Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ideas For Front Yard Curb Appeal

Add Curb Appeal

Consider some of these ideas for front yard curb appeal to transform the front of your home from ordinary to extraordinary. With just one of more of these simple changes you can make your home more inviting and attractive without going crazy. There are easy things that you can do to show you home in a better light.

The Front Door

Start with the front door. For many homes, the front door makes or breaks the curb appeal. An old, windowless door that needs a paint job is not inviting. An attractive front door with unique windows or a classic front door with bold color is inviting and adds a rich dimension to the front of your home.

This is the first place to start to make your home more welcoming. Everyone who stops by will enter through your front door. If you have the budget, shop for a replacement that includes etched glass, rounded windows , and rich wood color. So save money and still make a great statement you can repaint your door in a fun, new color. Just make sure it compliments the house.

Potted Plants

There is no less expensive way to make an impact in the front of your home that with potted plants. Simple pots are not expensive and the vibrant color that you will get from these planters is showing all season long.

For a warm entrance place pots in diff erent sizes near the doorway and make sure you include seasonal color. That means rotating the flowers throughout the year to keep the look fresh. Consider pansies in the spring, classic annuals like geranium in the summer, and mums in the fall. Don't forget winter, either. How about a display of spruce tips to welcome winter guests.

To add even more color, include pots in front of other parts of your home, like in front of the attached garage. Go with matching planters for a formal look or a set of 3 unique pots for a more creative look.

Window Treatments

There are two ways to dress up your front windows in a way that will add curb appeal to the front of your home.

The first is to add shutters to the windows or to replace your old worn out shutters with fresh ones. Shutter set the windows off from the house and are a great way to add color to the front of your home without painting the whole house. For brick homes, it is one of the only ways to do that.< br>
Don't underestimate the look of window treatments as well. The curtains or blinds that you have inside may make as big a statement as the shutters. Using the same style curtains or blinds on all of your front windows makes them tie together and look great.

Front Yard Seating

Another one of the welcoming ideas for front yard curb appeal is to add seating. You have options here based on the style of your home and your personality.

For a formal look that is attractive and classy, a metal bistro set is a great option and makes the front of a home warm and inviting. This looks especially good with potted flowers nearby as they add to the appeal of this sitting area.

For a laid-back look 2 colorful Adirondack chairs will invite guest to sit and look out over the neighborhood with you. They are comfortable and will give you the opportunity to add any number of colors to your home. A complimentary flower-pot can really make a statement.

For an old-t ime look a swinging bench cannot be beat. A standard bench is also a nice touch if a swinging bench is not an option. For home with a covered front porch, a swinging bench should be considered.


A properly landscaped front yard is a must to get the best curb appeal possible. It is best to keep landscaping in the front year simple and include plants that look good in 4 seasons.

For trees, use large trees near the street but keep trees near the house smaller in size so that your home is the star of the show. Nothing looks worse than a home hidden by a huge evergreen tree. Select small ornamentals for garden beds near the home so that they won't overtake the area.

Use shrubs that hold an attractive form all season, even in winter. Top choices include globe blue spruce, crimson pigmy barberry, mugo pine, or any of the small spiraea shrubs available. Avoid shrubs with long branches that will not look good in winter. Those are best left for the back yard.

Don't be afraid to mix in some perennials or annuals - just don't overdo it. A mix of tulips, ornamental grass, and perennial flowers looks great as long as you have the permanent plants like trees and shrubs spread through the area enough to provide coverage all season.

Remove Clutter

If you have anything other than seating, flower pots, or landscaping in view of the street, consider moving it.

Some of the worse offenders are trailers, garbage cans, and gas grills. While these may be conveniently stored, they hurt curb appear. Perhaps a storage location around the side of the house would work just as well. Removing these items from view will put the focus back on your home and accessories and improve the appearance, making it more welcoming.

Improve Your Front Yard Curb Appeal Now

Try this. Stand across the street from your home and take a look from your neighbors point of view. Take notice of what is drawing the attention of your eye. Is it something good like a feature on the home or attractive landscaping? Is is a problem like clutter or something in disrepair? It should be pretty easy to decide what is drawing your eye. Once you know that you know what to do next.

Consider the front door, the shutters or window treatments, landscaping and flowers, or inviting seating to make the scene look better. Any of these ideas for front yard curb appeal will make a difference and, when done right, will improve the look of your home.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Gardening Is Great Exercise

Gardening is the world's best kept exercise secret, but that's changing.

Recent medical studies have documented what backyard enthusiasts have known for years: Gardening is good for us and it's a great way to achieve and maintain physical fitness.

Regular garden chores can burn anywhere from 120 to 200 calories per 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of the activity. That's just as good as jogging or any other intense physical exercise and you're likely to become engrossed and spend hours planting, weeding and watering for hours at a time rather than jogging for just a half hour or so.

Turning compost is essentially lifting weights. Raking is like using a rowing machine. Pushing the mower is similar to walking on a treadmill with an upper body workout as a bonus.

Gardeners' exercise machines are post hole diggers, shovels, rakes, push mowers and wheelbarrows. Our running track is the yard and garden and I get to do it all of this in my own beautiful mountain setting. I freely confess to taking frequent "beauty breaks" during my gardening adventures.

Gardening uses all major muscle groups, the muscles that do most of the calorie burning in the human body. Legs, buttocks, shoulders, stomach, arms, neck and back all get a workout. It also increases flexibility and strengthens joints. A study by the National Osteoporosis Foundation found that gardening rates among the very best forms of physical exercise for building bone density. Only weight training rated better at building and maintain stronger bones. Researchers correlate movements performed while gardening- pushing, pulling, carrying, turning, lifting, squatting - with weight bearing exercises.

Now don't feel that you have to "go for the burn" exercise in the garden every time. Modify the program to meet your individual needs. Warm up muscles before starting. S tretching legs, arms, back, neck and even hands and feet before you garden will help relieve back strain and muscle soreness and help to avoid injury. It's good to stretch again after activity, then a cool down session like walking or picking flowers or just sitting quietly and admiring your garden.

Ways to maximize health benefits:

1. Use a push mower instead of a rider. If your lawn is too big to cut without a rider, set

aside a portion of your lawn for a push mower.

2. Count the minutes. Make sure that the total daily time you spe nd on garden activities adds up to 30 minutes. If you've been inactive, build up to the 30 minutes. Then go for an hour.

3. Lunge and Weed. Using a hand weeder, lunge with one leg bent at the knee

In front of you and one leg straight back behind you.

4. Bend one leg, knee to the ground, keep the other foot flat. Use a hand tool.

5. Squat with both feet flat on the ground. (Don't do this if you have knee problems.)

6. Kneel on a soft pad. Use a hand tool.

7. When you're raking or hoeing, bend your knees rather than your back, and use legs, shoulders

and arms in a rocking motion,. Change stances frequently. Alternating your stance balances the muscles used.

9. Dig holes. Digging and shoveling are big calorie burners, (250 to 350 calories per

30 minutes).

10. Make a compost pile. Turning compost burns 2 50 to 300 calories per 30 minutes

11. Listen to your muscles. Pay attention to the muscles that are working for you, as

well as to your exertion levels. Stop before you get sore.

More proof:

Here are the typical calories burned in 30 minutes of common activities:

Sleeping: 36

Sitting quietly: 40

Watering lawn or garden: 61

Mowing the lawn (riding): 101

Trimming shrubs (power): 142

Raking: 162

Bagging leaves: 162

Planting seedlings: 162

Mowing (with push mower): 182

Planting trees: 182

Trimming shrubs (manual): 182

Weeding: 182

Clearing land: 202

Digging, spading, tilling: 202

Laying sod: 202

General gardening: 202

Chopping wood: 243
Gardening with heavy power tools: 243

Key points to remember:

oAvoid all-day marathon gardening sessions on weekends (space it out).

oAlways bend you're your knees, rather than from your back.

oAlternate your stance and motion as often as possible.

oAbove all: Enjoy!

Friday, 16 June 2017

This $250 wifi sprinkler can cut lawn water use 30%

Rachio, a Denver-based start-up, has been selling a "smart sprinkler" for the last year. The device takes the place of a traditional control box on an automated home sprinkler system. It hooks the system up to the Internet -- meaning that you can control it from a smartphone.

It also means the sprinkler system can now check the weather. If it's going to rain or has rained recently, the system holds off on watering. It also automatically adjusts the watering times for each season. And it waters intermittently to allow for maximum absorption -- which also encourages the grass to grow deeper roots and become more drought-resistant. These things alone can cut lawn water use by 30%, according to the company -- no small amount when at least eight Western states are in extreme drought, or worse.

Related: Can these gates protect NYC from the next flood?

The company was formed after Chris Klein and Franz Garsombke -- two software engineers working for a real estate in telligence firm -- went through the last drought in Colorado in 2012. When fall came and the dryness subsided, the two noticed that sprinklers in the area were still running, even though it was raining.

"We figured there had to be a better way," said Klein.

So the pair started writing code and entered a contest run by the Colorado Sprinkler Installation Innovation Network -- a consortium of businesses, governments and universities that promotes economic development in the state. They won $50,000, quit their jobs, and began building the company. Now they have 18 employees, and sales are on track to quadruple from last year, although Klein would not disclose revenue numbers or units sold.

RachioThe hardware mounts in your home, the software is accessible online.

The dev ice itself looks like a router, and Klein said most people can install it in 20 minutes. (If you still can't, most likely a gardener or electrician can.)

The entire thing -- plastic, electronics, packaging -- is made in Colorado. Klein said it would probably be cheaper to make it abroad, but the company is convinced that U.S. manufacturing costs will fall as more companies decide to build stuff here -- and they want to be part of the force driving that change.

It's compatible with Nest and other smart home systems, and many areas experiencing drought -- including Los Angeles, Fresno and the Santa Clara Valley -- subsidize the $250 retail price, said Klein.

Of course California is the most populous state seeing a historic drought, and Klein said roughly a third Spr inkler Installation of his sales are in that state, up from about a quarter last year.

Rachio isn't the only company to make these devices -- competitors include Blossom and Skydrop.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 13, 2015: 6:38 AM ET

Divorce :: Experienced Divorce Lawyers

Undergoing the processing of separation and divorce from a spouse is an emotionally and financially troubling time. If you have been considering separation from your spouse it is essential that you contact an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Obtaining a knowledgeable divorce lawyer before the divorce process will ensure the best possible outcome for both yourself and for your family. Russell W. Ray PLLC, is a law firm operating in both the D.C metro as well as the northern Virginia areas. Their skilled and compassionate attorneys have helped countless individuals in a variety of unique divorce proceedings including cases involving child custody, equitable distribution, spousal support and even military divorces.

Remember that your lawyer is responsible for much of the coordination between you the court and your spouse's attorney to insure that everyone has accurate information you must begin by providing specific information to your attorney. When you decide to undergo the process of divorce here are some things to remember. You should make a list of any questions, issues or concerns you may have surrounding the divorce. These might include child custody issues, spousal support inquiries or other information surround ing why you are seeking a separation. This information should be as specific as possible, and include accurate time frame of events. In addition you should compile important documents before hand as many things will need to be filed immediately. You should be actively involved in your divorce proceedings so if your divorce attorney begins referring to things in a legal jargon that is confusing to you do not hesitate to stop and ask them to clarify using layman's terms. Another important thing to remember is to be respectful when talking to your divorce lawyer. They understand how emotional frustrating divorce proceedings can get especially when issues such as child custody and child support come into play. However getting angry at your child support lawyer will not help matters remember they are working for your best interests as well as the interests of your children. Lastly, make sure you have a reliable way to contact your lawyer, some individuals may prefer phone calls while others like email during your initial consultation you should solidify which method is preferred so you can get a hold of your lawyer in case any new developments emerge.

Russell W. Ray PLLC, understands the complexities that surround domestic cases and has experienced divorce attorneys that are willing to help you complete your divorce proceedings in the easiest way possible. While they strive to settle matters in a mediation type setting their practiced attorneys won't hesitate to zealously defend you and your interests in court. So contact the knowledgeable divorce lawyers at Russell W. Ray PLLC today and inquire about their free case evaluation today.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Amid drought, grass isn't greener for California sod farmers

OXNARD, Calif. -- In drought-stricken California, the grass is no longer always greener -- especially for those in the sod business.

Acres and acres of sod stretch across a field in Oxnard. The lush grass has been Jurgen Gramckow's livelihood for 45 years.

"People like their lawns, and all of a sudden, they have now become the focus of all evil," Gramckow said. "It makes me nuts."

After years of severe drought, lawns have become the subject of ridicule. So-called "drought shaming" is all over social media. Even California Gov. Jerry Brown has weighed in.

"The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that's gonna be a thing of the past," Brown said in April, when he announced historic -- and mandatory -- water restrictions.

California's Water Board is now threatening stiff penalties for those who don't cut back on their water use. Even so, homeowner Steve Trentacosta plans to keep his lawn green.

"Drought-shamers, maybe they have nothing better to do. They really don't bother me," Trentacosta said.

In many parts of Southern California, homeowners are getting rebates to rip out their lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant landscaping.

"I mean, you take lawns out and you put bark and bushes in, where are your kids and dogs going to play?" Gramckow said. "Lawns didn't cause the drought, and lawns aren't going to solve the drought."

"It makes me angry because that is just putting a target right on my back," he said. "Everybody is about, 'Get rid of the lawn.' Well, just wait a minute."

Gramckow said he's losing a lot of business right now but doesn't think the trend will last.

"People will go back to green lawns," he said. "I think the lawn is part of the American dream. I just don't think you change that."

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