Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Top Ten Tips to Prepare Your Garden for the Upcoming Spring Season


Spring is right around the corner, and there is no better time than now to get your garden ready for the spring season. The following ten tips will have your garden ready in no time.

1. Pull Weeds - Right now the ground is soft and any weeds emerging are young and tender. There are many weeds that sprout during the cool weather. By removing them now, you can prevent their roots from establishing. Furthermore, pulling weeds now will prevent them from seeding and spreading in your garden. For best results, use a trowel and loosen the dirt around the weeds to ensure you get all of the roots.

2. Prune Your Flowering Shrubs - The end of the winter season is the perfect time to prune shrubs that flower in the summer and fall. Examples of summer flowering shrubs include hydrangeas, rose of Sharon, crepe myrtle, butterfly bushes, azaleas, St. Johnsworth, vitex and summer blooming spirea. All of these examples bloom using the current season's wood, so you do not need to worry about cutting off any flower buds that were formed at the end of last seas. Hold off on pruning spring blooming shrubs including lilac, forsythia, rhododendron and azaleas until after they have bloomed this spring.

3. Fertilize Your Garden - Once the soil thaws, it is time to apply a granular fertilizer around your perennials, trees and shrubs. For best results, have your soil tested and use a fertilizer that is specially designed for your plantings and nutrient needs. One great fertilizer that can help improve your soils nutrient load is GreenView All Purpose Plant Food according to Outdoor ArtPros. This fertilizer uses organic and natural nutrients to maximize the blooming and growth potential of your plants. In addition to perennials and shrubs, GreenView is great for bulbs, roses and annuals. It can be used in containers as well as in the ground. 

4. Look for Damage - Inspect your shrubs and trees for any signs of damage that may have occurred during the fall and winter. Prune any broken or damaged branches. Finally, if your evergreens experienced any tip dieback, snip the dead areas off to help keep your evergreens looking beautiful.

5. Rake Your Garden - Trim and rake any perennial leaves that have died back during the winter. Many gardeners do not remove foliage that was damaged or killed by frost in the fall. Clearing this away will help improve this year's new foliage growth. When raking your garden, look for any perennials that have worked their way out of the ground. If any roots are exposed, tamp them back down and water thoroughly. Top off the mulch around your plants to get your garden ready for spring.

6. Divide Your Perennials - The best time to divide perennials is right before new growth appears. Dig up any perennials that have outgrown their areas and divide them. Once they are divided, replant them immediately and water thoroughly to help them establish. If you have any excess perennials, either give them away or add them to the compost pile. Early season perennials should not be divided in the spring. For these, it is best to wait until after they have bloomed to divide them. Most gardeners find that spring blooming perennials are best divided in the early fall.

7. Rake Leaves - During the fall and winter, leaves blow under trees, perennials and shrubs. Many times, these leaves can be left alone; however, if they are matted, they should be removed to help sunlight reach the tender shoots that will be emerging in your garden. If you have any bare spots in your lawn, patch them using one of GreenView Grass Seed mixtures.

8. Remove Winter Protection - Once the threat of frost has passed, it is time to remove any protective winter materials that you have placed around your plants. Additionally, if your trees have been in the ground longer than a year, you can remove any staking around your trees.

9. Prevent Spring and Summer Problems - GreenView's Crabgrass Control Plus Lawn Food along with a granular weed preventer like Preen Garden Weed Preventer helps to keep your lawn and garden beds looking beautiful. GreenView's Crabgrass Control Plus should be applied when any dandelions in your lawn are blooming. Preen Garden Weed Preventer should be applied when forsythia bushes are blooming. GreenView also offers a Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed and Feed with Crabgrass Preventer. This formula kills weeds, fertilizes your lawn and prevents new weeds in one easy to use application.

10. Edge Beds - The end of the winter is the perfect time to edge your garden. Edging your beds neatens the landscape and creates a lip to help keep your mulch in place throughout the growing season.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Reducing Your Energy Consumption In Winter



Tips for cutting back on energy consumption next winter:

1) Use radiators properly.
If your home is equipped with radiators, make sure you're getting the most out of them. Studies have shown that in nearly half (42 percent) of all radiator-equipped homes, radiators end up blocked by furniture, which reduces their effectiveness. Clear a path to your radiators when the weather turns cold. 

2) Heating your home in short, a sharp burst is more energy efficient than maintaining low heating throughout the day.

Common sense seems to suggest that the most efficient way to heat your home is to pick a tolerably cool temperature and lock your thermostat in at that point all day. The truth of the matter is that you'll end up spending more money on heating if you maintain any constant temperature above the outside temp. It's better to turn your heating on full-bore, but only when you really need it.

3) Don't treat radiators as clothes-dryers.
Another important tip for radiator-equipped homes: Don't try and turn these important heat sources to other uses besides warming your living space. If you turn your radiator as a makeshift replacement for your dryer, you'll end up drawing more heat out of the system and overtaxing your boiler. The net result is higher energy costs. 

4) Keep your freezer and fridge fully stocked.
Keeping plenty of food on hand isn't just a good way to prepare for bad weather. It also saves you energy because your appliances won't have to do as much work. It's easier to keep foods cold than to chill a bunch of empty air.

5) Pull all your thermostat settings down by a degree or two.
Adjusting to a thermostat setting that's just a tiny bit lower than normal can end up saving you plenty on your energy bills this winter. Take your thermostat down by one or two degrees. The difference is essentially unnoticeable inside your house, but you'll see the savings when your bills arrive. 

6) Look into cavity wall insulation.
Cavity wall insulation does an amazing job of keeping your home warmer in winter. On average, homes which installed it experienced a 15 percent reduction in heating costs. In many areas, you may be able to get partial or complete government subsidies to pay for insulation upgrades. 

7) Use more efficient light bulbs.
It can be a hassle to change over every bulb in your house, but you'll see a difference in power costs if you switch to the most efficient options (e.g. LED bulbs). A full changeover to the most efficient bulbs on the market today can make a small but measurable difference in your annual energy costs.

8) Take shorter showers.
Cutting down your average shower time by one minute can lower multiple utility bills. Besides reducing water consumption, you'll be using less power to heat the water ahead of time. Double savings! 

9) Unplug unused appliances completely
Appliances that are on "standby" mode end up consuming a shocking amount of power. Portable device chargers are even consuming electricity when they don't have a device plugged in. Get in the habit of not just turning things off but also unplugging them when you're not using them. It'll save energy and lower your bills. 

10) Don't boil more water than you have to.
Winter is the perfect time for piping-hot beverages like tea and cocoa. If you start the preparation process by filling your kettle up to the brim for every cup, though, you're wasting energy reheating unused water over and over again. Get into the habit of measuring your water-boiling needs by the drink you're making instead of topping up the kettle.

11) Find and eliminate unwanted drafts. 
Draft reduction is another area where the average home is shockingly unprotected. Research shows that nearly half (46 percent) of homes have no draft-exclusion measures in place whatsoever.

Check all of your windows and doors to make sure you're not bleeding expensive heated air out through undetected cracks. Sealing up drafts can drop your heating bills significantly.
If you wish to save more than SimplySwitch's energy comparison can be a great place to start.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tips to Cut Teen Insurance Costs



It is a well known fact that teen drivers or drivers aged between 16 and 19 years are more likely to be involved in car accidents that all other age groups of drivers. Furthermore, the CDC highlights that teens are the most expensive age group of drivers to insure and this is mainly due to their impetuous nature and inexperience in driving.

Forbes recently noted including a 16 year old female driver in your family insurance policy leads to a 67% increase in your total bill. On the other hand, including a 16 year old male driver in your policy leads to a 92% increase in your bill. However, before you rush to make any decisions about whether or not your teenage kids should get driver's licenses, it may be worthwhile to find out some few tips on how you can save money on teen car insurance.

1. Get Your Teen To Do A Driver's Ed Course

Depending on your location, your home state may demand that anyone below the age of 18 do an Ed Course in order to get a license. However, if this is not a mandatory requirement in your state, it is still important to get your teen to take a driving safety course as most insurance companies offer discounts for all drivers who have done this course.

2. Get Your Teen To Do Their Homework

So, there is an relationship between your kid's grades and how much you pay for their car insurance. Insurance providers view kids who get good grades in school as less likely to be reckless behind the wheel. This correlation means that kids who have a good GPA (3.0 and above) are qualified for something called a 'good student discount' that significantly reduces your insurance bill.

3. Talking of Family Policies...

It is important that you add your teenage son or daughter to your current or existing car insurance policy. The cost of getting an individual policy for him or her is most likely to be outrages when compared to adding them to your existing auto insurance policy. On top of this, the fact that you are adding another vehicle to your existing policy means you can qualify for additional discounts that may contribute to an overall affordable insurance bill.

4. Select A Higher Deductible For Your Policy

This can prove to be beneficial for anyone who is looking to lower their monthly auto insurance payments but it can also prove to be handy for you if you are adding a teenage driver to your policy. You should make sure that you can afford the deductible amount you select in case the worst happens and you need to claim your policy.  Hopefully, things never get to that point!

5. Choose The Right Car For Your Teen

First and foremost, it is not advisable that you get your teen a sports car as it is definitely more expensive to insure. With that in mind, if you are looking for a car for your teen who has just got their driver's license, it is better to opt for a modest car that will not raise any red flags when it comes to insuring it. On top of this, you should also ensure that your teen's car of choice includes all the relevant safety features such as air bags and ABS that help to lower the cost of insurance further down.

6. Shop Around For The Cheapest Insurance Rates Possible

At the end of the day, your teen will have to pay more for their insurance than you the adult. However, this does not mean that all insurance providers will charge you the same rate. It is always important to shop around and get different quotes from different companies instead of settling on one policy that may be extremely expensive. You can also renewfor cheap car insurance by doing this.

Furthermore, you should also ensure your own insurance bill is low so that your combined bill is more affordable. In certain states, your credit rating may influence your auto insurance policy so it does not hurt to build and maintain a good credit score. You can monitor your credit score every 3 months on credit.com.

All in all, there is nothing better that will help you save on teen insurance than teaching them the importance of safe and sober driving. It does not matter if you get a really good deal from an insurance provider on your teen insurance policy, the cost of the policy can easily blow up if the kid decides to be reckless behind the wheel. Be firm when teaching them how to drive safe and also drive safe yourself. If you want your kid to drive safe, you must start by setting a good example.
 

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