Exterior Home Repair – Vinyl Siding

When your weather damaged vinyl siding has your home looking rundown, you could call an expensive handyman or follow these easy DIY tips to restore your home.

Home exterior vinyl siding weather damage and repair

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather conditions can damage your vinyl siding, allowing moisture in your walls and causing structural damage to your home. Repairing these damages is imperative to preserving your home’s structural integrity, and preventing its decline in value.

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered this DIY information so you can knowledgably repair or replace your home’s damaged vinyl siding.

Vinyl Siding Repair – Small Holes

Small holes in your home’s vinyl siding (up to the size of a nickel) are straightforward to repair. The following steps will help you make these repairs in a matter of minutes:

Level the Surface – Using a utility knife or razor cutter, cut away any protruding parts of the edge of the hole. You are creating a flush surface to work with.

Sanding the surface is not recommended, as it may cause off-pattern scratches that are not easily covered up.

Exterior Caulking – Apply a generous amount of exterior caulking into and around the hole (if you are unable to find caulking in the right color, use paintable caulk).

Finish the Repair – Once the caulk has completely dried, use a razor scraper to remove any excess caulk, leaving the repaired area flush with the outside of the siding.

Razor scraper for home exterior vinyl siding repair

If needed, paint the caulk (once it has cured) with acrylic latex exterior paint matched to the color of your siding.

Vinyl Siding Repair – Medium Sized Holes

Medium-sized holes in your siding (up to 1 1/2 inches) can be repaired similarly to smaller holes. The following steps will help you efficiently make these repairs:

Level the Surface – Again, using a utility knife or razor cutter, cut away any protruding parts of the damaged area. In performing this step, take care to avoid increasing the size of the hole.

Unlock the Siding – Use a siding removal tool (also known as a zip tool – readily available at home centers), unlock the bottom of the damaged siding far enough to gain access to the back of the siding.

Watch this video to see how to use a zip tool when unlocking vinyl siding.

Seal the Back of the Hole – With the siding unlocked, trim the back edge of the hole so that it is flush with the back of the siding, and apply foil tape to the backside of the hole. Use multiple pieces of tape if necessary to extend the coverage to at least one inch beyond its edge.

High-quality foil tape is preferred over masking or duct tape as it works well in humid and low-temperature conditions without peeling off, and it can remain in place for a decade or longer.

Lock the Siding in Place – Once the hole is covered from the back, lock the siding back in place.

Exterior Caulking – Apply a thin layer of color matched or paintable caulk to the hole. For best results, the layer of caulk should be flush with or slightly raised above the level of the siding.

Finish the Repair – Use a razor scraper to remove any excess caulk once it has completely dried, leaving the repaired area flush with the outside of the siding.

If you used paintable caulk, paint it with acrylic latex exterior paint matched to the color of your siding.

This repair can also be made from the outside without unlocking your siding. Watch this video to see how it is done.

Vinyl Siding Repair – Large Holes and Cracks

Large holes and cracks in your siding will need a solution other than caulking. For this type of damage, a siding patch or replacement is necessary. The following steps will guide you through this repair.

Before proceeding, verify that you have a matching section of siding (wide or long enough to cover all of the damaged area) for a seamless patch or replacement.

Siding Patch – When the damage to your siding is concentrated in a specific location, a patch can be put over it following these steps:

• Using a utility knife, carefully score the top of the siding patch along the base of the nailing strip, then snap off the nailing strip. Siding shears can be used just to cut it off.
• Do not make this cut too low. The upper edge of this patch will be shoved into the joint formed by the original siding.
• Before proceeding, verify that the patch fits firmly in place and is flush along the sides and that the interlocking flange will snap into place*.
• Clean and dry the surfaces that will be in contact with each other.
• Apply a bead of waterproof heavy-duty adhesive to the back of the patch along the top, one inch from the edge.
• Align the patch in its position, then firmly push it into place with the top edge shoved into the joint of the original siding, and the lower interlocking flange snapping into place.
• Firmly press against the top portion of the patch to spread the adhesive evenly.

Watch this video to see how a patch is prepared and applied over damaged siding.

* Some models of siding have an interlocking lower section that won’t allow the “snap in place” to occur. When this is the case, cut off the interlocking flange, leaving an inward fold that will conform to the existing siding. When the patch is firmly in place, use two to three rivets to secure the bottom of it in place.

Applied correctly, this type of patch can last for many years, likely until the house is due for new siding.

Siding Replacement – When the damage to a section of siding is extensive, replace the damaged siding with an entirely new piece.

The following steps will help you successfully replace an entire section of siding:

• Use the zip tool to unlock the siding from above and below the damaged piece.
• Remove (pry out) the nails from the nailing strip.
• Remove the damaged siding.
• Situate the new siding in place of the old piece, locking it into the lower piece.
• Verify that the new piece of siding correctly overlaps the existing siding and that it rests seamlessly into corner fittings.
• Drive nails in the nailing strip of the replacement siding close to where the old nails were driven.
• Do not drive the nails too deep. They should be left flush with the nailing strip to allow for expansion and contraction without buckling.
• Use the zip tool to lock the upper piece of siding to the new piece.

Home exterior vinyl siding nail placement for loose fit

As siding models, colors, and sizes change over time, if there are sections of the damaged siding that can be cut away and stored for future use (as patches), it would be wise to do so.

Likewise, be sure to keep several lengths of the new siding stored away for eventual patches and replacements. Visit homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/exterior/ for other exterior home repair and maintenance articles.

Your Home’s Vinyl Siding

Don’t let your damaged siding make your home look rundown and shabby when there are easy to use DIY repair and replacement tips.

In this article, you discovered how to quickly and easily repair or replace damaged vinyl siding.

By not taking action when your vinyl siding is damaged or cracked, you are risking costly structural damage, and the need for significant repairs or substantial replacement costs.


Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/exterior/ for more exterior home repair articles, resources, and tips.

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3 Tax Deductions for Home Improvements

Get a bigger tax return now and pay less tax later. Sound like a bargain?

Tax deductions limited for home improvements

Under certain circumstances, a portion of home improvements may be deducted from your yearly taxes. If that doesn’t catch your attention, the money you can save when it’s time to sell your home will.

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered information on how home improvements for a home-based business, as medical expenses, and for the sale of your home can help you maximize your current tax season and help you save money when you sell your home.

What Home Improvements Are Tax Deductible?

A home improvement (for tax purposes) is work that substantially adds value to your home, extends its useful life, or modifies it for new uses or activities. Such home improvements include:

• Adding a new bathroom
• Adding or expanding a room
• Installing a deck
• Installing a driveway
• Installing walkways
• Replacing the roof
• Erecting a fence
• Upgrading the electrical system (wiring)
• Making energy efficient upgrades
• Upgrading the plumbing
• Upgrading the kitchen

Here’s the spoiler. If your home is used solely as your personal residence, you are not allowed to deduct the cost of home improvements. In this scenario, home improvement costs are nondeductible personal expenses. However, the property tax you pay is deductible.

This is relevant because when you make home improvements that increase your property’s value, your property taxes will generally increase in tandem.

Don’t be discouraged though, when the time comes to sell your home, the cost of your home improvements are added to the tax basis of the home, reducing the amount of taxes you must pay when selling your home at a profit (we’ll address this in more detail later in the article).

For now, let’s discuss how to benefit from your home improvements in the current tax season.

1. Home Business – Deductible Improvements

If you operate a business from your home, the improvements you make that benefit the entire home can be partially deducted from your taxes in the year the improvements were made.

Home improvement tax deduction proportionate to percentage of space used by business

A great example of a partial deduction is as follows:

If your business occupies 25% of your home’s square footage and that space is only used for business purposes, you can deduct 25% of the home improvement costs when those costs directly impact the space allocated for your business.

So, if you spent $4,000 to upgrade your home’s heating and air conditioning last year, 25% of that or $1,000 may be used as a deduction on last year’s taxes.

The remaining $3,000 may qualify to be applied to the tax basis of your home when you sell it.

An example of a full deduction is:

Upgrades made exclusively to the space used for business purposes, e.g., the installation of a shelving unit or floor replacement, can have the full value deducted from that year’s taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service has strict qualifying guidelines for home business space, learn more at irs.gov/newsroom/must-know-tips-about-the-home-office-deduction

2. Medical Expenses – Deductible Modifications

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition or have a disability that requires you to make modifications to your home, these expenses can be written off as medical expenses.

These modifications may include:

• Installing ramps for access
• Lowering cabinets
• Widening doors
• Installing handrails
• Installing lift chairs

Tax deduction for handrails as a medical expense

Note that if the improvements add to the value of the property, the cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of your property. The difference is considered a medical expense. And if the value of your property does not increase from the improvement or modification, the entire cost can be calculated as a medical expense.

For more information regarding medical expenses, visit irs.gov/publications/p502

3. Sell Your Home – Deductible Moving Expenses

The ultimate home improvement may be selling your current home and buying a better one!

When You Sell Your Home – The “tax basis” is the term used for the profit you make. For tax purposes, home improvements made to the house – while you owned it – reduce the IRS calculated profit you have to claim in the sale of the home.

Home improvement deductions reduce taxable profit when selling a home

This translates to less money on which you can be taxed. In addition, you only get taxed on the profit if your gain as a single person is over $250,000 and $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly. Take a look at how this is calculated:

$300,000 Purchase price for your home
-$100,000 Qualified home improvements
=$200,000 New tax basis
$700,000 Selling price of your home
-$300,000 Purchase price for your home
=$400,000 Profit
-$100,000 Qualified home improvements
-$250,000 Single person exemption
=$50,000 Total taxable profit

Moving Expenses – If you are active military personnel and must move due to permanent reassignment, the following may qualify as deductions:

• Transportation
• Lodging
• Shipping
• Storage

Note that your moving dates should reasonably coincide with your assignment start date. Simply stated, any expense you would not normally have (if it weren’t for the move) may be an eligible deduction.

For Non-Military taxpayers, this moving expense deduction has been suspended from tax years 2018 through 2025. For further reading on deductible moving expenses and who is eligible, visit irs.gov/publications/p521

Maximize Your Tax Refund

By making certain home improvements, you can increase your current tax refund or benefit from a lower tax basis when you sell your home.

In this article, you discovered how your home-based business, medical expenses, and selling your home can increase your tax return or decrease taxes owed.

The government offers tax breaks and deductions as incentives. If you do not take advantage of them, you are losing money and passing up exceptional opportunities.


As federal tax codes and regulations may change from year to year, we at Home & Gardening Guide strongly recommend consulting a tax specialist before attempting to make any deductions in reference to the above stated material.


Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/improvement/finances/ for more home finance articles, resources, and tips.

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Simple Winter Garden Preparation for Spring Planting

Without prepping your garden properly in the winter, it can struggle to thrive in the spring. If you could guarantee a beautiful spring garden with some simple preparation steps, would you do it?

The nutrients and balance of your garden soil are not perpetual. A healthy garden depends on your involvement and preparation for the coming growing season.

Winter garden preparation for spring planting and flowers

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered information and professional tips to help you prepare your garden soil for spring planting by knowing what you will plant, what soil type you have, how to enrich it, and when to till it. You will also find answers to some frequently asked questions.

Preparing Garden Soil for Spring Planting

There are several aspects of your garden’s soil which require attention before planting. The following will help in soil preparation for your spring planting.

Know What You Will Plant – Before doing anything, figure out what kind of a garden you are going to plant. Some plant species require different nutrients, soil types, and pH levels.

While the majority of plants will do well with a pH level between 5.5 and 7, there are many species which have adapted to thrive outside these levels.

For a more acidic soil, you can add compost, peat moss, sulfur or iron sulfate. For a more alkaline soil, lime or baking soda are recommended.

Winter garden preparation soil pH control with baking soda

Plants like strawberries, blueberries, and azaleas will flourish in more acidic soil, while squash, spinach, radishes, and beets prefer a more neutral to alkaline soil.

If you’re interested in planting shrubs, check out homeandgardeningguide.com/gardening-landscaping/shrubs/how-to-plant-evergreen-shrubs/

Know the Type of Soil in Your Garden – There’s more to it than dirt. Soils can be clay, sandy, rocky, or shallow. For every type of soil, there are plant species that have adapted to them.

• Clay soils tend to retain too much water
• Sandy soils do not retain enough water
• Rocky soils do not retain nutrients very well
• Shallow soil is highly subject to erosion and nutrient leaching.

Winter garden preparation for clay soil

Most (garden variety) plant species require well-drained, moist, nutrient-rich, and slightly acidic soil.

Improve Your Garden Soil – Improving or enriching your garden soil can be accomplished by adding organic material. Here are a few options to help you create the perfect growth environment for your garden:

• Plant Material
• Manure
• Compost
• Sawdust
• Wood Ash

Winter garden soil preparation with manure for spring planting

You can add up to 4in of any of the above materials to loosen tight clay or help sandy soil retain water while adding nutrients to the soil and making it easier to dig.

For heavy clay soil, adding gypsum (4 pounds per 100 square feet) will provide some nutrients while loosening the soil, and making it more workable.

Tilling Garden Soil – Tilling the soil is generally not recommended. However, there are times when it may be necessary. See the following to discover whether it is needed or not.

Tilling is recommended for:

• New garden beds.
• Incorporating organic material into a nutrient deficient garden bed.

Tilling is not recommended for:

• Established and healthy garden beds.
• Adjusting soil pH levels.

Tilling inverts the soil of your garden bed which has the following impact on established garden beds:

• Tilling creates bare loose topsoil which is highly vulnerable to erosion and leaching (nutrient loss).
• It compromises soil structure and buries the microorganisms that flourish in the top 4 to 5 inches of the soil.
• Repeated tilling creates a compacted layer of soil at the depth the soil is tilled at. This soil compaction stops water and roots from penetrating further into the soil.
• Tilling moves dormant weed seeds closer to the surface where they are able to germinate.

Winter garden soil preparation and tilling for spring planting

Over time, your garden soil will be able to sustain itself to the point that fertilizers, organic material, and pH balancing agents will only need to be applied to the surface. In the long run, tilling will end up doing more damage than good to your soil.

People Also Ask

Question: When should I prepare my garden soil?
Answer: Late fall or late winter. If you choose late winter, wait until there is no snow cover and the ground is not frozen.

Question: What can I plant in early spring?
Answer: As soon as the soil can be worked, radish, kale, broccoli, snow peas, and lettuce can be planted in early spring.

Question: Which flowers bloom first in spring?
Answer: Bulbs. You can plant bulbs when preparing your soil, and by early spring, they will break through the surface, and bloom fairly quickly. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, and hyacinth are among the most popular bulbs to plant.

Winter garden preparation and planting for spring tulips

Question: When can I start planting my spring garden?
Answer: Late March and early April. However, for plants that are intolerant to frost, mid-April is the best time to get them in the garden.

Garden Preparation for Spring

With some simple preparation, you can transform your garden into a spectacular show of color. And it all starts in the winter.

In this article, you discovered how to prepare your garden by knowing what you will plant, what soil type you have, how to enrich it and when to till it. You also uncovered answers to some frequently asked questions.

Without your help, your garden soil may not have the necessary nutrients for healthy growth or blooming, which may lead to stunting, wilting, and the death of your plants. Avoid this by keeping your soil in prime condition by preparing it for spring planting.


Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/gardening-landscaping/maintenance/ for more garden maintenance articles, resources, DIY and how-to tips.

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DIY Bathroom Design Ideas When on a Budget

You can save thousands and increase your home’s value when you upgrade your bathroom yourself. Your day begins and ends in the bathroom, so why not turn it into an attractive place that you can enjoy.

DIY bathroom decorating and design ideas

A bathroom makeover doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Good ideas combined with your creativity, and a little motivation can produce stunning results.

homeandgardeningguide.com has collected some of the best DIY bathroom projects, professional advice, and expert tips to help you quickly personalize, update, and transform your bathroom.

Using Decor to Make an Old Bathroom Look New

Since bathrooms are smaller in size, compared to other rooms in your home, they are inherently easier to spruce up. Any of the following tips, besides being inexpensive, can be accomplished in a matter of minutes:

Shower Curtain – With an infinite number of designs, themes, and color schemes, you can immediately change the vibe of your bathroom with a new shower curtain.

Towels – Towels serve more than one purpose in a bathroom. Not only do they dry us off, but they can also play a part in the decorative color scheme or theme. Like shower curtains, towels come in an infinite array of themes and colors.

Bathroom design and remodel towels

Bath Rug Set – Bath rugs offer added comfort to your bathroom, as well as a touch of style when they compliment the shower curtain and towels.

Bathroom Accessory Sets – Including everything from a soap dish, liquid soap dispenser, tissue box cover, toothbrush caddy, etc. These sets allow you to give your bathroom a stylish and personal touch.

Bathroom design DIY decorating accessory set

Plants – With the ability to fit into any decor, a plant brings a “live” aspect to your bathroom. The pot it comes in or fits into should match the basic color scheme or theme you’ve created.

Be sure to select plants which tolerate high humidity and low light exposure like snake plants, orchids, and grape ivy.

Candles – Strategically placed on a countertop or shelf, candles can be used to freshen the air, provide lower lighting, or be a decoration. Since candles come in various sizes, colors, scents, and shapes, they can be mixed and matched to complement the bathroom’s decor.

Bathroom Wall Ideas

The wall space in your bathroom can be transformed into storage, shelving, a place for pictures, or painted to fit your new decor. The following bathroom wall ideas will require some tools and preparation but continue to be low budget and easy to accomplish.

Paint – One of the most significant transformational actions you can take in a bathroom is to paint it. Here are some of the ways this can be done:

• All walls one color.
Bathroom decorating DIY painting
• Each wall a different color within the scheme.
• One “accent” wall with a darker contrasting color.
Bathroom design and decorating accent wall
• 2 toned with the darker color at the bottom.
• Stencils to paint figures or words.

Pictures – Hang a map, an old poem, picture, or set of images with frames that compliment the decor. Images of nature and still photography do very well in this environment.

Bathroom remodel picture decorating

Mirrors – Add an additional mirror to the bathroom. Mirrors can magically make small spaces seem large, especially when they are hung opposite each other.

Shelves – Both practical and aesthetically pleasant, there’s just something about a shelf that gives a wall new life.

Bathroom DIY decorating shelves

Hanging Cabinet – Great for storing extra towels or toiletries, the space above the back of the toilet is a great place to hang a small cabinet.

DIY bathroom decorating hanging cabinet

Curved Shower Rod – Install a curved shower rod to give a more substantial feel to the shower.

Bathroom design ideas curved shower rod

Tip: Use extreme caution any time you drive a nail into or must drill through a wall in your bathroom. Use a stud finder to locate wooden beams behind the drywall and use them for hanging or fastening if possible..

How To Spruce Up Your Bathroom on a Budget

Transform your bathroom into a place you want to be. Whether the morning routine, makeup, shower, or taking care of business, most people spend 30 minutes to over an hour per day in their bathroom. Your experience and bathroom space should be appealing and pleasing to the senses.

In this article, you discovered some of the best DIY bathroom projects, expert tips, and professional advice to help you transform your bathroom even if you are on a tight budget.

Before spending your money on interior designers and decorators, get motivated and use your creativity to spruce up your bathroom. You could save thousands of dollars and increase your property value and appeal when you do it yourself.


Visit www.homeandgardeningguide.com/decorating/bath/ for more decorating and design articles, resources, DIY and how-to tips.

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How To Plant Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreen shrubs and hedges keep your yard looking alive and vibrant all year long. With a bit of planning, you’ll have a fantastic landscape, and your neighbors will be green with envy.

Planting evergreen shrubs in your yard or along the property line can give your home better curb appeal, potentially raising its overall market value. The visual and financial payoff these shrubs can provide does indeed justify planting them.

Shrubs in front yard landscape and driveway

The gardening and landscaping team compiled the following information and tips to guide you through the process of planting evergreen shrubs around your home and yard.

What Is the Best Time to Plant Shrubs?

According to 72tree.com, for optimal root development, fall is the best time to plant shrubs.

While the trunk, branches, stems, and foliage on evergreens slow down for the winter, the roots are silently growing below ground. Planting in the fall allows the roots to use stored carbohydrates from the previous growing season for their growth.

Shrub planting in landscape and yard curb appeal

Naturally, as warmer months approach, a better-established root system is more capable of absorbing sufficient water and nutrients to support the shrub’s growing season.

Planting container-grown or balled-and-burlapped shrubs in the landscape industry happens year-round. Often, after a spring planting, there are not enough roots to supply and satisfy the demand of new growth, wilting is a common symptom (stressing the shrub) until the roots can catch up.

For regions that experience long and cold winters with excessive winds, avoid fall planting. In these areas, planting in early spring (after the ground thaws) will spare the plant from winter burn and other potentially fatal stressors.

How to Plant Shrubs

Choosing the Location – There are many reasons to plant shrubs or hedges. Whether it’s to create a division along property lines, to accent sloping features in your yard, or to serve as a windbreak for your trees or home, choose your planting location wisely.

Some of the factors you should consider are:

  • Location on the USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Sun/Shade exposure
  • Soil drainage
  • Soil type
  • Soil pH level
  • Space for growth

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to decide on what is going there.

Deciding on the Species – If you haven’t already chosen the species of evergreen shrub, here are a few pointers to keep you from making a bad judgment call.

Blooming shrubs in landscaped yard

Refer back to the hardiness zone map and select a species that will thrive in your particular zone.

  • Know the plant’s mature size (how big will it get).
  • Choose a species that will accomplish the goal you are planting it for.
  • Familiarize yourself with the needs of the species, e.g., water, fertilizer, pruning, etc.

Ask the following questions:

1 – Is this an invasive species?
2 – Are there any pest/insect issues with this species?
3 – Does my selected location meet the growing needs of the species?
4 – What is the average lifespan of the species?
5 – Is this a blooming species and when will it bloom?

Best Soil for Planting Shrubs – Needled evergreens like pines, spruce, and fir tolerate a slightly acidic soil pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.0, whereas broadleaved evergreens and acid-tolerant plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, heath, and blueberry prefer a pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.0.

Soil pH – Having tested the soil in the location selection process, determine if you need to raise or lower the pH level. You can achieve the right pH for your evergreen by mixing one of the following into the soil dug from the hole,

To Raise the Soil’s pH Level – Use compounds containing powdered limestone or lime. You will find lime in pulverized, pellets, granules, and hydrated types. Each type will raise the pH level at a different pace.

Shrub planting granular lime soil pH

To Lower the Soil’s pH Level – The addition of sulfur, pine needles, compost or composted manure, will work to reduce the pH level slowly. For more immediate results, consider the addition of aluminum sulfate.

Planting evergreen shrubs compost for soil pH

Fertilizer – It is not recommended to fertilize newly planted evergreens until their second growing season. The first year focuses on root growth and establishment, fertilizing will encourage growth top-side which the roots may not be able to keep up with. Read here for more info on fertilizing your evergreens.

Preparing the Planting Location – Now that you are ready to plant, there are a few measurements that you will need to know:

Depth – Measure the root ball from just below the root flare (where the first roots grow from the trunk) to the bottom of the root ball. That measurement is how deep you will dig your hole.

Digging hole before planting shrubs

The bottom of the hole should be undisturbed land to avoid settling. A common mistake when planting shrubs is to plant them too deep or too shallow. Either scenario will hinder the shrubs ability to reach maturity.

Diameter – The diameter of the hole should be 3 to 5 times that of the root ball. In compacted or clay soil, the hole should be dug 6 to 7 times the diameter of the root ball to provide optimum root development and growth.

Planting Your Evergreen Shrub – Now that you have the right size hole and pH adjusted backfill (the soil dug from the hole), it’s time to plant.

1. Remove the root ball from the container or burlap and trim any circling roots.
2. Keeping the root ball intact, place it in the hole and make sure that the root flare is just above ground level (for compacted or clay soil environments, the top of the root ball should remain about 1 inch above ground level).
3. Evenly distribute and gently pack the backfill around the root ball, removing any clumps or large stones.
4. Fill the hole up to the top of the root ball without burying the root flare.

Watering Newly Planted Shrubs

For shrubs to establish themselves in a new location, they need water. Immediately after planting, water the entire area that was dug and backfilled, as well as a deep watering (2 to 3 gallons per inch of trunk diameter) for the root ball.

Watering shrubs planted in yard

After the initial watering, water your newly planted shrubs or hedges to keep the soil moist – not soaked. Continue to water in this manner until winter time, providing one last deep watering before the ground freezes or temperatures reach constant freezing points (32 degrees Fahrenheit ).

It is essential to understand that intermittent rainfall may not provide enough moisture for root development, especially for well-drained soil. Water as needed.

Advantages of Mulching Shrubs

Mulching provides two types of protection for a growing root system. First, mulch helps the soil retain moisture. Second, as winter sets in, mulch helps the soil retain warmth. Both aspects serve to create an optimal growth environment for the shrub’s roots.

After planting and watering, apply a 3-inch layer of organic mulch to the planting area. Keep mulch 3 inches away from the trunk and root flare to avoid root rot and decay.

People Also Ask

Q: How Do You Know How Far Apart to Plant Shrubs
A: When determining which shrubs or hedges to plant, knowing the size at maturity will give you the measurements for spacing between them.

Q: How Do You Prune an evergreen Shrub?
A: After the first growing season, remove diseased, dead, infested, or branches that rub together. Since pruning encourages growth, do not prune after mid-summer, as the new plant material won’t have time to harden before winter.

Q: Shrubs for Windbreaks?
A: Yes. Shrubs are very effective at diverting wind. Often, they are used alongside a home to deflect winter wind, or along landscapes to minimize prevailing winds on trees. Shrubs are also very effective at protecting gardens.

Your Landscape and Evergreen Shrubs

Shrubs have become the go-to feature for adding detail and beauty to otherwise bland landscapes and yards. When done right, the addition of shrubs and hedges can increase your home’s curb appeal, potentially raising the value of your home.

Shrubs and hedges behind bench landscape

Following the above guidelines and tips will help you make informed decisions and successfully plant evergreen shrubs and hedges. Remember to choose the location and species that will have the best chance of reaching maturity and get them planted by mid-fall.

The benefits of these shrubs cannot be overstated. Besides adding diversity to the surrounding ecosystem, shrubs divert wind, protect other plants, and when they flower, will attract both insects and animal life beneficial to the surroundings.


Visit www.homeandgardeningguide.com/gardening-landscaping/shrubs/ for more gardening and planting articles, resources, DIY and how-to tips.

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Should You Replace or Repair Your Home Windows

Repaired energy efficient window frame

Windows in a home don’t last forever. Typically, your windows have about 20 years of solid functional life. By this time, damage from storms, warping, shrinkage, or breaking will happen and be a factor in whether or not to replace or repair them.

The expert team at homeandgardeningguide.com has researched and assembled the following information to help you determine if it’s time to repair or replace, the windows in your home.

Window Maintenance, Life Expectancy and Weather Damage

As previously mentioned, windows in a home have about 20 years before they begin to fail. Some of the contributing factors, which may lead to early repairs and replacements, are:

Weather – Severe weather conditions, earthquakes, and extreme temperature variations may take their toll on the structure of your windows.

Overlooked Maintenance and Window Damage – For most people, the windows are simply there. It’s easy to overlook them, as we see right through them! This inadvertent negligence may result in or cause you to overlook problems.

Weathered window frame need to replace

Damaged windows, if not repaired, will rapidly decline and need to be replaced.

Repair your windows if:

• The glass is broken or shattered.
• The caulking has weathered and separated leaving gaps.
• The counterweights or spring loaded mechanisms stop working.
• The plastic or rubber weather stripping hardens, cracks, or deteriorates.

Replace your windows if:

• The frame has cracked, warped, or deteriorated.
• They have suffered severe damage in a weather event or natural disaster.
• Window tracks are warped or damaged stopping the window from functioning.
• The metal latches, cranks, and components have rusted or oxidized leaving the window inoperable.
• They become loose or flimsy in the tracks as they age.
• They no longer properly insulate your home from outside temperatures and weather.

Once repaired or replaced, add the inspection of your windows to both cleaning projects and seasonal equipment and appliance inspections.

This will help you to make certain that all moving parts are working properly, free from obstructions and lubricated where necessary. Proper care and maintenance will greatly extend the life and efficiency of your windows.

How a Good Window Rating Can Reduce Your Energy Bill

In the south-central and southern regions, the weather is typically warmer throughout the year with more intense summers. When replacing or upgrading windows in these regions, the SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) measures how much heat passes through a window.

According to Energy Star, the country is divided into four zones (determined by climate). The zone you are in will determine the appropriate SHGC rating (measured between 0 and 1) for your windows.

Newly replaced energy efficient home windows

Selecting the right solar heat gain can be very cost effective in winter months (free heat), but on the converse it can cause overheating in the summer months. Use the following two steps to determine the correct rating and efficiency for your new windows:

  1. Use the climate zone finder on the Energy Star website to locate the zone you are in.
  2. Use the window selection tool from the “Efficient Windows Collaborative” to simulate energy costs/savings based on your location and the windows you are considering installing.

Why ‘U Value’ (Window Insulation) Is Critical if You Live in the Northern US

A window’s U value (or U factor) measures its insulation. The lower the number, the higher the value and more efficient at insulating it is.

In north and north-central regions, a higher U value is more important than the SHGC. These regions are cooler (especially in winter months) and require windows more effective at insulating.

Insulated energy efficient windows replaced

To determine the most appropriate U value for your windows by zone, use this chart.

Will New Windows Pay For Themselves?

YES, if your home currently has inappropriate windows for a region with extremely cold winters or blistering hot summers.

YES, New windows that match the style and architecture of your home and are energy efficient can increase its overall value.

NO, if the windows do not match the style or architecture of your home, they can have detrimental consequences to its curb appeal and resale value.

NO, in older and historic structures where you cannot match the style, repairing the existing windows may be the better option to preserve the home’s value.

NO, in some older methods of construction, windows are often part of the structure’s support system. Replacing these windows may cause expensive or irreversible structural damage. Repairing windows in such homes may be the wiser alternative.

Window Replacement Cost Benefit and Energy Efficiency

Being the important architectural features they are, much consideration must be given before deciding to replace or repair your windows.

Energy Savings – Upgrading to energy efficient windows can potentially be the greatest asset in lowering your energy bills. However, in regions with moderate temperatures, it could take decades to recuperate the costs of replacement.

Replace or Repair – Unless the state of your windows and window frames has been compromised by weather events or severely deteriorated over time, repairing them may be more cost beneficial than full replacement.

Market Value – When placing a home on the market, it is an advertising plus to boast new Energy Star energy efficient windows. As long as the windows fit the home’s architecture, this may work to significantly raise the home’s curb appeal and market value, giving the greatest return on investment.


Visit homeandgardeningguide.com/improvement/windows/ for more windows articles, resources, DIY and how-to tips.

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Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Your backyard is an important part of your home’s environment. Some well planned and functional landscaping has the potential to increase your property value while providing a year round special and joyful destination for your family and friends.

Hardscape and landscape backyard design with pool

With all of the potential backyard landscaping possibilities, this project will require some careful and well thought-out planning. You will need to take into consideration the way you want to use your outdoor living space, the architectural features of your home, and the natural layout of your backyard.

The team at homeandgardeningguide.com has gathered the following ideas for backyard landscaping, as well as some design and planning tips.

Backyard Patio Ideas

For some, a backyard patio is just a slab of concrete with no higher purpose. However, with a bit of creative landscaping and a plan, your patio can be transformed into a destination spot for the whole family.

Planting Shrubs – Partially enclosing your patio can be accomplished by planting shrubs or bushes around its perimeter. As they grow and fill in the gaps, they can be shaped or draped with Christmas lights to create a fun or even romantic atmosphere.

Flowers and Plants – For a more open feel to your patio, consider planting a flower garden around it. Trellises can be erected for climbing vines, while decorative planters can be placed or hung in the corners (for covered patios).

Backyard garden and patio design

NOTE: According to toddsmariettatreeservices.com, when considering what species to plant and where to plant it, be mindful that trees and some larger shrubs have invasive roots. If planted too close to your patio, they could potentially break, buckle, or crack it.

Gravel or Stone Pathway – If your grill or fire pit are set away from the patio, create a gravel or stone pathway to them.

Garden Landscaping for the Backyard

Your backyard garden options are practically unlimited. Whether you choose flowers, spices, or fruits and vegetables, gardens create an engaging and useful space.

Bordering Gardens – Gardens can be used to accentuate landscaped grass designs, as walkway borders, or along the fence-line encompassing the backyard.

Planting gardens in this manner creates a sense of definition and gives the overall appearance of having depth.

Raised Gardens – Another fantastic way to create a dynamic appearance in your backyard is to plant raised gardens. This is accomplished by building or placing “box containers” in rows, squares, rectangles, or along the natural features of the land.

This is an ideal scenario for planting an organic garden. With organic gardening, one of the objectives is to have control over what goes into the soil. Having raised gardens naturally isolates the soil, giving you complete control.

Zen Garden – A zen garden is intended to be a place of peace and quiet – an area for meditation and self awareness. These gardens can take on a variety of shapes, colors and designs.

Backyard landscape with zen garden

Commonly seen are those with a large flat area of white sand. Generally, in the sand there will be periodic large stones or islands of well pruned vegetation. Then in the sand, around the vegetation and to the border, a rake is used to create flowing designs.

Water features such as fountains, small streams, or waterfalls are often added to zen gardens to enhance their calming affects and peaceful vibrations.

Landscaping Trees in Your Backyard

Depending on the overall space and hardscaping in your backyard, trees can add shelter, shade, beauty, and grace all at once. It is important to know which species of tree you are planting in which location.

Roots – Many tree species have invasive roots that will grow far from the tree in search of moisture; this can take them under pathways, porches, patios, and even a home’s foundation. As the roots age, they thicken and begin to apply consistently growing pressure until they either die or break through whatever they are under.

Height – There is also the question of height. Overstory trees are those that reach 60ft and above, while understory trees will typically reach only 12-15ft in height. The use of both in landscaping is common practice and very rewarding as they reach maturity.

Deciduous or Evergreen – One very important consideration to make (when it comes to trees) is whether or not you want to rake leaves in the fall.

Backyard landscape deciduous tree

Evergreen trees are (as the name implies) green all year long. They will lose small portions of their foliage throughout the seasons, but nothing requiring a rake and leaf blower.

Deciduous trees will typically put on a color show as colder temperatures arrive, and will lose all of their foliage as the tree enters a state of dormancy through the winter months.

Backyard Fire Pit Ideas

It could be the middle of summer on an 85 degree night and for some reason, people will still flock to a fire pit. If having a fire pit in your backyard will provide a desired charm, take the following into consideration.

Location – A fire pit should not be located within 10 feet of any structure or flammable surface. Your trees are another concern, having a lit fire pit under the canopy of a tree is never a good idea.

Ideally, a fire pit should be positioned over gravel, brick, concrete, or other non-flammable surface.

Fire pit in landscaped backyard

Surrounding the fire pit with non-flammable, weatherproof furniture is a way to create a “cozy” gathering spot for late night conversations, meals, or a place to congregate during half-time of the game!

Weather – Fire pits should not be lit under windy or adverse weather conditions. The wind could carry hot embers to surrounding structures potentially resulting in a fire.

Backyard Pool Ideas

Pools come in all shapes and sizes, above and below ground. With the installation of a pool, you must also account for its plumbing, the pump, and filtration unit locations.

Installing a pool creates opportunities for both landscaping and hardscaping. Choosing evergreen trees over deciduous ones will save both time and effort in the fall. Adding more hardscaping around the pool’s perimeter will also help in keeping it free of debris.

As with most backyard pools, they are typically centered and the rest of the landscape is designed around it.

Hardscaped backyard with pool

As pool installations can be a major expense, homeowners will often landscape their backyards placing trees, shrubs, gardens, and other permanent fixtures around the perimeter, allowing for the installation of a pool at a later date.

Landscaping Design and Plan

Design – The first step to successfully landscaping your backyard is to create a design. You can accomplish this in one of several ways.

  • Hire a professional landscape company to do it.
  • You can get a ruler, pencil, and paper to do it yourself.
  • Download one of several free landscape design programs (some are drag-and-drop).

Getting the design and its dimensions right is crucial to the outcome of the job. When putting the design together, you should be aware of the following:

Landscape design trees hardscape

  • Total area of the backyard.
  • Location and occupied space of current vegetation.
  • Location and dimensions of retainer walls and other structures.
  • Location of underground utilities and their depth.
  • Dimensions of structures to be added.
  • Space required for new trees at their maturity.
  • Designate outdoor use areas

As you build your ideal landscape design, know what your needs are and plan the area accordingly. Sketch as you go and try to visualize how the completed job will look.

Some people seek symmetry while others design to draw attention either to or from aspects of the landscape. However you intend to design yours, make certain that your proportions are right and that you account for the growth of your trees, bushes, and shrubs.

Plan – Now that you have a design and clear idea of how you want the end result to be, it’s time to make a plan. Components of that plan for the DIY homeowner should include (but is not limited to):

Legal Matters:

  • Placing a request for the utilities company to flag underground utilities.
  • Acquiring a tree removal permit if any trees are to be removed.
  • Acquire land disturbance permits if your municipality requires them for private property.

Pricing for:

  • New Trees, Bushes, and Shrubs
  • Plants, Turf, Soil/Sand, and Gravel/Stone
  • Equipment Rental


  • Target dates for any tree removal or activity requiring 3rd party activity.
  • Purchase and delivery dates of new landscape components.
  • Target dates for each phase of the new landscape installation.

This whole process can seem daunting and there are landscape companies that can take care of this process from concept to completion. However, if taken in steps, a DIY homeowner can complete their backyard and create a phenomenal aesthetic and cozy experience.

Visit www.homeandgardeningguide.com/gardening-landscaping/ideas/ for more lawn care articles, resources, how-to tips, and DIY ideas.

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