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When you have children, change is to be expected. Not only do you have to adjust your life so it works around your children, but you will also have to adjust your home. When you make changes to your home, you need to make sure you choose wisely. Wrong decisions can reduce the value of your property and can end up costing you a lot more money than the improvement was worth, but when something is done right, not only will your property go up in value, but your family will be happier for it. To help you make the right decision, here are five home improvements you should consider if you have children.

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Convert Rooms

Reinventing a room can increase the value of your home as well as make your life easier. You can convert spaces that aren’t being used, such as a garage, basement or attic space, into something that could be used. You could change them into an extra bedroom, a second living room, a games room or a room that can be used by your child if they have a particular hobby they want to excel in, such as music, craft or exercise.

Consider a Playroom

A playroom is another good idea if you have the space and they have many benefits. This can keep the rest of your house tidy and in good condition because your children will have their own area where they can play and make a mess. If you decide to move home, this feature would appeal to buyers who have or plan to start a family.

Add an Outdoor Play Area

Exercise and fresh air are essential for child development. If you have a good-sized back or front yard, then installing an outdoor play area for your children is a great way to ensure they get outside, and it will be a safe area for them to do so. If you don’t have the time or skill to create your own outdoor play area, you should contact KG Landscape to help you create a safe, fenced play area.

Increase Storage

Nowadays, people like a minimalist look when it comes to their homes. This can be a hard thing to achieve when you have children, but it isn’t impossible. Making alterations that increase the amount of storage your home has will increase the value of your property and will make it look neat, tidy, and modern while you live there. It can also make your home safer, especially if you have young, curious toddlers walking about.

Improve Your Home’s Efficiency

There is no denying that children are expensive, so making changes that help to save you money as well as increase the value of your property whilst helping the environment are always great ideas. One of these changes would be to improve how energy efficient your home is. You can do this by adding installation, adding renewable energy sources, and installing double glazed windows. These are just a handful of things you can do.

To summarize, when you decide to make changes to your family home, space, efficiency, and usefulness are the key things you need to consider. If the alterations will help you, then there is a high chance it would help someone else, which leads to a rise in property price.

 

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Entertaining at home is often done outdoors, on the patio, deck, verandah or in the garden. Lush greenery, floral scents, stone paving and well thought out garden beds all inspire serene feelings of calmness and joy.

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Even you are an avid gardener, you have spent many happy hours outside either tending to your garden or just relaxing in the sun or breeze. If you enjoy being outdoors, perhaps now is the time to transform your piece of green heaven and introduce some new and exciting features to use outside. Think pergola.

Perfect Pergolas

The quickest and easiest way to transform your outdoor space is by placing a pergola outside. There are so many ways to use these structures, you will never be stuck for pergola ideas.

Pergolas come in a variety of makes. You can opt for the traditional timber pergolas, composite, steel frames or a combination. Add vinyl, cloth or shutters on the top and your pergola can take on many functions.

Pergolas give the sense of incorporating an extra room to an area because of the pillars and roof which mimic a room. This makes a pergola the perfect outdoor addition which will not only delight homeowners but adds value to the property.

Function And Form

Whether you want a practical outside dining area, seating area or relaxing area, you can achieve any look and feel with a pergola.

Warm winter evenings outside with a fireplace and blanket might be your taste or a functional dining area in spring where everyone can sit outside comfortably. Add a bar for that instant poolside feeling.

Perhaps you desire privacy and would like your outdoor spa to be covered, or a quiet place to lie outside and read in the hazy summer days. All these functions can be achieved by using a pergola.

Adding color and accessories to your pergola area is easy when you have decided on what the look and feel of your space should entail. Keeping it classy and chic is just as easy if you plan the accessories properly. Look for weather-resistant or outdoor pieces that will be easy to maintain and move around.

The great thing about having a pergola is that when you decide to update or refresh the look and design of your outdoor space, you simply bring in new elements to make the change. Remember less is more, a cluttered outdoor space is not a haven of peace and tranquillity.

Simply Add Furniture Or Plants

Attaining chic looks under your pergola can be done in so many ways. The best way to add flair and functionality to your pergola is to add furniture.

Do you want a seated area? Add weather-resistant outdoor furniture and pillows. Include small side tables and an ottoman or two to entice relaxing family gatherings outside. If your pergola is poolside, add sun loungers and potted plants with a side table or two.

If you prefer your pergola be a simple extension of your garden added creepers or plants in pots to grow against the pillars and over the roof. Perhaps you can grow a grapevine and add two chairs and a table for intimate Italy like dinners by candlelight.

 

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Stamped Concrete: Why Is It the Most Popular Material For Driveways?

There are a number of routes you can take when choosing the right material for your driveway. If you’re confused about making the right choice, you can take the route most people take and choose the most popular material for driveways – stamped concrete. You don’t have to take our word for it, ask popular contractors like https://www.kansascityconcreteartisans.com/ about the most popular driveways people want and we’re sure you’ll get the same answer.

Why it is so popular and the various designs and styles you can get with stamped concrete will all be broken down in this handy guide to understanding why stamped concrete is such a popular choice for driveways and why you should take the leap.

Why is it so popular? The advantages of stamped concrete

There are various reasons why stamped concrete is a great choice for your driveways, and knowing all of them can help you understand why it is such a popular choice.

Durability

There is nothing quite like concrete. And by that, we mean that when it comes to sheer strength and resistance, concrete is king. For a driveway, it is important that the material used is able to hold up against things like weather, weight, spills, grease stains, and track marks.

On all those things, concrete ranks high. It holds up well against sun exposure and rain and is stain-resistant against most things. You also don’t have to worry about concrete driveways cracking under the weight of numerous cars.

Longevity

It can be a real pain to both your time and your wallet to have to constantly think about replacing and redoing your driveway over the years you’ll live in your home.

With this in mind, it is important for your driveways to have good longevity to make sure they will hold up for many years to come. Stamped concrete driveways are able to last a long time because concrete is a durable material that does not need constant maintenance. With proper care, it can last for up to 40 years.

Furthermore, you can be assured that the design imprinted on the stamped driveway will remain there and not fade away over time.

Cost

Compared to other driveway materials, concrete comes at an affordable and cost-effective rate. It is a widely available material that has a speedy installation period which helps keep the cost of it low.

And when you add a stamped design to the mix of things, the cost does not dramatically increase. Because it is a process that is neither labor-intensive nor timely, stamping concrete can be done in a single day depending on the size of your concrete.

Customizability

More than anything, the customizability of concrete elevates it from the rest of the flooring materials on the market. Concrete has the ability to be personally stamped and customized according to your wishes.

This means that for houses with unique layouts and decorations, stamped concrete driveways offer a way to customize your driveways according to what looks best with your home.

Value

Stamped concrete driveways are highly attractive features for a home that can increase the overall value of your home. Not only does it look expensive and attractive, but buyers will know that a concrete driveway is a good investment for a home that will last a long time.

The many design options for stamped concrete driveways

Driveways don’t have to look boring or standard at all, and they especially don’t have to when you choose to have concrete driveways. Stamped concrete is an option for everyone that can deliver unique design options, like:

  1. Border designs

1If you’re hesitant to stamp the entire driveway with a pattern or design, you can get a very attractive appearance for your driveways by stamping only a portion of the area, more commonly the border of the driveway. With this technique, you choose a design for the border of the driveway like a geometric pattern or a faux stone and either apply a simpler pattern to the middle or keep it completely plain. The contrast between the border and the middle of the driveway will look elegant and not overly done.

  1. Faux stone designs

2Stamped concrete is capable of mimicking other flooring materials for driveways, such as stone. If you want the aesthetic value of stones like slate and cobblestone but the durability, cost, and longevity of concrete, stamped concrete is capable of delivering that. For faux stone designs, you can have them laid out straight or patterned in a fan effect for a more stylish stamping.

  1. Unique patterns and designs

3If you’re interested in stamped concrete driveways for its versatility, you may be interested in getting more unique designs on your driveway. For example, you may be more inclined to get a large-scale pattern or a large design like a specific image like a sunburst or compass. This can likewise be done with concrete stamping.

  1. Brick patterns

4If you love the look a brick driveway but are concerned about its cost and need for constant maintenance, you can achieve a “brick” driveway with stamped concrete. Choose the kind of brick you want to emulate for your driveway and leave the rest to your contractor to get the best results possible.

 

 

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For better or for worse, your fencing will have a huge influence on how your place feels and looks. While for some, utility will be the most important factor, for others, they might prefer something that complements their house first. Factors such as climate and cost also have to be considered as well. This is why the question of which material should be used can be a tricky one. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular options, vinyl and wood, and the pros and cons of each to see which option would be the best for your needs.

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Wood: The Pros

One of the best things about wood fences is the way they look. Some people just love the whole white picket fence aesthetic, and stained wood can give a rustic feel to any backyard. So, if your first goal is for it to look good, then wood is a sure bet. Wood is also one of these materials you can work with even if you’re not a professional, so it’s a good pick for those DIYers out there. Wood also gives you a wide array of colors and finishes based on the staining and the wood you pick.

Wood: The Cons

Wood fences demand a lot of maintenance. And they’re not the best suited for every climate. You have to work on them every year so they can keep their appearance, whether its repainting or treating them. They’re also vulnerable to things like insects, especially termites. And they have a tendency to warp as well, especially when they haven’t been properly treated.

Vinyl: The Pros

Vinyl is one of the most low maintenance materials you can use as far as fencing goes. And it comes in a wide variety of styles, textures, and shades as well. While you can install it yourself, it’s always better to work with professional fitters. Teams like Northland Fence will be able to set up your vinyl fence in as little as a day and all their vinyl fences come with a lifetime warranty on the material. Good luck finding that with wood.

Vinyl: The Cons

One of the issues with vinyl fencing is that it’s slightly more expensive upfront than wood. But you end up recuperating these costs with lower maintenance and higher durability. Another issue with vinyl is that repairs are a bit more complicated, but since it’s so durable, it doesn’t require repairs as much as wood.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, it’s all about your priorities and what you need in a fence. If you want something that will last a long time and require little to no maintenance, go for vinyl. If your main priority is the look and you don’t mind having to maintain it every year and replace it at the end of its lifespan, then wood might be the choice for you.

Conclusion

Whatever choice you pick, make sure that you consider how much time and money you can afford to spend on your fence. Also, consider if your climate or even the general look in your area would make either option more suitable.

 

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Your home design is all about you, your partner and your family. Every element present at home reflects a certain aspect of life. The colors painted all over the walls remind you of peace and serenity. The decor beautifying the walls project decision-making and artistic skills. The materials used inside and outside the house, from flooring to roofing, display style and preferences. Spacing and arrangement either defies customs or depicts centuries-old traditions and beliefs.

When buying a new home, building one or making a facelift, you want to be immersed in the process, from planning the details to the finishing touches. After all, the house is your safe haven for years or even for a lifetime. It is a pleasure to flip through the color palette, the portfolio of home decor and the gallery of design ideas you want your eyes to scour. It is also no wonder if you have been making sketches or notes with design ideas for the kitchen, living room, master bedroom or even the garage.

To help you out, we have compiled a list of unique bits of design that may seem bizarre but are actually awe-inspiring ideas that will make your house stand out from the rest.

Pendant Lighting

More and more restaurants, especially intimate ones, are now adorned with pendant lighting that hangs just slightly over the heads of guests. From a style perspective, pendant lighting offers a great addition to your home. But it provides more than just a decorative accent. It also plays a major role in terms of highlighting a room, adding a different glow while incorporating a decorative style.

Now, how do you plan on adding pendant lights at home? You can try hanging them to illuminate your entryway, a kitchen counter or dining table. Although the lights are usually close, you may also opt for a design that spreads all throughout the space you want to brighten up, like a dining table with a large seating capacity.

Natural Lighting and Ventilation

Sustainability solutions start at home. Measures to lower consumption of energy and water do not just lead to lesser utility bills but also contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from using less electricity and water, you can incorporate sustainability measures in your building design.

This means you will need less light during the day and nature’s fresh breeze will surround your home, instead of turning on air conditioning for cooling the house. Ask your home renovations and remodeling service provider or a local Excel Builders to craft a design that allows natural lighting and ventilation to come inside the house.

Big Plants

Desert plants are the usual staple for decor inside the house. But it is 2019, and trends change over time. Small plants, flowering or non-flowering, are also attractive. Nowadays, big plants are eye-catching accessories that can attract attention. Before you purchase bold plants, you need to know the relevant information such as water and sunlight requirements to keep plants healthy and green.

Floral Patterns

While people live in a modern world, everybody loves a design redux for styles that were trendy in the past. In 2019, floral patterns have risen to the occasion. You might think the floral pattern thrived during your grandma’s adolescent period. Well, yes indeed. But filling your home with floral design may be a better replacement for bland or flashy colors that dominated the previous years.

Fortunately, floral print today is redesigned with contemporary lines and is much bolder than in years past. There is a list of fresh design for your floral patterns, from orchids to cherry blossoms, to give your room an updated look. 

Multi-Functional Space

Whether you’re limiting furniture to save space or just practicing less is more through minimalism, a multi-functional space can work wonders at home. You can remodel existing furniture pieces or purchase new ones that offer more than just one function, such as a bed with pull-out drawers or ottomans with added storage.

You can also design two or more rooms in one space, such as an office space in a living room or transforming kitchen counters into a workstation. Success in multi-functional space depends on layout. The design should manifest proper balance between two or more functions, and clearly indicate the division between spaces.

Bar Area

You, your partner, friends and family members can enjoy the spirits and entertainment at your home by putting up a bar. You can display your prized wines, tequila and other liquor you want to enjoy. Hang those wine glasses, put in the rotating stools and roll out those barrels to start partying without going outside.

With a bar area, it’s easy for guests to get cold drinks while the party is hot on the dance floor. The bar does not have to be limited to drinking alcoholic beverages alone. You can also have your morning coffee, brew a late-night tea or whip up a smoothie at the bar.

Biophilia

It is now that we are seeing more and more people that are interacting with nature. By installing sustainable solutions at home or in the office, everyone is more involved today than on previous years when it comes to getting closer with nature. At home, people create gardens to commune with the environment. Now though, design has brought nature closer to you through biophilia. A biophilic setting expands beyond houseplants or floral patterns. It has design and decor that bring the sight, sound and smell of nature indoors.

So, how do you create this biophilia? For one, work with water. The sound of flowing water not only relaxes our senses, it also blocks noises caused by street sounds. Another element is to breathe in the fragrant scent of nature with aromatic candles or essential oils. Aim to create a space devoid of gadgets, equipment and screens. A biophilic setting wants us to awaken our senses and technology works against it. Just have a corner where distractions are absent.

There is a Santa Claus list of eclectic home design ideas you can experiment in your new dwelling or for an upcoming renovation. As long as it speaks to your style, character and beliefs, you can never be wrong with your choices.

 

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Whats So Special About Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pool owners enjoy key benefits, but it’s important to learn what you’re in for before deciding on the right type of pool for your home.

Here, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about saltwater pools, and weigh the pros and cons of saltwater pools over traditional pools.

The Basics

In a traditional pool, the chlorine level is maintained by periodically adding chlorine to the pool. However, a saltwater pool generates salt chlorine from added salt by the process of chemical electrolysis, using a salt chlorine generator. This highlights an important fact: a saltwater pool is a chlorine pool, it simply uses an alternate means of chlorination. That being said, a saltwater pool’s chlorine content tends to be much lower than that of a traditional pool. The significantly lower chlorine content in a saltwater pool is much gentler on the skin, hair, and eyes.

 

But, What is a Salt Chlorine Generator?

A salt chlorine generator is a metal cell that carries a low voltage electrical current. The generator is installed inline the pool’s existing pump system so the water is pumped through the generator before being returned to the pool. As the water passes through the metal cell, the current splits the salt into water and hypochlorous acid, which provides the disinfecting function normally achieved by adding chlorine.

A saltwater generator creates salt chlorine from simple table salt (NaCl), eliminating the need to handle chlorine. Because the chemical electrolysis converts the salt back and forth between salt and salt chlorine, and because salt does not evaporate (unlike chlorine), there is a reduced need to replenish the pool’s chlorine content. Still, the chlorine content of a saltwater pool must be monitored and salt must be added, as appropriate, to maintain safe levels.

 

Is It Like Swimming in The Ocean?

Note quite. The salinity of a saltwater pool is about one-tenth that of seawater. In fact, a saltwater pool is less salty than human tears. In the ocean, it’s easier to float on your back due to the added buoyancy of the salt. Saltwater pools don’t provide the effect quite as well.

The reduced salt of a saltwater pool in comparison with the ocean has a few benefits. You won‘t feel the “salty” feeling on your skin and hair quite as intensely after drying off. A pool’s water also does not sting your eyes in the same way ocean water will.

 

How Do I Convert My Pool?

Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is fairly easy, but can be expensive. First, you would need to determine what size pool you have and install a salt chlorine generator capable of handling the volume. Salt chlorine generators range in cost from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you are not completely confident in your understanding of the system, you might also want to high a professional to do the installation so as to avoid damage to your equipment. It’s also important to not that the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every few years.

Then, you need to determine how much salt your pool needs. Pool salt test strips can tell you your pool’s existing salt level so you can accurately determine how much you need to add. Again, a saltwater pool uses simple table salt which should be easy to find. After you add the salt, you should run the pump (but NOT the salt chlorine generator), for 24 hours to allow the salt to evenly mix with the pool water. After that, you should test the water for appropriate salt, free chlorine, pH, cyanuric acid, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, before running the salt chlorine generator. This process is referred to as “balancing the pool water.”

 

Are Saltwater Pools Low Maintenance?

Again, we’re here to debunk a common misconception. While saltwater pools require reduced maintenance steps, the water must still be routinely tested and adjusted to maintain proper sanitation. The salt chlorine generator cell must also be inspected at regular intervals for buildup and debris. Calcium buildup is a common issue in salt chlorine generators.

 

Is It Worth It?

The general consensus has been that the benefits of a saltwater pool far outweigh the negatives. The popularity of saltwater pools is on the rise as people appreciate the improved swimming experience:

  • The low salinity of the water means that very little salt remains on the skin.
  • The significantly lower chlorine level gives the water a softer feel, and is gentler on skin, hair, eyes, and even clothing.
  • Not having to physically handle toxic liquid chlorine or tablets has also been a big selling point among pool owners. Owners also appreciate the savings from no longer needing to purchase chlorine.
  • Also, there is generally less loss of chlorine to the environment with a saltwater pool than there is in a traditional pool.
  • Restoring a saltwater pool’s chlorine level can be as easy as simply adding some table salt.

 

While the benefits of saltwater pools are clear, it’s important for a potential owner to know the facts about what they are and what they are not:

  • A saltwater pool is not quite like the ocean. The salinity of a saltwater pool is far lower than that of seawater.
  • Installing a saltwater pool requires a higher initial investment, and fixing any broken equipment can be more expensive.
  • A saltwater pool is not low maintenance. Maintaining a sanitary saltwater pool requires consistency and attention to detail. All other parameters required for a safe pool still need maintenance.
  • Since a saltwater pool simply employs an alternate means of chlorination, many of the same issues that come up with a traditional pool will persist with a saltwater pool.
  • Salt can be corrosive to equipment surrounding your pool.

 

About the author:

Jason Caldwell is a Seattle-based writer and contributor to lifestyle blogs and magazines. His clients include An online swimming pools supply company. When he’s not running up against a deadline, he enjoys planning DIY projects and cooking for his family.

 

 

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Keeping your landscape healthy, green and attractive throughout the hottest part of summer is easy, provided you know all the right tricks. Want to know the best ways to keep your gardens growing and flowers blooming despite the summer heat? The following tips will show you how to help your landscape thrive all summer:

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1. Know When to Prune

With some trees and shrubs, you can wait until fall or winter to prune. In fact, the University of Minnesota recommends that you prune many trees during the last stages of winter while the trees are still dormant. The exceptions are sap-heavy trees like maples, butternuts and birch trees.

In the summer, however, you’ll need to focus your attention on the ornamentals that bloom early in the spring. Azaleas, lilacs, forsythia and anything else that blooms early needs plenty of time to recuperate before winter so that you have a good flush of blooms during the following spring. For these plants, start pruning after the blooms fade but don’t prune any later than the end of July. As a bonus, because early blooming plants devote more energy to producing new branches once they’ve been pruned, you’ll be rewarded with a flush of fresh greenery to enjoy over the summer.

2. Mow to the Right Height

In the spring, grass can take a little more abuse, simply because the extra moisture in the ground helps it recover after a harsh mowing. As the weather heats and the soil dries, you’ll need to be a little more particular about mowing. Make sure that you never remove more than one-third of your lawn’s height, even if that means you need to raise the mower deck. This will prevent stress to your lawn, which in turn keeps your lawn green and healthy rather than brown and parched.

3. Deadhead Your Flowers

Deadheading seems like a no-brainer — it gets rid of all the ugly, lifeless blooms. However, there’s an even more important reason to keep up with the deadheading. Flowers, whether annual or perennial, put a lot of energy into seed production. Let some flowers go to seed, and you’ll have far fewer blooms for the rest of the summer, whereas if you pluck the spent flowers, the plant will release chemical signals to increase bloom production.

4. Top Your Mulch

If you’re like most people, you do your mulching in the spring. Between rains, wind, transplanting and weeding, however, some of that mulch can disappear in a matter of weeks. Keep in mind that mulch is doubly important in the summer — not only does it give your gardens a neat, weed-free look, but according to Cornell University, mulched soils can retain twice as much water as bare soil. In addition, the soil will stay eight to 13 degrees cooler, which is good for your plants’ root systems. With that thought in mind, buy a few bags of mulch and top your beds wherever necessary.

5. Tend to Your Cool-Season Vegetables

Come July, certain crops in your vegetable garden — cool weather crops like peas, cabbage and broccoli — should be finished for the season. With those plants out of your vegetable garden, you can do three things with the extra space:

  • Mulch the empty beds to keep the weeds down and help prepare the soil for the next year.
  • Replant cool season vegetables for a fall crop.
  • Plant cover crops to help enrich and soften the soil.

If you try cover crops, look for late season crops like radishes, wheat and rye. Plant them thickly, and these crops will choke weeds even as they improve your vegetable beds.

6. Pick the Right Time to Water

Should you water daily, weekly or not at all? The answer to that question depends on the amount of rain your region has received and the water requirements of the plants within your landscape.

However, if you do need to water, then always water as early as you can in the morning. The logic behind this is two-fold: Watering early gives the moisture more time to soak into the soil before the heat of the day evaporates it, but at the same time, leaves will have enough time to dry, which makes it harder for diseases and fungal infections to take hold.

With these tips, you can easily keep your summertime landscape healthy and lush without a lot of fuss. As the weather gets hotter, relax and enjoy all the hard work that led to your gorgeous landscape.

Author Bio

Rick Ryan is the owner and president of All Valley Landscaping. With more than 21 years of experience in landscape renovations Rick is a certified expert in the construction industry, including: landscape renovations, yard renovations and exterior home, tree trimming and removal services and sprinkler repair and installations.

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You’ve settled on a new home! Whether you’re building or buying, it’s a time of great excitement and hopes for the future. Acquiring a new home goes hand in hand with the desire to live a better lifestyle than before. For many new homeowners, this includes living more sustainably.

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Here are some top picks for eco-friendly improvements that you can incorporate into your new home. Or, if your home already has sustainable features, use them to make it even greener.

1. Insulate the basement.

Most contractors and homeowners now understand the value of wall and attic insulation. However, did you know that up to 40 percent of the heat loss in a building can take place through the basement? Many people, including contractors, are reluctant to insulate basements. This is because in the past, incorrectly installed basement insulation projects created serious moisture and mold issues in many homes. However, by using modern, approved methods for basement insulation, you can avoid these problems. A properly insulated basement not only reduces your energy bills, it also becomes more pleasant, usable space. Just be sure whoever installs your basement insulation is familiar with proper vapor barrier placement and other basement insulation best practices.

2. Make smart landscaping choices.

Good landscaping can make the difference between a good looking home and a stunning one, but it can also affect your eco footprint. Well-placed trees and shrubs can help reduce your energy bills by sheltering your home from summer heat and/or chilling winds. Planting native species that can handle the climate in your area with minimal care can reduce your water bill dramatically, as well as provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Plus, installing water conservation devices such as rain barrels or weather-smart irrigation controllers will also help save water and keep your yard looking great without spending a bundle on water.

3. Choose eco-friendly materials.

Whether you’re building a deck, replacing a floor, or choosing the perfect pavement for your new drive, don’t just choose the first material that strikes your fancy. Do your research and find out what materials may be available that will suit your needs with less impact on the environment. Consider locally made, recycled, reclaimed and natural materials. You may be surprised at how affordable and/or beautiful some of these can be.

4. Lighten your lighting.

Did you know that on average, Americans spend 14 percent of their household electricity dollars on lighting alone?  One of the best ways to shave your lighting costs is to build more daylighting into your home. Skylights and light tubes are easy to install and will pay for themselves over time.  If you are building new, be sure to orient your home and place your windows to take advantage of available sunlight.  Installing LED bulbs is another investment that will save you money over time. Also, be sure to put any exterior lighting on a timer or use motion sensor devices so that the lights will only be on when you need them.

5. Go green with solar.

Yes, it’s a big investment, but nothing displays your commitment to a green lifestyle like solar panels on your roof. A photovoltaic or solar hot water system will pay for itself in a few years. After that, it will provide you with free electricity or hot water for decades. With renewable energy incentives still in place in many areas, and creative financing for solar becoming more common, you might be surprised how affordable it can be, too.

Going green in your new home is not just the right thing to do; eco-friendly choices often are healthier for your family. They can improve your home’s appearance and comfort level, and, smart green choices can save you a lot of money in the long run. Go ahead — make your new home as green as can be.

 

Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, a Maryland based solar company. 

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With the arrival of warmer weather, homeowners begin to consider how they would like to care for their lawns during the summer. When they realize that they cannot take care of their lawns on their own and need someone to help them with trimming, watering, landscaping, and weeding their yards, people often think ask themselves what they should be paying for all of these services. A variety of different factors will influence the overall cost that people should be willing to invest in a quality lawn care service. Knowing what these factors are and how they may determine the final price required for lawn care can help homeownerschoose a reliable contractor who is capable of delivering these services.

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The first factor that can determine for what price a person should be willing to pay would be the overall size of the lawn that must be maintained. A smaller yard typically requires less care than a lawn that stretches for a half acre or more and thus should not cost as much to mow, water, weed, or landscape. In fact, the website HomeWyse.com reports that the average price for mowing a yard of any size ranges from 6 cents to 31 cents per square foot. As such, the size of a person’s lawn should be one of the main determinations in how much that individual should have to pay for professional lawn care.

Another important aspect to take into consideration centers on a fair wage for the person doing the work in the yard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professional lawn care contractors earn on average a wage of $12 an hour. A homeowner should try to match the average wage in his or her area or even pay more if the quality of the contractor’s work warrants this additional compensation.

Along with a fair wage, property owners additionally should consider compensating fairly for additional services, such as tree pruning, planting, weeding, and watering. In fact, many contractors in this industry charge extra for these services to make sure that they are being paid for their additional labor. A person who owns a lawn that is full of trees, flower beds, and gardens can expect to be charged more than a person whose lawn is bare of these additional fixtures.

Contractors in this line of work also take into consideration factors like the weather, the availability of water, and even the timeframe for which the work must be done when formulating a price to charge customers. For example, if the contractor must work during extremely hot weather, that individual may charge more for his or her service. Likewise, if an area is short on water because of drought conditions, the contractor may charge less because of his or her inability to water the lawn due to water use restrictions.

If customers need the work done immediately, contractors in this industry may additionally charge more because of the short notice given before hiring them for the job. Many lawn care professionals schedule their jobs carefully to make sure they meet all of their customers’ demands. However, if a person needs a service done right away, that individual may be charged more, particularly if the contractor must call in other workers to help.

When it comes to hiring professional lawn care services, homeowners often want to know that they are paying a fair price for the services being rendered. These considerations can help them hire a contractor who will meet their lawn care needs without overcharging them. They can also adjust the price as needed by considering variables like the weather and time restrictions.

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Furnishing and decorating the home’s interior is an aspect of home ownership many people enjoy. However, while homeowners are busy creating style with unique design concepts inside their homes, they can easily forget about the home’s exterior. If you are a DIY (Do It Yourself) type, this article will point you in a few, very fun, outdoor landscaping directions, enjoy!

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Fortunately, you do not have to use professional landscapers to achieve a beautiful yard. Although landscape design may seem like a challenge, there are many easy projects you can complete yourself. These projects are all afforable but add a great deal of curb appeal. Plus, you will most likely have a lot of fun during this very educational process.

Natural Areas
Many homes have some sort of natural area in their home’s landscape. Natural areas can be incorporated in the front of the home or the backyard space. Natural areas are incredibly easy to install, too. If you have a group of trees located in the front or back of the home, creating a natural area will be much easier for you. You should first choose a group of 3 to 4 trees that are close together. Then, you will need to decide on a natural element to use as the area’s foundation. Most people will use pine straw or mulch because it is easy to install, affordable, and readily available. However, many homeowners are choosing pebbles or stone as the foundation base. This choice is completely up to you and the look you are hoping to achieve. You should spray a weedkiller down around the group of trees, first. Then, you can lay down your natural element as the base. The pine straw or mulch should be created in a circle space or an oval around the tree grouping. A thick layer should be applied. Once the base is created, you can choose to add other elements such as a few shrubs, flowers, or decorative accents. Many homeowners will add patio furniture such as a couple of Adirondack chairs so you can enjoy relaxing in your new natural area space.

Mailbox Flower Bed
Every home has a mailbox but not every homeowner chooses to decorate the space with beautiful flowers and plants. To get started creating a mailbox flower bed, simply dig out an area surrounding the mailbox. Although many homeowners will choose a small circle shape around the mailbox space, you can create a larger area that starts at the road and makes a shape similar to a semicircle. This will give you more space to add more elements but the choice is up to you. Once you have created the space and removed all the grass, make sure you spray some weedkiller. Purchase a few flowers and shrubs and place them in a few different ways to create a look that you find most appealing. You can arrange and rearrange these before planting them. For color, perrenials are best when choosing flowers so they will bloom each year. Phlox is an excellent perrenial because it is very easy to grow and enjoys the sun. Phlox also will spread to create a blanket over the mailbox flower bed area. Once you have the plants that you desire, go ahead and plant them. Then, you can spread mulch or pine straw around the flowers and plants. Make sure to water to establish roots.

Outdoor Living Spaces
Although many homeowners do not believe a comfortable outdoor living space is part of landscaping, it most certainly is. While many homes have a deck and patio, there are also other ways to add inexpensive spaces for enjoyment and entertainment. A firepit can easily be created in any home’s backyard. There are numerous firepits on the market but many homeowners are choosing to create their own. You should choose a space in the backyard or on the patio that will offer enough room for the firepit and a few chairs around it. You can purchase a few bricks or curved stones and stack them in a circle on the ground or patio. Many people will purchase aluminum rings to go in the center of the firepit but this is not actually necessary. Choosing to create a firepit like this will allow you the option of moving it later on. Once the firepit is constructed, you can purchase a few Adirondack chairs to encircle the firepit and then invite friends and family over for a great evening together.

Get the Complete Landscaping Guide = 7,250 Landscaping Ideas for Your Home

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