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home appeal SUMMER 2018

home / garden / renovation

Suburban Lancaster Co.

Pool Perfection: 4 Tips For Pristine Water Keep Your Garden Thriving During A Drought In Awe Of Awnings: Making Outdoor Spaces More Comfortable Avoid Barbecue Blunders Conserve Energy And Beat The Heat Published by Engle Printing & Publishing Co., Inc.

Swimming weather is something to enjoy. But for pool owners, few things are more of a headache than wanting to jump into the pool only to find that the water is cloudy, green, and uninviting. Clean pools are safe, and that cleanliness requires periodic maintenance. Homeowners may need to regularly revisit pool water chemistry and cleaning techniques in order to maintain clean, healthy, and safe pools.

Disinfectant levels - Maintaining a satisfactory level of disinfectant will help prevent the multiplication of bacteria and algae in the pool. Many pools are kept clean through the use of chlorine products. The ratio of chlorine to water needed to maintain the clarity of the water depends on the size of the pool, the sanitizer used, weather, sunlight and evaporation, and pH. Frequent testing will help pool owners gauge how well the pool water is holding chlorine and how to compensate if extra is needed. Brushing and vacuuming - Nearly every pool owner has had to deal with algae at some point. One of the best ways to minimize algae spores in the pool besides high sanitation levels is through routine suburban lancaster co. home appeal [2] summer


Maintaining the proper chemical balance of pool water will help keep it clean and protect system components from damage. The pH level of pool water measures its acidity or alkalinity. The pH level should be between 7.4 and 7.6 for best results. Pool maintenance experts say water that is too acidic can cause eye and skin irritation and damage liners or equipment with corrosion. High pH may cause cloudy water and make chlorine less active. Again, frequent testing helps pool owners better understand their water chemistry and make adjustments.

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Filtration - For cleanliness, water circulation and filtration are essential. Proper circulation and filtration help spread the chemicals to all areas of the pool and also help to remove debris. Filters come in different types, including sand, diatomaceous earth, and cartridge. Each has its pros and cons. How long to run the filter depends on water temperature, the gallons of water in the pool, and the estimated water turnover rate of the filter. Longtime pool owners recommend that new owners start with longer filter run times and gradually cut down until they find the right rate based on water appearance.

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brushing and vacuuming. According to pool maintenance experts, pool walls, floors, and steps are the most common places in a pool to find algae. If left untreated, algae can burrow their roots inside the cracks on these surfaces, making them very difficult to remove. That’s why weekly (or more frequent) brushing and vacuuming can help keep surfaces clean and algaefree. Vacuuming also helps remove debris that has fallen into the water and collected at the bottom of the pool, which can decompose and contribute to water cloudiness.

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NO RAIN? NO PROBLEM. Keep Your Garden Thriving During A Drought D

uring the early and oftentimes rain-drenched days of spring, it can seem like there may never be a time when plants will struggle to get their share of water. But gardeners should keep in mind that drought can affect any area. Ensuring gardens can survive drought takes patience and forethought.

· Choose drought-tolerant plants. Homeowners can work with garden centers and landscape professionals to create gardens that are full of waterwise plants and flowers. Some examples of plants that can survive with minimal water include the blanket flower, Spanish lavender, Euphorbia rigida, and kangaroo paw. · Apply a layer of mulch. Mulch can protect delicate plants and the rest of the landscape by reducing the evaporation of soil moisture. Mulch will keep soil cool and moist.

Drought can be particularly troubling for avid gardeners because it can wreak havoc on lawns and gardens. In addition to causing changes in plants’ physical appearance, including wilted, dried-out leaves and stalks, drought can weaken the integrity of plants. This makes plants more susceptible to disease and attacks from plant-preying insects, according to Better Homes & Gardens. In addition, it can take years for plants to recover from drought.

· Skip the fertilizer. Since fertilizers encourage plant growth, it’s best to skip them during drought, as growing plants require extra water.

So what can gardeners do? While they may not be able to prevent all damage to plants from drought, gardeners are not helpless.

· Use organic materials. Amend the soil with organic materials, like compost. The Grow Network advises that light, fluffy soils with air pockets in between the soil particles route water efficiently during floods and retain moisture for plants. Therefore, such soils can perform very well during drought.

· Water thoroughly but infrequently. Get plants used to a thorough watering every week or every other week. This will help develop strong, deep roots rather than shallow ones that will need frequent watering to thrive.

· Invest in rain barrels. When it rains, maximize the amount of water that can be collected by connecting rain barrels to downspouts on the house. This water can be used to water gardens when dry weather returns.

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Mulch Madness!

Mulch can go a long way toward helping plants thrive. Mulch comprises just about any material that is spread over the surface of soil. Its purpose is primarily to help soil retain moisture. In addition, mulch can staunch weed growth, keep soil cool, improve the aesthetics of garden beds, and even improve soil nutrient composition. When the right mulch is chosen, it can reduce the amount of time homeowners spend watering and weeding their gardens and insulate plants from dramatic changes in weather. According to HGTV, mulch also can prevent garden soil from becoming overly compacted. This can mean beneficial earthworms can move easily through the soil, creating channels for water and depositing their nutrient-rich waste products. Gardeners can choose organic or inorganic mulch. Organic mulches are derived from natural materials that will decompose over time, lending organic matter as well as various nutrients to the soil. Organic mulches also may contain beneficial microorganisms that can fight against plant diseases. Inorganic mulches may be made of stones, landscape fabrics, and plastic. Both types will need to be amended or replaced as they degrade. Those who want the most environmentally friendly mulching materials can choose all-natural mulches instead of synthetic alternatives. According to the experts at Old World Garden Farms, to work effectively, mulch should be applied in a 2- to 3-inch layer of material. This is the ideal amount to retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth without choking plants. Also, mulch that is too thick may make it impossible for water to penetrate, or it may prevent the soil from airing out, causing continuously wet conditions that lead to root and stem rot. The University of Connecticut Home & Garden Education Center says mulch should not be placed directly against plant crowns or tree bases, as this can promote the development of disease. It may also serve as a habitat for bark- and stem-eating rodents. The center also suggests watering newly installed bark or wood mulches to prevent fungi from colonizing in dry mulch and causing problems like a water-repellent surface on the mulch. Home landscapers considering mulch types may find that compost, manure, and grass clippings (from nonpesticide-treated lawns) can be inexpensive and versatile in garden beds. The home advice site The Spruce notes that newspaper may also be effective. Many newspapers have switched over to organic dyes, especially for their black-and-white sections. Newspapers are an inexpensive way to suppress weeds and act like organic mulch in beds. They can be covered with other organic mulch, like shredded bark, for more visual appeal.


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In Awe Of Awnings: Making Outdoor Spaces More Comfortable

Protecting against sun damage -

Awnings provide excellent protection against sun damage, as they can shield outdoor furniture from direct sunlight, helping to reduce the chances for discoloration or fading.

Reducing costs of air conditioning -

In addition to shading outdoor living areas, smaller awnings can be placed over southern- and western-facing windows, shielding interiors against the sun’s rays. In turn, this may reduce reliance on air conditioners.


any homeowners are eager to step outdoors upon the return of warm weather. Outdoor living spaces have grown in popularity as more and more people embrace opportunities to entertain and lounge around in their yards. Outdoor entertaining areas can be great, but such spaces may go unused when the summer sun makes it uncomfortable to spend time outdoors. A retractable awning or another form of sun shade can change that. Awnings can be worthwhile investments that can be beneficial both inside and outside the home. Some benefits of installing an awning, canopy, or sun shade include: Increasing usable yard space - Awnings can create privacy and establish boundaries for outdoor living areas, as homeowners can place an awning over a deck, tables and chairs, or an entire patio area. Some people like to install awnings over a portion of their pools to provide shade for those who want to escape the sun’s rays. Motorized awnings can be retracted with the push of a button, which can help homeowners with physical limitations. suburban lancaster co. home appeal [6] summer

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Conserve Energy And Beat The Heat As energy bills tend to be high in summertime when many people crank up their air conditioners in an attempt to combat the heat, finding strategies for conserving energy can be beneficial. For some households, higher energy bills might be stretching their budgets, while others might be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Conserving energy can help homeowners save money and help the planet at the same time. Various strategies can help homeowners and apartment dwellers to reduce their summertime energy consumption, without requiring them to sacrifice comfort in the name of conservation.  Stop cooling an empty home. A cool home might be the ultimate necessity during summer heat waves, but there’s no reason to cool a residence when no one is home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operating thermostats more efficiently can help homeowners trim their cooling costs by as much as 10 percent. One way to be more efficient with thermostats is to keep the house warmer than normal when no one is home. Programmable thermostats can be set so air-conditioning units turn on shortly before residents arrive home, ensuring the house is comfortable and no energy is wasted.  Narrow the gap between indoor and outdoor temperatures. The DOE notes that the suburban lancaster co. home appeal [8] summer


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 Do not set air conditioner thersmaller the difference between the temperature indoors and outside, the mostats at lower-than-normal temlower cooling costs will be. While it peratures when turning them on. may be tempting to set thermostats The DOE notes that setting thermodown low on days when temperatures stats at lower-than-normal temperatures when reach 90 F or turning air above, that’s an enormous Conserving energy can help conditioners temperature homeowners save money on will not cool homes gap that will and help the planet any faster than result in a high setting them energy bill. at the same time. at typical Instead, the temperatures. DOE recommends setting thermostats to 78 F Such a strategy will only lead to excessive energy consumption and whenever possible.  Open the windows at night. higher energy bills.  Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans Daytime temperatures – particularly can improve cooling efficiency in a during the dog days of summer – may necessitate the use of air conditioners; home. According to the DOE, ceiling fans allow people who use air condihowever, people who live in climates tioners to raise the thermostats on where temperatures drop considertheir AC units about 4 F without ably at night can sleep with their win- adversely affecting comfort levels. dows open. This reduces energy con- And, on days when the heat is not too sumption and saves money, and it can oppressive, people may find that ceilbe a great way to introduce fresh air ing fans are enough to keep into a home during a time of year rooms cool without the need for air when air can become stagnant. conditioners.

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Avoid Barbecue Blunders: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

Cooking food over an open fire imparts all sorts of flavor. Grilling can also be quicker, less messy, and more convenient than cooking in the kitchen particularly during the dog days of summer. Outdoor grills are seemingly everywhere, including many backyards across the country. Grills being commonplace doesn’t mean that everyone grilling is employing the right techniques, however. Becoming the ultimate grillmaster involves understanding the subtleties of grilling and avoiding common mistakes so food can look and taste its best. Here are some common barbecue blunders to avoid: Not prepping the food: The French culinary term for preparing to cook is “mise en place.” This is especially important when grilling, as cooks must deal with faster cooking times than they would otherwise encounter when cooking meals on the stove.


2. Using a dirty grill: Make sure the grill is cleaned before and after each 3. 4. 5. 6.


use. Grease can quickly build up on a grill, leading to flare-ups that can cause foods to char. Frequent cleaning also helps grillmasters avoid a tiresome cleaning process at the start of the season. Forgetting to preheat: Preheating the grill ensures that foods will cook quickly and as evenly as possible. Otherwise, meats can lose moisture and even stick to cooler grates. Experts suggest preheating to between 350 F and 450 F, depending on the food. Over-relying on lighter fluid: The chemical taste of lighter fluid can transfer to foods even when the fluid is used sparingly. Consider using a chimney starter when grilling with charcoal. Avoid repeated pyrotechnics with fluid, or worse, gasoline. Utilizing too much direct heat: Food should not char on the outside before the inside has a chance to cook. A two-zone fire, according to food experts at Serious Eats, enables grillmasters to cook over high heat to sear and then move the food to a lower temperature to continue to cook evenly. Playing with food: Grilling does not require much intervention. Repeatedly flipping and squeezing meat and poultry can cause flavorful juices to leak out, which leaves food dried out. Resist any urges to prod and poke food. Minimize how many times you lift the grill cover to take a peek, as that can cause temperatures to fluctuate. Use a thermometer to determine when food is done, and don’t forget that meat will still cook a bit after it’s taken off the grill. Using the improper seasoning: Basting food with sugar-laden sauces and marinades too early can cause flare-ups and burning. Quick rubs can help lock in flavor, and cooks should then reserve the sauce for the last few minutes of grilling, says cookbook author Dave Martin.

8. Digging in too


soon: Give meats a chance to rest for between five and 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute through the food. This improves flavor and tenderness.

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Home Appeal Summer 2018 - Suburban Lancaster Co Edition  
Home Appeal Summer 2018 - Suburban Lancaster Co Edition