How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

A fire breaking out in your home is a serious potential hazard. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to identify the early signs of a fire and to prepare for an emergency. The following list will help you and your household put together your fire safety plan.

How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

Fire safety

Having properly functioning smoke and CO2 detectors is crucial to your safety. Test your smoke and CO2 detectors frequently and swap out the batteries when necessary. It is recommended to have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.

Always keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen to combat flame outbursts from the stove or oven. It is best to have at least one fire extinguisher per floor for easy access. Keep in mind that fire extinguishers are used to control and extinguish small, contained fires. If a fire has spread throughout an entire room, or is beginning to engulf your home, know that fire extinguishers are no match for the blaze, and you should escape immediately.

Evacuation plan

A home fire can be very disorienting. During an emergency, it is critical that all members of your household know how to properly evacuate the home. Identify two ways to escape from each room in case one route is unsafe. Choose a meeting spot somewhere outside for everyone to meet a safe distance away from the fire. This can be across the street, down the block, at a neighbor’s house, or wherever makes most sense for you and your family. The most important thing is that you all have an agreed-upon rendezvous. Select an emergency contact whom you can reach out to if something goes wrong in the evacuation process or if a family member is missing.

Best practices

When escaping your home, crawl as low as possible to stay beneath the smoke. Test closed doors before using them to escape. If they are hot, that’s a sign that there are flames on the other side of the door and you should use an alternative escape strategy. Be careful that you don’t burn your hand when testing closed doors. Make sure everyone in your household knows the procedure for calling 9-1-1 and properly alerting the fire department. If you have pets at home, include them in your evacuation plans. If you are forced to decide between evacuating safely and trying to rescue a pet, know that firefighters are trained experts at saving animals from house fires. 

For more tips on how to plan for fire-related emergencies at home, read our blog for Wildfire Preparation and Evacuation Tips.

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How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

After the long days of summer have come and gone and fall is ending, it’s time to begin preparations for winterizing your home. When temperatures begin to dip, your lakeside cabin, seaside cottage or mountain lodge will need some extra TLC to make it through the colder months until spring comes around again. Whether your waterfront property is your vacation home or a primary residence, it’s important to properly winterize it in order to avoid potential damage and to save you time and money.

How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

Pipes and Plumbing

Burst pipes are often the cause of water damage. Prevent a water damage emergency at your waterfront property this winter by being proactive.

If your waterfront home is your summer getaway, then disconnect your hoses from outside pipes to prevent them from freezing and breaking. If you plan to turn the heat off for the winter, turn off your main water supply and open your faucets. Any water left in your hoses can cause damage, so be sure to drain the hoses connected to your dishwasher, washer, and any other appliances.

If you’ll be calling your waterfront property home for the winter, thoroughly inspect the insulation for both your interior and exterior pipes. Any areas where insulation is lacking could lead to a cracked pipe, which has the potential to cause serious damage and could end up costing a significant amount of money to repair.

Roof and Gutters

Properly winterizing your roof and gutters will help to avoid a buildup of rain, snow, or debris turning into a structural issue. For homeowners with a shingle roof, this is the time to check your roof for any signs of damage and make repairs accordingly. Cracked shingles can be carried off by high winds, torn off in a winter storm, or may fall to the ground after being struck by a fell branch, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks.

This is especially important if you will be away from your waterfront property all winter. Since you won’t be around, you may not be aware that your roof has been damaged until it’s too late.

For metal roofs, check to make sure everything is screwed down tight. Clear your gutters of leaves and debris. The heavier your gutters become, the more prone they are to leaks, and could potentially rip away from your roof. Keep your gutters clear throughout the winter. Any blockages of leaves, twigs, or ice could lead to a leak, damaging your walls and insulation.

Other Areas

Once your plumbing, pipes, roof, and gutters are properly winterized, look to other areas of your property to prepare for the winter ahead. Check all windows and doors to identify any air leaks. If you identify a leak, be sure to patch it before you take off for the winter—or if you’re staying in the home for the season, before temperatures start to dip. Inspect your home’s insulation and weatherstripping and make replacements as needed.

Bring your patio furniture inside and store them in a safe space to keep them in good condition until spring. Inspect your boat lift and dock. Consider investing in a bubbler or agitator system to keep ice away from your dock if you’re expecting freezing temperatures throughout the winter. Follow proper winterizing guidelines for your boat and any other watercraft you have before covering them or placing them in winter storage.

For more tips on home maintenance throughout the seasons and much more, visit the Living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

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How to Fall Proof Your Home

Each object in a home serves a purpose, but for those who experience dizziness and numbness, many of them can also be a potential hazard. Taking steps to reduce the risk of falling in your home is a worthy exercise for any homeowner, especially if you have elderly family members or young children living in your home or visiting often. Here are some ways you can fall proof the rooms in your home.

How to Fall Proof Your Home

Kitchen

The kitchen is synonymous with spills and messes. When these accidents happen, be sure to clean them up quickly and thoroughly to reduce the risk of a falling injury. Slippery floors have been the culprit of countless broken bones and bruises, so it’s best to wait until the cleaned spot is dry until you resume cooking.

Stay low to the ground as much as possible by keeping your most used items like spices, cooking utensils, and hand towels within reach to reduce the number of times you need to use a step stool.

Bathroom

In the bathroom surfaces are often slippery and slick, and the hard tile makes for an unforgiving landing spot. It’s common for homeowners to place a non-slip mat in the shower or tub to reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Grab bars are a more permanent option for making the bathroom safer. For those interested in installing a grab bar but have reservations about the aesthetics of installing a grab bar, look at pieces that align with your existing décor. Match the grab bar with your shower head, shower rod, and towel racks to make it fit with the space.

Bedroom

The key to preventing falls in the bedroom is visibility. Bedrooms are cozy, intimate spaces, which means that space can often be limited. Keep all pathways clear and make sure that your nightstands and bedside lamps are well within reach. Stow any cords next to your bed to avoid tripping over them in the night.

Staircases

We’ve all taken a tumble on the stairs at some point or another. To mitigate the risk of falling, keep your stairs organized at all times. It’s easy for clutter to build up at the top or bottom of the stairs or on platforms between floors, but these objects are tripping hazards. Consider installing a handrail if you don’t have one or add a second one if you currently only have a handrail on one side.

For more information on home safety, cleaning tips, and more, visit the living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

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5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

A swimming pool can turn a backyard into a grotto, an oasis, an at-home vacation spot. But to let the poolside good times roll, they require maintenance. Your local climate can often dictate how much you use your pool. For some homeowners, you may be swimming in your pool year-round. For others, the pool may be a summer ritual, only to close it up once fall temperatures start to plummet. No matter how often you use your pool, these tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape.

5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

1. Keep Your Pool Water Balanced

A well-balanced pool maintains the correct levels of chemicals and, through filtration and disinfection, avoids having to change the pool water year after year. The main levels of concern are pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels and calcium hardness. Aim to keep these levels within the following parameters:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8
  • Total alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Chlorine levels: 1 – 3 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 180 – 200 ppm

2. Routine Cleaning

Regardless of the season, keeping your pool water crystal clear requires routine cleaning. Weekly tasks include vacuuming, backwashing the pool filter, applying algaecide and chlorine, and cleaning the skimmer baskets. Running the circulation system is a daily task, which keeps the pool water fresh. Pool walls are a commonly missed cleaning spot. Brush them routinely to prevent algae growth and to eliminate chemical buildup.

3. Closing Your Pool

If you don’t use your pool year-round, you’ll have to go through the steps of proper decommission to avoid any hang-ups when it’s time to open it back up. Stow all equipment including ladders, lights, and thermometers before cleaning and vacuuming the pool. After you’ve balanced the pool water, let the system run for up to twenty-four hours before adding winterizing chemicals. Once the chemicals have run through for a few hours, remove the pool equipment, and drain. Finally, cover your pool to protect it from debris during the offseason.

4. Opening Your Pool

For those who user their pools seasonally, the day you reopen your pool is cause for celebration. But before you draft up any pool party invitations, you’ll need to give it some TLC. If you use a removable pool cover be sure to store it in a safe, protected place. Fill the pool back up to the maximum fill line and clear any debris from the water’s surface. Once you’ve tested the water and properly balanced the levels, remove any winterizing plugs to get water flowing into the plumbing system again. Once you’ve tested all systems to make sure the water is being properly heated and pumped, cleaned the walls, vacuumed the floor, there’s only one thing left to do—cannonball!

5. Pool Offseason

Even when your pool is not being used it requires a watchful eye. Besides keeping your pool ready for when you open it back up, offseason maintenance will help to avoid any major repairs due to neglect. Check your pool water occasionally. Even if your pool is covered, it’s possible for leaves, sticks, and needles to make their way inside. Continue to monitor the balance of your pool water by checking the levels weekly and adjusting as needed. Check the pump, heater, and plumbing for any signs of damage and clean the filter regularly.

For more information on keeping your home and the systems in it well-maintained, read more on our blog:

Home Maintenance

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Windermere Living: Summer Parties Made Simple

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Windermere Living.

By Amanda Zurita

Summer, especially this summer, is meant for barbecues, outdoor movie nights, garden gatherings, and rooftop cocktail affairs. Keep the focus on reconnecting with friends and family by opting for unfussy, minimalist decor and clean color palettes. It’s about time we have something to celebrate, isn’t it?

Backyard Barbecue

Upgrade the summertime tradition of the backyard barbecue with stylish and simple tools.

Image Credit: Jayme Burrows / Stocksy

 

The most time-honored summertime gathering takes place in your own backyard, and a lineup of modern tabletop grills and tools means you can feed a fête without much fret. For example, BergHOFF’s sleek tabletop grill has a compact design that can easily transport to a balcony or the beach—simply add charcoal, and you’re ready to take orders. Or switch it up with one of this year’s most popular cooking contraptions, a portable pizza oven, like the one made by Ooni. With models powered by gas or by wood fire, these ovens can cook a 12-inch pizza in as little as 60 seconds and will work for meats and vegetables, too. Focus on main courses, and ask your guests to bring sides or desserts to share. Complete the ambience by piping a playlist through portable outdoor speakers like the Move by Sonos, which are equipped with voice control and Bluetooth tech, so you can play DJ with ease.

Elevate Your Grill Game Without Going Too Crazy

  • Burgers on the menu? Stuff them with gourmet cheeses, like bleu or mozzarella, before throwing them on.

  • Sitting down together? Time your steaks right by searing them first and finishing them just before serving.

  • Make it a pizza night—with or without a pizza oven. Load pies with your favorite fixings, roll them out on a pizza stone, and cook them over the open flame.

  • Don’t skimp on fruits and veggies. Grilled vegetables are summer’s side dish; peaches and pineapple make for a sweet and juicy dessert (make it á la mode!).

Garden Party

Elevate your outdoor space with basic romantic elements.

A group of people sit around a large table at a backyard party.

Image Credit: Trinnette Reed / Stocksy

 

A garden party is a glorious way to gather with friends for an elegant afternoon. Start by creating a special space in the yard by laying down some outdoor rugs or erecting a temporary canopy to provide shade. To illuminate the celebration, surround the table with candlelit lanterns, or string outdoor lights between overhead branches. Then, it’s all about the tablescape. Select durable (and unbreakable) dishware like sustainable bamboo plates and bowls from Fable New York, which come in a range of colors like soft blush, buttery yellow, and eggshell blue. The same goes for glasses, which can be as durable as they are chic in fluted acrylic designs from West Elm. To distribute your chosen refreshments, fill a cheery pineapple-shaped beverage dispenser from Nordstrom with punch or lemonade, or stock bottles of bubbly in a sleek Permasteel rolling patio cooler. Once you’ve covered the dining and decor, add extras that keep your guests comfortable, like classic paddle fans, supplied by party stores and wedding suppliers like The Knot. Keep mosquitoes at bay with a discreet Patio Shield repeller by Thermacell, which creates a 15-foot zone of protection around your gathering.

Add a touch of natural beauty by creating simple flower arrangements based on what’s in your yard—or the local farmers market. Seasonal blooms like tulips, peonies, and ranunculus come in many shades and have a textural, wild appearance. To step outside the expected, add branches from cherry or olive trees or fresh fruits from trees on your property. Take your time adding and subtracting elements until you achieve a look you love. A flower frog or stretch of lattice can help hold everything in place. For a minimalist spray, choose a monochromatic color palette, or keep it light with just a few blooms.

Sunset Soirée

Watch the sun set from your rooftop, porch, or balcony at an elegant yet restrained affair. 

A man and a woman attend an outdoor party during sunset.

Image Credit: Jovo Jovanovic / Stocksy

 

To set a classic (and classy) mood, make a portable record player the center of attention, and invite guests to bring a favorite album. Many options, like the turntables from Crosley, have Bluetooth capabilities, so you can link speakers and switch to digital music with ease. To keep the evening chill away, set up a portable fire pit (Solo offers wood-burning, smokeless options in a number of sizes). Citronella candles, like Pottery Barn’s artful candle, help maintain the romantic ambience while keeping the buzz kills away.

Cheers to You

A polished party deserves an equally upscale signature drink, but you don’t want to spend all night playing bartender. A Champagne punch you can batch in advance is easy to make but elegant enough to fit the vibe. This recipe for a berry satsuma sangria will fit the bill and please a crowd, especially when served in shatter-resistant stemware from Williams Sonoma. Prepare about an hour before your party to preserve the bubbles.

Ingredients

  • 6 satsuma oranges
  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 bottle of chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 6 oz Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 4 oz club soda
  • 2 oz cherry brandy
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Recipe

Place the segments of two oranges and all of the strawberries and raspberries into a large punch bowl or drink pitcher. Juice the remaining oranges for about . to ⅔ cup of orange juice, and add to the bowl along with the remaining liquid ingredients. Stir together and taste, adding simple syrup if it isn’t at your desired sweetness. Serve over a large ice cube and garnish with mint.

Movie Night

Everything you need to get cozy under the stars.

 

A man and a woman watch a movie on a projector from their driveway.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Pump Up Your Popcorn

Toss plain popcorn with a variety of seasonings: try butter, salt, and truffle oil; crispy bacon, a few tablespoons bacon drippings, butter, and chopped chives; butter, sriracha, and lime—or bake popcorn on a tray with a few cups of your favorite cheeses for a crunchy-melty treat.

It’s lights, camera, action with a backyard movie night to rival any drive-in. If you’ve spent the last year watching everything Netflix has to offer from the comfort of your couch, this change of scenery is (literally) a breath of fresh air. Opening your own outdoor theater is easy with movie screens, like Pottery Barn’s streamlined option, that set up in no time and come with a portable storage bag. Upgrade from blankets or lawn chairs to specially made outdoor bean bags from Jaxx, line the aisles with IKEA’s romantic solar lanterns, and you’re ready for showtime under the stars.

Project: Projector

When choosing a projector, consider brightness levels in your yard. If you have any light pollution, you’ll likely need a projector that puts out 800 lumens for an 80-inch screen size. A short throw projector, placed three to eight feet from the screen, is ideal. Epson’s EF-100 Mini Laser Projector is a good bet, and it’s both powerful and light, weighing just under six pounds. As for audio, most projectors that do have built-in speakers won’t offer the cinematic sound quality you’re looking for, so a set of well-placed Bluetooth speakers will round out the full experience. A pair of Anker Soundcore Motion Boom speakers placed at the back corners of your viewing area can create rich surround sound. And be sure to let the neighbors know about movie night so they aren’t surprised—better yet, why not extend an invite?

Read the full issue here: Windermere Living – Summer 2021

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Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat and Wildfires

Summer is the season for spending long days in the yard, taking dips in the pool, and sitting in the shade to beat the heat. In the midst of these sun-filled adventures, though, lies the potential for heat waves, smoke, and wildfires. Every homeowner should be ready for these emergencies as well as the damaging effects they can have on their home. The following information will help you prepare your home for the hottest days of the year.

 

Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat

As temperatures soar, it’s important to make sure that your methods of cooling your home are as effective as possible. Adding insulation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when prepping your home for the summer heat, but it will help prevent cool air from leaking outside and hot air from entering. If your insulation is out of date, now is the time to make replacements as needed. Windows are another culprit for air leaks, which commonly form between the window frame and the frame of the house. Fill these cracks with caulking between the frame and the exterior siding. If your windows are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight, consider placing an awning or screen shades above the exterior side to provide some relief from the radiating heat.

Air conditioning can be a lifesaver during summer. There are two main options when it comes to air conditioning: either a window unit or central cooling. Window units are the least expensive option and offer portability. It’s important to choose a unit that is the right size for your home or the room you’re trying to cool. One that’s too big will quickly cool your space and then shut off completely. This can increase your energy bills and put unnecessary wear on the unit. An undersized unit simply won’t cool your home and will constantly run to try to reach the target temperature. With central air conditioning, homeowners can expect much higher startup costs. But once installed, central AC provides short- and long-term comfort and adds to your home’s value.

Summer is a good time to check your HVAC unit’s air filters. Turn the unit off before performing any maintenance. If any devices that give off heat are close enough to the thermostat that regulates the AC, they could generate an incorrect reading, which could throw off your air conditioning efficiency. For maximum efficiency, place these devices away from the thermostat.

 

Preparing Your Home for Wildfires

The first step in preparing your home for wildfires is to have an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in the event of a wildfire. Pack an emergency kit to bring with you in the event of an evacuation. For homeowners who live outside a fire zone, consider buying an air purifier to protect yourself from smoke.

To give yourself the best chances of keeping wildfires from getting too close to your home, keep all flammable objects away from the house, preferably at least thirty feet. Clear your gutters of debris such as leaves, twigs, sticks, and the like. These materials are tinder for fire. Any flammable vegetation within five feet of the home should be cleared away, and any trees that overhang close to the home should be cut back to a distance of ten feet. Remove any dead plants or vegetation from your yard and keep your lawn short. Install mesh screens over exterior vents to prevent embers from entering your home. 

This may seem like a daunting list, but these preparatory measures are worth it to protect your home and loved ones this wildfire season. Once you’ve taken these steps, you can enjoy your summer days at home knowing you’re prepared.

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6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

It’s easy to get into a routine when cleaning your home season after season, year after year. While simply going over the same spots may make your home feel cleaner, at the same time, it allows the neglected areas to become dirtier. Here are six commonly missed spots around the home that, once given the attention they deserve, will help make your home feel completely clean.

6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

1. Underneath & Behind Furniture

Dirt and dust love to hide in tough-to-reach, tucked-away spots like behind your nightstand, under your bed frame, and on the underside of your tables, chairs, and couches. Cleaning these areas may require some heavy lifting and rearranging but it’s worth your while. If enough dust and grime have accumulated over the years that your vacuum can’t remove the buildup, try using a washcloth to loosen the sediment.

2. Vents and Fans

Vents and fans not only collect dust, but they also distribute it around your home. Ceiling fans are one of the hardest spots in your home to reach, so you may need to use a ladder and an extended duster to clean them. Clean your vent grates with a dusting brush or a wire brush depending on the thickness of the buildup. If your home has central air, remember to replace your air filters periodically. A clean ventilation system is key to protecting your home’s air quality.

3. Bathroom Surfaces

We all know the feeling of picking up a rarely used shampoo bottle in the shower to discover a grimy ring underneath it. Wipe off your bottles and surfaces in the shower to keep it sparkling clean. Scrub away the debris from your shower head and soak it in a mixture of water and white vinegar to cleanse the device and to prevent a buildup of mineral deposits. To reach behind the toilet, you may need knee pads and an extended cleaning tool. Use a disinfectant-water mixture to prevent the spread of germs. Tackling chores like these will help make your bathroom feel brand new in no time.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

4. Switches & Handles

Light switches, door handles, drawer pulls, and knobs are all hotbeds for germs and dirt and can easily be forgotten while cleaning your home. Take a two-step approach to cleaning these high-touch surfaces: first clean, then disinfect. Cleaning will get rid of contaminants, while disinfecting targets pathogens. The combination of the two will help make your home feel cleaner while reducing the spread of germs. Other high-touch surfaces such as keyboards, phones, tablets, and other devices require regular cleaning as well.

5. Appliances

It’s easy to think of your appliances strictly as devices that help your home stay clean and organized, but they are magnets for dirt and gunk, too. After cleaning out the refrigerator and scrubbing down the shelves, find the coils and clean them of debris with a vacuum or a brush. The floor underneath your refrigerator can be a seriously grimy spot, so a quick mop of that area is worth your while. Give your dishwasher a good cleanse to prevent mold buildup and bad odors. Remember to clean out the filter occasionally with soap and water. Cleaning your appliances routinely can help avoid repairs and can even extend their life expectancy.

6. Baseboards

Baseboards are the perfect settling point for dirt and dust. The space between your walls and floors is an easy trap for buildup, and upon closer inspection, you’ll find some combination of scuffs, dust, food remnants and scratch marks. To thoroughly clean your baseboards, you may need to move your furniture away from the walls but be careful not to scratch the floor or damage the baseboards. Wipe away the dust before cleaning the surface. Use either a mix of soap and water, water and vinegar, or the proper wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. 

For more information on cleaning your home, seasonal maintenance, and more, visit the Living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

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The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room

With thousands of plant species, it can be hard to distinguish which plants are best suited for each room in your home, which greatly depends on sunlight exposure and temperature. A simple rule of thumb is to make higher maintenance plants more accessible to you. Some lower maintenance plants can go weeks without watering and require very low levels of sunlight.

Here’s a quick guide on indoor plants and where to place them in your home based on the level of care and management.

 

The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room

Living room

A monstera, a.k.a. Swiss cheese plant, works well in the living room due to its size and their natural inclination to climb. Providing a monstera with a stake or a trellis will bring about some decorative growth. Another large plant, the fiddle-leaf fig, works well in larger rooms. Fiddle-leaf figs tend to be more top-heavy with their large, floppy leaves. Both of these plants could work well next to a couch or sitting area where there is ample overhead space for the leaves. These large-leaved plants are typically happiest with indirect sunlight. Proper watering can be determined by observing the dryness of the soil. Once the top of the soil is dry to the touch, which is typically once a week for these plants, it’s time to give them a shower. 

 

Bedroom/Office

Spider or jade plants can be great to have on a desk, and also work well to fill up shelving space. Adding a plant to a bookshelf here and there adds texture and brings a sense of wellness to the space, which is especially important when you’re working long hours from home. You could even swap a bookend for a plant to liven things up. Both of these plants are low maintenance and thrive in partial sun or shade. These plants typically require watering every two weeks, but when in doubt, check the soil to see if it’s dry.

 

Bathroom

Plants that require low levels of sunlight and enjoy high humidity—like ferns or bamboo—are great for the bathroom. Place them on your shower shelves or on a countertop to give your bathroom a spa-like feel. Because they can absorb water from the shower steam, they can go up to three weeks without a proper watering. Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, is another great houseplant for the bathroom. They like to grow downward in a draping manner, so you can get creative with a hanging basket display.

 

Kitchen

Two plants that work well in kitchen spaces, such as on windowsills or in corners, are the Snake Plant and Cast-Iron Plant. The snake plant is known for its resiliency, and its thick leaves can handle the occasional splash from the kitchen sink or accidental bump from pots and pans. The Cat-Iron Plant is one of the toughest houseplants you’ll find. Where another plant may wither and die, the Cast-Iron Plant survives. Both are low maintenance plants can last weeks without watering. No green thumb? Fear not. These plants will keep on keepin’ on through harsh conditions or neglect, and their bright green leaves will help give your kitchen a fresh look and feel.

 

As the seasons change, your plant care routine will need to adjust to climate conditions. Some plants are known to go dormant in the darker months and require less amounts of water and sunlight. During springtime, fertilization can be done by adding fertilizer to the top of the soil.

Before you bring a new plant home that could end up in the hands (or paws) of a child or pet, do some research to be sure it’s safe for everyone in your household. Organizations such as the APSCA and the National Poison Center offer online sources to research the plants you plan on bringing home.

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How to Rent Out Your Vacation Home this Summer

A second home can be more than an escape from daily living, it can be a source of income. For those who own a vacation home, summer is full of opportunities to open your doors to renters while still enjoying the benefits of having your own personal getaway. This approach to home ownership can be a balancing act, but with the right preparation and know-how, you can turn your vacation property into an income-producing investment.

 

Renting Out Your Vacation Home in Summer

Splitting the use of your vacation home with renters can oftentimes result in quick turnaround times between visits, so it’s important to avoid falling behind on your task list to keep each transition and visit as smooth as possible. To help with this process, consider hiring professional cleaners to ensure the home is presentable, clean, and fresh for each guest’s stay. Listing your property on short-term rental sites like AirBnB and VRBO help increase your property’s visibility and can be a useful tool for managing the rental process, especially if you’re having a difficult time attracting renters.

If you’ll be staying at your vacation home between renters, be sure to schedule those dates ahead of time so you can block them off from visitors. A mix-up in scheduling only creates added stress and will negatively impact your guests’ experience, and potentially the online reviews.

 

Pricing Your Vacation Rental

Get the best return on your investment by offering a competitive rate, including on popular weekends. It’s common for homeowners to increase prices for popular summer dates like the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. These are the times when people are flocking to vacation getaways and your prices should reflect the increase in demand. Because competition among renters is high during summer, making your home stand out amongst other properties in your area is a worthy investment. Boosting the curb appeal, replacing appliances, upgrading linens, installing high-speed Wi-Fi, and providing a workspace are all ways you can give your vacation home a competitive advantage.

 

Personalize Your Vacation Rental

As a host, it’s a good idea to add personal touches to improve your guests’ experience and make them feel at home. Add décor and treats tailored to your guests’ stay, especially if they’re celebrating a special occasion or life event. Little details like adding a personalized note, flowers, and treats from local hot spots will help make their experience one they won’t soon forget.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Before Renting Out Your Vacation Home

The regulations of the short-term rental market vary by location. Before you rent out your vacation home this summer, understand the rules in your area. For instance, if you belong to a homeowners association, they may have by-laws in place that restrict your ability to rent your property.

Review your homeowners insurance policy to understand whether you are covered while guests are staying in your home. It is likely that you will need to obtain a landlord insurance policy to cover your property while it’s being rented. While some companies offer it as a rider policy that can be added onto your existing homeowners insurance, obtaining a separate policy may be required for adequate coverage. A typical landlord insurance policy will cover property damage, liability, and rental income loss. When shopping around for landlord insurance, find the policy that best fits the needs of your property.

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Tips for Sustainable Horse Property Management

Caring for a horse property is no easy feat. This is especially true when you are committed to having an eco-friendly property as well. Making small changes in daily land management practices can have positive impacts on the environment and your animals. Here are some tips to help make your horse property more environmentally friendly.

Manure Management

The average horse can produce up to 50 pounds of manure in a day. The way the manure is stored, distributed, and treated can have a significant impact on its value. There are a couple of options when it comes to repurposing the manure on your farm:

1. Composting

You can use the manure for composting as well as fertilizer for your pastures and gardens. Composting at the proper temperature can kill fly eggs and larvae, parasites, pathogens, and weed seeds. Using it for your pastures and gardens acts a slow-release fertilizer and is the perfect soil conditioner.

2. Distribution

If composting is simply something you don’t have the time or money for, you can also ship out your horses’ manure. There are many different organizations that will connect you with gardeners who are looking for the excellent fertilizing properties of manure.

Regardless of what you choose, storage is an important factor to consider, as it is vital to safeguard against surface and groundwater contamination. Make sure your manure storage is safely distanced from water sources and ideally covered and contained to prevent pollutants from leaking, bugs, and odor.

 

2. Water Conservation

Horses are notoriously very thirsty animals and acreage properties require a lot of water to upkeep their pastures. There are numerous ways to conserve water on your horse property.

1. Install Rainwater Catchment

You might as well take advantage of the free water mother nature provides on a rainy day. Using a rainwater catchment system can help you catch and store water during rainy periods. Depending on where your barn is located on your property, you may be able to meet all your horse watering and irrigation needs with a large catchment basin.

2. Automatic Waterers

Installing automatic watering systems can help conserve water, as well as keep the water cleaner and fresher for your animals. Some water systems are powered by geothermic heat. Using this technique keeps water cool in the summer months, and above freezing in the winter. And since it is powered by geothermic heat, you aren’t using additional electricity!

3. Reuse Water

Another great way to conserve your water use is to reuse leftover water from other daily tasks. Leftover water from horses’ buckets can be used to water the garden. Also consider using a bucket and sponge for your horses’ baths to prevent any further water waste.

 

3. Preserve Pastures

Pastures are a great source of food for your horses but do require a good amount of work. Luckily, a lot of that work can be done in a way that is environmentally friendly. As discussed above, using the manure from your horses on your pastures work as a great nutrients rich fertilizer. Overgrazing horses can make the land more vulnerable to erosion and lead to less of a filter for runoff. To prevent this, incorporate rotational grazing. Rotational grazing moves horses from one pasture to another allowing for regrowth and optimizing the horses’ foraging diet. This method also allows for plant diversity and improved soil structure.

 

4. Reuse and Recycle

A tried and true method to property sustainability is reusing and recycling. Consider reusing equipment when available or even repurposing old containers and tools for other uses around your property. For example, old water troughs make for efficient gardening containers. If you are looking to make some improvements to structure on your property, consider using recycled or renewable materials whenever possible. Recycled rubber stall mats are an easy way to incorporate recycled materials into your barn.

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