Quantcast

When you're selling your home, landscaping is key. After all, well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%. But excellent landscaping can do far more than fetch a higher selling price for your property. In fact, it could very well save your life.

Although 83% of Americans think having a yard is important, having an attractive and well-maintained grassy area isn't essential for mere aesthetics alone. According to experts, the way in which you choose to landscape could have an impact on your property's overall safety rating. That's especially true in places like California, where wildfires have continued to spread, destroying thousands of homes and threatening residents' lives. In just the past year, the National Interagency Fire Center has recorded 46,474 fires in these areas, which have burned nearly 9 million acres of land. And while 65% of homeowners report repairing their roofs following weather damage, there often is no other choice but to completely rebuild after these fires have ravaged the area.

It's possible that something simple could help to reduce the risk of damage caused by fires, however. Creating what's known as a defensible space can keep a fire from spreading through specific landscaping (or "firescaping") techniques. Essentially, firescaping is all about reducing a property's vulnerability through certain types of landscape design. It involves surrounding the structural areas with components that are less likely to burn while prioritizing the modification of nearby vegetation, proper plant selection, and utilizing fire safety zones and similar concepts.

For example, homeowners living in fire prone areas should choose plants that are known to be less flammable (like broadleaf and deciduous plants or those that produce sap or less fragrance). The property should also be divided up into zones, wherein detailed instructions involving proper maintenance and planting techniques should be followed. Within 30 feet of a structure, for example, the plants used in this "zone one" should have fire retardant qualities that will not produce a flame if touched by a blaze. Generally, it's best to have more hardscaping in these areas and ensure that any trees located here have a higher moisture content. Irrigated lawns, ground covers, and low-growing annuals and perennials are typically allowed here, too. However, evergreen trees and shrubs should not be placed in proximity to a home due to their high risk of flammability. In "zone two," located further out, fire resistant plants can be used, which require little maintenance but that have a reduced risk of catching fire. Tree limbs here should be trimmed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Once you get 50 feet away from your home, the main focus should be on native plant diversity and erosion control. And, of course, it's essential to remove dead growth and debris on a regular basis.

Whether or not you live in an area known for frequent wildfires, these landscaping tips can allow you to make smart property choices. Although 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, there are plenty of those who focus on outdoor improvements throughout the year. And if your aim is to safeguard your home and your family, you may want to consider safety, rather than mere visual appeal, when designing your landscaping this year.

Published in Gardening

The quintessential American dream involves having a house with a beautiful lawn and having man's best friend by your side. Unfortunately, many homeowners find that these two elements don't always go well together. Pups like to dig in the dirt, roll around in the grass, and mark their territory -- all of which can wreak havoc on your lovely landscaping. But the truth is that you don't have to choose between the nice yard and the loyal dog. There's good news for the majority of American households that have at least one pet: your pup and your property can coexist in harmony, as long as you're strategic about the way you landscape. Here are some essential elements you'll want to include in your dog-friendly yard.

Published in Gardening

Though your riding mower should've been stored away for the winter long ago, it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your lawn equipment is truly protected during the winter and in times of non-use. Without proper storage, your valuable gear could acquire more wear and tear than necessary. With that in mind, here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you're planning ahead for next year's winter tractor and lawn equipment maintenance and storage.

Store Equipment Properly

First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that one of the best ways to ensure safe winter storage of lawn equipment is to read the owner's manual and follow the instructions carefully. They typically involve basic maintenance steps before storage like changing the oil and draining or topping off the gas. Many manufacturers recommend storing the equipment with a fresh tank of stabilized gas:

Add fuel stabilizer to an empty gas can. Then fill the gas can with fresh gas at the pump. That’ll thoroughly mix the stabilizer with the new fuel. Fill the mower tank with fresh gas and screw on the gas cap. Run the mower for 10 minutes to fill the carburetor bowl with stabilized gas. Top off the gas tank and store the mower," writes Elizabeth Flaherty on Family Handyman.

Again, it's always best to consult the manual to determine best storage practices for your particular model

Consider a Shipping Container Shed

Most shipping containers are eight feet wide, 9.5 feet tall, and either 20 or 40 feet long, making them the perfect receptacle to store all types of high-end lawn care equipment. Though you'll need to have enough yard space, shipping containers can be refurbished for countless uses, and they provide incredible protection from the elements. If a shipping container storage shed is out of your budget, make sure you store your mower and other lawn tools in a safe, dry place like a garage. Never leave them out exposed to the elements.

Consider Professional Dry Ice Blasting Services

Though used primarily for commercial uses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, dry ice blasting is incredibly useful for efficient cleaning. Dry ice blasting uses air compressed between 80 and 90 PSI to blast pellets of dry ice at a high velocity to clean a variety of surfaces. That being said, when performed properly and in a controlled environment, dry ice blasting can help to make your riding mower look and feel just like new. The tiny ice pellets are effective at penetrating the inner workings of the tractor, preventing you from having to take it apart and clean it manually. Of course, this isn't necessary for all mowers, and it should typically be performed by a professional. However, there are some cases where systems can be rented for personal use. If you're interested, check out some of the countless videos demonstrating the process on YouTube.

The average American spends, on average, four hours per week taking care of their lawn. That adds up to an average of 208 hours per year, or over eight days. Understanding these proper care tips can help you maximize the durability, performance, and lifespan of your riding mower and other lawn care equipment.

Published in Gardening

As organisms big and small begin their hibernation for the winter, your landscaping can start to look a bit dreary. You may be inclined to take this season off from tending to the look of your yard, but the winter months give many opportunities to amp up your landscaping prowess. Incorporate these elements into your yard's landscaping and your home will be the natural star of the neighborhood.

Published in Gardening

This feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™, Cub Cadet and Life of Dad.

Over the past week or so, I’ve largely neglected my normal work. With April having been such an unusually rainy month (“April showers bring May flowers”) here in Northern Illinois this year, the sunny, albeit cool days of early May have been pretty inviting in terms of getting outside to explore one of my real passions: working the yard. I’m usually eyeing the outdoor tasks by February, when I start taking a good look at the depressingly drab and battered landscape that the winter has left behind, with plans of creating a lush, green suburban oasis when the weather breaks. I’ve already been trimming, fertilizing, weeding and caring for the landscape - I do mean the entire picture. A proper yard is more than just a “lawn,” but the total package of everything surrounding it. I do have #LawnGoals, though - and this year the girls and I are working not to meet them, but to exceed them in every possible way. Here’s the rundown on what’s been done so far…

Published in Gardening