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How to Control Crabgrass Before it Appears

Homeowners who enjoy tending to their lawns know that grass is vulnerable to a host of problems, many of which appear at a time of year when lawn enthusiasts want to showcase the fruits of their lawn-and-garden labors. Crabgrass is a common problem that appears in summer. According to Lowes, crabgrass plants produce thousands of seeds between midsummer and early fall. While the first frosts of late-fall or early winter kill the crabgrass plants, the seeds produced by the plants remain dormant throughout winter and then begin to grow as the ground temperature warms up with the spring and summer thaw.

As a result, controlling germination, which is the development of a plant from a seed or spore after a period of dormancy, is the key to preventing crabgrass from becoming an unsightly blemish that can harm your lawn in summer. A proactive approach to crabgrass can save homeowners the headaches of dealing with this unwanted guest taking over their grass. The following tips, courtesy of Lowes, can help homeowners reduce the likelihood of their lawns being overcome by crabgrass as summer hits full swing.

Recognize that routine lawn maintenance may not be enough. Even lawns that receive sufficient TLC can fall victim to crabgrass. A proactive, crabgrass-specific approach to lawn maintenance is the most effective way to control the problem before it pops up.

Apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Pre-emergent herbicides kill crabgrass seedlings as they germinate. While these herbicides are highly effective, they must be applied at precisely the right time. The right time to apply them depends on weather patterns. For example, Lowes notes that homeowners who live in regions that might have experienced warmer than usual winters will probably need to apply the herbicides earlier than usual. While the manufacturer instructions should always be followed when applying herbicides, it’s essential that homeowners take weather patterns into consideration as well.

Wait until the ground temperature rises above 60 F. Applying herbicides when the ground temperature is below 60 F might render the products ineffective. Gauging soil temperature can be tricky, but Lowes advises monitoring shrubs and trees on the property. Once shrubs begin to bloom and trees bud, herbicide can be applied.

• Wait when treating newly seeded lawns. Pre-emergent herbicides might kill new grass seedlings, so homeowners with newly seeded lawns should wait until they have mowed their lawns three times before applying a herbicide.

Emphasize uniform application. If a herbicide is not applied uniformly across the lawn, crabgrass can establish itself and ultimately spread to the rest of the lawn.

Do not thatch or aerate after applying a herbicide. Thatching or aerating a lawn after applying a herbicide might break the product’s chemical barrier, thereby rendering it ineffective.

Crabgrass can quickly spread on an untreated lawn. A proactive approach that prevents its growth can keep lawns looking great through summer.

How Parents Can Discuss Social Media with Young Children

Parents of young children tend to have a lot on their minds. While social media may not be moms’ and dads’ foremost concern, it’s a topic that today’s parents must discuss with their children eventually. Social media is largely uncharted territory for parents. Many parents of young children did not grow up with social media. As a result, they might not know what constitutes appropriate usage, and how to convey that to kids growing up in a world where social media is so prevalent. Parents tasked with discussing social media with kids can consider the following tips.

Recognize today’s kids are the most connected people in the world. UNICEF notes that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are the most connected people in the world. Seventy-one percent of people in that age group are online, while just 48 percent of the total population across the globe is online. Parents won’t be able to eliminate the internet or social media from their kids’ lives. So discussions about social media usage should be about responsible usage, which should include limits on how much time kids spend online each day.

Don’t view social media as a villain. While social media gets its share of deserved and undeserved criticism, UNICEF, in its “The State of the World’s Children 2017” report, noted that digital technologies can serve as positive forces in the lives of young people. For example, digital technologies allow children to access information on issues affecting their communities. Some youngsters may use that access as inspiration to change their communities for the better.

In addition, social media allows young people with conditions such as cerebral palsy to interact with their peers in ways they might not have been able to interact in decades past. When discussing social media with their children, parents can emphasize these positive aspects while also noting the negatives associated with social media, using the combination of both as an example of why social media must be used in moderation.

Address the elephant in the room. Everyone on the internet is not who they say they are, and parents must address this with their kids before youngsters open social media accounts. Point out to children that they should never “friend” anyone who they do not know. A 2015 report from Pew Research found that 41 percent of Facebook users are connected with people they have never met in person. While adults who connect with strangers may not be in danger, kids may not be mature or savvy enough to recognize cyber criminals or others looking to prey on their inexperience and trustfulness.

Explain this to children and use it to illustrate why mom and dad want to know who they’re speaking to online. Emphasize that your goal is to protect them, not invade their privacy. Social media can be a difficult topic for parents to discuss with their children.

Maintaining an open and honest dialogue that recognizes the pros and cons of social media can make such discussions more fruitful.

How to Prepare Your Family When an Aging Loved One is Moving In

No man or woman, regardless of his or her age, wants to consider that a day may come when they need to rely on loved ones to help them perform everyday activities. But every day tens of millions of people serve as unpaid caregivers for their aging friends or family members. A 2015 survey from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that approximately 34.2 million people had provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.

Many unpaid caregivers are pulling double duty, caring for their aging parents while also raising families of their own. While there’s no guarantee that aging men and women will require care, caregivers figure to become more necessary as life expectancies increase. In fact, recent years have seen the senior population in the United States exceed 50 million for the first time in the country’s history, and figures from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that figure will continue to rise until 2029. Men and women who are preparing to welcome an aging loved one into their homes may wonder how to make that transition go smoothly, especially if they have young children at home.The following are some tips that can help families prepare to welcome an aging friend or family member into their homes.

• Speak with your loved one’s physicians. Speak with an aging loved one’s physicians so you can get a complete picture of their physical and mental condition. This can give you an accurate depiction of how much care your loved one needs now and how much they might need in the future if their condition worsens.

• Discuss forthcoming changes as a family. Once you gain a full understanding of your loved one’s physical and mental condition and before this person moves into your home, discuss it with your family. Adding a new member to your household will affect everyone, so each member of the family, including young children, should be included when discussing how the family dynamic will change. Parents must recognize that even young children may be asked to make sacrifices to accommodate aging loved ones. Explain these sacrifices in advance and how important it is to make an aging loved one feel welcome when they move in.

• Discuss conditions with children. Children may recognize their grandparents or elderly loved ones have physical limitations, but they likely won’t understand conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Parents can ask a physician about how to explain cognitive decline to young children. Children may not recognize cognitive decline as readily as adults, so parents may need to discuss these conditions with their children periodically and/or if the conditions worsen.

Millions of people across the globe welcome aging loved ones into their homes when they can no longer care for themselves. Such caregiving changes family dynamics, and these changes should be discussed before and after a loved one moves in.

6 Ways to Make Bathrooms a Safer Place

Homes should be safe havens. But each year injuries in and around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and many fatalities each year. Although anywhere in a home can be the scene of an accident, bathrooms tend to be the most dangerous room in the house. Slippery tile, the presence of water, stockpiled medications, and many sharp and hard edges in a small space pose several different hazards in the bathroom, particularly for young children and people age 65 and up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says falls, which can result in serious injuries like hip fractures and head trauma, are the cause of 80 percent of all bathroom accidents. Many bathroom accidents are preventable with some easy modifications.

1. Reduce slippery surfaces. Wet tile is a recipe for slick conditions. Bath rugs with rubber backing can provide traction in the bathroom, as can nonslip mats placed on the floor of the bathtub or shower enclosure. Water-resistant flooring made from recycled rubber is another option. It is softer, less slippery, and more forgiving than traditional tile flooring.

2. Install lever-style fixtures. Round knobs in the bathroom can be difficult to grasp, especially for the elderly or those with arthritis. Lever-style fixtures are easier to maneuver and can help alleviate scalding from not being able to adequately adjust the water temperature.

3. Utilize transfer benches and shower seats. A transfer bench can help reduce injuries that occur when trying to climb over a tub wall. Benches are placed outside of the tub and a person sits and then swings his legs over the ledge. Transfer benches also can be used in conjunction with shower seats. This is a chair or bench that allows people to sit while they shower.

4. Discard old medications. Clean out the medicine cabinet of old or expired medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This reduces the likelihood of medication confusion, and does not put potentially harmful pills and syrups into the hands of children.

5. Install grab bars. Properly installed grab bars around the shower and toilet area can provide leverage and stability. AARP says many injuries to seniors occur when they are attempting to sit or get up from the toilet. Grab bars or an elevated toilet seat can help.

6. Install motion-detecting lights. These lights turn on automatically upon detecting movement, making them beneficial for people who routinely visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Adequate illumination also can help reduce fall risk. Bathroom safety should be made a priority. Various modifications can make bathrooms safer for people of all ages.

How to Protect Your Yard From Deer

With more than 60 different species of deer worldwide, there’s a good chance individuals will have some sort of interaction with these majestic animals at one point during their lifetimes.

Deer, which live on all continents except Antarctica, can survive in everything from mountainous areas to wet rainforests to suburban neighborhoods. These herbivores are voracious eaters that will search far and wide for their meals. Home landscapes tend to be easy pickings for foraging deer.

Many people are excited to see deer in their neighborhoods and yards because they can be such graceful creatures to behold. However, once deer start to munch on ornamental trees, annuals and flowering shrubs, the novelty of these animals may wear off. Furthermore, deer also can be covered in ticks that spread illnesses like Lyme disease. Here are some tips to keep deer at bay.

• Avoid tasty morsels. Deer like English ivy, lettuces, impatiens, pansies, and hostas. Fruit trees also are targets. Choose other plants to grow, and wait until after early spring, when deer aren’t as concerned with regaining weight lost during the winter, to get them in the ground.

• Use fishing line to deter deer. Put a few stakes in the ground and then run fishing line at a height of about three feet. Deer can sense movement but do not have keen vision. As the deer approach your garden, they’ll brush against the “invisible” fishing line and then get spooked off.

• Plant plants that produce strong aromas. The experts at Good Housekeeping suggest planting lavender and marigolds, which emit strong aromas. Deer will be reluctant to walk through because the smell can interfere with their ability to find food and assess their environment via their sense of smell.

• Stock up on soap. The tallow in soap helps keep deer away, according to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science. Scented soaps like Irish Spring may be especially good at warding off deer.

• Plant in levels. Raised beds and sunken gardens can discourage deer from coming into the yard because they aren’t avid climbers, offers the home and garden resource This Old House.

• Employ harmless scare tactics. Deer are skittish, and any unfamiliar movement or sound may scare them away. Cans hung from strings, sundials and lights can keep them at bay. Deer will seek out an easy meal, but homeowners can take steps to safeguard their trees, flowers and shrubs.

Simple Ways to Prevent Dog-Related Lawn Damage

Dogs love spending time outdoors. Dog owners with yards know that dogs benefit greatly from some exercise in the backyard. While that time might be great for dogs, it can take its toll on lawns.

Dog urine and feces can adversely affect the look and health of a lush green lawn. Nitrogen is essential to healthy soil, but only at certain levels. When those levels are exceeded, the result can be lawn damage. According to The Spruce Pets, an advisory site that offers practical tips and training advices to pet owners, this is what happens when pets frequently urinate on grass. Urine is naturally high in nitrogen, so when pets urinate on lawns, the grass might turn yellow or brown due to the excess nitrogen content. Nitrogen also is present in lawn fertilizers, further exacerbating the problem for pet owners who fertilize their lawns.

In addition to urine damage, dogs can trample frosted grass, contributing to problems that may not become evident until spring, and get into areas like gardens where they wreak additional havoc.

Pet owners who want to let their dogs run free in the yard but don’t want damaged grass may be tempted to put their pooches in diapers or confine them to crates when letting them outside. But such an approach isn’t necessary. In fact, some simple strategies can be highly effective at preventing dog-related lawn damage.

• Speak with a landscaper about planting new grass. Certain types of grass, such as Bermuda grass, can withstand dog damage better than others. Local climate will dictate which types of grass are likely to thrive in a given area, so speak with a professional landscaper about the viability of planting new grass.

• Install fencing. Pet owners with expansive yards can install fencing that allows dogs to spend time exercising outdoors without granting them access to the entire property. Large dogs will need more room than small ones, but try to build fenced-in areas that allow dogs to run freely and get the exercise they need to stay healthy.

• Work with a dog trainer. Dog trainers might be able to work with dogs so they only urinate in certain areas of the yard, greatly reducing the damage they can cause to a lawn. Trainers also might help curb digging and clawing behaviors that can damage lawns as well as gardens.

• Consider hardscaping. Hardscaping might be most effective for pet owners with small properties. Hardscaping does not include grass and can add visual appeal to a property while saving pet owners the headaches of dealing with dog-related lawn damage. Dogs need time outdoors, and homeowners can take various steps to protect their lawns from dog-related damage.

How Color Can Affect Your Garden

Flower gardens can add color and awe-inspiring appeal to a property. The National Gardening Association notes that gardeners can find nearly every color of the spectrum in flowering perennials. So whether you prefer soft pink, are partial to bright red or want to relax in a garden and gaze at something deep blue, chances are you’ll find a perennial to tickle your fancy. The NGA offers the following breakdown of colors to help gardeners learn how their gardens can set the mood they’re looking for.

Bright Colors

A garden full of bright colors like red, orange, magenta, and yellow can provide a landscape with vigor and energy. The NGA notes that brightly colored flowers can withstand especially bright sunshine, meaning gardeners can marvel at their appearance even when the sun might be adversely affecting other plants and flowers.

Pastel Colors

Pastels, which include soft pink, powder blue, lavender, and peach, create a tranquil feeling in a garden. This makes pastel perfect for those who want their gardens to be a relaxing, peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The NGA notes that pastels may looked washed out in the midday sun, so they might be best enjoyed early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are those that are opposite one another on the color wheel. Orange and blue are examples of complementary colors. According to the NGA, complementary colors can add creative energy and vitality to a garden.

Harmonious Colors

These colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as orange and red. The NGA recommends harmonious colors for gardeners looking to create a unifying feel in their gardens without resorting to a monochromatic color scheme. Harmonious colors give off a gentle feeling that can make for a relaxing garden atmosphere.

Monochromatic Colors

Monochromatic gardens can be awe-inspiring even though they stick to a single color and don’t provide an array of awe-inspiring colors. The NGA notes that gardeners with monochromatic gardens make them interesting by using plants of various sizes and shapes. When planting a garden, gardeners can choose whichever color scheme they prefer. To learn more about the effects of color on a garden, visit the National Gardening Association website at www.garden.org.

Home Security Tips for Seniors

Seniors are often targeted by criminals. Though many criminals target seniors from afar via telephone or internet scams, criminals seek to enter seniors’ homes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics offers that, between 2003 and 2013, the ratio of property crime to violent crime was higher for the elderly and persons between the ages of 50 and 64 than it was for younger persons between the ages of 25 and 49. Home security is important for people of all ages, but especially so for seniors and aging individuals living alone. By following certain safety tips and developing a home security plan, seniors can feel safer at home.

• Lock windows and doors. It may seem like common sense, but failure to repeatedly lock windows and doors can, and often does, give burglars easy entry into the home.

• Think about a smart doorbell. Technology now enables doorbells to provide a video feed to a person’s smartphone or tablet over WiFi. This allows residents to see who is at the door and speak to this person without having to open the door. Some products like Ring® will even register motion activity and record short videos from outside of the house.

• Don’t share or leave keys. Avoid leaving keys under a mat or in a flower pot. Others may be watching your actions and gain access to your home while you are away.

• Ask for ID. When service people or other individuals come to the door, verify their credentials by asking to see some identification.

• Get a home security system. The best protection against burglars is a home security alarm, states HomeSecurityResource.org. Such an alarm often deters burglars from breaking in.

• Install a lockable mailbox. Locked mailboxes restrict access to sensitive information, such as bank account numbers, sent in the mail. Make sure retirement checks or other payments are deposited directly into bank accounts instead of having them sent by check.

• Use home automation. Home automation, or a “smart home,” can be utilized to turn on lights, set the thermostat, lock doors, and much more.

• Adopt a dog. Dogs can be an asset to seniors. Dogs provide companionship and can bark or alert seniors if someone is around or inside of the home. Home security is serious business for seniors who are vulnerable to criminals.

3 Ways to Use Your Lawn to Improve Curb Appeal

Returns on home improvement projects vary. In its annual Cost vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine notes the projects that yield the best returns on investment in a given year. But a host of factors, including the type of market (buyers’ or sellers’) and the region where the home is being sold, ultimately combine to determine if homeowners’ investments in home improvement projects will provide the returns they were hoping for. Though there’s no way of guaranteeing a home improvement project will yield a great return, real estate professionals often cite improving curb appeal as an excellent way to attract prospective buyers and potentially get the asking price or more when selling the home.

Improving curb appeal makes even more sense in today’s real estate market, when many people do their own searching via real estate websites such as Trulia or Zillow. When using such sites, buyers will likely be less inclined to click on a listing if exterior photos of the property are not eye-catching. Various projects, including tending to lawns and gardens, can improve curb appeal. An added benefit to focusing on landscaping to improve curb appeal is it promotes spending time outdoors in spring and summer. In addition, many lawn- and garden-related home improvement projects need not require professional expertise.

1. Maintain a Lush Green Lawn

Lawns that fall into disrepair may not give buyers a correct impression about how homeowners maintained their homes. Lawns with multiple dead spots and grass that appears more brown than green may lead many buyers to assume that the home’s interior was equally ill-cared for. Maintaining lush green lawns is not as difficult as it may seem. Applying fertilizer and aerating at the appropriate times of year (this varies by region) can promote strong roots and healthy soil, making it easier for grass to survive harsh conditions like drought. When watering in summer, do so in early morning or evening so as little water is lost to evaporation as possible.

2. Address Brown Patch

Even well-maintained lawns can fall victims to brown spots. According to the lawn care professionals at TruGreen, lawns in regions with hot temperatures and high humidity can be infected with brown patch, a common lawn disease that is caused by fungus, which can produce circular areas of brown, dead grass surrounded by narrow, dark rings. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences notes that removing dew that collects on grass leaves each morning, which can be accomplished by mowing or dragging a water hose across affected areas, can be an effective way to reduce brown patch. Homeowners without much lawn care experience can consult professional landscapers to address the issue. But those looking to sell their properties should note that buyers often walk the grounds of homes they are considering buying. So addressing any issues on the lawn should be a priority for sellers.

3. Confine Dogs to Certain Areas

Dog owners may want to let their pets roam free in their yards. But homeowners about to put their properties up for sale may want to confine their four-legged friends to certain areas. That’s because dog urine can be high in nitrogen. Nitrogen itself is not harmful to lawns, but in high concentrations it can contribute to yellow or brown spots. Also, highly acidic dog urine may even adversely affect pH levels in the soil. Curb appeal can go a long way toward helping homeowners sell their homes, and a lush lawn can be used to catch the eye of prospective buyers.

Make the Most of Your Home Improvement Dollars

Home improvement projects provide homeowners with a chance to put their own stamp on their homes. In addition, many such projects make homes safer and, in some instances, more eco-friendly. The opportunity to make a home more comfortable, safer and/or more eco-friendly entices many homeowners to open their wallets. In fact, the Home Improvement Research Institute estimates that the home improvement products market will grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.

Homeowners might experience some sticker shock when researching home improvement projects or receiving estimates from contractors. But there are ways for budget-conscious homeowners to transform their homes and still make the most of their home improvement dollars.

• Do your homework. Each year, Remodeling magazine publishes its “Cost vs. Value Report,” a comprehensive study of 21 popular remodeling projects in 149 United States markets. The report notes the value each project retains at resale in 100 markets across the country. Homeowners who want to get the strongest return on investment can access the “Cost vs. Value Report” (www.remodeling.how.net) to see which home improvement projects are best suited for them.

• Do some of the labor yourself. Homeowners willing to swing a hammer also can stretch their home improvement dollars. For example, the home improvement resource This Old House® notes that homeowners willing to do their own demolition before the contractors arrive can save substantial amounts of money. A professional contractor may charge $1,000 to demo a 200-square-foot deck, but This Old House estimates that homeowners who demo their own decks may spend only $450 (for the dumpster rental and parking permit).

• Hire a consultant. The DIY movement is incredibly popular, no doubt thanks to television channels such as HGTV and the DIY Network. Homeowners with DIY experience may be able to complete projects on their own with little consultation from professional contractors. Some contractors may not offer consulting services, however. The consultation route, which typically requires paying licensed contractors hourly fees to offer guidance, should only be considered by homeowners with legitimate DIY skills, for whom this option can be a great way to save money.

• Schedule renovations during homeowner-friendly times of year. Summer and fall tend to be contractors’ busy seasons, and homeowners will likely pay more for projects during this time of year. If possible, delay starting projects until right after the new year, when contractors aren’t so busy and might be more flexible with pricing. Budget-conscious homeowners can employ various strategies to make the most of their home improvement dollars without sacrificing quality.