Spring (cleaning) is in the air

16 03 2009

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We may be overly optimistic, but we’re calling it SPRING in the Minne-apple! The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and OMG-my-windows-are-so-dirty-how-did-I-not-notice-all-winter! It’s time for some spring cleaning! Nothing we enjoy more than clearing all the bulky jackets out of the front hall closet, boxing up scarves, hats and mittens until next fall, putting away clunky boots, and…of course we know it’s going to snow again….it always snows again. But we won’t be wearing boots – nope – not until next year. How is that for tough?!

Once you own a home you get to take your spring cleaning rituals to the next level – you get to get out, and get dirty. Cleaning exterior windows, inspecting your roof for damage caused during winter months, clearing out your gutters and checking your exterior window caulking. Clear your weekend for a little spring cleaning, and you (and your home) will be better for it.

To help you plan your spring cleaning attack, we found this great list – thanks HGTV Canada!

  • Inspect the exterior walls of your entire home. Look for signs of winter damage such as splitting wood, peeling paint, mold, etc.
  • Got brick? It should be cleaned and checked for water damage once a year. Aside from cleaning the surface by use your hose with a spray nozzle to wash off dirt, you need to be on the lookout for mold. If there is mold, mildew, or moss, wash with a solution of 1 cup of bleach mixed with 4 L of water. Use a natural or synthetic bristle brush. Wire brushes leave traces of steel behind that will rust and discolor the bricks.
  • If you use them, remove the storm windows.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Use screens? Make sure they are dust-free and sparkling clean before putting them up.
  • Check the driveway for cracks or winter damage.
  • Clean the steps and the driveway with a spray nozzle hose. If moss is visible, pour vinegar on it and scrub.
  • Inspect the gutters around the house. Remove debris.
  • Inspect the roof, looking for damage and missing or loose shingles. Contact a roofing professional if you need a few replacements.
  • Get your deck ready for use. Clean it with oxalic acid, which will penetrate the wood and kill microorganisms. Once dry (24 hours), treat the deck with a sealant. If boards on your deck are splintered or worn beyond repair, replace them before you seal and stain.
  • Prepare outdoor furniture for use. If you kept the furniture out during the winter months, you need to scrub the surfaces clean. If you stored your furniture, bring it outside and make sure it’s clean.
  • Put on those gardening gloves, it’s time to weed! The first step to a beautiful, clean garden is to remove weeds. It is important to leave a few, however, as they do have a purpose; they are food for insects and create a covered landscape for little critters.
  • If you haven’t removed the covers you placed on your shrubs and trees, and are confident you won’t have another frost, remove the covers.
  • Give your garden it a filled-in appearance until it grows in. Sprinkle mulch around shrubs, trees, and flowerbeds.

    Yeah – you heard it right – we said flowerbeds! Take that snow!

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Home updates – a before and after

10 02 2009

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after
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We recently received these great before-and-after pictures from one of our first-time buyers who purchased a home over the summer. It didn’t take long before she started making updates to her house and we are so happy that she documented her project and is willing to share.

This is what sweat equity looks like! Job well done! What a difference a retaining wall makes – and we’re certain the neighbors appreciate the update as well!





Paint your floors white

26 01 2009

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In an effort to make the world a more beautiful place, we’d like to introduce you to a tutorial on painting your old, drabby wood floors. We fully respect the beauty of natural, restored wood floors. But those really ugly ones?! Why not paint them?

Anna from from www.doorsixteen.com has not only convinced us that white floors is the way to go, she’s also shown us how to do it with her step-by-step tutorial. Now we just have to find (and buy) the perfect, not-so-perfect wood floor to paint.

Check out doorsixteen for home-improvement inspiration for all areas of your home.





Late-Fall Gardening Tips

24 10 2008

Before the snow begins to fall (this Sunday?!), it’s time to get out to your garden for a little late Fall clean-up. So free up a couple of hours on Saturday, and get on with it. You’ll be so very glad you did!

Here is a list to help you:

  • Remove dead annuals.
  • Wrap young and thin-bark trees to protect them from sun scald and animal damage.
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Rake leaves to prevent lawn disease.
  • Winterize the sprinkler system.
  • Mow lawn as long as growth continues.
  • Add shredded leaves to compost pile.
  • Contact your designer to develop plans for spring landscaping.
  • Remove garden debris. (Debris allows diseases and insects a place to survive the winter.)
  • Protect roses and mulch perennials.
  • Clean out eaves and downspouts.
  • Plant large shade trees.
  • Prepare snow removal equipment.
  • Be sure plantings, especially new ones, are well watered until the ground freezes.
  • Begin dormant pruning of ornamentals.

Happy Fall Gardening!