DIY Natural Pesticide Sprays

Natural pesticides are safer for people, their homes, gardens, animals and the environment. Nowadays homeowners are more conscious about the chemicals they use in and around the home, including pesticides. Here are some helpful natural pesticide recipes you can share with your clients to help them keep their yards pest and chemical-free.

Thyme-Oil-Natural_DIY_Yard_Spray.pngWhen using natural DIY pesticdes, spray in the early morning or late evening to avoid burning plants. Also remember to keep pets away during application since certain ingredients such as essential oils and cayenne pepper can be harmful if ingested. Always use sparingly and only on infected areas. And if it recently rained or will rain soon, wait until the ground is dry before spraying to avoid runoff waste and dilution.

Ready to get started?

Four DIY Ideas For a Chemical-Free Yard

  1. Neem Oil
    The oil from the extremely bitter neem plant is a powerful, all-natural pesticide.

DIY neem oil spray:  Combine ½ an ounce of organic neem oil, ½ a teaspoon of mild organic liquid soap and 2 quarts of warm water. Stir slowly, pour in spray bottle and use immediately.

  1. Diatomaceous Earth    
    An all-natural powder solution for insects of all kinds including fleas.

An all-natural powder solution for insects of all kinds including fleas. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants and around the perimeter of the house. It can be used inside as well. Look for the food-grade version so it is safer to use around pets.

  1. Himalayan Salt Spray 
    Effective for treating plants infested with spider mites. Spray where needed.

DIY salt spray: Combine 2 tablespoons with 1 gallon of warm water. Spray on infected plants.

  1. Citrus Oil + Cayenne Pepper   
    Works well on ants. Spray populated areas accordingly.

DYI spray: Combine 10 drops of citrus oil for every teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 cup of warm water. Shake well and spray areas populated by ants.

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Grow Your Own Food & Property Value

Turn your backyard into the farm of your dreams with raised garden beds!

Raised garden beds are the hottest trend in horticulture right now. Also called “garden boxes,” these gardens are great for growing small rows of vegetables and flowers right in one’s backyard. Because they are customizable depending on gardening desires, they can be made to suit any size of land. And best of all, since they are not permanent, when the home is sold, if the new owners don’t want to keep the garden bed up, they are easy to remove.

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Raised beds have numerous benefits for homeowners such as:

They reduce pathway weeds.

They prevent soil compaction.

They provide good drainage.

The sides of the beds keep soil from being eroded or washed away.

They offer ease of accessibility to reach each plant.

They are aesthetically pleasing.

How to Enhance Your Backyard with a Raised Garden Bed

It’s relatively easy to build your own garden bed and can even be completed in one weekend, especially when using a kit from a home improvement store.

Materials such as corrugated metal and cinder blocks have been used, but wood is the most highly recommended. Cedar wood is the top choice because it is naturally rot-resistant. You can expect a well-constructed cedar bed to last roughly 10 years.
The height of your bed can be up to 36 inches with the most common height being 11 inches (the height of two stacked boards). Keep in mind that the higher you build, the more soil you will need and the more weight will bow your sides. For this reason, cross supports are recommended for beds taller than 18 inches and/or longer than 6 feet.

4-foot-wide bed is the most common because it’s easy to reach the center of the bed from either side. By keeping the width narrow, you avoid having to step on the bed and compress the soil. The bed can be any length, with cross supports at every four to six feet along the length of the bed to prevent bowing.

Soil depth should be considered for the roots of the vegetables you are planting. Depending on the soil conditions in your yard, you may want to build the sides of your bed higher for crops that need more root space.

Tips for a Thriving Garden

Build your beds to lay facing south on the horizontal.
Turn your ground before building on it.

Clear any roots.
Lay hardware cloth if you have burrowing pests.
Spread soil evenly.

Mulched pathways between beds should be wide enough for a wheelbarrow.

Well-built and maintained garden beds are aesthetically pleasing and can even attract potential buyers. Whether in full flourish or between seasons, cleanly tilled and maintained garden beds are attractive all year long.

Tips for Apartment Dwellers – You Can Have a Garden Too!

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Raised garden planters bring the garden to your balcony or porch.

Garden boxes come in various sizes, types and styles. Unlike garden beds, planters have slatted bottoms and are generally smaller in size.

They are especially useful for flowers, herbs and vine vegetables.

Bringing The Indoors To The Outdoors

Longer days and warmer weather make May the perfect time to celebrate National Barbecue Month.

As the weather warms up, so does the housing market, and real estate agents might find their buyers spending just as much time evaluating the outside of the house as they do the inside. They might also be working with sellers who want to make some improvements to the home that will deliver the most return.

The National Gardening Association reported that homeowners in the United States spent close to $40 billion last year on all garden and outdoor-related services and products. And, according to real estate experts, these were wise expenses. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in landscaping projects, homeowners can see up to a $2 return on investment.

Fifty-one percent of buyers surveyed by Realtor.com earlier this year said that outdoor living space was the most attractive quality of a home – even more so than open floor plans and curb appeal. To that end, more than half of homeowners surveyed told Houzz.com they would be improving their home’s outdoor footprint this summer. What are they going to improve? A whopping 98 percent want to add or upgrade patios, terraces and decks.

Outdoor areas add living space without having to include walls and a roof.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, 95 percent of people want a complete outdoor living space with an outdoor kitchen and outdoor living area.

The most popular features wanted in outdoor living spaces are:

 

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Grills & cooktops

Fire pits

Outdoor fireplaces

Seating areas

Lighting

 

Outdoor Living Area Tips to Share with Your Clients

The key elements to improving an outdoor living space and adding to your home’s value are:

  1. Build an outdoor area. Patios and decks are very desirable for homeowners; however, they come with a hefty price tag. You can affordably improve your outdoor footprint with a stone or cement patio.
  2. Purchase Outdoor Furniture. Bring your “indoor” comforts outside. Advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many sizes and styles that you can decorate much the same way that you would any room inside.
  3. Splurge on a Good Grill. Depending on your preference, gas or charcoal, grills are the “hottest” commodity in your outdoor space. A built-in cooktop is a popular feature and makes outdoor entertaining fun.
  4. Include a Fire Element. Whether you decide on a built-in stone hearth fireplace, a firepit or a chiminea, a fire element adds ambience and warmth to an outdoor space that can be used year-round.

 

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  1. Consider Entertainment. Be it an elaborate outdoor entertainment system, a wireless player or a portable stereo, music adds atmosphere and entertainment to the area.
  2. Grow Your Food. A garden is a great addition to your outdoor area. Vegetables, fruits and herbs are not only an added visual attraction, they are economical and handy.
  3. Lay Ground Cover and Stonework. Lawn maintenance is a major consumption of time. It can be reduced by adding stonework and ground covering to areas around your outdoor living space. Additionally, stone makes for safer grilling areas, fewer bugs and easy cleanup.

When Renovations and Major Improvements Are Out of the Budget HiRes.jpg

When making permanent additions and renovations to the backyard are not options, homeowners can still spruce things up and make their backyard an enjoyable part of their home by following these simple steps:

Step 1 – Clean. Clear away debris, toss out dead plants and plant flowers or herbs in unused pots.

Step 2 – Refresh. Outdoor furniture grows old and tired from sitting outside. A fresh coat of paint and new cushions add an instant facelift. The same applies for wood decks. If you have a deck, a strip and stain will make it look as good as new.

Step 3 – Enhance. Solar lighting can used be in lieu of expensive electrical lighting.

Expanding the indoor living space to the outdoor living space not only adds value to a home, but also enjoyment.

 

Growing Value – Tips For Curb Appeal

Spring rains have saturated most of the U.S. this April and now is the time for homeowners to get outside and enhance their lawn, flowers and gardens, especially if planning to sell a home this summer.

Landscaping curb appeal is a known added value for home sellers, serving as a first impression of a home. Agents and buyers agree that a lush lawn and tidy landscape add to a home’s value and reflects positively on the overall care and condition of the property.

The four most common areas of landscaping that have the biggest impact on buyers are:

Lawn and landscaping 

Outdoor lighting

Fencing

                                     Front entrance including the driveway and walkway

Home owners don’t have to take on a massive landscape transformation to benefit from a curb appeal spruce up. To instantly add curb appeal without making a large investment, homeowners should:

  1. Keep a trim and healthy lawn with weekly mowing and line trimming. Clean up outdoor light fixtures from dust, cobwebs and dirt.
  2. Add solar lights along walkways and in flowerbeds to add nighttime appeal and effect. If the home has a wood fence, paint the ‘showing’ side and repair loose boards, holes and worn areas.
  3. Weed and clean the driveway area and walkway.
  4. The front entry is a home’s welcome sign. A freshly painted front door, a potted plant, a rocking chair and a welcome mat go a long way to a great looking entry.

LAWN CARE

Know your lawns
Before throwing down any seed or sod, homeowners should know what lawns do best in their location. Grass types are classified as “Warm Season” grass or “Cool Season” grass. This is determined by the grasses’ active growth period. For example, areas in the middle of the country are known as the transition zone. Mixtures of cool- and warm-season grasses are often necessary there, but cool-season varieties are the most successful.
Test your soil
Existing soil needs to have the proper pH value and nutrients to support a healthy lawn. Soil can be tested at any time. However, if you test in the fall or early spring, you have time to make adjustments before you start planting and tending to your lawn.
Fertilize
Different types of grass require different fertilizers. As previously mentioned, know what type of grass your have in your yard and fertilize appropriately and at the right time. If you have pets or children, be sure to purchase a fertilizer that is safe for them.

Mowing a Lawn 101

Stick to the 1/3 rule try not to remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade length in a mowing.

Mow when the grass is dry. This is when grass blades are upright, and less clumping.

Mow in the morning or night. Mowing in the heat of the day stresses the grass.

Aim mower clippings (unless you bag them) towards the area you have already cut.

Leave clippings (unless you bag them, or their clumped) as it returns nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn.

If you bag your clippings, consider composting them.

Pruning
Prune away winter damage once plants have lost their leaves. Cut limbs back to live wood.

Mulching
If you’re mulching a large area, use a cheaper hardwood mulch for the ‘filler’ then top-dress it with your mulch of choice. You can also top-dress old mulch by just adding a 1-inch layer on top.  It’ll look brand new, and you’re not paying for something you don’t see.

Planting Annuals
Annuals are plants that live for only one season. Late spring is the best time to plant annuals such as Petunias, marigolds, salvia, and impatiens. Make sure roots are not too matted so they can expand into the soil.
Gardens
Flower gardens make a yard look beautiful and welcoming. Vegetable gardens give the added bonus of providing fresh vegetables to eat.

One of the best gardening tools is a monthly landscaping calendar. To download one for your area, visit The National Gardening Association’s website. Plug in your zip code and you get a specific plan for your area.

Plants, flowers and shrubbery are great ways to add allure and definition to a home’s landscape. Flowering plants are a wonderful addition, but homeowners should consider the appeal when the plants are not in season and flowering.

Planted herbs are easy to plant and maintain. They also do great in pots for entryways and backyard patios.

By investing a little time and money into the yard this spring, homeowners can increase their home’s valuable first impression and “wow” factor.