Homeowner Information

Fall Yard Care to do Now

Fall is here! The days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler, and the leaves are changing a little every day. And since the Red Sox are done for the season, you have a little more time to keep your yard looking its best year round with some easy fall yard care tips.

Beautify with New Tress, Shrubs, and Annuals

Keep your yard looking beautiful by removing wilted summer annuals and replacing them with cool-weather varieties (make sure to fertilize the soil first). You’ll also want to stop fertilizing perennials. This will allow them to rest during winter and be healthier come spring. 

Planning to add or relocate trees or shrubs? Fall is a great time to do it. Cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall will help to encourage root growth before it gets too cold. Choose native plants for best results. 

Adjust Your Watering

As temperatures dip, plants and grass need less water. Reduce manual watering and make sure to keep an eye on automatic systems, adjusting them as needed.

Fall is also an excellent time to start practicing water conservation techniques. Set up a rain bucket, if you don’t already have one. 

Take Care of Your Lawn

Lawns can take quite a beating in Western Massachusetts in the summer, especially if your community, like mine, had water restriction rules in place. So, managing your lawn is an important part of fall yard care.

As the weather cools, lawn growth will slow. Make sure to continue mowing your lawn (adjust the mower blade as needed) until it becomes dormant. A good rule of thumb is no lower than 2 1/2 inches in the fall and winter months. 

Whether you're planting a new lawn or working on your existing lawn, it’s time to overseed with cool season turf grasses such as bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues, and ryegrasses. Remove thatch from your lawn. This can be done by hand or the easier way of renting an aerator or dethatcher. Doing so will encourage healthy root systems, plus aerating allows water to penetrate deeper, helping to avoid runoff. 

Clean Up Debris

Of course, a big part of fall yard care is cleaning up debris, including dead plants or leaves.

First, there’s no need to remove a few straggling leaves from your lawn. Just mow right over them, and they’ll help to fertilize your lawn.

For yards with more trees, consider starting a compost pile. Compost can be used as mulch, and using it in your yard helps save on your water bills, reduces the need to fertilize (which is better for the environment), and saves you time (no bagging leaves). Simply add your yard waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it out.

 

Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

Home Maintenance - Spring Outdoor Projects

49 Route 8A South, Heath, MA

Spring has finally arrived in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. After the long, cold winter we experienced it is more important than ever to keep up with our Spring home maintenance. I recently fell upon a nice home maintenance checklist I thought I would share with you. The checklist is provided by the National Center for Healthy Housing, and can be downloaded by clicking here.  Nice resource to help remind us of our home maintenance needs.

I would like to suggest the first thing is a complete inspection of the exterior of your home. Make a list of jobs to be completed and projects you may need to hire professionals to complete.

1. Clean gutters and downspouts. You may have cleaned both these items in the Fall, but with our Spring and Summer rain you will want to be sure they remained cleaned out. Also, test your system to be sure that water is being diverted away from the house.

2. Inspect your chimney for any cracks or damage. Staying on top of your aging chimney will insure a long life span.

3. Touch up peeling or damaged paint on the exterior of your home. This is one of those projects, if maintained on a regular basis, will extend the life or your last painting.

4. Wash your windows and inspect them closely as you clean. Look for cracked windows and calking that is beginning to deteriorate. Window maintenance will save you money in heating and cooling cost. This is also the time to put in screens on your windows and doors.

5. Cleaning decks and porches will be easily done before all the summer furniture is brought out. Power wash to remove stains and dirt that may have accumulated over the winter. This is a great opportunity to inspect the condition of your deck or porch for future maintenance needs.

6. Remove lint from the dryer exhaust with a long, flexible brush. This is a job that needs to be done a few times a year to insure safety. Creating a good system will make this project easy to stay on top of.

7. Service your lawn mower, trimmers and edgers - to insure you are ready for their heavy use over the summer months.

8. Rake the yard; remove branches and debris that may have accumulated over the winter months. Your lawn will love you for the special attention that helps aerate the ground and removes the dead material from last year. Be sure the yard slopes away from the house to help water drain away from the foundation. You may also notice your lawn needs special attention like fertilizer or other nutrients, our local farm supply stores and home supply stores carry all types of lawn care products to help you have a lush, green lawn.

9. Driveway and walkways need close inspection for good upkeep. Seal your driveway to insure it remains in good condition. Examine your walkways closely for cracks or unstable parts that would be easily tripped over.

10. Before you finish up your Spring home maintenance, finalize that list of bigger projects that may need to be accomplished this year. a. Did your roof show any signs of damaged shingles and possible leaks. b. Scan where your electrical line runs to your house to be sure the lines are free from tree limbs. c. If you home has a septic system, Spring-Summer-Fall is the best time to have it pumped.

Last but not least! It is time to bring out the summer furniture and air conditioner. This is when I get really excited because I can now start thinking about the flower pots and gardening. Home maintenance takes a little of your time each season but the reward is overwhelming. Enjoy your Spring!

Kidde recalling some smoke, CO detectors

smoke-detectorLocal Boston station announced today a large recall on Home Smoke/CO detectors by Kidde.  Affected units may not reset after a power outage, leaving your home and family vulnerable. Click the link below to read the complete article

Kidde recalling some smoke, CO detectors | Money - WCVB Home.

Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTORS keep up to date with the local and state regulations regarding Smoke & CO Detectors.  For more information read our blog post on "What You Need to Know".  Helpful post on purchasing the right system for you and your home.

 

What You Need to Know: Asbestos

If you live in or are buying an older home you may be concerned about asbestos. Asbestos was banned in 1978 because of the health risks associated with it.

Asbestos fibers are dangerous when inhaled.  The microscopic fibers can become lodged in the respiratory system and lead to asbestosis or scarring of the respiratory tissues.

Asbestos was commonly used as a binder and fire retardant in many building products. It can typically be found in acoustical ceiling tiles; thermal insulation of boilers and pipes; steel fireproofing, cement asbestos siding and roofing; tile and sheet floor coverings.

Inspectors are most concerned with what is known as friable asbestos (easily crumbled or pulverized to powder) and often recommend it be removed. It should always be removed and disposed of by a qualified contractor. Contact the Environmental Protection Agency for an updated list of qualified testing and or mitigation contractors.

 

 

 

The Silent Killer - Winter Storm Warning!

They say it's a silent killer. Odorless, colorless, toxic fumes with symptoms similar to those of having the flu. It can kill you and your loved ones without you even knowing its there. Are you safeguarding your home against this deadly threat?

Step one is knowing where the threat comes from. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states carbon monoxide can come from "unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke." (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html)

With winter upon us, and the possibility of power outages during large winter storms a reality, many homes have generators to help in these situations. But improper installation can cause carbon monoxide levels to rise, putting your family at risk. Ensure that generators are installed outside, away from your home, to ensure fumes aren't entering your home. Never install generators in your home, including your garage or basement.

The Mass. state website has a great information pamphlet that may be downloaded explaining Carbon Monoxide and how winter can be the worst.  Click here for the Phamplet.

Another winter threat is fireplaces, wood or gas, and wood stoves. As you are snuggling up during a long winter night, you need to ensure that ventilation is sufficient. It's always best to have a trained professional inspect and clean your fireplaces and wood stoves on a yearly basis.

So what else can you do? Buying a carbon monoxide detector is a cheap and easy way to ensure you are safe. For as little as $20, you can purchase detectors that will alert you if carbon monoxide levels get too high. And if they do, you can quickly evacuate the house and call the fire department for inspection of your home. Most states now require that when you sell your home, these detectors are already installed, just like fire and smoke alarms have been required for years.

So be safe this winter season and take precautions as needed. It really could save your life!