10 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Renovating Your Backyard

When you’re finally ready to tackle the backyard makeover that’s been on the back-burner for years, it’s understandable to feel a mix of excitement and feeling overwhelmed.

Let’s be clear: renovating your backyard is far from a small undertaking. Before you embark on this journey (yes, it is a journey), it’s critical that you think through your project carefully. To get started, here are 10 questions you should always ask before renovating your backyard.

1. What’s My Reason for Renovating My Backyard?

Before you start your renovation, make sure that you have a firm grasp on why you’re renovating your backyard in the first place. Which part of the yard do you believe could use an update?

Maybe you’re interested in creating a space that will allow you to do more outdoor entertaining—an area featuring a pool table outside or an outdoor kitchen. Or, perhaps you’re more focused on making over your deck. You might simply want to upgrade your landscaping to boost your home’s curb appeal. Knowing what project you want to tackle is an essential first step before you commence your backyard project.

2. Which Materials Would I Like to Use?

After determining what aspect of your backyard to focus on for your renovation, you’ll need to determine the appropriate materials for your chosen space.

If you’re creating a brand-new deck, you’ll need to decide between wood and composite deck boards. Various materials—ranging from natural wood to stone, concrete and aluminum—can give the space different looks, so choose those that fit with your style and desired decor. If you’d like to give your back entryway a vintage farmhouse vibe, be sure to incorporate distressed wood, brass hardware and things like rustic wall sconces into your plans.

3. What Budget Am I Comfortable With?

This is another incredibly important question to ask, as it will ultimately dictate how extensive your project will be. Be sure to establish a budget that will be adequate for transforming your backyard into a family-friendly space that you’ll love occupying with loved ones in the years ahead.

4. How Much Maintenance Am I Prepared to Do?

This is another important question, as various projects require varying levels of hands-on maintenance long term. If you’re doing getting new trees, consider their proximity to your home and whether you’re comfortable cutting off limbs later down the road; many prefer to leave things like tree pruning services to the experts. If you don’t think you’ll be able to keep up with the maintenance duties associated with a given backyard project, like a new pool, then you may not want to do that project. After all, failure to perform these duties will most likely lead to the need for more repairs and more expensive projects down the road. A lower-maintenance backyard project would probably be a better option for you.

5. What Structural Factors Should I Consider?

Ask yourself if any above-ground structures will impact your backyard renovation project. For instance, in your exterior landscape, you’ll need to consider the proximity of your target renovation area to surrounding structures or buildings. In addition, pay attention to utilities and overhead wires in the area. Also consider if you will have limitations when it comes to space below the ground in your yard.

6. What Soil Factors Should I Take into Consideration?

Soil factors are also important to consider as you begin your backyard renovation. For instance, what are your soil’s drainage characteristics and pH levels? Also consider your soil’s toxicity, texture, and compaction level. Be sure to also look for any evidence of the recent disturbance of the soil layer there, as well as the site’s erosion level.

7. What Are My Yard’s Sunlight Levels?

This question is also important to ask, as it may have an impact on where you build your backyard garden or set up your deck. Your yard may feature full sun, filtered light, partial sun, full shade, or partial shade depending on its position and your climate.

8. When Should I Do My Renovation?

Consider the best times to start your backyard renovation depending on the type of landscaping project you’ll be tackling and where you live. If you’ll be doing a project that involves concrete, note that concrete is sensitive to temperature. Ideally, you want to complete this project in temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re laying pavers and bricks, you can do this in any season if you’re able to dig a few inches down.

9. How Long Will My Renovation Take?

If you have a target completion time in mind for your backyard renovation, start going over all of the steps you’ll need to complete—for example, acquiring permits—before you finalize your project. This will tell you whether your ideal timeline is realistic.

10. Who Should Complete My Renovation?

If you are an experienced DIYer, then completing the backyard renovation yourself may be a viable option for you. Otherwise, start seeking out bids from contractors. Be sure to verify that your chosen contractor has strong online ratings and positive references before hiring him or her to create your backyard oasis for you.

Start Renovating with Confidence

As you navigate the process of preparing for your backyard renovation, it’s important that you have a solid plan from start to finish. This is critical whether you plan to hire a contractor to handle your project, or you intend to complete it yourself.

Be sure to answer these 10 questions honestly and fully before starting your backyard oasis or garden project to ensure you’re on the right path in the weeks and months ahead.

Author Bio: Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business, recruiting, real estate, and finance.

Image Sources

Image 1: https://unsplash.com/photos/ZxDX8D9HHNM

Image 2: https://unsplash.com/photos/hsm-jZyTNeo

Image 3: https://unsplash.com/photos/TcBSi3qHn80

How Seniors Can Get Exercise During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone’s lives in some way. If you’re a senior, you might feel especially affected by the pandemic, because you could be considered “at risk” for contracting the illness or experiencing more severe symptoms. Seniors have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, which is why it’s extremely important to follow safety guidelines like wearing masks, social distancing, and staying at home as much as possible.

Because of those rules, you might not be able to get to your local gym or fitness center. Many of them have shut down across the country, anyway.

But it’s incredibly important for seniors to stay active, especially during these times of uncertainty. If you find yourself stuck at home or unable to get out as much as you might like, there are still ways to exercise every day. Developing a regular ‘workout’ routine will help you to get through these long days, and stay strong and healthy in the midst of this pandemic.

Why Exercising Is Important for Seniors

Regular exercise is important for everyone, but it should be a consistent part of your routine if you’re older. Studies have shown that regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, can help to reduce the risk of certain chronic illnesses, including:

*Heart disease

*Cancer

*Stroke

*Diabetes

In addition to lowering your chances of developing certain diseases, exercise can also help you feel good every single day. It boosts your immune system, can give you more energy, and will even allow you to sleep better at night.

Additionally, exercise can help to lower blood pressure and increase bone density, both of which tend to be issues for people over the age of 65.

Without regular exercise, your health may start to suffer. When that happens as an older individual, it often becomes harder to take care of yourself properly. You may end up relying on family members or friends to help you, or you may have to look into an assisted living facility. While regular exercise certainly isn’t a “cure-all” or a guarantee that nothing will happen, it is a great way to take your health into your own hands.

Exercises You Can Do at Home

Thanks to advancements in technology, it’s easy to exercise from home on your own. If you do have a gym you regularly go to, look into any information they might be sharing online. Many gyms are offering tips or pre-planned workouts you can do on your own. Others are hosting Zoom classes that you could join virtually with all the friends you’re used to seeing.

If you want to try something on your own, check out YouTube for free workout videos that are made for all fitness levels and ages. Some of the most popular fitness channels include:

*Fitness Blender

*Yoga with Adriene

*Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone

*POPSUGAR Fitness

All of these channels have a variety of videos you can look through to find workouts that fit your needs.

There are also no rules in place that say you can’t get outside to exercise. Doing yoga in the park or simply taking a walk around your neighborhood helps to reduce stress levels while you’re still social distancing.

If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated when it comes to staying fit on your own, you may want to consider gifting yourself a fitness tracker you can wear. These trackers log your daily steps, heart rate, calories burned, and much more depending on your preferences. They are great for keeping your motivation up when you have to play the role of your own coach or trainer.

What to Do if You Have Limited Mobility

Over 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada have to deal with mobility issues for a variety of reasons. Seniors often struggle with mobility issues due to muscle loss that comes with aging, or conditions like arthritis.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to exercise and stay healthy. In fact, regular exercise could help improve your mobility while strengthening your muscles and bones. The same is true for seniors who may be recovering from a medical procedure or surgery. If you can’t see yourself putting on your running shoes any time soon, there are still safe ways to exercise and get your heart rate up, including:

*Walking while talking on the phone

*Ankle or heel stretches

*Walking up and down the stairs

This pandemic has been hard on everyone. But, if you’re a senior trying to stay safe and healthy, one of the best things you can do is to stay home and social distance. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you need to ignore your health and fitness. Keep some of these ideas in mind to make exercise a part of your everyday routine, and develop healthy habits that will last long after the pandemic has passed.

Home Office Upgrades You Need for Boosting Creativity

In Ancient Greece, people believed that inspiration happens as a direct result of a visit of goddesses known as muses. This is why creative work is so hard to predict and control. An artist or a creative worker needs to “summon the muse,” in order to achieve their optimal efficiency and this is not an easy task. The simplest way to do so is to optimize your work area (your home office) and turn it into a shrine of creativity. Here are five upgrades that will help you achieve this in no time.

1.   Additional monitor

The first improvement that you need to take into consideration is the introduction of an additional monitor into your tech arsenal. According to some surveys, this can lead to up to 40 percent increase in productivity. Pragmatically speaking, the advantages of multiple-screen setup are numerous. First of all, you get the privilege of having more work surface. Second, you get to look at your resources and your work at the same time. If you’re in the industry where the drag-and-drop method is the go-to model, multiple screens can revolutionize this activity.

2.   Dream board

Motivational posters are, beyond doubt, quite effective in some areas but they are also seen as somewhat corny or outdated by a lot of people. Instead, opt for a dream board. This is a board where you can display all your goals, dreams and aspirations. As they say, when you take a dream and put a date of completing next to it, you’ve just created a goal. Sure, some of your goals are impossible to remember but it’s always a good idea to have a dream in front of your eyes, just so that you can remember what you are fighting for.

3.   Proper flooring

An adequate flooring option for your home office is an essential upgrade for more than one reason. As a creative worker, you’re under the influence of all sorts of stimuli and senses. Tactile and audio senses are just two prominent examples. With the right floor, you can make an improvement in both of these sectors. An ergonomic office chair makes noises when sliding across the hardwood floor. This both distracts you and scratches the floor, damaging it in the process. With a well-placed plastic chair mat, this problem can be solved once and for all. Also, adding a great area rug to the room can make the entire place cozier, thus making it more stimulating.

4.   Sound-proofing the area

Sound-proofing is a method that keeps the noises from the outside at bay and noises from the inside, safely within the four walls of your room. This is incredibly important for those who live with roommates or family members. Sure, you can explain it to everyone just how important it is for them to remain quiet, yet, they might not always honor that agreement. Also, why would you have to impose these rules on them in their own home, especially if you don’t have to? By sound-proofing the place, you will get just that.

5.   A standing desk

Previously, we’ve talked about fixing the problems caused by your ergonomic chair, however, you also have the option of going with a desk-less chair, to begin with. Standing desks are a phenomenon that’s becoming more and more popular by the hour. This is due to the fact that this work form is better for your health (your posture, core and back muscles). It is also known to boost productivity, seeing as how it keeps you alert. It does, however, require an interval working model like the Pomodoro technique in order to be the most effective. This idea is definitely not for everyone but it’s something worth considering.

In conclusion

While it is true that the amount of work that you do directly depends on your own effort and commitment by optimizing your work environment you will make this a lot easier. With the adequate home office, you will find it easier to motivate yourself for work and the inspiration will come to you with a far greater reliability ratio. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that the above-listed five ideas are just a tip of the iceberg of all your options. Always be on the lookout for new ideas!

Beautify Your Flower Garden with These 7 Tips

A garden is a constant job as well as a source of beauty and peace in your yard. Flower gardens are a beautiful addition to any landscape design. It is also a great way to help your local flora and fauna, as well as bees that keep the flora alive. Bees love native flowers, and they are most attracted to them. It’s very easy to beautify your flower garden, so read on to see our 7 tips.

1. Plan out your garden design

If you are starting fresh, it’s best to make a plan of action first. Planning the look of your flower garden will help you make the best use of your space. It is also a perfect time to research which flowers and plants are native to your area. Native plants are the easiest to grow and take care of, as they don’t need special treatment to survive in the native climate and soil. If you are planning to have exotic and non-native flowers, take your time learning how to take care of them and make them thrive. Mismanagement can make them wilt, or never grow at all.

2. Decide on the shape and size

If you are dealing with a large plot of land, you will have more room to make a garden of your dreams, but at the same time, you may feel overwhelmed with the possibilities. Flowers and flowers beds can be arranged in many different shapes and sizes. You can sketch out how your garden is going to look. A more practical approach is to take a long rope and outline the shapes and size of your flowerbeds. This way you can check if every part of your garden is the right size and accessible.

3. Choose the flowers

This is the fun part. A good idea is to choose your favourite flowers – you will want to spend a lot of time in your garden this way. Some of the flowers may be either difficult to obtain or they are not suited for specific climates. Try to create a balance between the flower you like and the ones that can actually thrive in your garden. If you are not confident in your gardening skills, choose flowers that are easy to maintain or that are native to your area.

4. Focal points and show-stoppers

A flower garden that has flowers of only one height or colour can look plain or as a flower field. A variety of shapes, colours, and heights is what will create interest and focal points in the garden. Choose show-stopping flowers that will become a focal point in the garden. They can be tall shrubs that will tower over other flowers or a bright colour that stands out. Consider blooming times of every flower, and seasons in which they look the best.

5. Check blooming times

Since you are paying a lot of attention to the visual aspect of your garden, you don’t want your efforts to go to waste because of bloom times. This can include flowers that only bloom in the summer and are bare the rest of the year, or flowers that have different blooming times but are planted in the same flowerbed. It creates an uneven and unpleasant look. It’s best to choose flowers that are in bloom for a longer period of time, as well as look good when not in bloom.

6. Watering and taking care of your garden

Besides choosing beautiful flowers and foliage, it’s important to properly take care of your garden for it to look its best in the long run. Some flowers are only annual, and some have a longer life. Every flower has different needs to thrive and look its best. Make sure to water your garden when it’s not too hot outside, in the morning or evening, or they can burn in the sun. For easier watering, installing hose reels will help you keep your hose neat and easily accessible. Make sure you can provide needed supplements for your flowers so they can grow healthy and beautiful.

7. Add garden decoration

You can spice up your garden with decorations that can also act as focal points. Birdbaths can have a simple or intricate design and add interest to your garden. Lighting is necessary, and you can place hanging lights from trees or solar lamps on the sides of pathways. Arbours can be decorated with wines and act as a small resting area.

The combination and diversity of a flower garden are endless, with many variations of colours, fragrance, and types of flowers and plants. Remember to enjoy the process and that your garden can be ever-evolving and you can change it up with seasons. Take proper care of your garden to enjoy it for a long time.

————————————————————————————————————————

Bio: Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.

————————————————————————————————————————-

7 Common Re-upholstery Mistakes You Should Avoid

There are many good reasons why people reupholster their furniture items.

While some people want to save money, others want to continue using a sturdy piece of furniture that has lasted several decades in the family.

You may also want to reupholster an old sofa or chair due to its sentimental value. 

Refurbishing vintage furniture is one of the best ways to create custom furniture that blends well with your dwelling’s new style.

But, a lot of people tend to make the same re-upholstery mistakes time and again.

Here in this post, we will shed light on seven such oversights that you should watch out for the next time you want to have a piece reupholstered. 

Re-upholstery Mistake #1: The Furniture Item is not built for a Second Life

Selecting a furniture item which is already nearing the end of its useful life is one of the most common re-upholstery mistakes people make.

A lot of furniture available these days is not exactly built for a second life.

If a furniture item is not structurally sound enough, it makes no sense to invest in it.

Unless you have a piece of furniture with well-made frames, it may not be a wise decision to reupholster it.

Older furniture with dowel joints is generally of higher quality.  

Re-upholstery Mistake #2: Assuming All You Need Is a Fabric  

Re-upholstering a piece of furniture isn’t just about replacing its fabric.

If you want to have an old piece of Victorian-era furniture reupholstered, a professional with specialized upholstery skills may need to –

-Strip this piece to the frame
-Reinforce the joints & the frame
-Replace zigzag and coil springs, if necessary
-Replace padding, if necessary

Yes, if the padding, springs, frame, etc. are all in good shape, you will just need to spend money on the fabric.

But, if you just rely on online quotes for re-upholstery services, you may end up choosing a plan that only includes fabric replacement when your furniture actually needs a more elaborate treatment.  

So, it is advisable to have a piece physically inspected by an upholstery expert before you make a decision.

Re-upholstery Mistake #3: Putting the New Fabric On Top of the Old Fabric

Yes, it will cost a lot less.

When you are budget-conscious, some upholsters might suggest putting the new fabric right on top of the old fabric with one or two layers of cotton in between.

In this case, they will remove the old fabric and other materials.

Your guests and other people can’t tell if you’ve merely added a new layer of fabric.

But, a few months down the line, anyone using a furniture item reupholstered in this manner will almost certainly feel cotton layers bunching up in different places.

Re-upholstery Mistake #4: Choosing Patterns or Stripes for Rounded Furniture Pieces

It is one of the common re-upholstery mistakes that people realize only after their furniture items have been reupholstered.

Yes, just when you are about to make payment for a finished job, you will realize that stretched stripes and patterns look ugly, especially near the rounded corners and along the slopes.

Normally, a professional upholster should tell you about this but you should also be willing to listen to their advice.

Re-upholstery Mistake #5: Considering Colors and Patterns before Narrowing down the Right Type of Fabric

You may be inclined to choose the right color and pattern before you’ve even figured out which type of fabric is suitable for your furniture re-upholstery project.

You need to narrow down the right type of fabric based on factors such as whether the furniture is:

-To be used by young kids and/or pets
-To be used indoors or outdoors
-Is meant for light or heavy use
-Likely to be exposed to direct sunlight

People who take up DIY re-upholstery projects often go wrong in their choice of fabric.

An incorrect or poor-quality fabric will lose color or become fluffy within a year or two. Do not settle for a low-quality fabric. You do not want to spend the same amount of money (or more) in a few years again, do you?

Always consider furniture reupholstering as a long-term investment.

Re-upholstery Mistake #6: Selecting an Upholster On the Basis of Price Alone

How do you know if you’re spending the right amount of money for reupholstering an old piece of furniture?

Well, you can start by getting a bunch of quotes/bids from upholsters in your area.

If six upholsters in your area quote prices around $3,000 and then, you come across someone who’s ready to do it in about $1,500, you may want to choose the cheapest option without a second thought.

Don’t do that.

Reupholstering is a complex process that requires experience and skills.