Mary Mastroeni
GoogleLinked InYoutubePinterest
 
Mary Mastroeni

Mary's Blog

Hot Home Trends: Green Roof System

April 25, 2012 8:04 pm

A hot home trend arriving just in time for spring is a green roof system—a roof covered with a layer of lush plants. These green roofs provide sustainable benefits, extend the life of the roof, and improve storm water management. 

“A green roof acts like a natural sponge and reduces the volume and velocity of storm water runoff,” says Andy Sudbrock, plant ecologist, Southeast Green Roofs, LLC. “Green roof plants and soil also provide a protective shield for the roof itself. The roof will last much longer.”

Green roof systems also conserve energy by moderating rooftop temperatures, while supporting fragile ecosystems and lending unique beauty, especially if installed in urban spaces. Look for this eco trend popping up on the rooftops of buildings and homes across the country. 

Source: http://www.southeastgreenroofs.com

Tags:

5 Tips for Creating a Stadium-Style Lawn in Your Own Backyard

April 25, 2012 8:04 pm

(ARA) - With summer on the horizon, families will be heading to backyards across the country for picnics, sports games and to simply soak up the sun. A lush green lawn is the perfect setting for these activities and will be the envy of the neighborhood. How does one achieve that well-manicured, stadium-style lawn?

Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.

Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It's also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.

Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.

Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed USA recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It's important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.

Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don't jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.

Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It's equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you've noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you'd like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.

Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn't have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.

Tags:

Word of the Day

April 25, 2012 8:04 pm

Discount points. Added loan fee charged by a lender to make the yield on a lower-than-market-value loan competitive with higher-interest loans.

Tags:

Question of the Day

April 25, 2012 8:04 pm

Q: When do foreclosure proceedings begin? 

A: Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.

Tags:

Spring Safety 101: Tree and Brush Clean-Ups

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

I know I have 'tapped' the knowledge of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) in the past in order to bring you the best information about tree safety and care. However, I was recently contacted to help the organization promote a critical safety message for home and property owners requiring tree and brush clean-ups this spring.

Tchukki Andersen, a Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Tree Safety Professional and staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association wants property owners to appreciate that tree work, while appearing fairly straightforward and simple, is actually extremely complicated and technical.

Andersen says there is so much to understand about removing live or hanging tree branches, and it is not at all like cutting up firewood on the ground.

He always hopes anyone requiring tree work will consult with a qualified tree professional who is trained to look for and take special precautions against trees or branches with decay, cracks or unbalanced weight; working near overhead electrical wires; preventing falls; and removing portions of or entire trees without causing property damage, or bodily harm to themselves or others.

Andersen has seen too many cases where inexperienced and well-meaning do-it-yourselfers have been hurt trying to cut their own trees, and makes these recommendations to help keep you safe:

• Find a sturdy ladder that will reach at least 5 feet beyond the branch you lean it on. When a large branch is cut from a tree, the loss of the weight will cause the rest of the limb to suddenly lurch up. According to Andersen, many unaware homeowners have been severely injured, some fatally, when the ladder they are standing on falls out from under the branch they are cutting. The biggest danger is taking too big or too unwieldy of a piece at one time.
• Be sure tools are properly sharpened or maintained. Andersen says a dull chain forces you to use too much pressure, causing you to lose control. This can lead to numerous problems, many of them potentially resulting in a hospital visit.
• Be aware of where you are cutting. Andersen knows trees are mechanically complex organisms that need to be cut in a certain way to remove pieces safely. Cutting off a large section of limb to save time will usually cause the branch to fall before the cut is finished. The cut end will often tear into the branch all the way back to the trunk. This action can cause damage to the tree (and to the person cutting) as it swings out of control.

For more information, locate a local TCIA Member by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on treecaretips.org.

Tags:

Hot Home Trends: Clay Brick

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

Clay brick is currently percolating in the hot home trend circuit. In hopes of meeting high green building criteria, architects around the country are incorporating genuine clay brick throughout the house for sustainable design that also helps save on energy costs.

Consumers are learning that brick exteriors boost sustainability and performance over their main competitors, like vinyl. Plus, clay brick is free of volatile organic compounds. For an added green bonus, clay brick often uses recycled content, and if the brick is locally sourced, it reduces the use of fossil fuels for a double win. 

How else can clay brick help your home? Brick homes use 1 to 2 percent less energy than vinyl-clad homes, and the natural siding helps to regulate interior temperatures by soaking up the sun in the winter to keep heat inside. Offering a 100-year lifespan, as compared to vinyl siding with a 25- to 50-year life span, genuine clay brick exteriors also offer low- to no maintenance and moisture resistance—not to mention natural beauty. 

Sources: www.gobrick.com, www.greenbrick.com

Tags:

Get Stoked for Summer with Simple Pool Opening Tips

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

The summer months are fast approaching, and if you are one of the over 8.5 million swimming pool owners in the U.S., you are looking forward to making many family memories in the backyard. Once overnight temperatures remain above freezing and daytime temperatures remain above 60 degrees, it is time to start opening the pool. 

Follow these simple steps to open your pool with ease:
1. Remove pool cover and drain any accumulated water away from pool.
2. Fill your pool to the middle of the skimmer opening to allow for proper circulation.
3. Check your pump, skimmer basket and filter.
4. Test sanitizer and pH routinely.
5. Routine maintenance is the best way to keep your pool sparkling. 

If you are still unsure, consider seeking a local pool retailer, who can offer products and systems that make caring for the pool a snap.

Source: http://www.bioguard.com.

Tags:

Life Makeover: Live True to Yourself

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

What is the No. 1 regret of hospice patients in their dying days? 

“They wished they would have lived life the way they wanted to, not the way others wanted them to,” says Kathie Truitt, author of The Hillbilly Debutante Café, quoting an article by former palliative care worker Bronnie Ware. 

Truitt changed her life by necessity after a devastating series of events led to the loss of her home and career. Like many Americans who lost it all in the recent recession, Truitt decided to go about things differently the second time around. 

“I got rid of the socialite sweater sets, the business suits and pumps, which were not me, and went to what is me – vintage dresses and cowboy boots,” she says. “I live in the Washington, D.C., area because I have too. But I don’t have to conform to how other people look, dress and behave here. I surround myself with the things I like; I have a country-style house, I drive a pickup, and, once a month, I take a ride out to one of the places featured in Southern Living magazine.” 

You don’t have to have a lot of money to live a life truer to your spirit. Truitt offers some suggestions: 

• Make location a state of mind. Does your heart yearn to be somewhere else? You’re in Kansas, but you long to live on the beach, or you’re in the city but you’re a country person, like Truitt. If you can’t follow your heart, bring that place to you. If you love all things Paris, for instance, decorate a room or your whole home Parisian style. Instead of going to the grocery store once a week, find a market and stop in every day for fresh food, the way the French do. Ride a bicycle; put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on your desk at work; eat lunch al fresco. Take a French class and maybe you’ll meet some like-minded friends. 

• Turn your passion into a career. You don’t have to give up your day job to pursue a career doing what gratifies and satisfies you. If you love playing music, set aside time to practice and write songs. Pursue opportunities to play at local events; create video recordings and upload them to YouTube (it worked for Justin Bieber!); offer to perform at your place of worship. Whether you dream of writing a novel, designing jewelry or being a race car driver, working at it even part-time will help you feel fulfilled. 

• Take the plunge and start your own business. In 2011, entrepreneurs started 543,000 new businesses each month, on average, among the highest startup rates in 16 years, according to the most recent Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. With all the tax breaks and incentives being offered to small businesses now, it’s a good time to open that restaurant you always wanted, or launch that graphics design studio. You’ll never know until you try! 

As for Truitt, she would love to be back home in El Dorado Springs, Mo. Since she can’t be there, she wrote a novel set in the small, southern town, which is struggling financially. She hopes to fan interest in tourists visiting the town to meet the business owners described in her book, and see the sights. 

“There are many ways to live your dreams,” Truitt says. “You’re limited only by your imagination. I don’t want to be that person looking back on my life and regretting that I lived it by someone else’s rules.” 

Kathie Truitt is a former radio personality and speaker in the South, where she was crowned Mrs. Missouri America. She’s the author of False Victim, a memoir about the nightmare of events that forced her from her home.

For more information, visit www.hillbillydebutante.blogspot.com.

Tags:

Word of the Day

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

Discount broker. Full-service broker who charges less than the prevailing commission rates in his or her community.

Tags:

Question of the Day

April 24, 2012 8:00 pm

Q: If faced with foreclosure, what are my options?
A:
Talk with your lender immediately. The lender may be able to arrange a repayment plan or the temporary reduction or suspension of your payment, particularly if your income has dropped substantially or expenses have shot up beyond your control. 

You also may be able to refinance the debt or extend the term of your mortgage loan. In almost every case, you will likely be able to work out some kind of deal that will avert foreclosure.

If you have mortgage insurance, the insurer may also be interested in helping you. The company can temporarily pay the mortgage until you get back on your feet and are able to repay their “loan.”

If your money problems are long term, the lender may suggest that you sell the property, which will allow you to avoid foreclosure and protect your credit record. 

As a last resort, you could consider a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. This is where you voluntarily “give back” your property to the lender. While this will not save your house, it is not as damaging to your credit rating as a foreclosure.

Tags: