Backyard Renovations That Will Increase Your Home Value

For most people, backyard is just a lawn or perhaps a patio area, and they don’t usually want to change that. Still, what if you could renovate your backyard and add things which will not only be great for you and your family, but which would increase the value of your home at the same time? By adding certain things to your backyard, you can make it more comfortable and more personal, and you can turn it into a peaceful oasis for both colder and warmer days.

Plant trees

Trees are great – they add colour, privacy, and much-needed shade to your backyard, and they will also add value to it as well. Pretty much everything else loses value over time, but trees grow bigger, stronger, and more valuable. The best trees to plant are the young ones because they will adapt better, and when you sell your home they will add a touch of nature to it. While your first instinct may be to plant fruit trees, such as apples or pears, think about the smell of rotting coming from the fruit which you won’t be able to pick up and instead opt for something simpler, such as magnolia or oak tree.

Landscape lighting

Thoughtful landscape lighting is a treat for the eyes and it keeps you safe at the same time. People who drive by your home will slow down to admire your backyard because you will create something unique and lovely. When using path lights, feel free to mix different styles and sizes to avoid a monotonous, uniformed look. Every now and then, clean the lamps with damp cloth and dish soap, and make sure the bulbs aren’t burnt out. Your plants will continue to grow, and if you notice your flowers blocking the light output, simply relocate the lamp. Landscape lighting will show off your garden at night, keep you safe when you walk through the yard in the dark, and it will also keep burglars away.

Water, water, water

One of the easiest ways to make a sanctuary out of your backyard is to add the sound of running water to it. Whether it’s a simple little fountain, a small pond where you can keep koi fish, or a hot tub, having water-filled areas in your backyard will increase the value of your home. All you need is a comfortable place to sit down and relax while you listen to the sound of humming water, and you’ll feel the relieved from any kind of stress. The best thing is that you can make your fountain from scratch: all you need is a terracotta pot and a simple recirculating pump from the hardware store and voila – you will have your own DIY fountain.

Make it greener

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could make your backyard greener? Concrete patio is a bad idea because it will create a parking-lot type of yard and rain will only make puddles. By installing grass pavers, you will ensure that green grass neatly covers the driveway and this will keep your front lawns designed to a T. Not to mention that you won’t ruin your lawn when you park your car out front. This is a great solution for areas with heavy rainfalls – they allow the drainage of rainwater back into the underground soil instead of directing it in the waterways.

Fire pit

Fire pits are something you will not be able to use every day, so people tend to avoid installing them. Still, fire pits (or fireplaces) are a touch of luxury people like to have in their backyards. Climate is changing, and cold days are getting even colder, so adding a fire pit will be a nice touch to any backyard for practical reasons, as well. It also makes barbeque days much more enjoyable, and it’s great for small fires, so you can roast marshmallows there and make your outdoor time memorable. There are simple, transportable pits available, but you can also choose to install a real fireplace (although it will cost you more).

Backyard landscaping can seem like a big project, and people don’t do it because they fear the costs would be too high. You can give your backyard a nice makeover with some simple landscaping ideas and you can end up with a yard of your dreams. If you’re not afraid of working hard and if you like the idea of having a whole new backyard, roll up your sleeves and give it a go.

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10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

Many of us struggle with exercising because we lack motivation. Even if we manage to start going to the gym or doing some home exercises, we still tend to give up after some time. It is easy to get the initial desire to lose weight or stay in shape, but keeping that desire and preserving your motivation is another thing. In order to help you motivate yourself to work out every day, here are some useful tips.

image 4Set your goals

In order to start and keep on exercising you have to have a clear goal. Your desired outcome should be specifically defined, which will make it a lot easier to fulfill. Also, for example, define several smaller goals for each month. Plan to lose a few pounds one month, the next one plan to lose a few inches from your waist, the third month can be the month of gaining some muscles and so on. Try to set more challenging goals each month and, by sticking to them and fulfilling them, you will manage to stay motivated.

Make a training plan

There are thousands of ways to achieve your goals. However, one thing is common for any goal – a training plan. No matter how long it will take you to achieve your goals, you will need a day-to-day plan to help you get there. Even if some days are reserved for resting, they also need to be in your plan, so make sure to consult with your personal trainer or someone trustworthy. The plan will keep you on track and it will be far more satisfying to accomplish your goals if you can visually follow them.

image 2Record your training progress

It is essential to track your progress because it will help you set new goals and stay motivated. Keep a logbook or a diary of your gym visits, swimming trainings, running times and other exercises and their duration. This will be a great reminder of all your efforts and it will inspire you to keep on going.

Have a buddy system

Whether you work out with your best friend or not, you should have a buddy system for tracking your exercises. It will provide you with some positive experience that will inspire you each day to exercise more. For example, you can share a Pinterest board with your friend, update your daily exercises and share them. Even if you exercise on your own, your friend’s routine will keep you motivated to follow their steps and even provide motivation for them.

Reward yourself

Getting fit and healthier is a reward on its own, but people often need more. If you want to make your exercises more tangible, you should reward yourself with a smoothie or some delicious treat from time to time. By promising yourself rewards after training, your brain will manage to convince itself to work hard because there is a reward waiting. The brain will figure out that such behavior is worthwhile and it will motivate you to try harder to achieve your goals. Also, by rewarding yourself and training your brain, you will manage to turn the routine into a good habit.

image 3Go shopping for some gym clothes

Believe it or not, new gym wear can make you feel fantastic and excited about your day at the gym. Go shopping, try out different running shoes, T-shirts, tops, sweatpants and yoga pants, and see which pieces make you feel super excited. Fill your closet with plenty of comfy gym wear and you won’t have a problem with getting up and running or hitting the gym in the morning, ever again. Treat yourself to some quality training equipment and you won’t regret it.

Cross-train

It is surprisingly easy to lose motivation even though you have already done everything you can to keep it. That’s why you need to keep things interesting when it comes to the training itself. Same exercises each day will bore you and you will lose interest faster. Try some cross-training to prevent that from happening. If you like running, you can try the opposite and ride a bike, elliptical trainer or go swimming once a week. Mixing up the exercises and breaking up the monotony will give you a chance to improve your flexibility and strength, while it will also keep your brain interested.

Create a playlist

Music makes everything better and that’s why you should have a playlist for your workout. Stick to some upbeat energetic songs that will get your adrenaline high and your body ready for running, squatting and sweating. Depending on your taste in music, you can include a variety of genres; from some Metallica classics, to Beyoncé’s upbeat hits. Just make sure that the list makes you feel motivated to start your workout session and don’t forget to update it from time to time.

 image 6“Lazy Day” backup plan

There will be days when you won’t feel like going to the gym. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out. Even if you feel a bit lazy, give your best to do a quick workout at home. All you’ll need is some space and an exercise mat. You can do some yoga or core exercises, and don’t lose motivation for the next day. The very thing that you exercised even though you felt lazy will inspire you to never give up, which will help you overcome laziness quickly.

Embrace your competitive side

If you like to compete, embrace that side of yours to keep you interested in your trainings. Even if you only go to the gym, find someone to compete with every now and then and you will always be happy to go and exercises, because you’ll know that there is a chance of “winning”.

You should never give up on your goals. Try out these little tricks and your motivation will increase. Don’t let your laziness win, keep on working out every day and conquer more challenges.

 

 

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5 Ways You Can Use Solar Power at Home

Once you go green, there’s no going back, and the final stop is residential solar power. However, you don’t have to implement all the green measures at once. You can start with small and simple changes, and then work your way up to major green updates. So, if you’ve entered the process of implementing eco-friendly measures that will help you decrease your bills, increase the value of your property, create a healthy and sustainable environment and reduce your ecological footprint, then it’s time for introducing solar power into your household.

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Drying your clothes au naturel

Instead of wasting energy on drying your clothes, why not use nature’s gift that is completely free and environmentally friendly? You’re already consuming a lot of energy so even a simple habit like drying your clothes in the sun can help you reduce your bills, while simultaneously protecting the environment. Even if you catch an hour of sunlight at the most, it will make a difference in the long run.

Heating up your water

It certainly feels nice when you wash your hands with warm water or take a hot shower in the winter. However, this consumes more energy than you might think. Water heating systems account for about 18 percent of your household energy consumption, which makes them one of the largest electricity users. You can only imagine how much energy and money you can save in the long run by using a solar water heating system. More and more homeowners are having solar water heaters installed, which can meet their everyday needs. Although this might be a sizeable investment at first, there are grants and subsidies for green improvements, and you’ll eventually recoup your initial costs.

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Keeping your home warm

Solar thermal power can keep your home warm even during the cold days. Before becoming sceptical, this is how it works. Solar panels that are installed on the roof gather sunlight and then store energy underground, so when the winter finally comes, you can rest assured that you’ll be warm. Still sceptical? Well, perhaps you won’t be when you hear that an entire community of 52 homes in Canada, called the Drake Landing Solar Community, is kept warm solely by solar thermal energy. The solar thermal energy industry in Europe is also developing plans for using solar power for heating 50 percent of all buildings, so why can’t you be part of a greener future?

Generating your electricity

By using solar power to generate your electricity, you can reduce your bills significantly, while protecting the environment at the same time. Since solar panels have become much more affordable, more and more homes are having them installed. Some of the benefits of having electricity generated by the sun are predictability and stability when it comes to expenses. You can always calculate your expenses and the amount of electricity that will be generated, which is not the case with regular electricity because there are frequent fluctuations in price. In addition, you have a range of different options, so you’re bound to find the one that is right for you. For example, an efficient 5kW solar system can meet your everyday needs and help you increase your savings. Just make sure that you fulfill all the requirement for the installation of a specific system beforehand.

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Cooking your food

Just imagine how much energy could be saved if all the household appliances were powered by the sun. It might sound a bit far-fetched at the moment, but it’s not impossible, and it’s already happening. You actually cook your food using solar cookers that are based on either reflective solar boxes or parabolic discs. This type of technology can make a big difference, especially in developing countries where households still use wood-burning stoves. Solar cookers can even lead to a reduction in indoor air pollution that can cause respiratory diseases.

The power of the sun is a great one, so why not use it for your own needs? Just go step by step, start small and you’ll have a sustainable home in no time.

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