How to Get a Greener Lawn


GREENERLAWN5.jpg

For many homeowners and avid gardeners, a perfectly green lawn is the ultimate summer statement. But getting there can be a time-consuming and difficult goal. If being the proud owner of an enviably green lawn is your dream, the goal shouldn’t be absolute perfection, but you can work toward a greener and more uniform lawn. Here are five ways to get there.

1. Water, Water Everywhere 

GREENERLAWN2.jpg

During hot and dry weather, it’s important to keep your lawn hydrated. That doesn’t mean wastefully drenching your lawn in water unnecessarily, though. Here are a few ways to do it: 

  • Learn how to effectively water your lawn and only water when absolutely necessary. Most lawns can withstand periods of drought without long-term, permanent damage. This will save water and money on your water bills! 
  • Keep the height of your lawn cut a little higher than usual so only the tips of the grass are cut.
  • Keep grass clippings on the lawn to reduce water evaporation from the sod.

2. Consider Your Location 

GREENERLAWN3.jpg

Make sure you choose the type of grass that’s best suited for your particular conditions. There are a variety of grass types for different climates, soils, shade conditions, and purposes. Know what your lawn will be used for and choose the right type of grass: is it a formal or ornamental lawn, will be used for play or heavy traffic, do you want to minimize weeds, or do you want it to thrive in a low-water environment?  

3. Mow the Right Way

GREENERLAWN4.jpg

Properly and consistently mowing your lawn is pivotal to maintaining a healthy, green lawn all season long. Starting around the beginning of May, grass will start to grow like crazy in most parts of the country. To keep your lawn in tip-top shape, it’s important to have a regular mowing routine and stick to it as much as possible. About once a week is usually the right mowing frequency for most lawns in the late spring and summer. You can lessen the frequency in fall and winter, usually about every 10 days to two weeks.  

Before you mow, ensure all debris is clear from the lawn, and gently rake the lawn to lift and straighten up the grass blades. Aim to do a gentle mow early in the mowing season, so you remove only the tips of the grass. In the summer, you should aim to remove about one-third of the growth in each mow.  

4. Aerate and Feed Your Lawn 

GREENERLAWN6.jpg

In the spring and fall, it’s helpful to rake the build-up of dead grass. It’s also recommended to aerate the lawn using a special aerating tool that can push down into the lawn about three inches deep. These tasks will help get air into the soil to improve drainage and minimize the risk of fungal disease affecting your lawn. 

After aerating your lawn, you may want to rake compost and grass seed into the grass as a supplement. You can also feed your grass, just make sure it’s a food made for fall feeding.

5. Fake it Until You Make it 

GREENERLAWN7.jpg

When in doubt, consider installing artificial grass. There are a lot of benefits to an artificial lawn: low maintenance, consistent appearance, no mowing, no weeds, great for pets. The downside is the cost of installation, and the undeniable allure of a real lawn. As far as environmental concerns go, it’s a toss-up: some people say an artificial lawn eliminates the need for fertilizers and helps cut down on precious water usage, especially in arid climates. Others say real plants are better for the environment, soil, and drainage concerns. There’s no right or wrong option here, so just determine if an artificial lawn is right for you and embrace whatever choice you make! 

Getting the green lawn of your dreams can bring a real sense of pride and accomplishment. Just like the rest of your home. Protect the systems and appliances in and around your house with an American Home Shield home service plan. Just like the right combination of elements that result in a green lawn, there’s a plan that’s just right for you and your budget.  

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

Dishwasher Won’t Drain? Here Are 8 Steps to Fix it


One of the most common problems reported to plumbers by homeowners is when a dishwasher won’t drain. While it can be scary to open the dishwasher door and see standing water at the bottom, it isn’t always a plumbing emergency. In fact, you may be able to correct the problem yourself without professional help. 

What to Do When Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain 

If draining your dishwasher is an issue, here are eight simple techniques to try at home.

1.  Run the Disposal  

garbage-disposal-food.jpg

A full garbage disposal or an air gap in a connecting hose can prevent water from properly draining out of the dishwasher. Simply running the disposal for about 30 seconds may fix the issue.  

2. Check for Blockages  

Check the bottom of the dishwasher to make sure that an item or pieces of food haven’t fallen from the rack to block the water flow.  

3. Load the Dishwasher Correctly  

Make sure you’re loading the dishwasher correctly. Read the manufacturers’ instructions or owner’s manual for tips and directions on how to load dishes for best results. 

4. Clean or Change the Filter 

shutterstock_1310040955--1-.jpg

You may have a clogged dishwasher filter that’s preventing water from draining. Many homeowners don’t realize that dishwasher filters need to be cleaned regularly. Check your owner’s manual to see where the filter is located on your dishwasher, and for instructions on how and when to clean it. For many dishwashers, the filter can be found on the inside bottom of the appliance. 

5. Inspect the Drain Hose 

shutterstock_1615829110--1-.jpg

Check the drain hose connecting to the sink and garbage disposal. Straighten any kinks that you may see, which could be causing the problem. Blow through the hose or poke a wire hanger through to check for clogs. Make sure the hose seal is tight, too. 

6. Double-check the Drain Valve 

shutterstock_161660264.jpg

Inspect the drain valve found on the valve bracket, often located at the bottom of the machine. Push on the valve to make sure it moves freely and isn’t stuck. 

7. Try Vinegar and Baking Soda 

bakingsodavinegar.png

Mix together about one cup each of baking soda and vinegar and pour the mixture into the standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher. Leave for about 20 minutes. If the water is draining or starting to drain at that time, rinse with hot water and then run the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. That may be enough to help loosen any clogs or debris that are preventing the dishwasher from draining properly.  

8. Listen to Your Machine While It’s Running 

shutterstock_1354929278--4-.jpg

Listen to your dishwasher while it’s running a cycle. If it doesn’t make the usual operating sounds, particularly if it’s making a humming or clicking noise, the drain pump and motor may need replacing. If this occurs, it may be time to call a professional for help.  

How to Properly Drain a Dishwasher 

If you need to clear standing water at the bottom of a dishwasher, here’s how to drain it: 

  • Line the floor under the dishwasher with towels or newspaper.  
  • With a measuring cup or a large ladle, scoop the water from the bottom into a bowl or the sink.  
  • When the water becomes too shallow to scoop, soak up the remaining moisture with cloth or paper towels. 

Always make sure that you’re using the right type of dish detergent per manufacturer’s directions, to avoid clogging the drain. Taking some preventative steps to keep your dishwasher running smoothly can also help you avoid drainage issues in the future. 

Looking for an affordable home warranty plan? Here’s where to start: 

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home


Multifunctional interior with green chair

 

At the start of every year, we set goals for our health, well-being and even finances. But what about for the home?

 

These home-improvement resolutions will help make your home cleaner, more gorgeous and enjoyable in 2019.

 

laundry room

Clear Clutter

Take the time post-holidays to clear items you no longer wear, use or love. Start room-by-room to keep it manageable, stay organized to avoid duplication and donate any excess to charity. Lightening your home’s load will make it look instantly cleaner and support less-fortunate families in your community with those items taking up precious living space.

 

High Angle View Of Weekly Cleaning Plan Form

Cleaning Schedule

Divvy up daily and weekly tasks for maximum tidiness. Complete chores daily, like dishes in the dishwasher, dirty clothes in the basket, clean clothes in the closet — everything in its place. Clean the entire house weekly with ease using a portable cleaning caddy stocked with supplies, an apron for easily accessible tools and focusing on one type of cleaning task at a time.

 

smart screen with smart home with modern dining room

Safety + Efficiency

Ensure your home is safe by replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Don’t forget to test for radon and check bathroom, attic and dryer vents, also. Lower your bills and lessen your footprint by installing LED bulbs and low-flow showerheads, adjust or schedule thermostats, run only full loads of dishes and laundry, power down or unplug items not in use, water less and compost more — to name a few tips.

 

Angle view of living room

Rearrange to Entertain

Get a fresh new look for hosting friends with a few updates. Adding plants is a cost-effective update that also helps clean the air. Pick an accent color for your entertaining space and add it throughout with a vibrant rug or a stylish throw pillow. And, of course, the timeless trick of rearranging furniture brings new energy to any space.

 

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.

9 Ways to Rework Your Kitchen for the Holidays


Expecting family over for the holidays? According to a recent survey by WalletHub, D-FW ranks No. 9 on the list of top warm-weather destinations during the holidays.

 

Whether your family books a room at your place or pops in throughout the length of their trip, you want to make sure your kitchen is spot-on, and now is the perfect time to get started. Following are nine fixes for an impressive refresh.

 

1. Cabinetry

1477060873_485156-1925-fairmount-ave-fort-worth-tx-High-Res-16.jpg
1925 Fairmount Avenue | Fort Worth | $530,000

Dated cabinetry can serve as the biggest eyesore. Liven yours up by sanding them down, adding fresh paint and then installing snazzy hardware.

 

2. Countertops and Sink

1475769862_484086-10.jpg
2255 Forest Hollow Park | Dallas – Stonegate at Forest Hills | $559,000

Newer countertops provide a stunning look. Consider changing your sink as well. And, if there’s still wiggle room in the budget, look at updating your faucet – it can really complete the new look.

 

3. Appliances

1476981733_485106-13.jpg
6735 Kingsbury Drive | Dallas – Merriman Park | $470,000

If appliances aren’t working properly, it’s obvious they need to be replaced or fixed before family visits. It’s best to change out the refrigerator first – an appliance that is used daily. Then, match the replacement to existing equipment.

 

4. Backsplash

listing_36
7229 Yamini Drive | Dallas – Jan Mar | $939,000

Subway-tile backsplash adds an updated yet classic look. Going for neutral colors adds brightness and leaves room for more versatility.

 

5. Lighting

listing_27
4642 Edmondson Avenue | Highland Park | $1,395,000

Who wants a dark kitchen? Not your family. Consider purchasing and installing recessed ceiling cans. Although small, they highlight, brighten and add a modern touch.

 

6. Paint

1466801430_478097-1750-trace-bella-ct-westlake-tx-High-Res-9.jpg
1750 Trace Bella Court | Westlake | $5,798,880

Probably one of the easiest and least expensive ways to spruce up a room. Neutral shades allow for brightness and more versatility, but soft greens and blues add a nice twist.

 

7. Flooring

listing_24
5007 Purdue Avenue | Dallas – Briarwood | $849,000

Dated linoleum or vinyl isn’t the most attractive. Opt for real-wood planks, which add a classic addition to any kitchen.

 

8. Statement Piece

listing_35 (1)
2260 Hermitage Drive | Allen – Shaddock Park | $699,999

Similar to what it does for fashion, a statement piece serves as an interesting, attractive and relatively eye-catching item that reflects your style. A pot rack or a unique light fixture can easily be installed by homeowners, adding a big impact for a small price.

 

9. Openness

1476981986_485108-07.jpg
3207 Parkrise Court | Garland – Spring Park | $360,000

With good reason, the open floor plan trend continues to grow. Overcrowding in the kitchen is the last thing you want. Opt for knocking down a wall, allowing the central hub of your home to be a part of your living and dining areas.

How-To: Interior Lighting


Did you know that lighting is one of the most important elements in your home? When natural light isn’t available, due to lack of windows or time of day, the mood and brightness of your home is dictated by interior lighting. Additionally, light fixtures are a large part of design and personal style.

 

Following are a few tips to get the most out of your interior lighting:

 

Diversify

Use multiple sources for light so that the ambience is just right. Think about a mix of recessed ceiling lights, chandeliers, sconces, floor lamps, table lamps, and under mounted lighting solutions. A combination will throw light in different directions and create a more generalized glow.

 

listing_37
5730 County Road 471 | McKinney | $648,000

 

Focal Points

Use task lighting and directed light to highlight desks, plants, art, and unique decor.

 

listing_23
4428 Greenbrier Drive | Dallas | $1,750,000

 

Dimmers

Consider installing dimmers in entertaining spaces like dining areas, media rooms, and living areas. Being able to set the mood for a meal, movie or cozy night by the fire makes all the difference.

 

1457372482_470161-18media
6436 Sudbury Road | Plano – Kings Gate | $2,399,900

 

Read the Room

Different rooms call for different light fixture heights, sizes, and illuminations. For example, overhead lighting makes more sense in a kitchen than it does in a bedroom. Smaller lamps, sconces and delicate chandeliers are better suited in bedrooms than large living spaces.

 

23.jpg
5330 Pebblebrook Drive | Dallas – Russwood Acres | $1,569,000

 

Wattage

Always follow the instructions on your light fixture for maximum wattage, but don’t be afraid to take it down a notch. If the light fixture is more for decor than actual illumination, consider using low-wattage bulbs, which use less energy. Typical wattages range from 40 (for reading) to 80 (for putting on make up). However, utilizing multiple fixtures will allow for something in between.

 

1457730316_470596-20.jpg
4340 Shenandoah Street | University Park | $1,450,000

 

Decor

The fixtures you choose have a visual impact on your space. Make sure to keep the overall look and feel of the room in mind when selecting fixtures, but don’t be afraid to go bold. Statement floor lamps or chandeliers are the perfect way to add a punch of style with just one or two pieces.

 

1449697798_465363-14kit.jpg
3804 Villanova Street | University Park | $2,675,000

Get Your Fireplace Ready for Winter


Colder weather is here and it’s time to get your fireplace roaring again (check out 14 of our favorites here). Before you fill your home with the warmth and scent of a crackling fire, there are some precautions to take.

 

Check the Chimney

Have you called a chimney sweep recently? Experts recommend having your chimney cleaned once a year. A fireplace is only as good as its chimney, so inspect the exterior structure to make sure there are no issues there as well.

 

Open the Flue

Ever started a fire and had the room fill with smoke? If you’re new to fireplaces, you may not realize that this happens when the flue is closed. Many people close them in order to keep out small animals when their fireplaces aren’t in use. Simply look up and reach for a chain or lever to open it up before you light the fire.

 

Vacuum 

A quick vacuuming of the flue, smoke shelf and the surrounding hearth is the last step in preparation for fabulous fires in the coming months.

14 Fireplaces to Warm Up to This Holiday Season


Can you believe Thanksgiving is a little more than two weeks away? Believe it.

 

Although cozying up by the fire isn’t on the top of everyone’s to-do list right now, we can’t help but acknowledge that the holidays are just around the corner. And, if your expecting guests, it’s about that time to get your fireplace roaring again.

 

Following are 14 fireplaces that will have you curling up to warmth in no time.

 

listing_26
6318 Turner Way | Dallas – Preston Club Estates | $1,575,000

listing_40
400 Travis Court | Irving – Cottonwood Valley | $1,260,000

listing_26 (1)
6205 Azalea Lane | Dallas – Preston Royal | $1,200,000

listing_24
5833 Portsmouth Lane | Dallas – Cambridge Place at Preston Trail | $1,045,000

listing_22
11720 Forest Court | Dallas | $935,500

listing_22
5802 Kenwood Avenue | East Dallas | $899,000

listing_26 (2)
9005 Meadowknoll Drive | Dallas – Town Creek | $849,900

listing_23
6065 Star Trail Drive | Frisco – Starwood | $789,900

listing_40
400 La Paz Court | Irving – University Hills | $680,000

listing_23
3513 Springhouse Way | Celina – Light Farms | $599,999

listing_27
7351 Glendora Avenue | Dallas – The Meadows | $579,000

44147036-3
6901 Flintcove Drive | Dallas – Prestonwood | $539,000

listing_25
6018 Spring Flower Trail | Dallas – Preston Port Estates | $419,000

listing_28
18024 Carrollwood Drive | Dallas | $359,000

9 Ways to Rework Your Kitchen for the Holidays


Expecting family over for the holidays? According to a recent survey by Orbitz, 71 percent of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season, with Dallas ranking No. 9 on the list of top Thanksgiving destinations.

 

Whether your family books a room at your place or pops in throughout the length of their trip, you want to make sure your kitchen is spot-on, and now is the perfect time to get started. Following are nine fixes for an impressive refresh.

 

1. New Cabinets

listing_29
Dated cabinets can serve as the biggest eyesore. Liven yours up by sanding them down, adding fresh paint and then installing snazzy hardware.

3513 Springhouse Way | Celina – Light Farms | $599,999

 

2. Change Countertops and Sink

listing_29-1
Newer countertops prove a stunning look. If those change, consider changing your sink as well. And, if there’s still wiggle room in the budget, look at changing your faucet – it can really complete the new look.

4403 Rawlins Street | Dallas – Perry Heights | $959,500

 

3. Replace Equipment

listing_26
If appliances aren’t working properly, it’s obvious they need to be replaced or fixed before family visits. However, if upgrades are on the mind, it’s best to change out the refrigerator first – an appliance that is used daily. Then, match the replacement to existing equipment.

201 Sir Brine Drive | Lewisville – Castle Hills | $408,000

 

4. Update Backsplash

15.jpg
Subway tile backsplash adds an updated yet classic look. Going for neutral colors adds brightness and leaves room for more versatility.

7306 Mimosa Lane | Dallas – The Meadows | $679,500

 

5. Improve Lighting

listing_31
Who wants a dark kitchen? Not your family. Consider purchasing and installing recessed ceiling cans. Although small, they highlight, brighten and add a modern touch.

18007 Old Preston Court | Dallas | $599,000

 

6. Paint

listing_26
Probably one of the easiest and least expensive ways to spruce up a room. Neutral shades allow for brightness and more versatility, but soft greens and blues add a nice twist.

520 Laredo Circle | Allen – Twin Creeks | $510,000

 

7. Flooring

1444921507_462955-4312-hyer-st-dallas-tx-High-Res-14.jpg
Dated linoleum or vinyl isn’t the most attractive. Opt for real-wood planks, which add a classic addition to any kitchen.

4312 Hyer Street | University Park | $1,195,000

 

8. Statement Piece

listing_28
Similar to what it does for fashion, a statement piece serves as an interesting, attractive and relatively eye-catching item that reflects your style. A pot rack can easily be installed by homeowners, adding a big impact for a small price.

 

5833 Portsmouth Lane | Dallas – Cambridge Place at Preston Trail | $1,095,000

 

9. Openness

listing_28-1
With good reason, the open floor plan trend continues to grow. Overcrowding in the kitchen is the last thing you want. Opt for knocking down a wall, allowing the central hub of your home to be a part of your living and dining areas.

1037 Brigham Drive | Forney – Devonshire | $310,000