Thursday, 31 October 2013

Here come the Holidays

As fall marches on are you starting to make Christmas plans?  Where will the family be gathering this year? Will you be entertaining? Does this scare you a little?

The Home Depot's current commercial has got me thinking with their play on words to call this season 'The Fallidays'. It really is true that in preparing your home for the winter Holiday season, fall is the time to start! If you are planning a full scale renovation or just a couple minor fixes, chances are you will want it all finished and buttoned up before winter entertaining.

Kitchens and bathrooms are common projects to take on in this season. Depending on the magnitude of the project you may be considering, renovating these spaces may take weeks to complete.  With this being said these areas for renovation are a great idea for 2 reasons.  First, kitchens and bathrooms are a good return on investment when it comes to increasing the value of your home as these are the 2 areas that sell houses.  Second, when it comes to entertaining the kitchen tends to be the place where people always congregate during get-togethers.  Take a look next time you have a party or attend one and you'll see what we mean.  And an updated bathroom always wows.

Whichever "sprucing up" you decide on there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind before you start... 

Timeline - as it is nearing the holidays you will want to make sure that you get a commitment from your contractor on finish date.  Give yourself some leeway for any surprises that might arise.

Budget - as with any renovation, unless you've just won the lottery, keep your eye on the dollars.  It's easy to get carried away upgrading this for that and then the next thing you know everyone is getting popcorn for Christmas (not that there is anything wrong with popcorn).

Vision - what do you want the finished product to look like?  Not just the area that you are currently working on, but more importantly how does it tie into the rest of your home?  If you want your new kitchen to have an ultra modern look and feel are you planning on renoing the rest of your house to this same style at some time?

A little planning and fore thought will have your home ready to entertain or allow you to just kick back and relax for the holidays ;)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

It's fall... and that means yard cleanup

It's hard to say goodbye to summer, especially in Calgary where we get such a short amount of it, but there is no denying that fall is upon us.  Now is a good time to do a bit of work around the yard to put it to bed cozy for the winter.

It's a great time to fertilize your lawn with a winterizing fertilizer with a moderate level of nitrogen and high in potassium (the last of the 3 numbers).  The grass should be left a little longer for the winter, think of it as the warm blanket for the roots below, and raise the mower blades to about 7-9 cm.  Rake up fallen leaves or mulch with a mulching mower and leave them in place.  If there is a large layer of thatch, it may be a good idea to aerate or dethatch the lawn.  It's also a great time to put down some grass seed.  Even if it doesn't sprout before the snow flies, it will be laying in wait for springtime!

Now is also the time to plant bulbs such as crocuses, tulips, and daffodils.  Plant them with the tip pointing up in well drained soil.  Generally they should be positioned 3 times deeper than their height.  Note that squirrels may be prone to digging up and eating freshly planted bulbs and deer are fond of them in the spring; since both these critters are common to the Calgary area, you may want to do some additional critter-proofing.

To deter critters from using your materials as their winter nests, wait until the ground is frozen to cover tender perennials with mulch or compost.  Cut out blackened stems and foliage as it dies from overnight frost.  Also remove any diseased foliage as this will weaken the entire plant, and trash it, do not compost!  Attractive seed pods can be left for winter interest as well as to attract birds.

Early fall is a good time to plant new trees, but once the ground freezes it can be hard to deliver the amount of water a new tree needs.  It may also be getting hard to find strong trees from the nursery as they try to clear their stock in the later part of the summer and early fall.  Try to avoid pruning trees in the fall unless absolutely necessary as cuts seem slower to heal and it is such a prevalent time for mildew and fungi.