12 Low-Cost Tips to Make Your Yard Look Even Better During Summer

GardenWith summer finally here, many home owners will put plenty of hours into beautifying their lawns and gardens. Here are 12 tips to help you save money while still making sure your yard looks its best all summer long:

1) Stay on the Lookout for Weeds
Weeds are a problem for your lawn or garden simply because they consume nutrients your preferred plants also need. Be vigilant about what you planted and if anything growing on your lawn or in your garden shouldn’t be there. As long as you pull the weeds out – roots and all – you should be safe. Some weeds may be persistent and you may need to resort to weed-killing chemicals readily available at your local hardware store.

2) Edge What You Can
Whether you’re doing it by hand, renting or buying an edger – they often cost less than $100 – edging your lawn is a great idea to differentiate your garden from your lawn, pathways or other features. It makes your lawn look cleaner.

3) Trim Overgrown Bushes and Trees
If you have big bushes in your yard that take up valuable square footage, trees with overhanging branches, or other areas where plants are growing out of control – investing time and energy to trim them back is a great idea. It will make your outdoor space cleaner with a more organized look and feel.

4) Make a Statement in Separation
When you’re trying to make your lawn look really impressive, do some extra work above and beyond simple edging – where it meets your driveway, gardens or other spots – will help it pop out more. For instance, putting up a small wooden fence or line of rocks around the edges of your garden will both help the two spaces contrast and give you a better idea of what you have to edge next time.

5) Add a Water Feature
Whether you put in a small concrete pond, birdbath or a fountain that runs from an attached hose, a water feature is an attractive addition to any garden. You can DIY most of these features, or buy a pre-made option.

6) Make a Path
While most people know not to tread on gardens, having people walk all over your lawn isn’t good for it either. Reduce possible lawn damage by laying down a path of stone, wood planks or other material, which you can get from most big-box hardware retailers. This will not only protect the lawn, but will add another attractive, eye-catching feature.

7) Contrast in Your Garden
A great way to make your garden areas more impressive is to plant flowers and other greenery that are of various colors and textures. It’s great to have a garden bursting with colorful flowers, but contrasting them with some deep green bushes, small evergreens or other plants can bring in a little more variety.

8) A Space to Enjoy
What good is a garden if you’re only viewing it from afar or as you pass through? Add some seating (such as a simple metal bench or wooden chairs and a table) to make your garden a more homey place to sit and relax. By placing the seating in the shade you will have a great place to read in the summer.

9) Bring in Containers Where it Makes Sense
Sometimes you don’t necessarily have the space to plan an entire new flower bed or other feature, but you do have an area you want to beautify a bit. In these cases, consider a large, potted plant or other type of container that will allow you to add something new without requiring a lot of digging or other work.

10) Put in Plants and Other Features Around Every Tree
When your yard has trees – whether they’re towering or merely saplings – it’s a good idea to make sure they have some company. Planting flowers around the tree bed or installing features like a birdbath or some rocks can help the whole area stand out as being just a bit more attractive.

11) Don’t Mow Too Low
When it comes to your lawn’s health overall, one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is mowing too low to the ground. It may look great to have a nice short cut, but it’s not recommended because it hurts the lawn in multiple ways. First, short grass is more likely to dry out or be scorched in the hot summer sun. Second, it’s worse at retaining water as a general rule. Third, it often pulls up grass altogether and makes the lawn more susceptible to erosion when it rains, leading to patchy spots.

12) Plan Carefully When Adding New Features
If you’ve mastered care for other parts of your yard and you want to add a new flower bed or other feature, it’s wise to approach the job with caution. Take some time to plan out the whole area, staking it off to see how it might look before you start tearing up grass or putting down mulch.

One of the best ways to beautify your backyard or increase your curb appeal (which, for hopeful sellers, is critical to boosting their real estate sales opportunities) is to look online for some inspiration. A quick search on Pinterest may turn up plenty of options that will help you make your home a more satisfying place to live.

Need help with your landscaping, lawn or garden? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted professionals to help you make your lawn and garden look great all summer long.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

Five Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Summer

Cleaning Gutters Filled With Leaves & SticksWith Memorial Day almost here – giving way to the fast-approaching summer – homeowners are encouraged to make preparations necessary to ensure their homes are ready for the hot weather.

Here are five tips to make sure your home will be in the best shape possible for the upcoming warmer months:

1) Air Conditioning Check and Maintenance
Whether your home has a central air conditioning system or window units, you need to make sure they’re in good shape. After all, if you’re going to get many hours of use for the next several months. Be sure to check and replace air filters on all units.

2) Clean Fans Thoroughly
If your home has ceiling or box fans, you’ll need to clean the blades. (Dust builds up on them if they were not used throughout the fall and winter.)

3) Check the Attic and Basement
Thank to spring rain, a lot of moisture can build up in your home. This can cause problems on your roof and foundation. Carefully inspect these spaces for any sign of dampness.

4) Maintain the Yard and Yard Tools
A big part of summer is tending to your lawn, garden and trees, and having your yard tools in good order is a must. A freshly tuned-up lawnmower will make mowing a breeze. After a long winter, yard tools may need to be cleaned and sharpened.

5) Keep Gutters Clear
While April showers have already given way to May flowers, you’re certainly not out of the woods yet when it comes to heavy summer rain storms. While you likely cleared out the gutters already (before winter began), giving them another check now is a good idea. This can help you identify potential issues, including leaks.

Need help with your pre-summer home maintenance? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted home-service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

Four Home DIY Projects for Spring

RoofIf you’re already doing spring cleaning, it might be wise to get out the toolbox and do some home improvement projects as well. A little maintenance can go a long way after the tough winter months.

Here are four crucial tips to making sure your home will recover from winter:

1) Fix the Roof
There’s probably no part of your home that takes as much of a beating every winter as the roof, according to BobVila.com. After all, it not only deals with snow, sleet and rain, but also harsh winds, cold weather, water runoff and bearing the weight of snow and ice that builds up over the course of a few months.

With that in mind, it’s quite common for shingles or tiles to crack, loosen or fall off during the winter. When the spring thaw hits, going up there once it’s safe and checking everything carefully will give you an idea of how much repair work you have to do.

2) Look for Leaks, Fissures and Cracks
Along similar lines to inspecting your roof, it can also be a good idea to look over your home’s interior and exterior for any signs of wear and tear from the winter. Missing shingles can be a sign of leaks into the attic, so checking inside is always wise if there’s obvious damage on the roof. The same is true of checking along windows and exterior doorways for any fissures, which can be fixed with caulk more often than not.

It’s also smart to check your home’s foundation for any cracks or holes that might have formed, and fill them with an appropriate patching substance as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

3) Check the Deck and Siding
While you may not realize it, painted, stained or even sealed decks can really get a lot of muck and grime built up on them throughout the winter. That’s also the case with siding, whether wooden or vinyl. Usually, turning a pressure washer on them can help unlock their real beauty once again, and renting this kind of equipment shouldn’t carry too big of a price tag.

4) Examine the Gutters
Finally, if your home has gutters, now is the time to check them out. They might have taken a bit of damage (especially if there was ice buildup) or clogged with tree debris over the winter.

Of course, no one knows your house better than you do, so if there’s an issue that seems to crop up consistently every year, working on ways to permanently address it is always the smartest way to start your home DIY efforts. Otherwise, just doing routine checks and maintenance to make sure everything is as it should be will help you avoid bigger problems down the road.

Need some help with your home-related projects? If you do not feel comfortable climbing your roof or tackling other home-maintenance details, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted, home-related services and vendors to you!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

 

Prepare Your Home to Sell Now for the Spring Market!

Many people wait to place their home on the market for sale once spring rolls around. Selling your home isn’t a decision to be taken lightly and requires preparation that should begin as early as possible. Here are some tips to get your home “market ready” just in time for spring:

The Basics
The first thing for home-sale prep work is a careful assessment. Is there any chipped paint, worn-out carpet, or other things you might choose to live with but could be a potential turnoff to a would-be buyer? Rooms should be cleaned thoroughly and repairs made. For the exterior of your house it is extremely important to boost curbside appeal.

De-cluttering every room of your home is a key point of action. Remove family mementos and repaint rooms to more neutral colors. Your goal is to have your home appeal to wide variety of home buyers. When they visit your spring open house you want them to picture themselves living there.

Getting it Right
It’s important for homeowners to make sure everything in the house works as it should. For example, if there has been an issue with the stove’s pilot light malfunctioning it’s important to get that fixed. The same is true of testing garage door openers, sinks, toilets, garbage disposals, exhaust fans and other home appliances.

Open and close every window and door and make sure they don’t stick, creak or otherwise present a troublesome function that might frustrate a potential buyer.
Make sure any aspect of the heating and cooling system – regardless of season – is in good working order to help expedite the real estate sales process.

With today’s high-demand seller’s market, there’s a perception that homes “sell themselves.” However, if you want to get through the sales process (with hopefully multiple bids and a quick turnaround), doing all the little things can help ensure your home is in top-tip shape and will help make things go more smoothly. Work with your real estate professional to help identify the areas that could pose the biggest issues and address them in the best way possible.

Need more ideas? Look at some of our past blog articles for home staging and  selling quickly.

If you need assistance with home-related tasks to get your home ready to sell, contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can assist by putting you in contact with vetted home-related vendors.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Ten Home-Staging Ideas When Selling Your Home

Home Staging IdeasWhen selling your home, having it strategically staged to appeal to a wide variety of buyers is highly recommended. Buyers will be able to mentally move in and leave them with a lasting positive impression. Here are 10 staging ideas and tips to make your home look its best:

(1) Clean Your Home
We are talking extreme cleaning. Do not skimp on making sure your home is spotless from top to bottom. The cleaner your home is, the more appealing it will be to home buyers.

(2) Get Rid of Clutter
We understand you love your “stuff.” Keep in mind people touring your home will not love it as much. When selling, it’s time to store all family photos, collections and other items that make your home look cluttered and crowded.

Are your closets full, too? Clean them out to make them look more spacious.

(3) Group Furniture
Rooms will look larger when furniture floats away from walls. Position chairs and couches into groups. If you have too many pieces of furniture in a room, consider storing a few chairs or a couch. Or, use that extra chair from the living room and place it in an almost-empty guest bedroom or study.

(4) Get Rid of the Junk Room
Many people have one room designated for storage – aka the “junk room.” Convert that space into a room with purpose by transforming it into a reading room, zen room, study or exercise area.

(5) Don’t Block Your Windows – Let There be Light!
Natural light is a good thing to show off in your home. Open all heavy curtains and let the light shine in. If you have any furniture blocking windows, now is the time to move pieces away from obstructing window views. If your room is still dark, be sure to add lighting. (Aim for 100 watts for each 50 square feet.)

(6) Master Bedroom
Make the master bedroom into a retreat. Consider a neutral bed covering with a throw blanket and several pillows.

(7) Decorate in Threes
Although you do not want to showcase clutter, a bit of home decor is pleasing. Groupings of three are appealing to the eye. Vary your items in height and width with the largest item set in the back and the smallest placed in the front.

(8) De-Personalize Your Home
When your home is for sale it is a good idea to make wall colors neutral to appeal to most buyers’ taste. If you have rooms with bold colors, consider repainting them to something neutral. Remember, you can add back your personality with color when you move to your new home!

(9) Painting Tip
If your goal is to make a room look larger, paint it the same color as an adjacent room.

(10) Outside Rooms
A patio or porch is a great place to show off “outdoor” rooms. Be sure to stage those areas and make them look special

Need professional help with staging your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can put you in touch with a vetted company experienced in home staging, painting or other home-related needs.

Seven Tips to Prepare your Home for Winter

Fall is the best time to take advantage of the weather to winterize your home. A handful of quick and easy projects can help avoid serious issues and potentially even save money. Here are seven tips for getting your property ready for the snow and sleet, whipping winds and frigid temperatures that come with winter:

1) Start with the Heat
Perhaps the easiest way to prepare a home for winter is to look at the furnace and make sure it’s in good working order, according to Popular Mechanics. We recommend hiring a professional to review your heating system yearly.

Additionally, you should swap out old air filters at this time of year. Why change them regularly? Fresh filters will not only make the heating system run more efficiently (which can save a lot of money), but also improve overall air quality in your home.

2) Look for Drafts
A critical aspect of keeping a home well-heated when winter weather arrives is making sure the whole house is as efficient as possible. It’s important to confirm there are no parts of the home where heated air is leaking out. Some home experts note that all the little cracks, fissures and holes around doors and windows in an average house can add up quickly, becoming equal to the size of an open window. Inspect every window for fissures that can be easily patched with caulk or other sealants.

3) Take Care of the Water
Many homes have water lines that run outside of them to spigots on the side of the house or into lawn sprinkler systems. Shut off water access to these water spigots and then flush them out so they’re completely empty to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

If basements aren’t kept at warmer temperatures or some plumbing runs along the outside of the house, it’s important to properly insulate any pipes in those places to reduce the risk of rupturing or bursting.

4) Up on the Roof
The average homeowner might not put a ton of thought into the condition of the roof simply because there is not an occasion to get a good look at it. Now is the time to get out the ladder and inspect it, because things like missing tiles and damaged shingles can become big problems. When snow piles up on a roof on top of a damaged or missing protective material, the weight and the wetness can combine to cause leaks and even collapses in some extreme cases.

Fall is also the time to clean out gutters so nothing gets clogged during winter months. Ice dams can build up quickly and create some potentially serious water damage that compromises the integrity of that part of the roof.

5) Invest in a New Thermostat
For those with older homes, now is a good time to install a new, advanced thermostat that’s programmable (and possibly Internet enabled). These devices give homeowners a lot of control over their home’s temperature on an ongoing basis. Homes can be programmed to turn down the heat when no one is home – during the school or work day – while maintaining a safe level for the plumbing system. This reduces heating bills and doesn’t strain the furnace. This will save a lot of money in utility bills.

6) Bring it Inside
Homeowners should store lawn furniture and other items to keep them in good shape for upcoming warmer months. Portable generators, grills and lawn equipment shouldn’t be left to the elements and need to be stored safely in the garage, shed or basement.

7) The Fireplace
For anyone with a fireplace, it’s a good idea to make sure it is free of debris for winter. The residue from having too many fires can build up in the chimney or there may be problems from animals nesting there. These issues could lead to some backup of smoke or fire.

Need Assistance with your fall home projects?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for assistance with your home-related projects. They can recommend vetted local service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

 

Quick and Easy Home-Maintenance Tips

DIY construction toolsA properly functioning house can save homeowners a lot of headaches and money. Not all home repairs have to be complicated with a little know-how. A bit of online research and some elbow grease is more than enough to tackle many issues that can arise. And, there are many home repair and maintenance jobs that can be accomplished in less than an hour with minimal investment

Just like any other kind of home DIY project, home owners should take all due caution when picking up these tasks, investing in the right safety equipment and tools, and proceeding carefully to ensure everything is done safely.

Quick Fixes
If you have a garbage disposal that is not working properly or has smelly odors, simply disconnect it from the power source. Usually it’s a matter of taking it apart and cleaning it out thoroughly.

If you have growing stains on your home’s ceilings, there are a number of products that will cover up stains and reinforce those areas of potential weakness. A hardware professional will be able to recommend which will work best for specific situations. Be sure to put plastic covering and drop cloths in place so the products don’t drip.

Need a new commode in your bathroom? Replacing a toilet is another DIY project. It requires a few tools and materials.

Cut the Noise
If you have a creaky staircase or a floorboard that just won’t stop squeaking, the “know how” needed to fix it is usually minimal. All it takes is locating the joist with a stud finder and applying a small screw to the area (right through the carpet). If one doesn’t work, try adding one or two more until the floorboard is more firmly in place and not making noise. This is the kind of job can be completed in a matter of minutes.

If your kitchen cabinet doors slam unpleasantly when being closed, simply attach little rubber bumpers to their corners. If you prefer to install “soft-close” fixtures, they are a little more expensive but add a nice element to the way closing a cabinet feels. In either case both are relatively easy to install.

Wall maintenance

Other DIY Home-Maintenance Projects
There are many other projects that can be done by a DIYer, such as adding weather stripping, patching a damaged wall, etc… Go here to learn about these and even more more DIY home-maintenance tips.

If DYI is not appealing to you, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-related vendors and services.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com