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Posted by on 7:50 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Understanding And Maintaining The Benefits Of An Eastern Red Cedar Tree

Landscaping is not only beneficial for your home’s appeal and value, but it can also increase your home’s energy efficiency and the privacy of your backyard. While surprising to hear, many trees are able to grow tall and large very quickly. Considering the Eastern red cedar tree is one of these fast-growing, shade-producing trees, installing a few around your yard’s perimeter can increase your home’s appeal, value, and privacy. Unfortunately, you may not know the proper techniques for planting and maintaining these popular trees. Using this guide, you can improve your landscaping, home value, and privacy using the Eastern red cedar tree. Benefits The lush green foliage of the Eastern red cedar tree is an attractive addition to your home’s landscape. Not only can it be used as an accent piece, but a grouping of these beautiful trees can create a natural fence or barrier between your yard and the yards of other homes. While the tree does grow in a narrow shape, the Eastern red cedar is capable of growing up to 40 feet high, making it an excellent option for creating shade around your home. The size, color, and shape are benefits, but the Eastern red cedar tree also has a fragrant aroma that combines fruity flavors with cedar wood.  In addition, the tree develops small blue berries in the winter. These berries attract birds, so the Eastern red cedar is a great option if you are a bird lover. From intense foliage and the addition of privacy and shade to the soft, appealing scent of the tree, the benefits of adding Eastern red cedar trees to your landscape are easy to see. Planting Planting the Eastern red cedar is pretty simple, since it thrives in most climates. However, be sure to install the trees in areas that receive full sun and ample size for the future growth. If planting in groups for a privacy screen, space out the trees according to the variety of tree. Here are a few common species of the Eastern red cedar tree: Canaert – The Canaert variety of the Eastern red cedar can grow up to 15 to 20 feet wide, so you must ensure there is sufficient space between each tree when creating privacy screen. Glauca – For a more moderate width, consider the Glauca. The Glauca variety has an average spread of 6 to 8 feet. Gray Owl – The Gray Owl variety is more like a shrub, with an average height of 4 feet, but its 8-foot width still requires ample spacing. When digging the hole for your tree, make sure it offers enough space to contain its root ball. Place the root ball of the tree into the hole, ensuring the top is slightly below the top of the hole. Make sure there is plenty of space around the root ball to fill the hole with dirt and fertilizer, as well. Use your hands or gardening tools to loosen the soil before placing it back into the hole. Pack it in loosely around the root ball, preventing any constriction of the roots. Be sure there are no rocks, pebbles, or chunks of wood left behind in the soil. Surround the tree base with mulch or pine straw and water thoroughly. Maintenance After planting, water your Eastern red...

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Posted by on 11:50 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Granite Not Your Only Option: 4 Countertop Options To Consider For Your New Kitchen

Remodeling your kitchen is an excellent option if you want to improve the function and efficiency of the space while enhancing the overall look, but making the right decisions is important to achieve an estimated 100 percent return on investment. From choosing paint colors and cabinet material to installing new appliances and flooring, the various decisions can become overwhelming. Thankfully, finding the best option for your kitchen countertops does not have to be challenging. Although a common option for homeowners and builders, granite is not the only appealing countertop material for your kitchen. Using this guide, you can find a durable, attractive, equitable, and non-granite countertop material for your kitchen. Stainless Steel If you are hoping to create a modern, clean, and stream-lined look in your kitchen, consider using stainless steel for your countertops. Not only is stainless steel non-porous and resistant to stains, but it is also a durable option that will stand the test of time. Of course, you most likely spend a great deal of time in your kitchen, cooking and preparing foods, dining, and entertaining. Due to this constant use, preventing fingertip smudges can be difficult on the stainless material. To keep the countertops clean and shiny, you will need to wipe the stainless surfaces down constantly with a mild detergent. Quartz Granite is a natural stone, which may be appealing to you, but its natural look does contain flaws. If you prefer the look of natural stone, but in a more perfected color and design, opt for quartz countertops. Composed of approximately 93 percent natural stone with the remaining percentage comprised of resin, quartz is a great alternative to granite. Here are a few other benefits of this attractive countertop material: Non-Porous – While it does contain a large portion of natural stone, quartz is non-porous and resistant to stains. Easy Maintenance – Since quartz counters are constructed out of both stone and resin, you do not need to seal or wax the countertops. Cleaning is simple, as well. Wipe down with a solution containing warm water and liquid dish soap. Versatile – Quartz is available in a large variety of colors and designs. Choose from a faux-granite or a bright blue or green. With all the different options available, you can easily find a quartz look suited to your kitchen design. Marble Marble is a common option for bathroom countertops, but its elegant look will also work in your kitchen. The material is available in numerous colors and patterns, so you will be able to find the marble piece that works best for your style and personality. Marble does offer a few negatives, though. Since it is a porous material, marble can stain easily, so you sealing your marble countertops will be imperative. To add the luxurious look of marble without worrying about constant stains or maintenance, consider installing marble in one small area of your countertops. The material remains cool to the touch, making it a great surface for preparing dough for baking pies and pastries. Due to this benefit, installing marble solely on your kitchen island or work section is smart. Concrete Installing a slab of concrete in your kitchen may not sound ideal, but concrete countertops are actually attractive options for your kitchen. Concrete is porous, so it can easily...

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Posted by on 11:56 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ways To Improve The Aesthetics And Longevity Of Your Asphalt Driveway

The condition of your home’s driveway affects the aesthetics of your property and can impact the health of your car. If your driveway has large cracks, potholes and bumpy spots, you risk damaging your vehicle each time you drive over the unsightly asphalt. Driving over potholes every day can harm wheel rims, shock absorbers and front end components. Therefore, you should take action to repair the asphalt and make it more attractive by heeding the following tips. Your driveway will look better and you will not have to worry about damaging your car. Clean and Repair the Asphalt You can give your driveway an immediate upgrade by cleaning the asphalt surface and making repairs to sections that are damaged. You will need a large push broom, cleaning solution, water and a large scrub brush. Use the push broom to remove any dirt, leaves, loose asphalt and other debris. Then rinse the asphalt with water. Pretreat stains from oil and grease, tires and other substances with a commercial degreaser. For large grease and oil stains, you can soak up the substances with baking soda or cat litter. Stomp on the cat litter to break it up. Let baking soda or cat litter sit on the stain for at least thirty minutes before scooping it up to finish the job with the degreaser. Use the scrub brush with the degreaser to continue cleaning the asphalt. Rinse away any residue with water. If there are any cracks and small potholes, you can purchase asphalt patch material from a hardware store by the bag. For severely damaged driveways, you should consult with a paving contractor and hire them to repair extremely large potholes and cracks in order to make sure you end up with a smooth, drivable surface when repairs are complete. Seal the Asphalt If you want to increase the longevity of your driveway, you should hire a paving contractor to seal the asphalt surface. The contractor will use professional grade driveway sealer that will slow the asphalt aging process. The driveway will be less susceptible to damage from rain, ice, extreme temperatures and the sun’s UV rays. The contractor will clean the asphalt and repair any cracks before applying the sealant. Be aware that it will take a day or two for the sealant to dry. Make plans to park your car elsewhere until the sealing project is complete. Paint the Asphalt Once repairs on the driveway are complete and the sealant dries ups, you can further enhance the look of the asphalt by painting it. Your paving contractor can apply paint that is specially designed for asphalt surfaces. The paint that contractors use to cover a blacktop surface can withstand the elements as well as vehicle traffic. In addition, asphalt paint comes in several colors so you should be able to select a color that complements your home’s paint job. Line the Driveway With Plants Instead of settling for a plain asphalt driveway, spruce up the entrance to your property with ornamental plants that line the paved surface. Formal hedges, flowering shrubs and small trees can soften the look of a long stretch of asphalt and enhance the beauty of your property. First, you should get rid of weeds that line the edges of the asphalt. If necessary, augment the soil...

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Posted by on 4:26 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is Your Masonry Home Sending You A Message? What Homeowners Must Know About Cracks & Deterioration

There is a reason why homes constructed of bricks and masonry are often more valued and sought after than a frame home of similar size by many home buyers across the nation. In addition to not needing to be painted every few years, a masonry home resists infiltration by insects and can more easily resist damage from strong winds and weather. In fact, a masonry home originally built in 1639, and designated as a National Historic Landmark, is still standing strong today and has been refurbished for use as a museum. While your masonry home is sure to have been built far more recently than the Henry Whitefield House, mentioned above, it is just as important for you to understand why cracks and deterioration can occur in your masonry home and what you can do about them. Watch for visual clues Masonry walls, whether constructed from bricks, blocks or stones, often offer visual clues of damage or deterioration that should never be ignored. These include: cracking (cracks forming in either the mortar or the bricks, blocks, or stones, or both) spalling (surface flaking of bricks, sometimes extensive) bowing (a vertical bulge in the wall) sweeping (a horizontal bulge in the wall)  leaning (a situation where one or more of the masonry walls appear to be leaning into or away from the home, instead of standing straight)  When to worry about cracks Some cracking is normal in most any brick, block or stone building. This can be due to a wide range of causes, including settlement, soil issues, weather, issues with mortar quality, building practices, exposure to some type of stress or movement and many others. In most cases, hairline and minor cracks that do not become worse over time can be managed by simply monitoring them frequently for changes and addressing them as they occur. Unlike minor cracks, those that are more severe or cause portions of the brick, block or stone wall to crumble, move or appear uneven should always be examined by a reputable professional masonry contractor or masonry restoration expert, such as Mara Restoration, Inc., at the earliest possible time. If left unrepaired, the home can be at risk of infiltration from water, insects and even rodents, as well as other issues. Additionally, major cracking issues can cause stress on the home that result in damage to the interior of the home, including plaster damage, sticking or cracked window panes and doors that become difficult to open and close.   Potential causes of masonry cracking and deterioration When noting the formation of cracks or deterioration in a masonry wall, homeowners should examine the area for any issues that may be causing or contributing to the damage. Since excessive exposure to water can cause masonry walls to deteriorate, homeowners will want to make sure that the guttering is in good condition and is not allowing water to either run down the wall or accumulate against the foundation of the home. Additionally, it is important to direct water from the gutters away from the home through the use of landscaping methods or gutter extensions to prevent issues with saturated soil or frost heaving that can cause movement in the foundation and cracking or deterioration in the masonry walls they support.   Another cause of masonry damage or deterioration is the...

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Posted by on 4:49 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on High Energy Bills? Why Your Garage May Be The Cause & How To Fix The Problem

If your heating and cooling bills seem higher than they should be for your home size, then you may be confused why you are losing your cool and warm air when the exterior of your home is well-insulated. You may be considering spending a small fortune to upgrade your heating and cooling systems to see if your investment can pay off in lower energy bills. However, the problem may not lie in those systems at all. It may sound surprising, but a garage that is not properly insulated can result in higher home energy bills, even when you don’t intentionally heat and cool your garage. Read on to find out how to determine if your garage is the cause of those sky-high bills and how to fix the problem. How Improperly Insulated Garage Doors Can Lead Higher Heating and Cooling Costs in Your Entire Home If you took care to install good installation around the perimeter of your home or chose a home that already had good insulation, then keep in mind that the rooms above and adjacent to the garage are lacking this insulation on the walls (or floors) that are connected to your garage. If your garage itself is not properly insulated, especially the door, then these rooms likely feel cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer, even though your heating and air conditioning systems are heating and cooling the rest of your home well.  Much of the heated or cooled air that enters those rooms leaks right into the garage and out the door. If you compensate by adding extra heating and air conditioning units to those rooms or just cranking up your existing systems to the point where the rest of the home is then too hot or too cool, then you are wasting energy that you could avoid wasting if you just insulated your garage well.  How to Easily Fix the Problem Insulating your garage is likely easier than you think, because the part of the garage you need to focus on is the exterior wall, and a huge part of that wall is your garage door. Some garage doors are about 20-percent of the entire front of a home. Simply switching out your existing garage door for a new, well-insulated one and having it installed properly to eliminate any drafts around the perimeter of it is the first and most important step on your way to a properly insulated garage.  For the best insulation, your garage door should include the following: A a door with with integrated high density polystyrene or polyurethane foam layers. The great news is that when choosing a door with one of these integrated foam layers, you don’t have to sacrifice style and curb appeal for good insulation. Even a typically drafty door made of wood or metal can provide proper garage insulation when it contains layers of insulation.  A thick door. It can be easy to see how a three-inch thick insulated door would provide more insulation than a two-inch one.  Large panels. Every joint between door panels provides an additional space where a potential draft could occur. The fewer panels your door has, the fewer places a draft could occur.  Air-tight seals around the door. A good seal around your door eliminates drafts, so they are...

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