The summer sun is high in the sky. As the temperatures soar, Mother Nature decides to hold back on rain. Your grass, garden, and trees are beginning to suffer. Below are a few tips for keeping your green space green throughout the summer.
Did you know that unmulched soil can lose up to twice as much water as mulched soil, due to evaporation? Three to four inches of mulch around your plants will not only reduce soil temperature and keep moisture in the soil, but it will help to smother those pesky weeds that want to steal any available water. As a bonus, organic mulch will break down in the soil building up its organic content and preventing compaction. That gives your soil a better chance to soak up water for your plants use. When mulching around trees, pull the mulch back a bit around the trunk to allow air to reach it.
It is best to water in the morning when the humidity is high and the temperature is cooler. Less water is lost to evaporation this way, and it prepares your plants and lawn to face the hottest part of the day without wilting. In the heat of the day, water evaporates faster causing you to use more water to get the job done. Also, water droplets on the plants work like a magnifying glass for the sun and could cause “sunburn” on the leaves. Watering too late in the day doesn’t give the plants time to dry properly and could promote fungus growth. Since shade is so important in keeping down the temperature of your lawn, don’t forget to water your trees. To help the water reach deeply to the roots, drill holes 24 to 30 inches deep around the base of the tree and fill them with compost. Water your lawn and trees slowly to help the soil absorb the water. This will also help to prevent water loss through transpiration which is a way that grass and plants “sweat” through their leaves. Finally, be mindful to deal with pests that will sap your precious plants and lawn of their strength.
Plants use about one inch of water from the soil per week of the growing season. Use a rain gauge to estimate your watering and listen to the weather forecast to decide when to water. A soaker hose will help allow the water to soak in slowly without runoff. Allowing your lawn to grow taller will help retain moisture by preventing water loss through transpiration. Consider directing the downspouts from your gutters to flow toward your trees or shrubs. Or even better, collect rainwater that flows from your roof into a barrel to use on a not so rainy day.
Keeping these tips in mind will help your plants, lawn, and trees stay a healthy green all summer.
Grilling corn on the cob is a great treat at summer barbeques but might take up too much time and precious grill space, especially if you are hosting a large crowd. Here’s an easy way to deliver a tasty side dish of corn that your guests will surely appreciate.
1 pound of bacon
1 bell pepper chopped
1 onion chopped
2 16 ounce bags of frozen corn
½ cup sugar optional
In a deep skillet fry the bacon. Remove from skillet, crumble it and set aside. Save some of the bacon grease, and add the pepper and onion to the skillet. Cook until soft and then add the corn. If you prefer to sweeten the pot, add some sugar to the corn along with a little salt and pepper to season it. If you like things hot, use a little cayenne pepper. When the corn is thoroughly heated through, return the crumbled bacon to the skillet, stir and serve.
Hurricane season can last almost a half year (typically June – November), and with hurricane season quickly approaching, you don’t want to be caught off guard. If you live in a coastal area, now is a good time to review your emergency plan and prepare your home and family in case disaster strikes. Review these tips and hints to help you prepare:
- Create an Emergency Supply Kit – Create your own emergency supply kit. Consider storing these items in a waterproof container: First aid kit, flashlights, blankets, clothing, shoes, water, non-perishable food, radio, prescriptions, toiletries, insect repellant, extra keys, important documents like insurance policies, emergency phone numbers and some cash. Include a phone charger that plugs into the car’s power system for at least one of your cell phones. If you have children, include toys to keep them occupied and of course bring the usual diaper bag contents for infants. Don’t forget leashes and carriers for the pets.
- Prepare you Auto – Keep your car maintained and the tank full of gas. Know ahead of time the safest route to an emergency shelter and keep in mind alternate routes in case yours becomes blocked.
- Safety – Safety features in your house should include smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Consider learning first aid, including CPR. Know when and how to turn off your utilities. Review with your children how to call 911 and other emergency numbers.
- Have a Plan – Everyone may not be at home when the storm hits, so designate a meeting place and review it with all family members. Also, designate a friend or relative that lives away from the storm’s path, as an emergency contact. Write down all contact information for each family member to carry with them. Practice your plan so that everyone can remain calm and competent when the storm actually hits.
- Keep Informed – Register for emergency alerts for your cell phone, tablet or computer. Bad weather can take out phone lines and cell towers so be sure to keep a battery powered radio tuned to the appropriate channel/station. Know the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning. A watch means a hurricane could happen, while a warning means that it will happen. This is when all of your preparation and practice will go into effect.
With these helpful tips and a little planning your and your family will be better prepared should a hurricane make land fall in your area.
Perfect for large or growing families, this Southern style, two-story house plan delivers plenty of style and comfortable living. Two covered, full-length porches (one on top of the other) give this home striking curb appeal reminiscent of the plantation homes of yesteryear. Sturdy columns and an upper level porch railing add touches of characteristic elegance that cannot be matched. Upon entering, the foyer greets guests and directs traffic to the generously-sized family room just right for conversation and activities with the kids. At the back of the home, the island kitchen and breakfast nook join forces making it easy to serve snacks and quick meals on the go. Additionally, this arrangement is convenient for supervising the kids as they work on homework assignments while dinner is prepared. Don’t miss the walk-in pantry, snack bar and butler’s pantry. For special occasions and holiday meals, the formal dining room is sure to accommodate a crowd. On pleasant days, you’ll enjoy spending time in the backyard or on the patio. A half bath, storage closets and the 3-car, side-entry garage complete the left side of the home. There is plenty of room for everyone upstairs where three bedrooms deliver comfort and rest at the end of the day. Your master bedroom is outfitted with a large walk-in closet and deluxe bath. It also enjoys double door access to the deck. Pay attention to the pocket door connecting your master bedroom to the peaceful study. This space works well as a home office and is conveniently located for those who like to pay bills online or read quietly before bed. Bedrooms 2 and 3 share a compartmented bath, and each enjoys its own private vanity and dressing area. The bonus room reveals a wet bar and makes a nice TV room for the kids. Notice the thoughtful positioning of the laundry room saving steps on wash day. A turned staircase leads to the third level where Bedroom 4 delights in privacy. Outfitted with its own bath and a walk-in closet, this space is perfect for your teenager or it could be reserved for guests. If you’re looking for comfortable family living that’s brimming with charm and comfort, this Southern home plan can’t be missed!
If you’d like to learn more about this featured house plan, click here to view floor plans and additional details.
Though Colonial styling originated in Europe in the 1600s, it sprang to life in the 1700s when colonists began settling the land that is now America’s Eastern Seaboard. Colonial houses started as two-story homes with one room on each floor. Today’s designs are far from the originals, but they still showcase some features that were prevalent when colonists first settled the New World. Today’s Colonial home plans are known for the following:
- Distinct rectangular or square shape
- Typically designed at two-story homes
- Featured a strong use of symmetry
- Front door is centrally located and flanked with windows on either side
- Doors are accented with flattened columns on each side
- Stairway is located directly behind the entry/front door
- Incorporate heavy wooded or wood-paneled doors
- Offer a pair of chimneys (one on either side/end of the home) or one chimney on one end of the home
- A hallway/foyer bisects each floor into left and right sides
- Pitched roofs have a minimal overhang
- Exterior is finished with clapboard siding (or siding that looks like clapboard)
- Dormer windows are sometimes included in the second floor
- Some or all rooms showcase hardwood floors
- Exterior decoration is kept to a minimum