Early Spring Gardening Checklist

In the spirit of the Home & Garden Show coming up in Winnipeg this weekend, I am going to be re-posting a series of blog posts from Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Everything from checklists to weed control to fairy gardens!

Check back each day to see a new topic highlighted!

 

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EARLY SPRING GARDENING CHECKLIST – FROM SHELMERDINE

Make sure you get a good start to the season by following this early spring gardening checklist.

 

 

  • Clean up and repair- remove broken stems and branches and clean up any winter debris that has gathered around plants.
  • As days get longer, start feeding indoor plants with a fertilizer solution at ½ the recommended strength.
  • Start seeds for annuals and vegetables, but don’t start them too early! Follow the sowing instructions on the back of the seed pack.
  • Give summer flowering bulbs, such as cannas, dahlias, and begonias a head start by potting them indoors under lights until the last day of frost.
  • As soon as the ground is workable, plant cold crop vegetables such as sweet peas, onions, cabbage, radishes, and leeks.
  • Prune deciduous trees and shrubs, except for those that flower in spring, such as lilac.
  • Spray scale-infected trees and shrubs with dormant oil spray before their leaves appear.
  • Cut the stems of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea back to the ground.
  • Apply slow release fertilizer to flowering shrubs and vines.
  • Pull out weeds as they appear.
  • Inspect your gardening tools for any repair or sharpening that might be required.
  • Apply lawn fertilizer with corn gluten to minimize the germination of crabgrass and dandelions.
  • Start to plan out which trees and shrubs you’d like to add to your landscape, so you can plant them as soon as they become available. Make an appointment with a landscape designer to help with your plans.

For more excellent blog posts check out their website here:  https://www.shelmerdine.com/plant-info/gardening-tips/

 

Spring Home Maintenance

RoofExamine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

 

Wood

Probe the Wood Trim

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.

 

Gutters

Check the Gutters

Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

 

 

soil

Use Compacted Soil

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.

 

chim

Examine the Chimney

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

 

 

FoundationInspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.

 

firewood

Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

 

faucetsCheck Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.

 

acService the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

 

grass

Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

 

This full article was found here at www.hgtv.com

Maximize your Curb Appeal

When you’re selling your home, first impressions are everything. A prospective buyer will decide in a single glance if they want to consider purchasing your home, or even step inside and take a look. How does your home look at first glance? Stand on the sidewalk in front of your home and take a good long look. Do you like what you see? Will anyone else?

What you do with your front garden, walkway and entrance will help you tempt the most discerning househunter. Follow these guidelines to ensure your property has plenty of curb appeal.

 

DRIVE BY

Compare your home to the others on the street. How does it measure up? Is the yard clean and well-kept? Do the eaves and trim have a crisp, clean appearance? How are the exterior paint and roof holding up? Pick out the nicest house on the street and take note of any features or items that you can emulate on your own property – without appearing too obvious, of course.

 

A CLEAN SWEEP

No matter what the season, ensure sidewalks, driveways and pathways are free of garden debris and litter. That goes for eaves and porches too. When’s the last time you cleaned your storm door or mailbox? Get out the vinegar and newsprint, and make your front windows sparkle, too.

 

WEED AND FEED

Even if your lawn is the envy of the neighbourhood, take the time to ensure that any edges are neatly trimmed and the area is relatively free of weeds. If new sod is required, plant it as soon as possible, since it will take a few weeks to blend in with the rest of the grass. Add a splash of life to your porch or window boxes with colourful plants. And keep your garden neat year-round. Even in winter months, shrubs and trees look their best with old leaves and growth cleared away.

 

OUTER LIMITS

If your siding is looking more shabby than chic, consider repainting it. Sometimes simply touching up the trim and facia is all it takes to brighten up your home’s exterior. Or, if your property has vinyl siding, bring on the powerwasher to whip it back into shape. Start at the top and work your way down and, if you’re pressed for time, focus on the side that prospective buyers see first.

 

NIGHT VISION

Don’t forget about what your home’s exterior looks like once the sun sets. Savvy home buyers have been known to swing by properties of interest at all hours. Is your front yard still inviting in the dark? Are walkways well lit or do children even pass by your house on Halloween because it’s too darn scary? It could be as simple as changing your front porch fixture or adding some solar-powered garden lights to give your yard some evening appeal.

 

WILD LIFE

A prospective buyer should not be aware that you own a pet just by looking at your lawn. Birdfeeders, while appreciated by wildlife, should be moved during an open house to keep the yard neat and stop squirrels and sparrows from jumping out at passersby. Be sure to keep personal items such as sports equipment, toys and other items tucked away as well.

 

A WARM WELCOME

Polish up the doorknobs and dust off the welcome mat! One thing that a lot of homeowners overlook is the placement of their house number. Can you see it from the street? If not, consider relocating it or, better still, purchase some striking new numbers to identify your home with. Now stand on your front porch. Do you feel welcome? Take note of what your eye is drawn to first, whether positive or negative, and make any adjustments if necessary

 

A little effort can make a big difference in ensuring that your home has the curb appeal necessary to attract prospective buyers and encourage bids. Good luck!

A Pre-Approved Mortgage – Yes or No?

HOW A PRE-APPROVED MORTGAGE CAN HELP YOU

Whether you’re planning the purchase of your first or fourteenth home, it pays to obtain a mortgage prequalification certificate (better known as a pre-approved mortgage) from the lender of your choice. Not only does this step provide peace of mind, it also helps your offer stand out from the pack in a multiple-bid situation.

A REALITY CHECK

Your bank or mortgage lender will examine your current financial situation to determine how much you can afford to borrow, and give you a realistic idea of what your monthly payments would be.

Some people avoid pre-approvals because they feel they know how much house they can afford – or that the money fairy will suddenly appear when they find the property of their dreams. Not having a pre-approved mortgage often leads to unsuccessful bids due to financing falling through, leaving both the buyer and seller in an extremely disappointing situation. In other cases buyers become “house rich and cash poor” because most of their income is spent on housing. It’s worth it to take the time, which can be less than an hour or two, to start off on solid financial ground.

With a pre-approved mortgage, you have an amount to have in mind while house hunting. Instead of scrambling to see every open house in the neighbourhood, you can focus your search to homes that fit into your predetermined price range. And by comparing similarly priced homes, you’ll be better able to gauge the value of each property and find the one that’s right for you.

Anyone who has experienced buying during a period of double-digit interest rates already knows the wisdom of obtaining a pre-approved mortgage with a locked-in mortgage interest rate. These are usually guaranteed for 90-120 days and, in the event that mortgage interest rates decrease during that period, will be lowered accordingly. Be sure to check this with your lender.

The main reason to lock in your rate is to protect yourself in case rates go up, so be sure to ask about it. For example, on a $100,000 25-year mortgage, an increase of 1% to the rate would add approximately $72 to your monthly payments. That’s over $800 in a year that could have gone towards something a little more fun, like a weekend getaway. Without a pre-approved mortgage, a sudden increase in mortgage interest rates could mean you no longer qualify for your dream home.

IT’S EASY

Whether you decide to use a mortgage consultant, who will negotiate on your behalf to compare rates and terms from several financial institutions, or your preferred bank, the process of getting pre-approved is fairly straightforward. You’ll be asked to provide your financial information, including all assets, liabilities and proof of income as well as the amount you have available for a down payment.

After reviewing your financial situation, the lender will determine the maximum mortgage amount you qualify for and lock in a mortgage interest rate. Prequalification certificates normally last for 90-120 days. If you don’t buy a home within this timeframe, you may renew your agreement at the going interest rate when your guaranteed rate expires.

A FIRM OFFER

Homebuyers with a pre-approved mortgage have the upper hand when they put an offer on the table. And it’s easy to see why. Having pre-approval demonstrates that you’re serious about purchasing a home—you’ve done your homework and have arrived prepared. It also officially addresses your ability to finance the purchase, which leaves no question in a seller’s mind that yours is a firm offer.

It’s great leverage in negotiation or if you find yourself in a bidding war – and because you know your limit, you won’t place a bid that goes beyond what you can afford.

After your offer is accepted, all that’s left for you to do is to send in the property and offer details, along with any other information requested, to your lender and your pre-approved mortgage will be converted into your actual mortgage in a matter of hours.

When it comes to buying a home, there’s no better way to approach a purchase than with the confidence and convenience a pre-approved mortgage provides.

First Time Sellers

Making your home appealing takes more than just a quick cleanup and some scented candles. When you’ve got your place on the market, here are some tips for creating a great experience for prospective buyers, and really showing off your property to its fullest advantage.

1. Depersonalize. This is one of the most important rules of home staging. Store the kids’ artwork, your family photos, religious items and toiletries. Buyers don’t want to see the space as someone else’s – getting rid of your personal stuff helps them visualize it as theirs.

2. Be a minimalist. Having less stuff on display makes your place look bigger and more appealing. Pack up the knick-knacks, clear off the countertops, pull half the stuff out of your closets and organize what’s left. If you’re tempted to throw all the extra stuff into the garage, don’t. Buyers will be looking in there too. If you need to, rent a storage unit while your house is on the market.

3. Ensure your house is spotless. One of the biggest turnoffs for buyers is a place that isn’t clean. Steam the carpets, mop the floors, corral the dust bunnies, and make sure windows and mirrors are gleaming. And don’t forget about the small everyday stuff, like crumbs on the table, rumpled beds, toothbrushes left by the sink or half-full trash cans. Details count – people will notice.

 4. Always be show-ready. Yes, this is a hassle. But showings sometimes happen with very little notice, so make sure your place is always clean and ready to go. Don’t put dirty dishes in the sink – wash them right away or put them in the dishwasher. Keep your valuables stored away, and make sure personal info isn’t in plain sight. Ensure your key is always  in the lockbox. Follow a checklist so you don’t miss anything.

5. Be flexible. Be open to last-minute showings and other inconveniences. The more flexible you can be now, the less time it should take to sell your house. And don’t stick around when potential buyers are there – there’s nothing more uncomfortable than looking at a house while the current owners are there, watching you. Go out for dinner, take the kids to the park, hang out in a coffee shop or visit friends.

6. Keep things fresh. A house that looks clean should smell clean, too. Cooking smells, mildew, pet odours – they’re all serious turnoffs. Open the windows, use air purifiers, put out some lightly scented candles. But be careful about using plug-ins, room sprays or other artificial fragrances. A lot of people are sensitive to them, and having an overwhelming scent can make it seem like you’re trying to mask an odour problem. Less is definitely more.

7. Relocate your pets. Fido or Fluffy might be friendly, but don’t leave them at home during a showing. Not everyone is an animal lover, and no one wants to see the litter box or a bowl of dog food on the kitchen floor. Have a plan for taking your pet with you for showings, or better yet, ask a friend to pet-sit while your house is on the market.

8. Make a great first impression. Ensuring the inside of your house looks great is important, but don’t forget about the part they see first: the exterior. Up your curb appeal by making sure windows are clean, trim is painted, and decks are power washed. Adding some colourful plants to your garden or having containers on your porch is a wonderfully cheap and cheerful boost. And don’t forget the entryway. Get rid of coats, shoes and keys, put out some fresh flowers, and make it a welcoming space that offers the perfect intro to the rest of your home.

9. Lighten up. Create a bright, cheery atmosphere by turning on all the lights and opening up the curtains and blinds (or removing them completely). Trim back any bushes that block the light, and don’t forget to clean the windows.

10. Show off your assets. Do your best to really maximize the best features of your home. Do you have  beautiful hardwood floors? Put the area rugs away. Want to highlight a nicely renovated kitchen? Get rid of the dishtowels and put countertop appliances out of sight to emphasize how great it looks.

It all boils down to this. If you do everything you can to make your space look its best and be flexible about showings, your property will appeal to more buyers – and sell faster.