Healthy lawns, healthy homes

A thick, healthy lawn is a lot more than nice-looking green space.  Well-maintained turf contributes to a deeper root structure that helps your lawn withstand the extreme heat and cold of our Canadian climate, cools our atmosphere and reduces erosion.

All living things need food for optimal health, including plants and grass. A healthier lawn will provide benefits for your home, including the trapping of airborne dust and other pollutants for cleaner air. In fact, a 50 by 50 foot lawn produces enough oxygen every day for a family of four.

It’s important to use the right fertilizer for your type of lawn, so always read the bag for information that includes the amount of nutrients, such as the NPK, which stands for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The bag will also tell you how much area it will cover and how to apply it properly.

Newly established lawns require phosphorous for root growth. Older lawns that have had the clippings left on after cutting gain nutrients back as the clippings decompose. Established lawns can usually use a phosphorous-free formula.

Fall is one of the most important times to feed your lawn to provide nutrition that will help see your lawn through the long winter. If you have leftover fertilizer from last season, you can still use it. Break up any clumps before placing it in the spreader, and store any remaining fertilizer in the original package, sealed and in a cool dry place.

Find more information to produce the healthiest lawn online at greenerworld.ca.

4 ways to keep your home fresh as it gets colder

4 ways to keep your home fresh as it gets colderWith the chill in the air, furnaces are on and windows are closed for the next few months. But this can lead to dry, stale air inside the home. Here are some ways you can reduce dry skin and irritated airways without getting fresh air from outside.

Keep fabrics clean. Ensure a clean environment at home, especially in the rooms where you spend the most time. Sheets, blankets, pillows, rugs – all these fabrics are perfect allergen collectors. Wash them regularly and try to avoid down-filled duvets and pillows, especially if you are an allergy sufferer.

Keep pets out of the bedroom. Even though it’s winter and you want to get cozy with your furry friend, pet dander can wreak serious havoc on your body when you’re sleeping. To help with the transition, set up a sleeping area with toys and other items your pet likes, so you can feel confident they’re comfortable without you.

Reduce use of harsh, smelly chemicals. All winter, our houses are closed, which means anything with a harsh chemical smell can’t escape and we’re subjecting our airways to it. Experiment with all-natural cleaning products including white vinegar, lemon and baking soda.

Humidify your air. To keep the air in your house fresh, consider purchasing a humidifier. The Philips Humidifier Series 2000 has evaporative technology that spreads 99 per cent less bacteria compared to leading ultrasonic humidifiers. Plus, the 360° design evenly distributes humidified air throughout the room, making it the perfect solution for dry, stuffy air in your home.

Equip your home and family for safety

Most Canadians are under-protected and unprepared when it comes to fire and carbon monoxide safety, according to a nationwide survey conducted by First Alert. However, Fire Prevention Month in October is a great time to prepare a safety checklist to ensure your home and family are protected from the threats of smoke, fire and CO.

Help protect against the “silent killer.” An odourless and colorless gas, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning and it can only be detected with an alarm. Yet more than a third of Canadian homes do not have a CO alarm. Consider hassle-free protection by installing 10-year sealed battery alarms that eliminate the need for battery replacement. Check all alarms monthly using the “test” button.

Install smoke alarms. Nearly one in five two-storey homes have just one smoke alarm installed. To secure the highest level of protection, install smoke and CO alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For ultimate home safety, select combination models, such as the First Alert 10-year Battery Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm, which features a slim, contemporary design that mounts unobtrusively on a wall or ceiling.

Be prepared to fight small flames. Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family. Place extinguishers in convenient locations on every level of the home, in the kitchen and in the garage.

Practice your emergency escape plan. Research shows that of the 56 per cent of us with an emergency escape plan, only one in five practice it twice a year. Make sure to involve everyone in your household in creating a plan and practice it at least twice every year. As part of this plan, equip second-floor bedrooms with escape ladders and discuss how to use them. Identify two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside. Emphasize that once at the predesignated meeting area, everyone must wait until officials clear your home for safe re-entry.

The secret to organizing your home

For those trading in their outdoor activities for some indoor fun, it’s time to get ready for all the extra time you’ll be spending inside. Here are some key tips to start getting your home organized this fall:  Declutter and repeat. Start by going through drawers, cupboards and closets and arrange items using boxes, baskets, containers and bins. Not only does this create a tidy space, but it makes it easier to find items. Next, either shred old papers that have been piling up or organize them using file folders. A colour-coded filing system works best — think green for your finances, blue for anything house related and orange for personal files. Lastly, hide cords using ties, boxes or hooks to instantly create a clear space.  Use the walls. Think of all the various items that can double as décor and storage that go up on walls in your main living spaces. Purchase a coat rack to ensure coats aren’t tossed over the banister anymore, put up floating shelves to store books and various knick-knacks, and install hanging canvas bins to store toys or scarves and toques. In closets and laundry rooms, add shoe racks and a variety of hooks to hang anything from keys and umbrellas to mops and brooms.  Give your items some second-hand love. This time of year, we’re usually shuffling all things summer into storage. But before you pack up last season, take time to sort through clothes, furniture and décor. Make a keep, donate and recycle pile to maximize storage space and eliminate clutter. But don’t stop there — go through other items that can be recycled, such as used batteries that pile up because you’re not quite sure what to do with them. Used batteries can be recycled to reclaim materials that can be used to make new items like golf clubs and silverware. Call2Recycle has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. Find one nearest to you online at call2recycle.ca.  www.newscanada.comFor those trading in their outdoor activities for some indoor fun, it’s time to get ready for all the extra time you’ll be spending inside. Here are some key tips to start getting your home organized this fall:

Declutter and repeat. Start by going through drawers, cupboards and closets and arrange items using boxes, baskets, containers and bins. Not only does this create a tidy space, but it makes it easier to find items. Next, either shred old papers that have been piling up or organize them using file folders. A colour-coded filing system works best — think green for your finances, blue for anything house related and orange for personal files. Lastly, hide cords using ties, boxes or hooks to instantly create a clear space.

Use the walls. Think of all the various items that can double as décor and storage that go up on walls in your main living spaces. Purchase a coat rack to ensure coats aren’t tossed over the banister anymore, put up floating shelves to store books and various knick-knacks, and install hanging canvas bins to store toys or scarves and toques. In closets and laundry rooms, add shoe racks and a variety of hooks to hang anything from keys and umbrellas to mops and brooms.

Give your items some second-hand love. This time of year, we’re usually shuffling all things summer into storage. But before you pack up last season, take time to sort through clothes, furniture and décor. Make a keep, donate and recycle pile to maximize storage space and eliminate clutter. But don’t stop there — go through other items that can be recycled, such as used batteries that pile up because you’re not quite sure what to do with them. Used batteries can be recycled to reclaim materials that can be used to make new items like golf clubs and silverware. Call2Recycle has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. Find one nearest to you online at call2recycle.ca.

Seasonal maintenance tips in and around your home

Seasonal maintenance tips in and around your homeAlthough some of us may be hanging on to warmer temperatures, it’s inevitable that cooler weather is on its way. With the change in seasons comes a change in home maintenance that’s needed to prepare for the cooler climate. So, get ahead on your chores while the sun is still shining and follow these four simple tips to stay on track.

Clean out your gutter and downspout. Once leaves begin to fall, they will fill your gutter and downspouts blocking water that is draining off your roof. While this step may need to be repeated more than others, cleaning out your gutter regularly until all leaves have fallen will benefit your home long term. If you come across little friends nesting, safely remove them to avoid them calling your attic their new home.

Check your windows and doors. With cool, breezy air upon us, it’s important to check windows, doors and cracks that need to be fixed. Feel around for any drafts that may be coming through and try caulking around these areas to repair any broken seal. Not only will this keep you warm, it will reduce energy use and save money on your heating bill.

Inspect your furnace. Hire a professional to inspect your furnace before the cold weather arrives. Since the heat has been turned off for months, it’s important to complete a general maintenance to ensure your furnace is ready for another winter. Remember to clean out your filters regularly and replace as needed; this will benefit the air quality in your home and keep your furnace running efficiently.

Make the switch to winter tires. It’s important to make the switch from all-seasons to winter tires so that your vehicle is prepared for winter driving conditions. Even before the first snowfall, the drop in temperature requires a different type of tire to grip the road. Winter tires should be replaced every two to three seasons. If you have old tires that are no longer in use, drop off up to four for free at a registered Ontario Tire Stewardship collector. Recycling used tires helps keep the circular economy rolling by turning your old treads into sustainable products manufactured in Ontario.

 

Preparing your home’s exterior for the fall

Spruce up your home’s curb appeal with a fresh coat of paint. Not only does a paint touch-up maximize the first impression, it protects your investment from the elements. Follow these five easy steps to increase durability and create maximum wow factor.

  1. First, make sure to inspect the exterior of your home and identify any problem areas. Look for things like peeling paint, cracked caulking and water damage. Pay particular attention to your roof’s peaks, since sun exposure makes them more susceptible to wear and tear. Correct any issues before painting to avoid a spotty finish.
  2. Make sure to prepare the painting surface(s) to ensure a professional-looking finish. Sand, scrape and pressure-clean the areas you wish to paint to ensure uniformity.
  3. Pick colours that pop. Everyone admires an entrance that draws the eye, and there’s no better way to create big impact with just a little effort than with paint. A bold colour for your front door gives your home personality and creates a lasting impression. For a clean, vibrant look, I’ve picked Para Paints’ Jadestone 116F (pictured).
  4. Ensure that you have the proper tools and products for the job. Get yourself an angular tip brush, paint scraper, rags and a durable, top-quality paint. Be sure to choose a paint that can be applied and cures well in cold weather. A reliable choice is Para Paints’ new ultra-low temp velvet or semi-gloss paints. These products can be applied at 2°C, lengthening the fall painting season. They’re weather resistant, dry quickly and come in a wide range of colours.
  5. Now comes the easy part— the painting. For best results, apply a primer before starting, followed by an even application of paint. You can complete your refresh in one coat without issues, but consider two coats if the old paint is very dry or if the surface is very porous.

After applying the finishing touches, let the paint dry for a day or two and you’ll have a home that’s beautiful, inviting and resilient.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a real estate investor, contractor, author and educator.