighting, for example, looks beautiful if you have manicured landscaping, but won’t work if hedges already border your driveway and walkways. Stone borders, on the other hand, look beautiful with concrete driveways but may get lost if you have gravel.

Belgium block is one of the most popular edging materials. A 4x4x4 inch cube usually costs $3, while longer options typically cost between $3 and $7. You’ll have to measure your driveway or garden path to determine how many blocks you need and how much it will cost you. Don’t forget to multiply by two to account for both sides. A project like this will probably cost just under $2,000. Path lights have a greater variation in cost. Small solar-powered lights that you stick into the ground may only cost you $15 a light, while if you install an electric path lighting system, it can reach almost $5,000.

Focus on the Front Door

The front door is the centerpiece of your house’s exterior. A beautiful wood front door with glass paneling and an old-fashioned knocker evokes a welcoming ambience, whereas an old storm door with a torn screen and a broken latch feels dilapidated. Your front door reflects your style as a homeowner; you may go for a boldly painted front door, a glass storm door or a vintage option with beautiful patterned glass.

Since front doors are much heavier than interior doors, unless you’re good at DIY, call a professional to install your front door. A door made of aluminum may cost you as low as $200while a high-quality front door with patterned glass made of mahogany can run anywhere between $600 and $2,000 or more. Shoot for somewhere in the middle: get a good-quality door with the kind of paneling and windows you want, then paint or refinish it yourself, and dress it up with a stylish knocker and frame it with sconce lights.

Learn More About Organic Home Gardening Tips

Are you wondering how to grow organically? People all over the United States are getting involved in organic gardening so they can provide safe, healthy, low-cost food to their family. Gardening for delicious organic food is happening everywhere from backyards in Florida to window boxes in Maine. To get started, however, it’s a good idea to start by answering the question, “exactly what is the organic way of gardening?” While many people have different ideas about this, a basic definition is easy to agree on: It’s a form of gardening that does not allow the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. While this is a very rewarding approach to growing plants, it can also be quite challenging!

Pesticides

There are a limited number of pesticides permitted in organic gardens, but without artificial chemicals to rely on, would-be organic gardeners need to learn the ins and outs of cultivating an entire ecosystem that will naturally support their plants. This requires them to learn a lot about their crops, the soil they have available, and possible pests that could harm their crops. It all begins with choosing the right seeds for your vegetable patch. Some of the easiest crops to grow organically include mainstays like tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and strawberries, though of course, you should choose crops that will flourish in your climate and soil type. Companion planting can be a smart way to optimize the use of your space, but knowing what to plant and when is also key. For instance, clover, oats, and buckwheat flourish in the summer, while many beans and peas prefer winter.

Preventing Weeds & Insects

When you’re considering how to start an organic garden, you need to give consideration to insects and weeds that could prove problematic. That starts with learning about organic pest control and removal and discovering which garden insects tend to be helpful. In organic gardening, it’s impossible to completely eliminate pests and plant diseases, but you can go a long way toward minimizing problems by encouraging beneficial insects that prey on pests. How do you do it? Incorporate plants that produce the pollen and nectar that these insects crave. If you’re finding that pests are gaining the upper hand, you can actually purchase eggs or larvae for many beneficial insects from your local specialty gardening shop. It may still take a few weeks before you notice a difference, but the end results are well worth it!

Weeds can be a serious issue in organic gardening. Rotation, mulching, and weeding can all help protect your plants from harm. Some good mulching materials include compost, wood chips, pine needles, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and aged sawdust. In small amounts, black plastic or clear plastic can also be used to keep weeds at bay. Crop rotation of different plant families will improve the soil’s ability to maintain growth: Switch between members of the lily family, squash family, carrot family, beet family, and cabbage-mustard family regularly for best results. Intercropping can also help: For example, pair shade-tolerant plants under those that love sunlight, fast growers with slower growers, and those with deep root systems alongside those with shallow roots to maximize your yield.

Over-Wintering

Virtually any organic gardener will eventually have to make plans for over-wintering. Over-wintering can be tough at first, but with a little bit of experience, you’ll be able to get better and more efficient results. In an organic ecosystem, the soil needs to be protected during the winter or its ability to support crops in warmer seasons will be compromised. Many gardeners turn to burlap as a lower “guard layer” for the soil, piling mulch made from garden debris on top. Throughout the winter, it’s important to check the soil for moisture, which might indicate whether the burlap is improperly placed.

Conclusion

Now you know the basics for getting started in organic gardening, but there is always more to learn, and plenty of people are eager to share their knowledge with those who are just starting out. Try the USDA’s tips for organic gardens, or read advice from expert organic gardeners. Some colleges even offer advice for those looking to get their feet wet in the world of organic gardening. No matter what your gardening approach, you should have aim to fun and remember to allow yourself the time and the freedom to make mistakes while you learn the ropes. Within just a few growing seasons, you could find yourself with several pounds of delicious, nutrient-rich organic food every time it’s harvest time around your home!

Learn More About The Basics of Landscaping

So you have a yard, and that’s great, but do you have landscaping? Landscaping is different from the grass in your yard, no matter how much time you have spent mowing and tending to it. Many young people move into their first home and don’t have a good idea about how to manage their yard, and with new suburban homes, they don’t really know how to go about getting proper landscaping for their particular home. The best thing to do is to get back to the basics and start learning it from the ground up (no pun intended).

It All Starts with Soil

Depending on where you live in the world, your soil can be heavily acidic or alkaline. The soil can also have large amounts of clay or iron. The point is no matter what landscaping or grass you are planning on growing, your soil has to cooperate. In order for your soil to work as well as possible, you need to have it tested. Your soil might be perfect or it might just need some nitrogen. Soil engineers can test and analyze soil from different points in your yard to help your yard perform at its best. The cost for this averages about $800.

Utility of Landscaping

What you need to understand about landscaping is that it serves more than just an artistic or aesthetic purpose. It is functional outdoor art, but it can also serve as a vehicle for privacy. Landscaping can exist to attract certain insects or birds to your home. It can also be used to cover up your foundation that sticks out from the bottom of your siding, among other things.

Good landscape architects and landscape designers are trained to utilize your yard for whatever end you desire (security, privacy, etc) with a design that is pleasing to the eye and to the neighborhood.

So think about what you are trying to accomplish with your landscaping. If you are interested in attracting butterflies or keeping neighbors from peering in, keep this in mind so that your architect or designer creates something that can serve this dual purpose.

Maintaining Your Landscape

After you have had your landscaping designed and installed, there is an issue of maintenance. You will either need to maintain your yard yourself or you can hire a landscaper to do it for you. Either way, early spring through early fall, there will be steady work to keep up with the Jones’s. But it is good work. You will be outside, sweating, and getting your hands dirty trying to get that green thumb.