Rainy weather means that runoff from your home and property can cause pollutants such as bacteria, chemicals, auto fluids or trash to be deposited into our waterways and reservoirs. Water that reaches storm drains will not be treated before it enters our local creeks, rivers and the ocean. As a home and landowner, you have a part to play in keeping our water sources clean and clear because clean water means healthy communities.
To help promote clean storm water drainage from your property, we’ve created a list of things to do around your home.
Irrigation systems require maintenance and routine checks. Be sure to fix broken or misaligned sprinkler heads and consider reducing watering time when you can. Skip watering before, during, and after a rain. Check the spray coverage of your system. Make sure your sprinklers spray only your landscaping — water should not be spraying or running off to any pavement!
If you own a pet, remember that pet ownership has some impact to water quality. Pet waste is a major source of bacteria in our waterways. When you are out walking with your pet or enjoying a fenced dog park, remember to carry your bagged pet waste to a covered trash bin.
Having a great looking yard is a source of pride and joy for most homeowners. Make sure that your lawn trimmings, such as leaves, weeds and grass cuttings are placed in your yard waste bin. Most local municipalities have some basic requirements on how to place yard waste for pickup. Most require a clear plastic bag for leaves and grass cuttings. For limbs and stick, make sure you tie those up in manageable bundles for pick up as well.
Another threat to water quality is unwanted chemicals from fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides runoff.
Here’s a few ways to reduce your chemical usage. Proper pest management of your lawn and garden includes preventing pest establishment, monitoring plants for pest presence, and intervening starting with natural methods and working up to chemicals use only if absolutely needed. Don’t let chemicals be your first step in solving a pest problem. If you do need to use chemicals, avoid application of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides prior to rainfall. As a mire environmentally friendly option, use natural fertilizers whenever possible, such as compost. Sometimes, a simple matter of changing your mulch to cedar shavings can create a barrier for many unwanted plant pests.
Vehicle maintenance is key.
Check your vehicles frequently for any fluids dripping underneath . Always use drip pans or mats until repairs can be made. WHile it may only seem like a small amount, oil and other automotive fluids that drip onto your driveway, the street and gutters will flow into the storm drains and directly into your waterways with no treatment. If you have an accidental spill, sweep or use absorbent materials, such as kitty litter then bag it up and take it along with any unused oil, anti-freeze, and other household hazardous waste to a collection facility. Redirect rain gutters and downspouts to your landscape.
Rethink your roof drainage.
Having good operating gutters and spouts allows the rain water to drain to your landscape. But did you ever consider that your rainwater has value? You can capture and save those precious gallons for use later and reduce your water use. Consider investing in a rain barrel or similar rain harvesting device. Captured water can be used to hand-irrigate your garden and lawn during dry spells.
The one of the first questions you’ll have to answer when searching for the perfect Keystone Community to get your tailor-made home in is: Single-family home, or town home?
If you’ve only ever known townhouse living—or single-family home living—it might be hard to distinguish the pros and cons of each type of home.
Never fret, of course: We here at Keystone Homes are experts on this sort of thing. We’ll clear the air and help you find the best home for you and your family! While it’s always best for you to talk face-to-face with one of our community managers, we’ve got a great list of comparisons here for you to help decide.
Townhomes tend to have very small back yards, and some may not have a front yard at all. If lawn care is a deal breaker for you, a townhouse will be your best bet. You can convert it to a flower or vegetable garden; in many cases we’ve seen a townhouse’s entire back lot replaced with stone pavers (even Astroturf!)
Like an apartment, town homes will share walls with another unit where another family lives. Thankfully, this is only walls and not roofs: There will be no one walking above you at any time of the day, or playing music too loudly below you. Our town homes are insulated heavily to prevent bothersome noises, but you might find that it’s too close to apartment-style living for you.
With a single-family home, you won’t be sharing walls or driveways and your yard won’t be in close proximity to two other yards. Still, you might find your house is closer to your neighbor than you’re comfortable with, and some windows might face directly into your home. You’ll want to scout out the properties beforehand and see which style home you’re more comfortable with. Keep in mind: With a single-family home, you can always plant trees!
Room to Expand
A single-family home has its own lot of land, which means the ability to expand. Whether it’s a sunroom, shed, or extra wing extending to the back, the single-family home is the only option to go with if you will eventually want more space, but want to remain in the same neighborhood.
This is not going to be for everyone, but in the future, you might consider moving to a new home without selling your current one, with the intent of renting it out. If this is in your plans, a smaller townhouse is going to be more appealing to future renters than a larger single-family home.
In a single-family home, you’re on the hook for every bill and every maintenance cost associated with your home. With a row of apartment homes, however, homeowner association fees might cover exterior maintenance or roofing repairs. You’ll have to check with the community before you buy to know what you are expected to pay for.
Despite what you might have heard, buying a home isn’t too much different from buying anything else. Sure, you don’t need to find an agent and take out a loan after a Target run (okay, maybe you do need a loan after that one), but you do need financing for automobiles, another big purchase that usually needs to be financed.
In the meantime, you’ll be asking all of the same questions you’d ask of any other major purchase: Can I afford it? Where can I get it? Does it meet my needs?
A house, however, will be a bit harder to ask questions about than a loaf of bread or a pair of skinny jeans. Don’t worry! We’ve got your hook-up with everything you should think of asking yourself, your agent, and the owner before buying your newest house! This checklist will cover a lot of the questions you might not have to considered to ask before purchasing a home. You’ll definitely want to check this one out!
- Do I need an agent?
- How am I financing this?
- How much space do I need?
- Where do I want to live?
- How noisy is the neighborhood at night / day?
- How old is the house?
- Are other houses in the neighborhood in good repair/recently renovated?
- How are the schools nearby?
- What amenities/shopping centers are nearby?
- Is this house in a flood zone?
- Is there an HOA? What are the dues? What services do they cover?
- Has this house been through any major disasters (electrical fire, flooded plumbing, sinking foundation?)
- Are there safe, sturdy areas that can be used in case of a tornado?
- How likely is a pest infestation (ants, termites, rodents?)
- What is the crime rate like?
- Are there pets buried in the yards?
- What is the water heater’s capacity?
- When was the HVAC last replaced?
- Is it on septic or on sewer? How often does it need to be drained?
- What are utility costs?
- Where is the nearest hospital/fire department?
- Is there a garage or other shed/outbuilding?
- Is there anything under the carpet/rugs, such as finished flooring / staining?
- Has this home ever been a rental property?
- Why is the owner selling?
- Are there any past insurance claims made on the house?
There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables in the summer… unless they’re vegetables you’ve grown yourself! Gardening is a surprisingly accessible hobby: You can start as small as a container on your patio for just a few dollars, or you can start slightly bigger than that with a raised bed in your yard for just a few more. You can get simple ‘plug-and-play’ kits or you can go whole hog, controlling soil PH and devising intricate rotations throughout the entire year.
How Much Work?
Like most other activities, the more time and effort you put into your garden, the more you’ll get out of it. Decide how much time a week you’d like to spend tending your garden, and go from there. A single container will take just a few minutes of your time every day; five might take you ten minutes. A four-by-four area requires about a half hour’s worth of devotion a week. If you’ve got six four-by-four areas, that’s about two hours.
What, and When?
Once you decide how much work you’re willing to put into the garden, decide what it is you’re going to grow. Cucumbers and tomatoes are easy favorites and make great starting plants, but will need trellises to grow on most effectively. Homegrown potatoes are shockingly delicious, but require a garden bed and plenty of dirt for hilling; they have a long growing season as well. Other plants that seem ubiquitous in the grocery or farmer’s market may actually be tricky to grow in your Piedmont-Triad backyard, such as celery (a cooler-season plant) corn (needs lots of space and lots of viable plants to pollenate) and head lettuce (prone to bolting if shade and temperature isn’t perfect).
The best thing to do is research, and there are tons of books and websites full of information. A good place to start is the famous ‘Old Farmer’s Almanac’ which has been dispensing valuable information for over two-hundred years. Check out this planting chart for a good idea of what will grow in the Piedmont-Triad, and when. Keep in mind that we are in Plant Hardiness Zone 7; always reference that when considering plants or seeds!
Prepare Your Garden!
If you’re revitalizing a bed, great! If you’re starting brand new, here are some points you’ll want to consider.
Sun! Sun is the single most important factor. You’ll want an area of your yard that gets as much sun as your plants will need, which is, on average, six hours a day. This means you won’t want to get too close to your house, as your house is going to be the biggest source of shade on your yard. That’s the basics. Here’s the advanced:
What kind of sun will your garden get? Eastern exposure-morning sun-is the best for plants. It wakes them up and starts them growing sooner. But if they get mainly morning sun, you’ll want to guard them from evening sun so they don’t get too much, dry out, and burn. Build a trellis or locate your garden on the east side of a shady tree so that it will be cooled during the evening.
Drainage. Don’t go for a low area in your yard. Plants can actually drown in too much water, and you also run the risk of developing mold or other swampy conditions.
Once you have your bed located, built, and ready to go, it’s time to get your plants into the soil! Be sure to follow the plant’s recommendations on spacing so that you don’t crowd your plants, leading to underdeveloped roots or stunted plants. Be sure to record the day when your plant goes into the ground, and write down on your calendar your first expected harvest date.
Soon, you’ll have delicious and healthy vegetables, straight from the garden. But be careful! Next year, you might find yourself expanding your garden!
Flowering plants have a few natural enemies, make sure they are resilient to both drought and weeds.
On Saturday April 16th and Sunday the 17th, you can watch the area’s two minor league baseball teams square off against each other at the Truist stadium. Will the Greensboro Grasshoppers prevail? or Will the Winston-Salem Dash earn the W. Either way, it’s a great place for enjoying some good food & beverages and taking in some baseball action.
1. Inspect Your Roof for Winter Wear
Even if your home didn’t experience any harsh winter conditions, now is THE time to give it a thorough visual inspection. Wait any longer and you’ll be fighting Spring showers. If you need to use a ladder, remember to be safe.: Always be sure your ladder is stable before you attempt to climb up for a look. Things to check for are; missing or damaged shingles, signs of leaks or cracks, staining, damage from birds or squirrels, removal of any late leaf fall. If you find damage, get a professional to take a look for repairs.
If you find any concerning dark streaks, this may be from algae. Luckily, this is only a cosmetic issue. If you see any moss, you’ll want to clean it off. Moss growth can cause your shingles to become mishapped creating a lift or curl. This can also mean they may blow off or break in high winds. To clean algae or moss, apply a solution of equal parts bleach and water. After about 15 minutes, rinse it off. Follow up with a vinegar solution to kill any roots that may be under the shingles. Bleach won’t kill the roots. Don’t use pressure wash or scrub the tiles as this is more likely to cause unwanted might damage to the shingles.
Get Your Mind in the Gutter
Remove all the leaves, twigs, acrons, etc out of your downspouts and gutters. Inspect your system for any sagging and repair as needed. Check for any holes or rust damage. Seal leaks by caulking over the area. Check your downspouts and make sure they are draining away from your home correctly. .
Check your Concrete Areas
Concrete takes a lot of outdoor abuse. Visually check for any cracking along any driveways, pool decks or walkways. Cracks can be repaired with silicone caulk or special concrete fillers. If your find any concrete cracks that seem beyond a simple fix, consider replacing and repouring the concrete altogether. Concrete saws can be rented and most exterior concrete is only about 4-6 inches deep. Online tutorials show how to remove and repour crack concrete sections.
Test Your Outside Faucets
Run some water from your outside faucets by first letting them run some water. Next, place your finger over the opening. If the flow of water stops, you may have a leak. The water should force itself past your finger and spray out.
It’s HVAC Care Time
Remove any growth or debris from around your HVAC unit. Replace your HVAC filters and clean your ducts and vents. If your filters are clogged, your HVAC system is struggling to cool and heat your home. This causes extra wear and tear and will shorten the life of your system. Also, old filters can lead to lower air quality in your home and can cost you an additional 15% or more on your energy bill.
Consider calling a professional to get a tune-up. Most skilled AC technicians can check your system for efficiency, coolant levels and resolve any issues before the summer heat arrives.
Deck Maintenance & Care
Decks also need to be inspected in the spring. Water stains, warped boards, protruding nails, or discoloration need to be addressed. Make sure your handrails and side rails are sturdy and stable. Check below to make sure your deck structure is solid and free from any pest damage. Now is the time to reseal your deck to make sure it’s protected from the weather and pests. Rails, fences, trellises and other wood features of your home will need some love, too.
If you have wooden fences or railing, repair any damage to the panels. Split or broken pieces can often be repaired by simply gluing them back together. Replace any deck planks that are too weak or damaged for repair.
A power washer can revitalize the look of your wood structures. Wood oils and wood finishes can be applied to protect it from the wear and tear of rain and sun. Decking oil is the best for fence treatment because it keeps the wood supple and water-resistant. Exterior wood oil helps preserve your wood and can prolong the life of your fence.
Start shaping Up Your Lawn and Landscaping
Spring is the best time to spruce up your flowerbeds and give them a good face lift. Use the dead organic matter from your compost pile as fertilizer base. A layer of gravel or a liner on top of the soil will help suppress weeds. Make sure to use compacted soil in low areas of your yard as rain will often wash out low areas.
Tending to your lawn now will pay dividends and create a lush green grass summer. Raking the lawn deeply will remove thatch and dead grass and promote grass growth. This will also allow applied fertilizers and seeds to penetrate easily. After cultivating, ensure that the lawn is firmed and ready for sowing. Select the correct yard seed for your lawn. If you are unsure, use a shade-tolerance seed mix for yards with a lot of tree cover. Use a hard-wearing seed mix if your lawn gets a lot of traffic in the summer. If you see any bald patches, overseed these areas. Apply a nitrogen fertilizer to give your grass an extra boost and a deeper green.
If you have a vegetable garden, prepare the beds by weeding and forking in some fresh garden compost. Cover the beds with plastic sheeting. This keeps the soil warm and ready when it’s time to sow your garden veggies.