6 curb appeal-enhancing plants to start growing now
Waiting is part of life. But when the cold weather rolls in, the need to "sit tight" happens with greater frequency. Waiting for Christmas and Hanukkah. Waiting to see results from your New Year's resolution to exercise more. Waiting for the first flakes to fall - then anxiously awaiting the return of warm temperatures from spring when piles of snow have you at your wit's end.
If you're a homeowner, all this waiting around gives you plenty of time to prepare for spring, which is when the housing market really starts to heat up. During this intervening period, you may want to consider exercising your green thumb, the fruits of which can help to truly beautify your home and enhance curb appeal, which is a key aspect to drawing attention for would-be buyers. According to Zillow, the average seller has approximately 13 years of age on their home. In addition to some strategic renovations, shrubs, flowers and gardens help to spruce your property up a bit so that it captures potential buyers' attention.
The ground may be far too hard and temperatures far too cold to dig into the dirt outside for now, but there are a plethora of beautiful, aromatic plants you can begin growing from inside your home, then transfer outdoors once the ground thaws and April showers give way to May flowers.
Here are a few primarily outdoor garden plants that grow great from indoors, as recommended by The Spruce. You may not need to wait too long before you see some serious sprouting:
Otherwise known as flowering maple, abutilon is an annual flower, meaning that its life cycle lasts about a year - as opposed to a biennial or perennial - and thrives in tropical environments. As such, in order to enhance growth, it's ideally positioned in areas of the home where the sun shines the brightest. A window that faces southerly or westerly. It's fairly simple to manage as well, as a result of its desire for warmth, so you won't have to water it too frequently. The Spruce suggests doing so once the soil looks and feels completely dry. You may also want to use a water-soluble fertilizer.
Depending on when you begin, you can expect to see blooming in late April or the middle of May. The petals of abutilon are a vivid burnt orange, almost certain to capture the eye of house hunters.
If you enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors from fall foliage, the begonia is right up your alley. The teardrop-shaped leaves are typically fuschia (purplish red) and often have additional deeper colors that add texture and contrast. But that's for rex begonias. There are dozens of begonia varieties, including ambassador series, cocktail series, doublet white, wax, sutherland and the appropriately described painted leaf. The type you get will largely dictate the colors you can expect, including silver, pink, red, green and brown.
Although begonias do thrive in humid environments, avoid placing them in portions of your home with direct sunlight. Partial or indirect is preferable. Also, be careful not to over water, as begonias harness moisture well.
Found in many parts of the world, including southern and western Europe as well as eastern Asia, boxwood is an evergreen variety that tends to grow rather slowly. Patience pays off, however, because the plant can grow to be as tall as nearly 50 feet. It takes a while for them to grow that that, as the growth rate is typically no more than around 12 inches per year, according to horticulturalists.
For boxwood to get going with growing, however, humidity is key. Place the initial seedlings of this evergreen in portions of the home where the air is a bit thicker. You can add to the humidity of your home through various moisture-promoting strategies, such as letting dishes from dinner air dry, leaving the door open slightly while showering or making your own tea more frequently (humidity derives from the teapot's steam).
Bright sunlight and watering every day or two helps as well. Much like the abutilon, water only when the soil feels dry.
If you're sick and tired of the cold and wet, caladium feels your pain. They're native to tropical environments and have distinctively shaped leaves that resemble an arrow. The colors combine green and red, similar in distribution to what you'd find on stalks of rhubarb. Yet unlike the sour vegetable, caladium are poisonous if ingested, so be sure to keep them out of reach of pets or young children.
As far as care goes, again, they loath the cold, so keep them in warm environments that are ideally between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, The Spruce advised. Light sources should be indirect and water enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but not drenching wet.
This plant is another one whose leaves are uniquely shaped (almost resembling a heart), and are multicolored, flanked by green with yellow accents and a purplish pink in the center. Other common coleus colors include green and red. Similar to the other flowers and plants mentioned, this plant prefers temperatures on the warmer side, but do still grow even when temps dip below room temperature. However, ensure that the thermostat stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Spruce says indirect bright sunlight is this plant's preference and the soil should remain damp to the touch, which entails regular watering.
You don't have to have a green thumb to have heard of the geranium, which is one of the more fragrant flowers you'll find and traces back more than 200 years. What makes these primarily pink and white beauties particularly great indoor plants is their need to overwinter, which basically means that they require sheltering from the cold. This can be done by placing geraniums in a cool - but not cold - portion of your home, such as in the cellar or garage. They do still require sunlight to grow, but it doesn't need to be direct. The Spruce says full sun is best.
Lastly, avoid over watering by allowing the soil to dry completely before the next one.
Through tender loving care and attention, these plants can add eye-catching curb appeal and valuation to your home that is well worth the wait!
Heart Healthy Exercises to Do At Home
February isn’t just about chocolates, flowers and Valentine’s Day cards, it is also American Heart Month. Heart Month has been celebrated annually since 1963 in an effort to make Americans more aware of heart disease and ways that they can help prevent it. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (30 minutes for 5 days) of moderate to vigorous exercise a week in order to improve cardiovascular health. Busy schedules can make finding the time to exercise a challenge. Luckily there are plenty of activities that you can do in and around your home to help get your 150 minutes of exercise in for the week.
In the winter shoveling snow from your walkway or driveway is an excellent way to get moving. You could even consider buying a roof rake to remove snow build up and avoid ice dams that cause leaks in your home. In the warmer months raking leaves, mowing the lawn, weeding, mulching, picking up fallen sticks and trimming hedges are all great ways to add curb appeal to your home. They also get your blood pumping and improve your overall health. Instead of paying someone else to take care of your outdoor chores, start spending some time on the weekends getting fresh air and making your outdoor space the envy of the neighborhood.
Spending the day doing housework can also elevate your heart rate. Clear things out from your attic or basement that you no longer need and break a sweat carrying items up and down the stars. Sweep, vacuum and mop your house, or even rent a carpet steamer and give your floors the deep cleaning they deserve. Roll up your sleeves and get your blood pumping while you get a head start on Spring Cleaning.
Walking is the simplest form of exercise, but its benefits for your overall health are huge. According the American Heart Association, for every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy for some people may increase by two hours. Walking at a brisk pace for 150 minutes a week can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Common Household Items to Get You Moving:
Canned goods: Use cans in place of hand weights.
Wall: Wall-sits will work your quads and glutes.
Stairs: Walk or run the stairs in your house for a great cardio work-out.
Countertop: Do pushups using your counter top while you wait for your dinner to cook.
150 minutes can seem like a lot of time to spend exercising in a week, but it is very manageable when you can do it at home. Get up, get moving, and start improving your heart health!
RMS Employees, Susan Quilty and Andrew Edwards, have been included in a write up by Banker & Tradesman
5 indoor home improvements you can do during the cooler months
Do these chilly winter months have you hibernating in your home? It’s easy to fall into an unproductive rut when you find yourself avoiding the cold outdoors. Luckily, there is plenty that you can do to improve your home all while staying comfortably inside.
Installing crown molding can give your home a finished and refined look. Make sure that you are buying the correct size molding for the room you are installing it in. For smaller rooms with ceiling heights of 8 feet, consider keeping your molding width between three to six inches. Larger rooms and rooms with higher ceilings can support wider crown molding.
Upgrade Your Cabinet Hardware:
Changing your hardware on your cabinets can instantly make your kitchen look more updated. Upgrading the hardware on your cabinets will take less than half a day to complete, and all you need is the hardware itself and a screwdriver.
Add a new backsplash:
After you change out your cabinet hardware, add a new backsplash and your kitchen will look modern and refreshed. Many backsplashes like beaded-board and tile are easy to install so you can do it on your own within a weekend. Freshening up your kitchen can add value to your home and it doesn’t need to break the bank or take more than a day or two to complete.
Add a Programable Thermostat:
A programable thermostat will help you save energy and money. You can set the thermostat to drop the temperature down 8-10 degrees while you’re at work and sleeping. This will help you save money on utility bills without needing to think about it!
Caulk Your Bathroom:
When you start to notice that the areas of caulking that regularly get wet are yellow and cracked, it is time to redo your caulking. First remove the caulk with the help of a putty knife and caulk remover. Then thoroughly clean the surrounding tiles with a vacuum and alcohol. Then you are ready to apply the new layer of caulk and remove any excess caulking.
Don’t let bitter cold weather keep you from updating your home. Spend the last few weeks of winter inside sprucing up your home and maybe even add some value to your investment!