Protect Your Yard From Pests


Honey bee flying away

Recent showers combined with warmer weather will create the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

Bees

To prevent bees from establishing a colony in or around your house, it’s important to remember these three things: food, water and shelter — bees’ keys to life.

As with any other summer bug, stagnant water must be kept to a minimum. Drain pots and repair any faulty irrigation systems. And if you have bird baths or pet bowls outside, mixing in 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water will discourage any bees from setting up shop near your house.

Plan an exterior inspection and eliminate any potential nesting sites. Cover holes, chimneys and animal burrows. Make sure windows and screens are tightly fitted and sealed. If you have any debris in your yard, such as old tires, cardboard boxes or old appliances, throw them out. Bees seek out such items for nesting sites.

Removing flowers as a source of food is not recommended. In fact, it’s very important for bees to pollinate many plants, including crops. If you have a colorful garden, not to worry. As long as you have their other two resources tamed to a minimum, you’re in tip-top shape for the summer.

 

Gnats

Although relatively harmless, these small creatures create quite the inconvenience with their constant swarming. Plus, you never know what germs they may be carrying as they travel from place to place.

If you garden, you want to make sure your fruits and veggies are staying fresh outside. If you happen to notice rotting or mold, act fast and pluck them out, then turn your soil or mulch to allow any moldy layers to dry out.

As with mosquitoes, be diligent in draining any standing water and drying out any moisture. With Texas humidity, the drying process may take a while. In this case, sprinkle a bit of sand on top of your soil, something very discouraging to gnats.

 

Mosquitoes

Unfortunately, Texas’ No. 1 culprit is here to stay. Aside from the traditional insect repellants and home remedies, it’s best to treat this problem at its source — water.

Turn over empty pottery to prevent from collecting water, drain plant saucers and fix any leaking outdoor faucets. Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the less the better.

 

Slugs

Like humans, slugs seek out shade on sunny days. And like many other bugs, they love moist areas.

To prevent slugs from damaging your plants and leaving their slimy evidence, get rid of any hiding places. Think cool, dark and moist. Try irrigating your lawn in the morning instead of the evening, allowing plenty of time for plants and soil to dry before the sun sets.

To protect plants, spray surrounding areas with soap and water. You can also create barriers around your plants, such as rocks, wire or anything rough and abrasive to slow them down.

Lastly, slugs have no bones. Therefore, they can fit in any crack or crevice they set their eyes on. Seal any cracks and cover any holes you notice throughout your house. By doing so, you not only eliminate the potential for slugs, but for other bugs as well.

 

If you’re experiencing bug problems not addressed here, contact your local nursery for expert advice.

Earth-Friendly Ways to Minimize Waste


chalkboard with the text make every day earth day

 

With spring cleaning underway and Earth Day inspiring us to develop greener habits, now is a great time to think about how the two intersect. You’ll find that a little planning can help reduce the amount of waste you bring into your home, and with a few simple changes, you won’t have as much to take out.

 

Americans can generate more than 254 million tons of trash in a single year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If that number is too big to fathom, consider this: that amount of trash weighs more than the combined weight of 1 million blue whales (the largest mammal on Earth).

 

Doing your part to make less trash can be as easy as remembering your reusable grocery bags. Read on to see our 10 suggestions of how to reduce waste in your home.

 

1. Swap disposable water bottles for a water filter and reusable bottles.

We all know we need to drink more H2O to stay healthy. Carrying a steel or glass water bottle will remind you to hydrate throughout the day and prevent you from buying a plastic water bottle out of convenience. Investing in a water filtration system — even as basic as a pitcher filter — will elevate the way your tap water tastes.

 

2. If on-the-go coffee is a must, bring a reusable mug.

If you can’t kick your addiction to a daily cup of coffee, bring your travel tumbler or mug with you and ask the barista to fill it instead of a disposable cup. Starbucks and many other cafes offer discounts for helping them reduce their cup waste.

 

3. Get to know your farmers markets and bulk bin section.

Frequenting farmers markets will not only keep you in line with your healthy-eating goals, it also supports local businesses. When you purchase whole foods there, you’re opting to reduce the amount of packaging brought into your home through processed and frozen foods. Likewise, shopping in the bulk-bin section eliminates extraneous packaging.

 

4. Keep your reusable bags at hand.

Have you ever entered the grocery store only to remember your stash of reusable bags is sitting untouched in your cabinets? If so, eliminate the need to remember by storing your reusable bags in more convenient places: a more noticeable area at home or in your car, handbag or backpack. That way you’ll always have a bag at hand, even for those quick, impromptu trips to get groceries after work.

 

Use your reusable bags for other occasions as well. Ask the waiter to place your to-go order in your bag instead of using their plastic or brown bags. Going on a shopping spree? Let the sales associates know you have your own bags for your new purchases.

 

When shopping for groceries, bring smaller cloth or netted bags to store produce, bulk-bin items and fresh flowers to avoid the thin plastic bags provided by stores.

 

5. Use glass containers to store food.

Display your farmers market and bulk goods in glass containers to keep them from going stale. Repurpose old glass containers from pasta sauce, jams and condiments for future storage.

 

Involving Daughters In A Healthy Hobby

 

6. Grow a garden.

Grow your own herb or vegetable garden, so you’ll always have the perfect amount of ingredients for your recipes. Doing so reduces food waste, which comprises nearly one-third of annual solid waste generated in the U.S., according to the EPA.

 

7. Dine at home.

Cooking and eating at home allows you to have more control — you can eat whole foods and add significantly less sugar and sodium than would typically be used in packaged and processed foods.

 

Eating fast food creates a plethora of waste, from the plastic straws and cutlery to the extraneous napkins and packaging.

 

8. Cut down on paper towels.

Instead of using paper towels, keep a stash of kitchen cloths and rags made from old T-shirts to do your chores. Eco-friendly towels made of bamboo and cotton can absorb big messes and dry dishes quickly.

 

9. Use Swedish dishcloths instead of kitchen sponges.

Your kitchen sponge can harbor as much (if not more) bacteria than a toilet. Experts suggest tossing sponges after a month of use, but that merely adds to landfills. Instead, use Swedish dishcloths, which are made of cotton and cellulose and are super absorbent when wet. The malleable form allows you to get into the nooks and crannies of dishes and silverware.

 

Invented in 1949, Swedish dishcloths come in a variety of designs to coordinate with your kitchen. Throw them in the laundry when they get dirty and reuse them again.

 

10. Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets may make your clothes smell nice and keep your sheets soft, but they’re a one-time use product. Wool dryer balls can make your clothes just as soft, but can be used over and over again. Throw three of them into the dryer, and reduce the drying time of heavy fabrics, such as towels or jeans.

 

Use three to four drops of your favorite essential oil to each dryer ball to keep your fabrics fragrant.

Love This Listing: Tranquil McKinney Retreat


960x640_2704 Mountain Creek Drive_Thumbnail

 

This lovely two-story home offers privacy and tranquility on a lush, wooded creek lot. Situated in McKinney’s Sorrellwood Park community, the residence features hardwood flooring, French doors and a wall of windows showcasing the spacious backyard ideal for gardening and entertaining. Watch the video to learn more about why we love this listing.

Need-to-Know Numbers:

2704 Mountain Creek Drive
• $559,900
• 4 bedrooms
• 3 baths, 1 half-bath
• 4,189 square feet

Summer Bug Solutions


Close up of bumble bee pollinating wildflowers in the meadow

Recent showers and 100-degree days have created the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

Mosquitoes

Unfortunately, Texas’ No. 1 culprit is here to stay. Aside from the traditional insect repellants and home remedies, it’s best to treat this problem at its source — water.

Turn over empty pottery to prevent from collecting water, drain plant saucers and fix any leaking outdoor faucets. Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the less the better.

 

Gnats

Although relatively harmless, these small creatures create quite the inconvenience with their constant swarming. Plus, you never know what germs they may be carrying as they travel from place to place.

If you garden, you want to make sure your fruits and veggies are staying fresh outside. If you happen to notice rotting or mold, act fast and pluck them out, then turn your soil or mulch to allow any moldy layers to dry out. As with mosquitoes, be diligent in draining any standing water and drying out any moisture. With Texas humidity, the drying process may take a while. In this case, sprinkle a bit of sand on top of your soil, something very discouraging to gnats.

 

Bees

To prevent bees from establishing a colony in or around your house, it’s important to remember these three things: food, water and shelter — bees’ keys to life.

As with any other summer bug, stagnant water must be kept to a minimum. Drain pots and repair any faulty irrigation systems. And if you have bird baths or pet bowls outside, mixing in 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water will discourage any bees from setting up shop near your house.

Plan an exterior inspection and eliminate any potential nesting sites. Cover holes, chimneys and animal burrows. Make sure windows and screens are tightly fitted and sealed. If you have any debris in your yard, such as old tires, cardboard boxes or old appliances, throw them out. Bees seek out such items for nesting sites.

Removing flowers as a source of food is not recommended. In fact, it’s very important for bees to pollinate many plants, including crops. If you have a colorful garden, not to worry. As long as you have their other two resources tamed to a minimum, you’re in tip-top shape for the summer.

 

Slugs

Like humans, slugs seek out shade on sunny days. And like many other bugs, they love moist areas.

To prevent slugs from damaging your plants and leaving their slimy evidence, get rid of any hiding places. Think cool, dark and moist. Try irrigating your lawn in the morning instead of the evening, allowing plenty of time for plants and soil to dry before the sun sets.

To protect plants, spray surrounding areas with soap and water. You can also create barriers around your plants, such as rocks, wire or anything rough and abrasive to slow them down.

Lastly, slugs have no bones. Therefore, they can fit in any crack or crevice they set their eyes on. Seal any cracks and cover any holes you notice throughout your house. By doing so, you not only eliminate the potential for slugs, but for other bugs as well.

 

If you’re experiencing bug problems not addressed here, contact your local nursery for expert advice.

8 Spring Blooms for Lone Star Landscaping


Spring is blooming all over North Texas, as seen from any car window the past few days. With fields of beautiful wildflowers popping up in city parks, off major highways and at celebrated gardens, what better time to curate the spring landscape of your dreams.

Whether you’re looking to refresh the backyard garden or improve your home’s curb appeal, these perfect plants are sure to flourish this season.

 

Cluster of the Famous Texas Bluebonnets.

Bluebonnets — The iconic state flower of Texas features clusters of up to 50 fragrant blue blooms with a white tip and can be spotted off roadways all over this great state. Bonus: Bluebonnets attract butterflies and native bumblebees.

 

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush — This eye-catching Texas native loves the sun and features stems topped with clumps of bright red, paintbrush-like spikes. With a reputation for being unpredictable, these flowers grow between 6 and 16 inches high.

 

Verbena bonariensis in garden

Verbena — Ideal for cascading over garden walls, hanging baskets and window boxes, these tiny purple blooms form round clusters and tend to cover large spaces. Plant these drought-tolerant perennials in partial shade and enjoy their dainty scent.

 

close up colorful tulips in tulip field

Tulips — The typically cup-shaped tulip comes in virtually any color and grows from 6 inches to 2 feet tall. Treated like annuals, tulips require well-drained soil to avoid excessive moisture and should be planted 4 to 6 inches apart.

 

Blue flower irises

Iris — This easy-to-grow perennial is reliable and comes in a variety of colors. The plants thrive best with plenty of sun, well-drained soil and a flowerbed to themselves, but make lovely cut flowers as well.

 

Fuchsia

Fuchsia — The delicate blooms of the fuchsia plant add vibrant color and versatile aesthetic to any outdoor space. Fuchsia thrives in any semi-sunny spot and grows beautifully in hanging baskets, flower pots or in gardens over the soil.

 

Beautiful yellow daffodils in the garden

Daffodils — These showy yellow flowers with a trumpet-shaped cup are hardy perennials that develop from a bulb and typically bloom in early spring. Plant these cheerful blooms in a sun-soaked area as a bold border or between shrubs for a pop of color.

 

Meadow blanketed with pink evening primrose, oenothera speciosa, wildflowers. Top view, close-up

Primrose — The nodding delicate blooms of primrose range in color and require moderate watering. These native Texas flowers like well-drained soil and spread extensively in open areas.