Month: September 2011

Helping Your Lawn Bed Down For Winter

A little extra effort on your lawn in the fall — think about all the time you won’t be spending mowing, trimming and weeding in the winter — can save you a lot of extra effort in the spring.

DO: Feed It!

For those living in cooler climates, where most lawns are “cool-season” grasses, properly feeding your lawn during the fall months is more important than during any other time of the year, as cool-season grasses are most active during this season

In an article on MSN Real Estate, Bob Mugaas, a horticulture expert, recommends fertilizing twice: first with a higher-nitrogen “feeding” early in the season, and then a high-phosphorous feeding towards the end of season. If you are unsure about the needs of the soil in your area, a soil test can give you the answers.

DO: Overseed!

For warm-season lawns, Denny Schrock of Better Homes and Gardens recommends overseeding with ryegrass in the fall for a lush lawn in the cooler wintertime. Seed right over your freshly (and shorter) mowed lawn in a cross-hatch pattern.

DON’T: Cut It!

As you rake and neaten and de-thatch, it may be irresistible to prune as well. Resist the urge. Most experts, such as Mike McGrath, host You Bet Your Garden agree that because pruning promotes growth, cutting plants, trees or shrubs back just before they begin going dormant for the winter only weakens the plants. Best time to prune? Late winter or early spring.

DO: Aerate!

Aeration provides multiple benefits to your lawn — helping to minimize thatch, improving drainage and irrigation, and loosening the soil. Lisa Kaplan Gordon, managing editor of, notes that aeration facilitates getting water, oxygen and nutrients to where they are needed (the root system) and allows seeds room to sprout and grow. Depending on the size of your lawn, a hand-aerator tool might be fine. If hand-aerating your lawn seems daunting, power aerators can be rented by the hour.

For more autumn lawn preparation tips, try these resources:

Fall Lawn Care: 4 Ways to Say G’Night For The Winter (

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter (Buckeye Gardening)

14 winter-prep tips for your lawn and garden (MSN Real Estate)

Fall Lawn-Care Secrets (Better Homes & Gardens)

Prepare your yard and garden for winter (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Fall Pruning: Don’t Do It! (Rodale)

Less Money, More Free Time

Top Trends in Home Improvement

It’s not about the biggest house anymore, it’s about the smartest home — the most flexible, the most comfortable, the most energy efficient, the easiest. Whether you’re staying in your home or considering selling, making changes that make your house more cost-effective and lower-maintenance is a good investment.

In today’s world, having your home cost you a bit less each month and take up a little less of your free time each week can make a big difference.


Siding – low maintenance and maintenance-free siding solutions can save you time and money. According to Remodeling Magazine, installing fiber-cement siding averages an 80 percent return on your investment, if you sell your home. And that’s not taking into consideration the amount of time you’ll have free not making or organizing repairs.


Energy Efficiency – so, your appliances are Energy Star rated, your bulbs are CFL, you’ve checked your windows and doors for leaks; but do you really know where your energy is going? New energy monitor devices can help you track the energy usage for a single device or your whole house.


Storage – whether it’s getting rid of that monthly storage facility fee or clearing off your floors, chairs and tables, transforming unused space into creative storage space is one of top ways to maximize the home you’re in. Under the stairs, over doors, inside suspiciously under-used (not the same as not full) closets are all spaces that a little creativity and handywork (or handyman services) can transform into good-looking and useful added storage.


For more ideas to save you money and free up your time, try these resources:

Head-to-Toe Fall Prep For Your Home

An easy to remember list to help you get ready for autumn

Summer has come and gone — funny how every year it seems to go by just that little bit faster.

After Labor Day and before Columbus Day is the time to make sure your home is prepared for cooler temperatures and harsher weather. Just as you might be saying goodbye to your shaggy hair, your shorts and your flip flops and preparing to head back to the office, your home too could stand a head to toe review to make the switch.

Head — now is the time to clear off the roof, clean out and repair the gutters and check your chimney.

Body— while it’s still warm, double check your door and windows for cracks, leaks and warping. Apply weather stripping where it’s needed.  Make an appointment to have your furnace tuned up.

Feet — if you have a pool, following winter-closing procedures such as using PH stabilizers and algaecides can make next spring’s opening much easier. Clear and weather-protect your decks and store furnishings. Check your driveway for cracks or damage that could turn ugly in cold temperatures or in icy conditions.

Accessorize— reorganize your garage to move summer equipment and paraphernalia to the back and your fall tools and supplies up front. Sweep and prepare a spot for firewood; check old wood for rot and insects.

For more tips on getting ready for fall, try these resources:

DoItYourself: Fall To-Do List: Outdoor Maintenance

Popular Mechanics: 5 Steps to Faster Fall Yard Work: This Weekend, Autumn Home Checklist, and 7 Steps to Save Money This Fall by Sealing Leaks and Drafts

3 Bathroom Updates That Impact Your Home’s Value

Small Changes That Make A Big Difference

Making improvements to your bathrooms and kitchen is one of the best ways to boost the value of your home. Often times, though, you can make a huge difference without spending a huge amount of money.

Faucets — Whether your current faucets are scratched up, look out-dated, or lack style, a new faucet can make a big difference.

Look for faucets that are consistent with your home’s style. Faucets with handles that have spokes or levers are a better investment than faucets with round knobs — spokes and levers are easier for little hands and old hands to maneuver than knobless handles, which can be hard to hold and turn.

Vanity — Switching out a vanity can change the whole look, and sometimes the very functionality, of your bathroom. For bathrooms long on clutter and short on storage, exchanging a pedestal sink for a cabinet vanity can help streamline and clean up the room. Changing a tile countertop to a solid surface, such as granite or soapstone, is another sure-fire way to transform an outdated looking bathroom to one that feels current with today’s design trends.

Fixtures — Replacing a standard mirror-fronted medicine cabinet with a large mirror will not only make the room feel more modern, but also larger. If storage is a concern, consider a bigger built-in cabinet or updating the front of your current cabinet with a frame. Updating your towel bars, hooks and toilet paper holder with new, stylish versions is a simple way to change the look and feel of your bathroom.

For more ideas and tips on updating your bathroom, visit these resources: