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DIY Flooring Installation

Installing a new floor is a great way to liven up your house. Before you change your floor, however, you need to decide what type of flooring is best suited to your budget and lifestyle. Hardwood floors are a classic choice, while many homeowners prefer the ease of tile or the affordability of laminate flooring. While some floors can be installed by an inexperienced homeowner, other floor types require the services of a professional or an experienced handyman.

Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood floors have always been a popular choice. Beautiful, traditional wood floors can last a lifetime if properly maintained and, because hardwood floors are more hygienic than carpet, they are a good choice for people with allergies. The National Wood Flooring Association, points out that wood is:

Low-maintenance
Renewable
Recyclable
Varied
Enduring

Hardwood floor types can be new or salvaged and might be smooth, distressed, or hand-scraped for an antique look. Stains give you a variety of color choices, even allowing oak to masquerade as rare exotic lumber. Research all your options before investing in a hardwood floor, as each of the many choices offers advantages of its own.

Maintaining Hardwood Floors
Prefinished hardwood flooring can be expensive, but it is easy to maintain. To keep your hardwood floor looking its best, you should put down area rugs in places that get a lot of foot traffic. You should also damp mop your floor frequently to remove dust and dirt. If your hardwood floors get a few minor scratches, you can repair them with a touch-up stick. Solid hardwood floors can be refinished if they have a lot of scuffmarks, which is one advantage over other products like laminate flooring.

Installing Hardwood Flooring
If you have never installed any type of flooring, you might want to hire a professional to lay your hardwood floors. Get an estimate, ask for references and never pay for the entire job upfront. If you do decide to do it yourself, do your homework because installing flooring can be tricky. The following tools are needed for installing hardwood floors:

Circular saw
Measuring tape
Nail gun or hammer
Table saw
T-square
Floor sealant
Nails
Safety glasses

According to Steve Seabaugh, director of technical education for the NWFA, installers of wood floors must take care to:

Check the subfloor for flatness.
Avoid laying over particleboard, which does not hold nails well.
Acclimatize wood to the space in which it will be installed.

Laying hardwood floors takes time, and this last step adds several days to your project calendar. The flooring should sit in your home for at least 48 hours before installation in order to expose it to the room’s environment. This allows it to expand or contract according to the temperature and humidity of the room. If this takes place after the floor is laid, you’ll wind up with shifting boards and uneven flooring. In addition to this brief period of acclimatization, plan to spend at least a few full days installing hardwood floors, depending on the size of your home.

Quick-Growing Alternatives to Hardwoods
Some homeowners choose cork or bamboo floors as an alternative to hardwood. These faster-growing products can be “green” in more ways than one – gentle on the planet and on your wallet. Prefinished bamboo is made from a grass and performs much like hardwood when it’s used as flooring. Cork is a wood-bark product that can also make an attractive floor. According to BuildGreen’s independently published Environmental Building News, the most eco-friendly bamboo floors are those with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

Tile Flooring
Tile is another beautiful choice and a great option for DIY flooring. The price of tile varies greatly because there are so many choices, from ceramics and terra-cotta to marble and slate. Regardless of the price, tile is extremely durable and will last for decades with proper care.

Before installing new floors, you should first learn as much as you can about how to tile. Many hardware stores and home centers offer classes in tiling. You can also hire a professional to install your tile floor, but this will greatly increase the price of your total flooring expenses.

When you do undertake a tiling job, be sure you already understand the process. You’ll need to be sure your subfloor is suitable and then create a level bed of mortar. Tiles will be set according to a careful plan, with room left between for grout. After the mortar has set, you’ll fill the gaps with grout, carefully wiping the surface of the tiles as you go. Finally, a week or more later, you’ll seal the grout to protect it from stains.

Tile-Laying Supplies
The basic supplies for laying tile include:

Grout floats
Mortar trowels
Sponges
Tile cutters
Tile grout, mortar, and sealant
Tile saw
Tape measure
Pencil
Level
Rags and a sponge

Installing tile flooring will take time, as grout and mortar take several days to dry. You should expect to get your hands dirty during this process, but the end result will be one of the most easily maintained flooring options out there.

Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is made from a synthetic material that looks like hardwood or tile. Laminate flooring is a great choice for anyone who wants the look of hardwood or tile but doesn’t have a big budget to work with. Laminate flooring is usually less than half the cost of hardwood floors.

Another advantage of laminate flooring is that almost anyone can install it. For most types of laminate flooring, the manufacturer’s instructions are easy to follow and the pieces snap into place for “lock and click” installation. According to the North American Laminate Flooring Association, glue and fasteners are usually not required. Durability and affordability are listed by NALFA alongside ease of installation as reasons to consider a laminate floor.

Eco-friendly Laminates
Environmental concerns can sway consumers towards laminates, too. A product with NALFA’s green seal will have the following features, according to the association’s website:

Natural ingredients such as wood chips
Recyclability
Low emissions
Recycled content
No VOC-producing installation adhesives

Easy to Buy, Install and Maintain
Caring for and maintaining laminate floors is very easy – simply sweep or wet-mop regularly. With excellent care, laminate floors can last up to 20 years. The time and skill required to install a laminate floor are relatively low, making this a popular choice for first-time DIY floor installations.

A Floor for Every Lifestyle
Whether you choose easy laminates, classic hardwoods, or beautiful tile, your floor will help define your home’s personality. By matching your budget, taste, and skill to the best product for you, you can find a DIY flooring solution that will make your home more comfortable, beautiful, and valuable.

Source:  http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/articleid/121/

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Understanding Septic Tanks: Waste Treatment for Rural Homes

If you’re buying property in an urban or suburban setting, chances are good that the home is connected to a municipal sewage system. If, however, you’re looking at purchasing a home on acreage or in a rural setting, waste may be handled through a septic tank. Proper care and maintenance is key to keeping your household sewage disposal system running properly, and with a bit of knowledge, you can avoid the expense and hassle of a poorly functioning septic system.

Septic Systems: A Common Waste Handling Strategy

Septic systems rely on bacteria to digest organic solid waste while fluid waste is gradually leached into porous surrounding soil. Homeowners who use septic tanks are completely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these sewage systems, and most states have laws requiring that the systems be maintained in order to protect human and environmental health.

Septic systems include a pipe that connects the home plumbing to a septic tank. In the septic tank, wastes are separated by gravity. Solids (also called sludge) settle to the bottom of the tank. Oils and grease float to the top. The remaining wastewater exits into a drain field where microbes in the soil remove most remaining contaminants.

Types of Septic Systems

There are a variety of septic systems for a range of soil types, and they vary widely in terms of cost, complexity, and maintenance requirements. All systems start with a tank for holding solid waste and grease and end with some sort of drainfield for liquid effluent, but these drainfields can look very different depending on soil composition and depth. A percolation test, which determines how much water the soil can filter, will probably be needed by property owners wishing to install a new septic system.

According to King County in Washington state, there are four common septic system types:

Gravity drainfields. These rely on gravity to carry liquid waste through a series of pipes, situated below the tank, where it is allowed to leach into permeable soil. When the pipes are located above the tank, a pump is required to move waste uphill.

Pressure distribution drainfields. These include a pump, which puts fluid waste into the system intermittently, using pressure to fill all sections of piping evenly. This type of system is better for systems where the soil depth and quality is insufficient to handle gravity-fed waste.

Sand filter systems. These use added sand, usually held in a box of concrete or plastic, as a pre-soil filtering step and are useful when soil is not of the right depth or type for absorbing unfiltered fluid waste. These systems include a pump and pipes, laid in gravel above the sand, to distribute the waste across the length and breadth of the filter.

Mound systems. These are another option for sites with insufficient topsoil, and include a mound of sand, gravel, and pressurized piping above or, occasionally, beneath the ground surface. Sewage is filtered through this man-made hill before it enters the soil below.

Septic System Inspections

Many states require septic system inspections whenever a property is sold. If you’re shopping for a rural home in a state that doesn’t require this step, you should have an inspection performed for your own safety. A faulty septic system can be an expensive and troublesome problem, so hire a professional to evaluate the system before you buy.

Once you own a home, the septic system should continue to be professionally inspected on a regular basis. Some local health departments require annual inspections, while others rely on homeowners to decide when an inspection is warranted. Your state or county environmental health department can help you plan an inspection schedule for your own septic system.

Septic System Maintenance

Septic systems can work very effectively, provided they are regularly maintained. Sludge should be pumped out by a professional every three to five years, on average. These pump-outs, which need to take place before the tank is over 50 percent capacity, are important and would be impossible without the right equipment, so leave this dirty job to a licensed professional. Observing the process is a good way to learn more about your septic system’s maintenance needs.

Septic System Dos and Don’ts

Homes using septic systems should follow certain guidelines to keep the septic tank working properly. Failure to do so can cause waste to seep up through the drainfield or back up into the home. The EPA publishes a guide to septic systems for homeowners, which includes a lot of information about looking after your tank and drainfield.

To help maintain septic systems, homeowners should:

Avoid pouring household cleaners and chemicals down drains. These can damage microbial activity in the septic tank.

Flush only bodily wastes and toilet paper. Things like sanitary napkins will not break down and can cause harm to your septic system.

Only use plants with shallow roots over their septic drain field, as shrub and tree roots can damage the system. Contact your own local agricultural extension office for information that’s specific to your growing conditions.

Practice proactive water conservation. Dripping taps and leaky toilets can overwhelm a septic system, which relies on a normal balance between solid and liquid matter to function.

Important Questions for Homebuyers

If you’re considering a home that is not connected to a municipal sewage treatment system, ask a lot of questions before you buy. First, find out whether your state or county requires regular inspections or time-of-transfer inspections. If it doesn’t, have the system inspected anyway. The Connecticut Department of Health recommends asking the following questions:

“What does the existing septic system consist of?”
“Is it working properly?”
“How long will it last?”
“If it fails, how much will a replacement system cost?”

It is also important to know exactly where the parts of the septic system are located, when the system was last inspected or pumped, and whether the homeowner has ever had any trouble with the septic system’s performance. By learning more about these common sewage-treatment systems, you can make septic system ownership a simple, headache-free experience.

Source: http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/articleid/122/

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DIY Toolkit: Essential Tools For Minor House Repairs

It takes time to build a complete DIY toolkit. Start with the essentials, and build on your collection as you take on new projects. Eventually, you will become proficient at a wide range of DIY home projects – and your toolkit will reflect this (as will your wallet, considering the money you will save on hiring someone to do it for you!).

A Basic DIY Tool Collection

Hammer: From hanging a picture to replacing wall molding and millions of DIY projects in between, a hammer is probably the most-used tool there is. Don’t choose just any hammer. Select a claw hammer – a hammer with a claw on one end for pulling nails and prying material – with a flat peen (the surface which drives nails) rather than rounded.

Tape Measure: Many home repair and improvement tasks require a tape measure. Get a retractable tape measure, which is made of a rigid metal and snaps back into the case when you push a button. For most jobs, a 25-foot tape measure is sufficient.

Carpenter’s Level: With a good level you have a straightedge for cut lines and a tool to tell you if an item is flush (straight up and down) or level (perfectly flat). Don’t let the store’s selection overwhelm you – a basic 4-foot bubble level, which uses air bubbles inside a liquid-filled cavity, is basic but dependable.

Carpenter’s Square: Get both a speed square, which is hand-held, and a larger framing square when possible. Squares are great straightedges, tape measures and right-angle testers.

Utility Knife: Whether you call it a box cutter, razor knife, or any of several common terms, a utility knife is a DIY tool essential. Your utility knife makes quick work of slicing through drywall, carpet, linoleum, rigid foam insulation and many other materials. Keep a supply of razor blades in the knife’s hollow body.

Flashlight: From peering underneath your foundation to working in the dark to restore power to your breaker box, your flashlight will shed some light on various tasks.

Screwdrivers: If you plan to limit your DIY ventures to basic carpentry and fixture installation, a handful of screwdrivers will get you started. Choose both Phillips-head screwdrivers (which have a cross-shaped tip) and flat-head screwdrivers (with a knife-shaped tip). More advanced repairs may require different heads. To save money, consider a multi-bit screwdriver with interchangeable tips.

Pliers: If you need to pull staples, cut wire, or loosen tight connections, pliers will help. Look for three basic types: needle-nose pliers (which have a pointed end), side-cutting pliers (which look much like scissors) and adjustable flat-nose pliers (aka flat-head pliers).

Wrenches: When pliers won’t get the job done, look for your wrench. Grip or remove pipes, nuts, bolts and other stubborn household items. Start with a set of adjustable crescent wrenches for all-around usefulness.

Staple Gun: A staple gun comes in handy for installing faced fiberglass batt insulation, hanging plastic sheeting and other projects around the home. Manual staple guns require a little more muscle but eliminate the need for electricity.

Drill: Once you have a drill, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. From simple tasks such as hanging curtains to more complex jobs like replacing wood flooring, a drill – cordless or not – makes it easier. A cordless drill is more convenient but has a limited battery life.

Saws: Two basic saws will see you through most general DIY home projects. First, select a handsaw for places where you don’t have power or for situations where a power saw just isn’t practical. Next, decide on either a table saw or a circular saw. A table saw is sturdy and makes cutting boards and other material easy. However, a circular saw is portable and hand-held, making it more convenient. When you’re ready for a new saw, consider a jigsaw or reciprocating saw.

Stud Finder: A stud finder will help you quickly find the framing members in your walls, ceiling and floor.

Orbital Sander: Small enough to easily control with one hand, an orbital sander is perfect for basic work. Keep a supply of sandpaper, of various grits, on hand.

Ladder: Depending on the jobs you anticipate tackling, you might prefer a stepladder instead of an extension ladder. Extension ladders are useful outdoors and reach higher, but stepladders work inside or outside.

All of the tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t have accompanying supplies. Keep wood glue, superglue and caulk in your supplies. Add an assortment of nails, screws, bolts and nuts to your tool collection as well. Don’t forget tape: masking tape, electrical tape and duct tape in particular. A heavy-duty extension cord is essential. Your collection will continue to grow over the course of your DIY adventures.
Source:  http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/articleid/119/

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Factors Affecting Mortgage Interest Rate Changes

There’s more to the cost of owning that dream home than the price the seller is asking for. The interest rate on your mortgage loan affects the price and how much you’ll pay every month to your mortgage company.

Comparing mortgage interest rates is important because they may change daily, and different rates may be associated with different types of loans. With variable-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages, it is understood from the outset that the loan’s interest rate will change over time, becoming higher or lower depending on the current economic climate.

Let’s look at why mortgage interest rates fluctuate so frequently.

The Federal Reserve and Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve System (“The Fed”), although considered our country’s central banking system, is independent of the federal government. In essence, the Fed controls the movement of money throughout the U.S. financial system.

The Federal Reserve System is composed of a Board of Governors and 12 Federal Reserve Banks, spread throughout the country. The seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and four other reserve bank presidents serve on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the policy-making body that determines, among other things, the interest rate charged to commercial banks.

The FOMC controls inflation by tightening or loosening the country’s money supply. One way they do this is by raising interest rates to control inflation. When borrowing money costs more, consumers tend to shy away from taking out loans, hopefully leading to lower prices.

By the same token, lower interest rates encourage consumers to borrow and spend, which in turn boosts the economy. Overall, the fluctuations in mortgage interest rates reflect an attempt to keep a balance in the economy, and to prevent inflation without bringing the economy into a recession.

Mortgage Investors and Changing Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve is not the only player affecting changing mortgage rates. To create more money to lend, banks often sell their loans on the secondary market, now controlled by the federal government. Banks and other mortgage lenders sell mortgage-backed securities to investors. The return on investment for these investors is generated by interest paid by mortgage holders on their loans. For the investors to realize a return, banks must charge a higher interest rate.

Homebuyers (the mortgage loan borrowers) want low interest rates on their mortgages. This force drives interest rates back down. In addition, when investors know rates are going to drop, they purchase these securities, increasing demand and eventually sending interest rates back down. Banks must balance these two opposing forces, and the resulting push-and-pull drives mortgage interest rates.

The Effect of Changing Mortgage Interest Rates on Loans

Though they are locked-in once the application process is completed, fixed-rate mortgage rates are constantly changing. Interest rates for variable-rate loans fluctuate as well, and continue to change throughout the term of the loan. Another impact on interest rates occurs when lower interest rates attract homeowners wishing to refinance their mortgages.

While all of this may seem complicated to the average homebuyer, an awareness of what drives interest rate changes can help you know when the ideal time has arrived to apply for a loan.

Source: http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/articleid/120/

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The Advantages of Getting a Mortgage Preapproval

The homebuying process can be exciting, but also stressful. When there are a large number of buyers in the market for real estate, the odds of being able to purchase your desired home can be low. However, getting a mortgage preapproval prior to home shopping can dramatically increase the odds of success.

Make Mortgage Preapproval Your First Step

A mortgage preapproval should be a homebuyer’s first step when purchasing a home. A borrower can choose to meet with a lender or get an initial preapproval via the Internet. The preapproval process is similar to the actual mortgage process and will, in fact, eliminate a lot of time after a home has been chosen.

When obtaining a mortgage preapproval, the borrower will complete a mortgage application and submit the necessary documentation to the lender. The lender will pull a credit report and examine the borrower’s credit.

Based on all of this information, the lender will determine the amount of funds that the borrower qualifies for. The borrower will receive a Conditional Commitment, which states the amount of funds that the lender agrees to lend provided that the conditions are met. While a preapproval is an important first step, it is not the final mortgage approval.

Impress Homesellers With Your Mortgage Preapproval

One of the advantages of having a preapproval is that this letter can be shown to real estate agents and sellers when looking for a home. By doing so, both the agent and the seller know that the borrower can qualify for a certain amount of funds. It is proof of the borrower’s financial standing and ability to proceed with the home purchase.

Another advantage is that some of the work that is involved in obtaining a mortgage is already done. The lender has already examined the borrower’s financial situation, including credit, income and assets. During the preapproval process, the lender will also discuss the most appropriate type of mortgage program that fits the borrower’s needs, whether it is a conventional loan or a government loan.

This is significant because not all sellers will accept a buyer who is using a government loan. Knowing the details of what type of loan is appropriate for the borrower, the agent can then show them homes that will fit their preapproval both for cost and type of funding.

How Mortgage Preapproval is Determined

The preapproval is determined by putting the information given to the lender through automated underwriting. In most cases, the preliminary loan file goes through a preprocessing before the preapproval is given to the borrower. Since there is an actual examination of the borrower’s documentation, the borrower will also receive a list of additional information that may be needed. The borrower can then submit this information while shopping for a home.

Once a home is found and the sales contract is signed, processing the loan is faster since most of the work for the credit file has been done. The final process involves verifications, ordering and receiving the appraisal, ordering title documents, obtaining insurance, etc. The final underwriting is the last step before the loan file is sent for closing.

The preapproval process is an important part of a home purchase. Since there is a lot of information involved in obtaining a mortgage, it eliminates many last minute problems that can arise. Obtaining a mortgage preapproval helps the home purchase process go smoothly.

Source: http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/zip/37662/

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10 Landscaping Mistakes Not to Make This Fall

Autumn is the perfect time to sit back and let nature put on a display in your outdoor home. From the leaves changing colors to the cooler temperatures, fall all about taking advantage of everything the season offers. But don’t think that all your work is done! This season still requires regular lawn, landscaping and curb appeal maintenance to keep your home looking good throughout the winter and into next spring. Here are 10 landscaping mistakes not to make this fall.

1. Don’t overlook painting your home

While you might think that landscaping only pertains to plants and ground cover, your exterior home’s color plays a big role in the overall look of your exterior. Fall is the perfect time to opt for a new paint job or retouch chipping paint to make your landscaping show in the best light.

2.Don’t forget hardscape areas are just as important as soft landscaping

Landscaping can be broken into two smaller categories – soft and hard. Soft landscaping is that which is live and has texture and can be planted. Hardscaping refers to sidewalks, driveways, rocks, mulch and pavers placed around your home for safety, function and beauty. Keep your driveways clean by power washing throughout the fall months and into the winter months.

3. Don’t overlook window planters

Window or plant boxes are a great way to add texture to your outdoor home and add an accent color to your siding. Window boxes are perfect for homes that don’t have large grounds but still want to add greenery to your home’s façade.

4. Don’t mistake the beauty of fallen leaves as a reason not to rake

If you live in a home that has many mature and older trees, you may get caught up in the nostalgia of falling autumn leaves, but they can also be dangerous if not raked regularly. Fallen leaves can hide a sidewalk or walkways that are in disrepair and can get wet and slippery for pedestrians. Rake leaves weekly during the fall months to avoid a possible accident.

5. Fall doesn’t mean the end of pool maintenance

For many pool owners, the end of summer symbolizes the end of pool maintenance — forget about it until next spring! Think again. Even during the fall months your pool will need to keep its chemicals at balanced levels, and fallen debris, leaves and bugs will need to be cleaned out weekly.

6. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your yard tools

Every fall, your yard and gardening tools get put away in your garden shed or garage and are forgotten about until spring. Before you let them “hibernate” for the cooler months, ensure they are all working, cleaned off from dirt and debris and are stored correctly. Don’t let soil, moisture or other debris make your tools unusable in the upcoming seasons.

7. Don’t think that your fall lawn doesn’t need fertilizer and care

Just because your fall lawn isn’t growing at the same rapid growth as the summer months, your lawn still needs upkeep such as cutting, and fertilizing. Look to your local nursery or home improvement garden center for local growing guides based on your climate and demographics. A fall lawn that is fertilized on a fall seasonal routine will help from getting damaged during the colder winter months ahead.

8. Remember your neighbors in the fall outdoor season

Since autumn is a time when families get busier with school, work and extra-curricular indoor activities, don’t neglect your neighbor’s views and safety in the care of your outdoor home. Remember to keep your shared sidewalks raked free of leaves and ensure overlying tree branches are kept trimmed and safe away from power lines for fall and winter rain and snow damage.

9. Don’t forget to plant spring bulbs this fall for colorful blooms next year

The fall is the best time to start thinking about colorful flowers sprouting in the spring. Check with your local nursery on what flowering bulbs are best to plant now while the soil is still soft before winter’s frost. You will love how your fall planting now will lead to a gorgeous garden in the spring. Make sure you plant them low enough into the ground to keep your bulbs from freezing!

10. Don’t forget to use colorful ground cover to add visual interest

While you may think fall means that your outdoor home will lack color, think otherwise with creative and colorful ground covering solutions. Colored wood and rubber mulch varieties provide a gorgeous backdrop for evergreen trees and coniferous plants. Ground hugging plants like cranberry cotoneaster and other hedge plants can make for an autumn show of color your outdoor home will love!

Source: http://www.bobvila.com/nation/post/10-landscaping-mistakes-not-to-make-this-fall

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Is Your Garden Really Green? Creating an Eco-Friendly Landscape Design

You may have the greenest lawn on the block, but is your garden really “green,” meaning ecologically friendly? Often the answer is a resounding “NO.”

Just the fact that you have a lawn at all can be an indicator that your landscape is not as green as it could be. Lawns generally need more water and fertilizers than other plantings. Plus, they need to be mowed approximately once per week in the summertime, and if you don’t have an electric or reel mower, you’re burning fossil fuels every time you mow.

What are some ways you can create a garden that is really green? How can you create an eco-friendly landscape design?

Be Water-Wise
When it comes to an eco-friendly landscape, being water-wise means not only reducing the amount of water you use, but also managing stormwater – water that falls during a rainstorm, on site. Stormwater often gets directed to a pipe as soon as possible and then directed to a river, pond, or sewer. But, it is possible to capture it, store it, and redistribute it to be used again. For example, direct the downspout from your rain gutters to a rain barrel and then use the captured water to irrigate your landscape.

Reduce Impervious Surfaces
Another way to create an eco-friendly landscape design is to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces on your property. Impervious surfaces are areas like concrete, asphalt, and stone pavers where water cannot penetrate the surface. The water that used to soak into the soil has to go somewhere. When water can’t infiltrate the soil surface, it causes problems downstream and has detrimental effects on rivers and streams. Pervious concrete and asphalt have come on the market and offer an alternative to impervious surfaces.

Use Drought-Tolerant Plants
This tip is related to being water-wise. If you want to create an eco-friendly landscape design, use drought tolerant plants.

Go Native
Native plants are well-adapted to live in the area in which you live. Plus, they typically will provide a food source or some sort of ecological input that supports local insect and animal species.

Build and Protect the Soil
In most suburban and urban areas, the soil is terribly depleted of minerals and nutrients. By amending the soil with organic fertilizers, cover crops, and compost, you can support an eco-friendly landscape design and help protect the soil structure. This creates a more nutrient-rich soil in which your plants can grow.

Grow Your Own Food
From farming methods to transporting food, we rely on fossil fuels to feed everyone in the United States. You can do your part to reduce the use of fossil fuels, reduce food miles, and provide nutrient-rich vegetables to your family by growing your own food. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a small space, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply walk out your back door and harvest some lettuce for dinner?

Get to Know Beneficial Insects
Many gardeners mistakenly think all insects are bad. If they don’t recognize a particular insect, they go get the sprayer and shoot the insect with a chemical pesticide until it dies. This is one of the worst things you can do. Why? There are many insects in the garden that help keep the “bad bugs” in check.

Have you ever noticed a rose bush covered in ladybugs? They’re probably there because they’re eating the aphids. If you look closely you’ll see them. However, if you see the ladybugs, mistakenly think they are hurting your roses, and decide to kill them with pesticides, you’re actually creating more work for yourself. The next time the aphids come, and they will, there will not be ladybugs there to defend your roses. You have just inherited the ladybugs’ job. To create an eco-friendly landscape design, you must understand your ecosystem. That means getting to know the beneficial insects in your garden and learning how to support them in their work of defending your garden.

These are just a few of the many ways in which you can create an eco-friendly landscape design. The bottom line is that you must work with nature, not against it.

Source: http://www.tricityrealestateforsale.com/miarticles/articleid/109/

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