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Lisa Salinas-gruver's Blog

By Lisa Salinas-Gruver | Agent in Austin, TX
  • Preparing your grass for Winter

    Posted Under: General Area in Austin, Quality of Life in Austin, Parks & Recreation in Austin  |  October 28, 2011 1:04 PM  |  2,009 views  |  4 comments

    Fall Lawn Care: 4 Ways to Say G’Night For The Winter

    By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

     

    “I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.” If you live in Central Texas, you obviously have a little bit more time to prepare yourself for winter.

    Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.

    1. Aeration

    Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.

    If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.

    A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.

    Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.

    2. Seeding

    Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.

    Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.

    Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.

    3. Fertilizing

    A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.

    Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.

    4. Mulching

    Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.

    A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

  • Helpful Tips on home security from Texas Realtors

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Austin, Crime & Safety in Austin, How To... in Austin  |  July 27, 2011 10:13 AM  |  969 views  |  1 comment

    Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

     

    Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.

    1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside

    Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.

    2. Install motion detector lights

    All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.

    3. Store your valuables

    Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.

    4. Secure your data

    While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.

    5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens

    • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
    • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

    By: Joseph D'Agnese and Texas Realtor Magazine


    Lisa Salinas-Gruver with Best Agents in Texas
    lisalegendsrealtor@gmail.com
    512-423-5784

 
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