Spring seems to be the time when the lawn takes care of itself. A lawn that was dormant all during the winter suddenly comes back lush and green. It does not seem to need mowing very often, and if rain is abundant, it may not even need to be watered. However, the heat of summer can make lawn maintenance more difficult. Here are tips to help maintain a healthy summer lawn:
For a Healthy Summer Lawn, Fertilize Every 6-8 Weeks
Fertilizing strengthens the grass and helps it endure summer’s heat and drought. A slow release fertilizer is best when applied in early Spring, and there are different fertilizers depending on whether the lawn is in the north or in the south. Keep feeding the lawn every 6-8 weeks until the fall. Some fertilizers come with additives to control pests and help the lawn retain water.
Don’t Cut It Too Short
Though the grass may be growing quickly by summer, it still should not be mowed more than a third of the height of the grass blade for a healthy summer lawn. Tall blades are better able to send their roots deep into the soil to find water, and they also shade the soil beneath which keeps the ground cool and discourages weeds. Though some homeowners think it’s a little unsightly, it’s best to leave the grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. They provide valuable nutrients that contribute to a healthy summer lawn.
Treat for Grubs
If grubs are a problem when it comes to the lawn, the earlier they are dealt with the better. One natural way is to add beneficial nematodes at about 50,000 per square foot of lawn. Milky spore powder also takes care of grubs, as does 5 percent rotenone solution, pyrethrin, and neem oil.
Eradicate Weeds While They’re Seedlings
As for weeds, it’s best to eradicate them while they’re still young. Some weeds can be treated with an herbicide that doesn’t hurt the grass, while others are so invasive that they need to be pulled up from the roots.
Water Deeply and Early for a Healthy Summer Lawn
During the midsummer, it’s a good idea to check how deeply the water penetrates the lawn after it’s watered. The best time to water the lawn is early in the morning so the soil is able to absorb the water before it evaporates in the hot sun.
During the summer months, there’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family than grilling out. In order to keep your gas grill functioning well for years to come, it is important to properly clean and maintain it. The more you cook on the grill, the more there is to clean. Over time, greasy residue and buildup can clog burners and even become a fire hazard. Here are 3 tips on how to clean and maintain a gas grill:
Monthly Leak Check
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing routine propane leak checks. About once a month, you should turn the propane on and pour soapy water over the connections. You’ll notice bubbles if there is a hole in any of the lines. If no bubbles are present then there is no leak. If you notice bubbles you should replace the line or tighten the connections to the tank.
Use a Cover to Maintain a Gas Grill
It is always a good idea to use a cover over the grill whenever it isn’t being used. Exposure to the elements can cause rust and damage the grill. Rust can ruin a grill and cause it to become non-functional. Most grill manufacturers make specific covers for their grills. It is worth the investment to purchase one.
Keeping your grill clean is the best way to ensure it lasts for years. After each time you cook, it is important to use the wire brush to clean the gunk off the grates. Wiping down the exterior with soapy water is also a good idea to keep the grill properly maintained. Deep cleaning of the grill only needs to be done every couple of months as needed. Deep cleaning consists of actually removing the burner protectors and wiping debris from the burners. Finally, you’ll want to get rid of all the gunk in the bottom of the grill. All of this can be done with soapy water and a sponge.
By using these tips to maintain your gas grill, you can ensure it lasts for years worth of cookouts. The key to a long-lasting gas grill is proper care and maintenance. By inspecting your grill for propane leaks, keeping it covered, and cleaning thoroughly, you can expect your grill to last for years.
Spring Home Maintenance is Important for Every Homeowner
Many people believe spring cleaning is only about cleaning out closets, dusting off sports equipment, or digging a path through the garage. However, it’s also a perfect time to check and see how your house has fared during the harsh winter. You may find damages that need repairing and the yard will need prepping for spring and summer plants. Here are 7 spring home maintenance tasks to help prepare your property for the warmer seasons.
1. Watch for Swarming Termites
Termites swarm out of their colonies beginning in March and lasting until May or June in order to find new territory for a colony. When you see a dark cloud of swarming insects, call a pest control company immediately.
2. Check Out the Roof
If you feel comfortable, climb up a ladder to get a closer look at your roof. If you see anything that looks less than perfect, you may want to bring in a professional home inspector to inspector to evaluate the condition of the roof.
You’ll be looking for curling shingles, missing shingles, the bottoms of metal pipes that are damaged, and generally anything that doesn’t look right. Be sure to take photos in case you decide to file anything with your homeowner’s insurance. If you need repairs or an entirely new roof, make sure the roofer you hire is licensed and insured.
While you are up there, notice the gutters. Are they all still attached to the roof? It’s important to repair any areas that may have come loose, and give them a good cleaning. Otherwise, rain may find its way into your foundation causing mold and mildew, and it may also rot the wood of your eaves.
3. Look at the Siding and Wood
Pressure wash the siding on the house or hire a pressure washing service. This keeps mold and mildew from getting a foothold. Also check wooden stair rails on porches, the wood on the deck, and any wood on the property such as pergolas or wooden pathways through gardens.
Replace weak or loose parts. As part of spring home maintenance, have it treated by a professional. Wood around windows and doors should also be checked. Clean it, prime it, and paint it if it is looking ragged. Wood that isn’t strong and primed is an open invitation to termites and bugs.
4. Inspect the Driveway and Walkways
Asphalt and concrete suffer in winter, too. Cracks in driveways and sidewalks, paths through gardens, or the deck around a swimming pool can develop into major issues. Address them when they’re just cracks instead of craters and you’ll save a lot of money down the road.
5. Check the Foundation
Look at the foundation floor, walls, and concrete. If there are cracks, buckling, or anything that doesn’t look right, call a professional immediately. If two quarters will fit into a crack, then your slab or foundation needs help.
6. Bring in an HVAC Technician
When you press the button, the cool air comes on. That doesn’t mean the system is working properly, though. Efficiency could rest on such a simple thing as a filter. Be sure to have a professional look the system over from the unit outdoors to the ducts indoors.
Trees hanging over the roof are trouble. Trim them back or remove them if they look like they could fall on your house. Check other vegetation. If it grows up against the house, it could loosen the mortar in bricks or damage your siding. Trim back everything and pull all vines off the side of the house.
Keep Your Fireplace Safe With Our Fireplace Safety Tips
Winter is here, which means that if you have a fireplace, you’re probably using it quite a bit. It’s important that you follow all the necessary precautions to keep your fireplace safe when doing so. Your fireplace should be a source of comfort and warmth; you don’t want things to get out of hand. It’s a good idea to install a photoelectric smoke detector close to your fireplace to increase fireplace safety. You may also want to install an ionization model which is better at detecting large fires. It’s also a smart move to put a CO detector near your fireplace, not just by the rooms you sleep in. Glass fireplace doors tend to have vents that can let carbon monoxide re-enter the room if there is negative pressure in your home.
Check Out Your Fireplace With a Flashlight
If you are using your fireplace, it’s important to know of any potential hazardous buildup inside. Look up into and around your fireplace, using a flashlight to light your way. You should call a chimney professional for help if you find cracks or gaps of any kind or a buildup of soot. If you see black stuff inside, that’s called creosote and it’s highly flammable. You won’t want to try cleaning it out by yourself, however, so call in the pros.
Check the Damper for Fireplace Safety
It should be easy to open and close your damper. If there’s resistance or a blockage, it’s possible that some sort of animal or bird is nesting there. Be sure to bang on the damper before opening if you suspect this is the case, otherwise you could end up with an unwanted surprise guest in your living room. Have your chimney cleaned professionally if there are any signs that wildlife has taken up residence there.
Make Certain that the Chimney Professional You Hire is Certified
If you need to go the route of hiring a pro to ensure your fireplace safety, look for someone with respectable credentials, such as certification from the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A certified chimney sweep should carry a top-of-the-line camera fitted with LED lighting that will allow him or her to get a good view of what’s going on inside of your chimney, including places you wouldn’t be able to view without this equipment.
Start Out Small
Before you start up a major blaze, build a smaller fire with just a few logs made of seasoned hardwood. This will ensure that the first fire you build burns safely. Start by opening the damper and letting the flue warm up. You don’t want to start a fire while there’s still cold air in your chimney since the downdraft could draw smoke into your house. Before starting your fire, light a rolled-up newspaper in the fireplace’s opening until the air starts to rise.
Make Sure the Mantel Doesn’t Get Too Hot
This step to keep your fireplace safe is of particular importance if you’ve got a flat-screen TV mounted above your fireplace. After your fire has begun to roar, put a candle on the mantel. If the candle starts to melt, then you’ll want to find another place to put anything that could be damaged by heat, like your electronics. If the mantel or the walls grow too hot to touch or if smoke is present anywhere inside your house, including in your attic, then contact a chimney professional as soon as you can.
For more tips to keep your fireplace safe check out this article from HGTV.
When you think about the dangers of shoveling snow, you probably think about straining your muscles and aggravating back problems. While these are certainly concerns, a greater danger is that of a heart attack. Shoveling snow is an incredibly strenuous exercise, and being exposed to the cold weather will cause your blood vessels to constrict putting you at greater risk of having a heart attack. In fact, shoveling snow is the main reason that more heart attacks occur during the winter months. Read on for our tips for shoveling snow safely.
With regard to your aching back, try not to lift a shovel that’s filled with snow. Push the snow off of your driveway and sidewalks instead. If you find that you have to raise the snow, don’t let yourself twist around—face the same direction that you’re lifting. Stop what you’re doing as soon as you start to feel sore. You can always pick the shovel up again later.
How to Stay Safe While Shoveling Snow
Don’t shovel snow right after you get up in the morning—you’re more likely to incur a slipped disc injury because of the fluid that builds up in the disc while you’re sleeping.
Be sure to check with your doctor if you have a heart condition or any other reason to think that shoveling snow could be hazardous to your health.
Put a snow and ice repellant on your shovel to prevent buildup. This will keep snow from sticking to it, which will lighten the load that you’re having to lift.
Drink water before you begin and take breaks frequently.
Say No to Snow Throwers
Many people opt to use a snow thrower instead of shoveling their driveways and sidewalks because they think they’re much easier to use. Unfortunately, snow throwers are also incredibly dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are thousands of visits to the ER every year due to snow throwers, some of which involve amputation.
Snow Shoveling Services
If your neighborhood doesn’t include a teen who offers to do your shoveling for you for cash, you can always find a snow removal service online. It shouldn’t take more than a few clicks of your mouse to find an online referral service that will connect you with local snow shoveling services. If shoveling snow might be hazardous to your health, and particularly if you have a heart condition, this is a wise alternative.
In winter, your home needs special attention, and American Home Inspection Services can help. Click here for our article about home winterization, and here for our post about preparing your home before you leave for vacation. We welcome you to contact us if you are interested in scheduling any of our home inspection services.
By Preparing Your Home For Vacation, You Can Relax On Your Trip
Regardless of whether you’re leaving town for a long weekend or for the season, you’ll enjoy your vacation more knowing that you’ve prepared your house for your time away. It helps to begin your preparations a few weeks in advance and to use a checklist to make certain that nothing gets missed. We’ve created preliminary checklists with tips on preparing your home for vacation. Take these steps to get ready for both your departure and your return so that you can make the most of your vacation and return home stress-free!
Getting Ready to Take Off
Plan for your pets. Make arrangements with a pet sitter or a boarding facility, and give them instructions for how to care for your pet, food, treats, favorite toys, and any medication your pet may need.
Clean out your refrigerator. If food is expired, or if it will expire while you’re gone, toss it. Clean up any fresh spills while you’re at it.
Take care of your laundry. Do a few loads and put away whatever you’re not packing.
Don’t let your plants die. Ask a neighbor or a friend to water your plants, and give them a tour of where all your plants are. Leave them with detailed watering instructions.
Turn on a few lights. This will make it seem like someone is still at home. If you’re going on a longer trip—or if you want to play it extra-safe—invest in automatic timers that will turn your lights off and on at the times of your choosing. You should also let your neighbors know that you’ll be away so that they can be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
Unplug and fine tune. You should adjust your A/C or heat in order to conserve energy while your home is unoccupied. Unplug any appliances that won’t be used before you leave as well.
Call your post office and your newspaper carrier. Have them put a temporary hold on your services so that you don’t come home to a mountain of mail and newspapers by your front door.
Prepare For Your Return
Part of preparing your home for vacation is thinking ahead to what you’ll need after you return. Have your first meal planned already. Make sure you’ve stocked the freezer and the pantry with the key ingredients for an easy non-perishable meal so that you won’t need to go grocery shopping after a long day of traveling. Or if you’d rather order takeout, that’s a great option as well!
Change your sheets right before you leave. This will make for a comfortable first night back in your own bed.
Clean up your house. Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum. Run the dishwasher and put away all of the dishes. Quickly wipe down countertops with all-purpose cleansing wipes. You’ll be much happier returning to a clean home! Trust us, after you return you will be glad you spent a little time preparing your home for vacation.