How to Patch a Spotty Lawn in No Time

Finding yourself with a spotty lawn can feel like one of the most irritating parts of homeownership. The rest of your lawn may be lush and green, but sometimes you can end up with ugly, brown, dead patches.

A number of different problems can cause a spotty lawn. If you have a pet that uses just one part of the yard most frequently as a bathroom spot, that’s a sure way to kill the grass. Heavy foot traffic can damage your lawn, too. Other causes include heat and drought and damage from grubs and animal digging. Luckily, it’s a fairly easy process to patch a spotty lawn.

If you need to patch a spotty lawn, it only takes part of an afternoon to source the materials you need and plant the patches. Though you’ll have to arrange for days to weeks of consistent watering. It’s also not too expensive, but prices vary based on how much ground you have to cover. Grass seed itself can run around $10 for a 3-pound bag. You can find grass seed starter fertilizer for around $20, which often covers around 5,000 square feet. You can also find grass seed/fertilizer mixes at around $20 for about a 12-pound bag.

Patch a Spotty Lawn Brown Spots

Dead patches in your lawn can be unsightly and disrupt the whole look of your yard. Image: SingjaiStock/Shutterstock

Patching Up That Spotty Lawn

In order to patch a spotty lawn, you will need:

  • A tape measure
  • A metal rake (bow-style rakes work well)
  • Either the grass seed and fertilizer or grass seed/fertilizer mix (many will tell you how many square feet they cover)
  • Chopped straw or leaves
  • A way to water the area, like a hose or sprinkler

The steps to patch a spotty lawn are:

  • Start by measuring the area that you need to reseed. You can take a rough measurement using a tape measure.
  • Buy seed and fertilizer based on the square foot measurement of the patches.
  • A few days before you seed, make sure to water the lawn so it’s visibly wet. Let the lawn dry before you add the seeds. This will help make the soil more inviting to seed germination.
  • To patch a spotty lawn, clear the area you need to reseed. There may be dead grass or other debris that you will need to scrape away using the metal rake. Rake so that just the soil remains, making sure to get the teeth of the rake into the soil to fully loosen any dead grass.
  • Pick up and clear away any clumps of dead grass or other debris.
  • Fully loosen the top two or three inches of the soil using the rake. Use even pressure and long strokes. The seeds need loose soil in order to take root.
  • Scatter the seed or seed/fertilizer mix over the loose soil. There’s no need to plant the grass seed like other seeds. You can patch a spotty lawn by keeping the seeds on the top of the soil.
  • If fertilizer wasn’t mixed in with your grass seed, add a thin, even layer of fertilizer over the seeds and surrounding soil.
  • Then add a light layer of straw or chopped leaves. That will prevent the seeds and fertilizer from washing away, drying out or being eaten by animals.
  • Finish by watering enough so that the area is visibly wet, but not pooling. Keep the soil moist. You may need to water a couple of times per day — or more if your area is dry.
  • The seeds can sprout anywhere between a few days and a month, depending on type and climate. Keep the area well-watered after sprouting.

And remember, when you patch a spotty lawn, pick a grass seed that does well with your local climate. Some grass seeds have labels for cold climates, for instance.

The post How to Patch a Spotty Lawn in No Time appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Choose the Right Porch Lighting for Your Home

Front Porch Lights

Improve your home’s curb appeal with new porch lighting. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

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Porch lighting is an important part of your home’s curb appeal, but it provides much more than just a pretty accent for your front door. The right outdoor lighting can enhance security, safety and even save you money on your utility bill. 

Porch Lighting Goals

There are many practical reasons to update your porch lighting, but your porch’s appearance matters, too. Most porch lighting updates are done for aesthetic reasons when a fixture has become dated or worn. The good news is that you can choose new porch lights that not only address the practical issues like security, but also give your home a stylish boost. Once you have identified your new goals for lighting your porch, you can shop for the right fixtures. Depending upon your goal, there is a specific type of fixture to meet your needs.

Knowing what your goals are for the porch is your first step. Those goals can include:

  • Replace Outdated Light Fixtures: Updating your lighting is all about shopping and finding a new style that you love.
  • Increase Security With Ample Lighting: Look for fixtures with features like motion detectors or automatic light sensors.
  • Illuminate Dark Corners and Steps: Step lights or stake lighting adjacent to your steps can be a stylish solution.
  • Increase Energy Efficiency: Lighting fixtures and bulbs have come a long way in energy efficiency. If you leave your porch light on all night, it’s important to choose the right one.
  • Add Additional Fixtures to Enhance Your Porch: A large porch may benefit from more than one light source.
Home with curb appeal

Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of any home. Image: karamysh/Shutterstock

Lighting Beyond Your Front Door

Standard porch lighting for most homes traditionally consisted of one porch sconce adjacent to the front door, as porches became more of a pass-through spot than a place to linger. But today, porches are again becoming a place to entertain and relax. And the lighting needs have changed accordingly.

To find the right lighting balance for your porch, think of it as another room in your home. You’ll want to create layers of lighting on your porch, just as you would your living room. Here are the best spots for enhancing your porch lighting:

  • A Second Sconce Next to Your Front Door: This balances the lighting and frames your front door.
  • Overhead Porch Lighting: Not all porch structures can accommodate an overhead light. If it’s possible, a ceiling light fixture can add charm to your front porch.
  • Garage Carriage Lights: Balance the lighting of your entire home and garage with two to three light fixtures framing the garage doors.
  • Path Lighting: Solar or battery-powered path lighting helps to lead your guests safely to your porch.
Front porch lighting

New lighting creates a welcoming porch. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

How to Shop for Porch Lighting

Now that you have assessed your needs and created a goal for your porch lighting, it’s time to shop. Here are simple outdoor fixture shopping tips:

  • Measure Before You Shop: Have all the fixture sizes you’ll need written down. If you’re shopping online or in a store, these measurements will help you choose the right fixture size.
  • Consult an Expert: If you’re adding a new hard-wired fixture, you may need help from a pro.
  • Watch the Usage Ratings: Be sure that you’re choosing fixtures that are designed for outdoor use. It’s easy to fall in love with a fixture, only to find out it’s indoor-use only.
  • Consider a Dark Sky Fixture: Many retailers now offer outdoor lighting that helps to reduce light pollution. These dark sky fixtures control the direction of light to minimize glare while reducing light trespass and skyglow.

The post How to Choose the Right Porch Lighting for Your Home appeared first on Freshome.com.

5 Ideas for Using Rustic Lighting in the Backyard

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Rustic chic accents were practically made for the backyard, as their bucolic feel fits well with a natural setting. And if you want to add some instant rustic ambiance and class to your backyard, the fastest way to do it is to add outdoor rustic lighting using string lights. Immediately, this may strike you as fairly unclassy. You might picture plastic tiki string lights or out-of-season Christmas lights.
But backyard lights can bring subtle mood lighting and still keep things looking thoroughly rustic chic. You simply need to know the right styles of lights to use, which we’ll cover below.

Rustic Lighting Bulb Style

Rustic exposed bulbs can add plenty of soft light to a backyard. Image: funkyteddy/Shutterstock

Rustic Exposed Bulbs

An instant way to get a rustic chic look is to opt for a classic exposed filament bulb style, like the rustic lighting in the photo above. Old-style bulbs give off something of an antique look. But they still add plenty of ambient lighting, thanks to the softer glow of their light source versus certain LED types.

You can see in the photo above how great classic bulbs look when used as string lighting outdoors. You could easily hang them from trees to juxtapose the natural plant life with the industrial-style light source. They could also look great hanging over eating areas or patios to light up where people socialize.

Rustic Lighting String Lights

Combine light styles for plenty of visual interest. Image: Steven Robertson Photo/Shutterstock

Combining Light Types

Another idea for rustic lighting is to go for an exposed bulb style combined with more traditional string lighting. You can see in the photo above how the idea was used to maximum effect by stringing bulbs to the tree. Then, that light source is accented with small string lights around the branches themselves. The whole style leads to an enchanted forest feel.

This idea works best with small string lights in either white or a cool color like green. Bolder colors like multicolor styles, red or orange might look too seasonal, like they belong on a Christmas tree. But white and cool-color lights will give a timeless, clean feel to your outdoor rustic accent lighting.

Rustic Lighting Cage Style

String light styles fit well with classic items like these birdcages. Image: Amlan Mathur/Shutterstock

Use Rustic Accents

You could also combine your outdoor lighting with other rustic-inspired accent items. An example is the old-style wire birdcages in the photo above. The white string lights around the tree light up the area beautifully. And the lighting on the tree draws attention to the rustic accent of the birdcages hanging nearby.

Another classic idea that fits into rustic chic styles is an old-style lantern. These can either hang next to string lights or be their own light source. Lanterns with rustic lighting in them, like flameless candles, are also popular for outdoor rustic chic styles. These fit well hanging or on table settings as accents.

Rustic Lighting Globe Lights

Hang rustic light sources from plant life for added natural appeal. Image: Oleksandr Kavun/Shutterstock

Combine Natural Elements and Rustic Lighting

Another idea is to combine rustic lighting sources with accents from nature. An example is the hanging globe lights with tea candles in them in the photo above. Candles are great for adding an instant classic appeal and the globe design shows them off well. And hanging those globe lights from a natural garland design is a classy way to bring in the rustic appeal of natural textures.

You could do this in a few different ways. You could go with a natural arch and hang the globe lights from the top, like in the photo. Lights like these could sit within natural wreaths on a table setting. Or you could hang lights like these along the length of a garland.

Something like this would work especially well for an outdoor wedding. And if you have fire hazard concerns, you can always use LED tea lights.

Rustic Lighting Distressed Wood

Distressed wood and exposed bulbs give the perfect rustic vibe. Image: Alex Levine Photography/Shutterstock

Hang Rustic Lighting Close to Natural Wood

The photo above shows how great exposed bulbs look when hung along a rustic wood item, like a fence. The old-style bulbs and lightly aged wood combine to look delightfully bucolic and classic. If you can, it can also help to include an accent of plant life nearby to further add to the rustic, natural look.

You can use this idea in a few different ways, as well. For instance, you might hang exposed bulbs like these outside a barn-style shed. Or you might hang string lights over a distressed, reclaimed wood patio table. This idea allows for creativity and personal inspiration.

The post 5 Ideas for Using Rustic Lighting in the Backyard appeared first on Freshome.com.

Organic Pest Control for the Garden

You put in all this effort getting your garden to finally sprout. Then you go outside one day and all of your plants are chewed to the ground. Sometimes it’s so extensive that it looks like you never had any flowers in that bed at all. But rather than running out and buying the harshest pest control on the market, there’s a gentler way. Try using organic pest control.

The EPA has a laundry list of major types of symptoms when exposed to pesticides, including increased risk of cancer, headaches, nausea and muscular weakness, to name just a few. In fact, the EPA recommends you use non-chemical methods of pest control where possible. So below we’ll cover different ideas for organic pest control in the garden.

These options for organic pest control tend to be low for expense and time investment, as well. For instance, you can buy organic deer repellant sprays for around $15 a bottle or some methods require items you may already have around the home.

Organic Pest Control Plant Spray

Organic sprays are made to be less toxic. Image: ArtCookStudio/Shutterstock

Organic Methods Using Applied Products

Purchasing your organic pest control can be as simple as buying a safer, more natural product instead of a chemical-laden one. Some ideas include the following:

  • Many biopesticides use safe, naturally occurring protozoa, bacteria and fungi to keep out unwanted species.
  • Botanical insecticides are made from plants, as the name suggests. For instance, neem oil is a common all-natural insecticide, fungicide and miticide. You can find it in a concentrate for these purposes.
  • Low-toxicity fungicides also count as an organic method.
  • Organic scented sprays can repel pests, like deer repellant.
  • Irish Spring soap has a very strong smell that might repel certain pests. Hang bars of the soap from trees in mesh bags.

Many online and local retailers in the organics, natural and eco-friendly industry sell these types of products.

Organic Pest Control Bug Trap Outdoors

Bug traps are a safe, low-impact way to control pests. Image: bblitz/Shutterstock

Physical Organic Pest Control Methods

In some cases, you can easily keep pests away from your garden with physical means. Some ways to engage in this type of organic pest control include the following:

  • Traps and lures like bug traps or live traps can work.
  • Try physical barriers like putting up a wire or electric fence around the garden. Copper tape and flash tape are even sold to capture or scare pests like snails and birds.
  • One common way to keep animals away is to put up statues, like deer decoys, to make the pests think another animal is already in that territory. Move the decoy around to make it look convincing.
  • Find plants that repel the animal you are looking to keep out. For instance, deer tend to not like overly potent plants, so you might plant items like mint, rosemary or sage around the perimeter of the garden.
  • You can buy strobe lights or flashing lights that can scare off pests. Automated water sprinklers sold as animal repellants can have a similar effect.

A main benefit with barriers, decoys and traps is that you don’t have to continually reapply solutions, which could save on the garden budget.

And remember, don’t be afraid to try multiple organic pest control methods. Once a pest munches your garden, it’s hard to regrow, especially late in the season.

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Exclusive! Chip Wade on Home Maintenance Tasks to Tackle Before Summer

 Chip Wade

Wade gave us a few tips to execute before summer. Image courtesy of Chip Wade

If you’ve ever watched Chip Wade on HGTV or the DIY Network, you know he’s pretty handy, both inside the house and outdoors. Wade, who is also the Owner and Lead Designer of Wade Works Creative and a Liberty Mutual consultant, specializes in helping homeowners create the perfect indoor and outdoor spaces.

As you can imagine, he’s busy, but Freshome asked him to stop and share a few tips on how to recover from winter and get your home and yard prepped for summer.

Service your air conditioner

You don’t want your A/C breaking down during the dog days of summer.

You don’t want your AC breaking down during the dog days of summer. Image: C5Media/Shutterstock

“I recommend checking out your air conditioning system in the spring to ensure it’s working properly before the weather really warms up,” Wade says. The first step is to change the system’s filter. “Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer and cost more to run.” Wade recommends changing heating and air filters every two to four months.

Changing filters regularly helps to keep your system running efficiently.

Changing filters regularly helps to keep your system running efficiently. Image: RF-2018/Shutterstock

After changing the filter, he recommends turning on the unit to see how it is working. “Give it a minute, but if the AC doesn’t start doing its job quickly, I’d recommend checking your fuses and circuit breakers,” Wade says. If that doesn’t make a difference, or you’re getting ghost readings, he recommends calling a professional to assess the situation.

Clean your windows and screens

Caulk and weatherstripping can keep your cool air inside.

Caulk and weatherstripping can keep your cool air inside. Image: 3DPhoto/Shutterstock.

Wade cleans his windows by filling a spray bottle with window cleaning solution and using a squeegee or some newspaper to clean the glass since this leaves it streak-free.

“It’s important to remember that everyone’s windows fare differently after the winter,” Wade says, advising homeowners to look for signs of dry rot. “If you live in a colder climate, look for any water damage caused by melting ice or snow.”

Caulk and weatherstripping keeps your cool air inside:

Caulk and weatherstripping can keep your cool air inside. Image: pics 721/Shutterstock

He also recommends checking the seals around the window. “Recaulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed,” Wade says. “Those seals will work to keep the cool air inside and the hot air out all summer long.”

And don’t forget about your window screens. “Take time to clean them, inspect them, repair any damage and reinstall the screens in your windows.” Not sure how to repair damaged screens? Wade says you can find a repair kit at most hardware stores. “Also, the best way to wash your screens is by using a hose — not a pressure washer — and some mild detergent.”

Inspect outdoor plumbing

Check for leaks or blockages

Check for leaks or blockages. Image: VTT Studio/Shutterstock

Inspecting your outdoor plumbing is another maintenance task you should perform as the weather heats up. “Start by removing insulators from all outdoor faucets and then turn on the water,” Wade says. “If it isn’t flowing as it normally should, that likely means that there is an issue with your pipes and it’s time to call a plumber.”

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, he recommends calling a professional to tune up your system and ensure that it’s operating efficiently.

Get your yard ready

Inspect outdoor equipment for winter damage.

Inspect outdoor equipment for winter damage. Image: Mark Herried/Shutterstock

As the weather starts warming up, Wade also recommends getting your yard ready. “I like to do a full inspection of everything left outside during the winter, like playground equipment.” He says he’s looking for rust or areas that may be worn down by the weather, and starts troubleshooting from there.

 

 

Prep to enjoy the summer months.

Freshen up your outdoor furniture. Image: Zhu difeng/Shutterstock

After that, Wade says he’s onto the fun part. “I love bringing lawn and patio furniture out of storage and freshening them up.” He also sands and repaints if necessary. “Redesigning — or even redecorating — an outdoor space gets me excited because I’m thinking about all the time that will be spent there with friends and family.” Also, consider ways that you can erase the boundary between inside and outdoors.

Proactively maintain your home

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Image: kurhan/Shutterstock

If you stay on top of home upkeep, Wade says you can avoid future headaches. “In fact, a study from Liberty Mutual Insurance revealed 69 percent of consumers have procrastinated on home maintenance and repairs,” he says. And, unfortunately, many people don’t have money saved for maintenance issues or repair work.

“It’s all about routine maintenance, both inside and outside the home,” Wade explains. “This will save you time and money in the long run.”

The post Exclusive! Chip Wade on Home Maintenance Tasks to Tackle Before Summer appeared first on Freshome.com.

3 Ways to Plan a Small Yard Green Space

Small yards come with many challenges. One of the biggest is struggling to make a lawn work in them. The simple fact is that with less space to work with, the lawn itself has to be impeccably planned so that it fits in with decking space, decorative accents and other common yard functions. Otherwise, you risk a yard that looks cramped and cluttered. Luckily, there are a few design principles that will help that small yard green space just work.

Be prepared. Planning the landscape of your backyard is one of the most involved home projects you can undertake. It can take weeks to months to plan. You can also get expert advice from lawn care professionals on the best way to keep your small lawn green.  Depending on what you decide to do, prices can range in the hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. After all, you could be looking at anything from building an entirely new deck to simply installing new landscaping accents. Projects can also run from a few days to a few weeks in time. But when you get your backyard just right, it will be worth it.

Small Yard Green Space Curved Design

Small lawns look amazing when designed in curved patterns. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Create geometry

If you’re working with a small yard green space, one key way to make the most of it is to create a geometric look. A more geometric design makes a smaller lawn look like its own design accent. Otherwise, a small grassy area can look like something that was crammed into a space just because backyards should have lawns.

You can see in the photo above how stylish a smaller lawn looks when designed to flow with the surrounding yard. The curves also give extra room for landscape accents around the perimeter of the grass.

You can get creative with this idea. Another small yard green space option is to have a more boxed design with landscape accents around the lawn. Some yards even have a tiered design, where different layers of lawn go in a step pattern with stone retaining walls between layers.

As an additional note, the smaller the lawn is, the more its borders should add a sense of organization to the space. For instance, equidistant small shrubs or batches of tall grass around the borders can add attractive accents while making the yard’s design look purposeful and orderly.

Small Yard Green Space Deck Area

Larger deck styles can fit in smaller backyards when balanced with green space. Image: Dimasik_sh/Shutterstock

Add balance

Another idea is to balance out the smaller lawn with other textures and materials. For instance, it’s common to add decking or stone pathways around small patches of lawn and shrubbery.

The photo above shows this idea working with a small yard green space. The lawn itself acts as an accent to the decking style around it. And since the decking totally surrounds the lawn, it gives a sense of balance. The square design of the lawn also gives a clean geometry to the space. Ideas like this are good for small spaces because you can expand your usable outdoor space with a larger deck or patio while minimizing the amount of your yard that requires upkeep. That makes it easier to keep your green spaces impeccably maintained, which is important in small areas where they’ll play a key role.

Small Yard Green Space Table Area

Lawns can be highly multifunctional. Image: rodho/Shutterstock

Merge spaces in your small yard green space

Another idea is to get multifunctional with your spaces. This is a common method for getting all you want out of a space, even if you’re working with less of it. You can see an idea of how this works in the photo above. Since there simply isn’t much space to work with, an outdoor eating area goes right on the lawn itself. Surrounding such an area with plenty of plant life can make for a cozy dining experience.

You can use this small yard green space idea in a few different ways. For instance, you could use the small space lawn for a single recreational use, like a volleyball net. You could put a child’s outdoor playhouse along the lawn. Or a small zen garden could go right in the middle of the lawn.

And remember, your lawn should reflect your lifestyle. If you’re more active outdoors, you may want to pick a more multifunctional design over a decorative one. You can also always get help from lawn care professionals to create your best yard.

The post 3 Ways to Plan a Small Yard Green Space appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Stripe Your Lawn

With how many chores a yard entails, deciding to stripe your lawn might seem like an added complication to the whole yard care process. But lawn stripes can give a classy, artistic look to a yard and add some unique visual geometry.

The beauty with lawn stripes is that they aren’t hard to get. Most residential lawn striping systems come as a simple attachment that goes on the back of a lawnmower. And these attachments tend to run in the $100 to $200 range. So in the time it takes to mow your lawn, you’re looking at an attractive big-league look in your yard.

Below, we’ll cover how to get this gorgeous lawn trend in your backyard. There are multiple lawn stripe patterns to choose from, plus a few tips to follow for the best lawn striping. And, of course, there’s the decision of whether or not to hire a professional lawn care service to stripe your lawn for you.

Stripe Your Lawn Subtle Style

Some stripe patterns are more subtle. Image: Michael Moloney/Shutterstock

Decide on the stripe style

The first step is to choose what type of striping you want. There are several popular types of patterns you can stripe your lawn with, including:

  • Straight stripes
  • Checkered
  • Diamond
  • Waved
  • Zig-zag

These patterns can also be subtle or pronounced, depending on the length of the grass. Higher grass means a more pronounced pattern. As a general rule, larger-scale green spaces will do well with more intricate and pronounced patterns. Smaller yards may be overpowered by such a dramatic style, so people with smaller yards might want to go for a more subtle striped look.

Stripe Your Lawn Lined Style

Lawn stripes can give a stately look to a yard. Image: Norma Cornes/Shutterstock

How to stripe your lawn

As mentioned above, getting this look is a lot easier than you’d think. A simple rolling attachment, usually placed behind a walking lawnmower, does the trick. What these attachments do is simply bend the grass blades without damaging the lawn. Grass that bends towards you looks dark, while grass that bends away looks lighter because of how the light is reflecting off of it. No fancy chemicals, no special grass seed. It’s literally just a trick of the light.

But there are several other tips to keep in mind so you can stripe your lawn the right way:

  • Try sketching how you want the pattern to look first so you know exactly where to run the mower.
  • To keep your lines straight, start by mowing right next to something straight, like a fence, building or sidewalk. Then, while mowing, look ahead and around to keep the lawnmower oriented. Don’t fall into the trap of just staring at the ground.
  • Striping the lawn with the same pattern repeatedly can permanently flatten grass, so try to switch up the pattern every couple of weeks or so. (You can read other lawn care tips here.)
  • For the best results, long-bladed and flexible grass, such as fine fescues, will take the striping better. You can stripe shorter-bladed and stiff grass, but the pattern won’t hold as long or be as pronounced.
Stripe Your Lawn Wavy Design

A pro can help you get more intricate designs. Image: Dave Yates/Shutterstock

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Another consideration is whether you should stripe your lawn yourself or hire a pro. Cost and ease are going to be at the center of this issue.

If you do it yourself, you can get your own attachment for around $100 and stripe your lawn whenever you feel like it. Renting a lawn striper might even be an option, as rental equipment usually goes for several dollars for a few hours or so. It really is one of the more inexpensive landscaping embellishments out there.

A landscaping service can also stripe your lawn for you. If you already have your lawn professionally mowed, it might not be a stretch to see if they will stripe it while they’re at it. Some lawn care services also specialize in striping lawns.

And remember, having a pro do it can be a great option if you just want an attractive lawn pattern for that big party you’re hosting. Click here to learn more about professional lawn care services in your area.

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How to Choose the Right Decking Materials

When you know you have to replace your deck, you typically just know. The finishing on the surface of the decking materials starts to look worn. In more extreme cases, portions of the boards can be completely rotted through or broken. In the most extreme cases, the frame could start to deteriorate, leading to hazardous deck collapses.

If you’re in a position where your current deck could use some TLC, average repair costs can be in the low thousands of dollars. A whole new deck can cost anywhere from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the decking materials you use, the size of the deck and local labor costs.

Average estimates for how long it takes to complete a deck are around a week or less, whether you use a contractor or build the deck yourself. Deck repair can take as little as a day if repairs are minor. However, contractor schedules can vary.

Below, we’ll take a look at the types of decking materials, covering some basic pros and cons of each. But first, you should assess whether to repair or replace that deck.

Decking Materials Broken Board

Sometimes individual boards on the deck might need to be replaced. Image: WKanadpon/Shutterstock

Should you Repair your Deck?

The first question you should be asking is whether the frame itself is showing signs of corrosion. Damage to the structural support can lead to deck collapse. Sometimes corrosion will be obvious, like in cases where you can see rot on the edge of the deck frame itself. But you may have to get a professional to perform an inspection if you’re not an expert on woodwork. They’ll look at more technical things, like guardrail and stair connections.

Luckily, decks with structural support intact, but worn boards and railings, can get away with a simple repair to the decking materials. You simply need to replace the individual boards and railings that need repair. Some decks may need only a simple refinishing.

However, if you want newer materials, know that they could be heavier. In cases like these, the deck will need additional supports. The cost of additional supports could approach just putting in a new deck.

As another note, older decks from before 2004 often contained the toxic chemical chromated copper arsenate, a type of lumber preservative that has been labeled a carcinogen due to the arsenic it contains. Fortunately, you can have these types of decks refinished by a professional, which can seal away the chemical.

Decking Materials Wood Deck

Natural wood can give a deep color and attractive texture to a deck. Image: Lauren Blackwell/Shutterstock

Types of Decking Materials

The market offers a wide array of options for decking materials, each of which has its own pros and cons. Below is a handy outline of the most common types of decking materials to help you decide which is right for you.

Pressure-treated lumber

This is made of natural wood, but it’s chemically treated to resist bugs, fungus and rot. It’s affordable and easy to source. However, it can crack, warp and split with time. It also requires maintenance, like yearly power washing and restaining every couple of years or so. And people with natural living and sustainability concerns may want to avoid decking materials with chemical treatments. However, it’s also the least expensive type of decking material.

Natural woods

Natural woods are a great investment for people who want to avoid the chemicals of pressure-treated lumber. Some types of woods have oils and tannins that make them naturally resistant to rot and bugs, like redwood and red cedar. Tropical hardwoods can also have similar resistant qualities, like tigerwood and ipe.

Shop carefully for these types of decking materials, as different types of woods are more hearty than others. And, like pressure treated lumber, natural woods like redwood require annual power washing and a new stain every few years. Different woods will have their own maintenance needs, so do your homework. Prices can be all over the place based on wood quality and type.

Composites

Wood fiber and plastic make up this decking material. It’s a highly durable option that doesn’t warp, rot or split as easily as natural wood can. You don’t need to refinish it, but optional paint or stain can give it a fresh look. However, it looks more artificial, so some people might not like the loss of natural texture and color that can come with moving away from natural woods. And it can grow mold and break down over time. You’ll be looking at mid-range pricing, compared to other decking materials.

Plastic

This type of deck is usually made from PVC and polyethylene, a couple of popular options. There is also plastic lumber, which is made entirely of 100 percent recyclable plastic. Plastic is more durable, especially in that it doesn’t rot or decay. Plus, it’s very light. However, this style is getting even further away from the natural beauty of hardwood, which can be a con for people who like that aesthetic. It can also be slippery and might sag. Like composites, prices tend to be mid-range.

Aluminum

Aluminum is one of those ultimate decking materials in terms of durability. It doesn’t rot, bugs can’t eat it, it’s mold resistant, it won’t crack or warp and its finishes last and last. For a con, however, it’s the most expensive type of decking. And some people may not like the sterile aesthetic of a metal deck.

As you can see, each decking type has its distinct pluses and minuses. So the right decking for you will depend on your budget, tolerance for deck maintenance, backyard entertainment needs and aesthetic preference.

And remember, if the cost of repairing or upgrading a deck is close to putting in a new one, you might just be better off getting a brand new deck that may last longer.

The post How to Choose the Right Decking Materials appeared first on Freshome.com.

3 Early Signs That You Need to Replace Your Roof

Replacing a roof is a project we’d all like to put off. It can be a major investment to replace your roof. A new roof could easily run around $5,000 to $10,000 — or more. This varies based on how much contractors charge by area and what types of materials you use. Contractors can take one to several days to install a new roof. Or, if you plan to replace the roof yourself, it’s a large home remodel that could run you around a few days to weeks to complete, depending on how much time and help you have.

All that said, if you don’t replace your roof when you first see signs of wear, it can mean more costly repairs down the road. The most common problem is that water will seep in under worn shingles and cause damage to the structures below. That’s when leaks into the home and mold start to happen. On the more mild side, an old roof can look just plain ugly. So below we’ll look at some of the early signs that your roof might need to be replaced.

Replace Your Roof Cracked Shingles

Shingles will start to crack and warp with damage. Image: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Replace your roof if the shingles are in bad shape

The easiest way to tell that you need to replace your roof is that the shingles themselves are starting to look worn. There are a few ways to tell that you will need a new roof based on how your shingles look:

  • The edges of the shingles may be curled or have a cup-like appearance
  • The shingles are cracking
  • There may be bald patches

In short, if your roof is starting to look old and worn out, it’s time for a new one.

Replace Your Roof Moss on Roof

Moss can signal deeper damage under the shingles. Image: MagicBones/Shutterstock

Moss is appearing

Another key sign that you may need to replace your roof is that you’re seeing moss on or between the shingles. While it might seem like moss on the roof is a quaint quality that will make your home look like a fairy tale cabin in the woods, it’s a sign of a potential problem.

Moss itself is not an automatic sign that you need a new roof immediately. Moss does naturally grow on or between shingles, especially on roofs that are in shaded or moist climates. But moss could hint at hidden damage.

The problem with moss is that when it rains, the moss absorbs the water like a sponge and holds onto it. The whole point of shingles is to allow water to roll off the roof and into the gutters. When moss is present, it keeps that moisture from going where it’s meant to go. That can lead to the shingles themselves breaking down. Since moss impedes the water from reaching the gutters, it can also lead to that water seeping into the layers under the shingles, causing water damage and mold growth.

So if you see moss, you’ll need to call a roofing contractor to clean up the moss and look for signs of permanent damage.

Replace Your Roof Old Roof

If your roof is just old, it might be time to replace it. Image: Dynamoland/Shutterstock

Consider the age of the roof

Another key factor in determining if you need to replace your roof is the age of that roof. This isn’t a warning sign you can see at times, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Roofs that are at least 20 years old may benefit from replacement with higher quality materials. Typical asphalt shingles last about that long, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Other materials may last longer, however. Slate, copper and clay/concrete roofs can last over 50 years and wood shake roofs can last around 30, for instance. So, depending on what material you have on your roof and the last time it was replaced, it could just be time so that you avoid leaks down the road.

And, remember, for an investment this large, you might want to consider getting materials that will last longer and be more durable, like metal roofing. This is one of those home purchases where a higher up-front cost could mean fewer repairs down the road. It could be a good investment, especially for a home you plan to stay in as long as possible. If you plan correctly, you might not have to replace your roof ever again.

Whether you put in a new roof or want to protect your existing one, head here to learn how to make it last for decades.

The post 3 Early Signs That You Need to Replace Your Roof appeared first on Freshome.com.

Trend Alert: Kokedama (Japanese Moss Balls) Adds Live Art To Your Home and Garden

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Japanese moss balls, known as Kokedama, are hot right now. No pot required — the ancient Japanese art form is a way to display a plant where the exposed round root ball is the focal point. Hang it, mount one on the wall or create an arrangement on a table for a modern-zen look. A Kokedama ball is traditionally created by using soil that has a heavy clay composition and doesn’t crumble easily. You can wrap the ball in moss or colorful twine to hold the shape and retain some moisture.

what is kokedama?

Wrap colorful twine around the root ball for a bold, modern look. Image: Mattis Kaminer/Getty Images

Or, if you’d rather not get your hands dirty, there are kits available:

what is kokedama?
what is kokedama?
what is kokedama?
what is kokedama?
what is kokedama?

Choose your plant according to where you’re going to display your Kokedama moss ball. Orchids, African violets, ivy, succulents and ferns work well both indoors and outdoors.

Here are some ways you can display your Kokedama around your home and garden:

moss ball trend

Group a cluster of Kokedama as a dining table centerpiece. Image: chikaphotograph/Getty Images

hanging plant ideas

Ferns are great plants for a hanging moss ball design. Image: Dorling Kindersley and Rob Streeter/Getty Images

kokedama ideas

Group a collection of different styles of plants and hang them at varying heights. Image: Dorling Kindersley and Rob Streeter/Getty Images

succulent moss balls

Use small succulents for a low-maintenance and low-water design. Image: kindoki/Getty Images

moss ball design ideas

This kit available at Target includes everything you need to create a zen vignette, except for the vase or bowl. Image courtesy of Target.

moss ball decorating ideas

For an artistic look, use a Kokedama ball in a design inspired by a pendulum. Image: yasmintas/Shutterstock

hanging plants ideas

Replace a collection of pots with hanging moss balls wrapped in twine. The design is a great way to take back valuable floor space. Image:Shutterstock

kokedama design ideas

Use a colorful flowering plant or orchid inside your Kokedama — like this Super Moss Kokedama kit at Amazon — as part of your moss ball design. The pop of color adds vibrancy to a setting. Image courtesy of Amazon.

How would you display your moss balls: hanging or as part of a table setting design?

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