A Beautiful Yard for the Holidays

December's in-the-yard tasks are devoted to decorating the house, shrubs and trees with holiday lights and decorations. Before decorating your trees and shrubs with lights, take a moment to evaluate your yard so that it looks its best both in daytime and at night. Rake the leaves and pine needles off the lawn, and shred them with your lawnmower. Put the shreddings under your shrubs, as they make great (and free!) mulch. These shreddings not only conserve soil moisture, they also protect the roots of the shrubs from your footsteps as you string your holiday lights on them. Next, take a moment to spray both…

How You Can Save Water

In a country where limitless clean water is available at the turn of a tap, it's hard to believe that many parts of the world are at the losing end of a life and death struggle over water. Every year, drought and water-related diseases kill 5 million people around the globe. Blessedly, that's not the case in the United States or in our communities. Water conservation saves you money and makes an important contribution to a better future. Here's how to get started: Stop leaks. Check appliances and outdoor systems such as sprinklers for leaks. Get to know your water meter; it provides important information…

Home Design for All Ages

With an entire generation of Baby Boomers about to retire, homebuilders are adding touches to their home designs to suit an aging population. Even healthy Boomers will welcome thoughtful modifications if they choose to care for their aging parents at home or have frequent visits from grandchildren. Here are a few simple things you may want to consider to help create a safe and comfortable home for everyone. Planning for the Future In the planning stage, you should make sure hallways and door openings are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Along those hallways, tap-activated glow lights provide bette…

General Maintenance Checklist

This checklist covers some basic, necessary maintenance items for most homes. It is by no means all-inclusive. Some items may not be applicable for the type of home and home features you have. For full details, please consult all guides, warranties, and literature provided by Design Tech Homes, as well as the specific warranties and manuals for your home's various appliances. Monthly (on or around the first day of the month) Test and clean/dust smoke and carbon monoxide detectors Test GFCI/GFI receptacle/breaker and outlets Replace/clean heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) air return filters Ch…

Freeze Protection Tips

Potted plants Drag into the garage, or next to a wall. Water them. If located next to a wall, cover with a tarp, blanket, towel or a box. For very tender plants, add a work light. Make sure it is not touching either the cloth or box. Tender in-ground shrubs, perennials and annuals. Water them either the night before, or the morning before the freeze. Cover with a tarp, blanket, towel or a box. For very tender plants, add a work light. Make sure it is not touching either the cloth or box. Do not use plastic It translocates the cold – it's like you never covered the plant at all. Tra…

Foundation Maintenance

Proper maintenance of your home's foundation and supporting soils is critical in the prevention of foundation failure. Each Design Tech home is supported by a monolithic slab-on-grade foundation. Slab-on—grade foundations are 100% dependent on the underlying soils for support. Although every Design Tech home foundation has been professionally engineered for the type of soil in your area, like most other components of the home, it requires maintenance. Your foundation, with proper care, was designed to support the home throughout its functional life. Most areas of Texas have soils that contain variou…

Floor Covering Cleaning & Maintenance

Carpet Vacuuming In order to extend the life and beauty of your carpet it is necessary to vacuum regularly. In high traffic areas this could be as much as once a day. Vacuuming not only keeps the carpet clean, but helps to keep the nap in an upright position. Spills Spills should be dabbed up and spot cleaned immediately. Be sure to color test your spot cleaner in a non visible place, i.e. a closet, first. Carpets should be cleaned professionally regularly, i.e. annually. Resilient Flooring No Wax The resilient flooring in your home is the no wax type. This means the floor is coated with a clear finish t…

Fireplace Maintenance

Always be sure the damper is fully open before starting a fire in the fireplace. It can, and should be closed during non-use to avoid conditioned air loss. Gas Starters When you have a gas starter, first arrange your logs and open the fresh air vent, if applicable, then start a small fire with newspaper before attempting to turn on the gas starter. Once the wood is sufficiently burning, you can turn off the starter. Do not leave the valve key in the valve to avoid unintentional gas leaks. Glass Doors Where provided be sure they are open while a fire is burning intensely. They can be closed when the fi…

Fall Lawn Preparation

Care of your lawn in the fall is as important as in spring and summer. Regular care is the key to an attractive and healthy lawn through the fall and winter months. Here are few things you can do to help your lawn survive the winter and recover vigorously in the spring. Fertilization — Fall fertilization is the key to prolonging fall color and promoting early spring recovery of the lawn. It helps produce a dense turf that resists winter weeds. Fertilizer used in the fall should be higher in nitrogen and potassium and lower in phosphorus. Grasses fertilized this way have shown greater survival during…

End Of Summer Lawn And Garden Tips

Plant Fall color such as mums, asters, marigolds, zinnias, and celosia. Fall-flowering bulbs such as spider lilies, fall crocus, and fall amaryllis. Finish warm-season vegetable plantings of beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, and squash. Cool-season vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, and English peas. Finish planting warm-season lawn grasses: buffalo, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia. Wildflower seed. Water Water deeply and as infrequently as possible. Your garden and landscape will usually need more water this month…

Core Aeration Gets To The Root Of Hard Soil

During March and April, homeowner thoughts turn to the quality of their lawns. Lawn quality is measured in terms of color, density and uniformity. Soil conditions, fertilization, and watering are the factors that affect lawn quality. Of these, the condition of your lawn's soil and your fertilization schedule have the greatest impact. It's entirely possible that the grass will be unable to take up the nutrients provided by spring fertilization due to poor soil conditions. Is the soil beneath your grass hard and lumpy? Does water run off after the grass has been irrigated? Does it always seem "thirsty", i…

Cleaning Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are popular as design features within many areas of today's modern homes. They vary in size, style, color and cost, and are popularly used because of their beauty as well as their ease to clean. Whether used as flooring or on walls, ceramic tiles can be maintained easily if you follow some standard procedures for their upkeep. Ceramic tiles are made from clay that contain silicates. To produce a tile, this clay mixture is formed and baked at high temperatures. Ceramic tiles can be purchased in two forms: unglazed or glazed. Unglazed tiles typically require more cleaning maintenance because t…

Cleaning and Removing Mildew from Exterior Walls and Siding

Mildew is unsightly but easy to remove. Moisture, and therefore mildew, can be controlled to a degree by arranging landscaping so that natural breezes can flow near the houseand dry the siding if it becomes wet from rain or dew. Keep shrubs awayfrom the walls. Gutters and downspouts, as well as a moderate roofoverhang, will help also. Give special attention to air movementpatterns on northern exposures where sunlight cannot assist in drying.On sidings which may have a tendency to absorb moisture from rain ordew, a semi-gloss or gloss latex or oil paint with an appropriateprimer is recommended. When wood s…

Tips on Buying Land to Build a House

You want to build a custom home, but do not own a lot to build on yet. Buying land to build a house is your first step, an important one that needs your thought and careful planning. But don't let the idea of buying property intimidate you. By following the tips provided below, you can make the process easier and soon become a land owner ready to build your custom home. Determining Your Budget: Loans to Buy Land & Build a House Before you begin searching for land to buy, you need to know how much you can afford to pay. Keep in mind that you will also need a loan to finance construction for your new home…

Air Conditioning Maintenance

An air conditioner requires regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases. Filters The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. Most people recommend changing your air filter once a month during the hottest time of the year and every other…