Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gardening Tips for Your New Home

Gardening Tips for Your New Home

Spring is a time of renewal, when things start to come back to life and we can start to enjoy our outdoor space again. It’s also a great time to take advantage of the mild weather to do some much-needed gardening tasks around the house!

1) Don’t Plant Trees too Close to Your Home

If you’ve just moved into a new home, you likely don’t have any established trees yet. If you do choose to plant trees around your property this spring to add some shade to your garden, make sure you’re planting them a safe distance from your home. Consider how large your plant species will get when it reaches maturity, and leave enough space between it and your home. Trees that are too close to your home could cause damage to the roof during a storm.

2) Clean Out Your Garden

Over the fall and winter, garden debris can build up throughout your property, and will need to be cleared in the spring. Clear up the last leaves that you may have missed in the fall, and any branches that may have broken off or blown onto your property during a winter storm. Also take this time to sharpen your garden tools that have sat unused in your garage or shed over the winter, so you’ll be ready to use them this season.

3) Clean Out Your Gutters

Cleaning the gutters on your home is an often-overlooked, yet essential, gardening task for the spring. Like the debris in your garden, leaves and other debris can build up over the fall and winter in your gutters. Clogged gutters aren’t just an eyesore – they can be potentially damaging to your home. With spring rains, clogged gutters can cause flooding in your roof and even in your basement if there isn’t proper drainage leading away from your house. So grab a ladder and some gloves and give those gutters a good clean.

4) Prepare Your Lawn

Your lawn goes through a lot over the winter months, so take some time in the spring to give it some TLC and get it ready for spring and summer. Clear any debris and dead growth that you notice, and then rake your lawn. Raking the lawn helps to expose it to more light and air – which it has had very little of over the winter – so it can start to regrow. If you see any bare patches, scatter some grass seed and keep it well watered until you start to see it sprout.

5) Plan Your Garden Projects

With a brand new home, you’ll probably want to start thinking about how you want to use your outdoor space this season. If you don’t already have a deck or patio, start planning out your landscaping projects. Decide what kind of seating areas, flower beds or other landscaping and gardening features you want in your home, and get to work on those. If you’ll be using a landscaping company, call them early in the season as they tend to get booked up fast.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

5 ways to make your older home feel new

(NC) Dreaming of improving your home, but a major remodel isn't necessarily in the budget? It may seem basic, but a fresh coat of paint is an easy trick to give your home a new look. Try some of these simple, inexpensive paint projects that make for quick updates and keep the old-home charm.
Paint kitchen cabinets. This is an economical way to transform an outdated kitchen into something timeless. Select a primer that is recommended for the type of surface you have, then remove the cabinet doors and hardware and label them for easier reassembly. Use painter's tape to protect the wall or backsplash tile and cover the countertop with plastic or poly-sheeting. Instead of the typical two-step process to apply poly-sheeting, try using Painter's Mate double-sided poly-hanging tape to make prep time a breeze.
Revamp drawer pulls and door handles. Give your home a small but impactful refresh by updating worn door handles, drawer knobs and pulls. Instead of replacing everything, try repainting — all you need is a screwdriver to remove knobs and handles and a metal spray paint. Before painting, clean the hardware and lightly sand to ensure that paint adheres easily. Add a layer of clear lacquer after the paint dries to help prevent scratches.
Create an accent wall. This focal point can be a powerful design move, breaking up the traditional look of having four same-coloured walls. Plus, it's an easy way to play with colour in a new way without committing to painting a whole room. When selecting the colour, the accent wall should complement the adjacent wall colour. When in doubt, paint your statement wall two shades darker than the rest.
Paint your ceiling. If your home already has a fresh coat of paint, then look to other areas that could use a touch-up, such as the ceilings. When repainting the ceiling, don't be afraid to add a pop of colour. Whether dramatic or subtle, adding colour to the fifth wall can alter the geometry of a room, tricking the eye and changing the feel of a space.
Pro tip: use a roller with extended reach to tackle high ceilings.
Refresh trim. Details such as moulding, trim and baseboards can seem relatively minor but create a significant impact. As these accents are the visual foundation for a space, you can change the look of any room by simply playing them up with a crisp white colour.
Find more painting projects and tips online at

Monday, 5 June 2017

5 tips for a DIY home garden

(NC) Spring may have sprung a little late this year, but here are some tips for a successful garden that will have you growing in no time:
1. Choose your garden space wisely. Since most garden plants need ample sunlight to grow, make sure that your garden is given every opportunity to succeed by being strategic with the growing conditions. Ensure you pick an area with direct sunlight for plants that need it. If you're growing a vegetable garden, start small. Some vegetables keep providing throughout the season, so you may not need as many plants as you think.
2. Build up your soil. Create a mound of organically rich soil in your garden before you plant. This will encourage a larger yield and an improved root system during growing season because there is less competition for nutrients compared to regular earth.
3. Be smart about spacing. Receive better yields from each plant by paying close attention to how you arrange them. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants in triangles which will let you fit more in. Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly — some won't reach their full potential when crowded.
4. Extend your growing season. If you're feeling really ambitions, add a few weeks to each end of the growing season by keeping the air around your plants warm even when the weather is cold by using mulches, cloches or row covers.
5. Aim for protection and comfort when gardening. Choose clothing that will guard you from the sun's UV rays, is flexible for you to move around in, and is higher rise to provide you with coverage when you're bent over the soil. The Shambhala all-over print capri from Mark's allows you to stay flexible while it wicks away moisture to keep you comfortable.

Tips to protect your home from water damage

(NC) Did you know that water is the leading cause of home damage in most provinces? Just this past May, communities across the country had to cope with flooding as heavy rainfalls hit various regions over many days.
What can you do to protect your home? Here, Marc Barbeau, property claims manager of Intact Insurance shares his top four tips:
1. Water-resistant décor. The next time you're renovating your home, explore installing cement board instead of drywall in your basement. It's typically used in showers and tubs and is less likely to absorb water. Cement boards are extremely moisture resistant and dry quickly when wet. For base moulding, consider a formed, paintable plastic material instead of wood. This way, even if water gets in, your home may be able to withstand excess water and mould damage.
2. Install backflow valves and sump pumps. A sump pump may help keep your basement safe and dry by collecting and disposing the water from your home. Already have a sump pump? Think about adding battery backup for times where the power is out.
When there's a heavy rainstorm, it may become too much for the sewers to handle, and waste can back up through floor drains, toilets and sinks. A backwater valve is a one-way valve that is installed on the main drain of your home. In the event of a backup, the valve closes to stop sewage from coming in.
3. Consider overland flood insurance. It's estimated that only 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians have insurance for overland flooding. New insurance products can help cover this. For example, Intact Insurance's enhanced water damage package consists of up to four components: sewer back-up, water and sewer lines, overland water and ground water. It's best that you talk to a broker to ensure you're getting the coverage you need.
4. Keep valuable items on higher floors. Store sentimental and valuable items on the upper floors of your home, away from the basement as many of these items may never be replaced if your basement floods.

Spring cleaning tips to organize your home and life (NC) The end of winter and beginning of spring signal new beginnings, so use this time to breathe new life a...