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Spring Lawn & Garden Checklist

Gardner’s Edge has been assisting homeowners and avid gardeners since 2005. Follow their spring checklist to ensure a healthy, lush lawn and garden this season!

Whip Your Yard & Garden Beds into Shape

Your yard has probably collected some fallen limbs, leaves, and other debris over the winter months. Now is a good time to rake up any debris in your garden beds and landscaping. Cut back or remove dead plants and tackle any early pesky weeks before they get out of hand. Also aerate and till your garden soil to maximize its potential.

Start a Compost Pile

After cleaning up the yard and garden beds, you should have plenty of debris to add to your existing compost pile, or start a new one! Compost helps improve soil, delivers important nutrients to your garden and helps reduce fertilizer expenses.

Tackle Those Unfinished Projects, or Start Some New Ones!

Maybe last fall you started building a new garden shed, updating your patio area, or installing raised beds but didn't have time to get it finished. Tackle those projects now before you get too busy with your spring vegetable garden and lawn care

Sharpen Your Tools So They'll Be Ready for Spring

Keep your favorite tools sharp, clean, functional and easy to use for optimal performance. Pruners, mower blades, soil knives, shovels, loppers, garden scissors and more will benefit from regular sharpening.

Prune Plants Before They Bloom to Encourage Healthy New Growth

Besides pruning for safety and to enhance the health of your trees and shrubs, pruning can also improve flower and fruit production. Check out our pruning guide to help select the right pruner for the job, to learn how to sharpen and maintain your pruner, and for general pruning techniques.

Divide Perennials While the Weather is Still Cool and New Growth is Minimal

Rejuvenate perennials and keep them under control by dividing them before new growth begins or while new growth is minimal. Expand your garden with the divisions or share with friends. A soil knife works great for this task, or you may prefer a shovel or spade for larger plants. It's recommended to divide fall blooming perennials in the spring, and spring and summer bloomers in the fall.

Apply Mulch to Help Reduce Weeds and Save Water

Mulch keeps weeds at bay by smothering weed seeds, and it helps plants retain moisture so you don’t have to water as often. Plus it keeps roots cool in the summer heat and warm in the winter. Go for a depth of around 2-4 inches, but remember to leave a little space around plant stems and tree trunks to prevent rot. Landscape fabric below your mulch also helps reduce weeds. Add landscape edging to define borders and achieve that perfectly manicured, professional look.

Test Your Soil to See What Nutrients It Needs

Now is a good time to add a couple of inches of compost or your favorite fertilizers and amendments to your flower beds, vegetable garden and lawn. A soil tester will help you measure pH, moisture, fertilizer and light to determine exactly what your plants and soil need.

Fertilize or Reseed Your Lawn

If your lawn is looking a little rough, lightly fertilize with a balanced, slow release fertilizer in the spring. Fall is the better time for heavy fertilizing though. You can also add a pre-emergent to help control weeds before they get out of hand. Now is also a great time to reseed your lawn if needed, however, be aware that pre-emergents prevent grass seed from sprouting so you should only do one or the other.

Start Planting!

Once the weather turns nice, get out there and start planting! Get an early start with cool weather crops, as they can be planted a couple months before the last frost date. These crops can tolerate a light frost, but have frost protection on hand for those really cold nights.

Source:  Gardner’s Edge

 

Flooding This Spring

Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat to parts of the United States nearly every day of the year.  The National Weather Service has created a site to help keep you safe in a flood event.

If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood can increase your chances of survival and better protect your property.

The site also provides an interactive flood map, that describes the different types of flooding and educational material.

The Service also keeps you aware of potentially flooding situations through alerts and warnings.

Go to www.weather.gov/safety.floodto explore all the flooding resources they provide.

If you have flood insurance rest easy, if you haven’t we recommend you call the agency to obtain a quote. Remember, it takes 30 days before a flood policy becomes effective so prepare today for tomorrow’s storms.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Make these 15 preventative maintenance tips part of your spring cleaning to-do list this year

Change your air filters

For most people, you should change the filters in your heater and air conditioner unit once every three months. If you have bad allergies, then make it once a month instead. This is a simple step you can do yourself that helps extend the life of your air conditioner vents and heating system and will save you money in potential repairs.

  1. Follow this HVAC preventive maintenance checklist

Spending a little bit of money twice a year to have an HVAC specialist come out and perform routine maintenance on your A/C and heater can go a long way towards helping you avoid expensive HVAC repairs.

  1. Clear out your gutters

Clearing out your gutters and downspouts is a nuisance, but when gutters get (and stay) clogged, it can lead to leaks in your roof, wood rot, cracked foundations and bug problems – all of which are expensive (and often pretty gross) to deal with.

  1. Check the whole house for leaks

Leaks can quickly become destructive if you don’t catch them in time. About once a week, inspect the whole house (the inside and the exterior) and check all the sinks and cabinets under them to look for leaks. If you find a leak in your roof while it’s small, you can get it fixed before it causes water damage (which can be crazy-expensive)!

  1. Give the attic a run-through

When was the last time you went in your attic? For many of us, attics are forgotten storage spaces or homes to old keepsakes we convince ourselves we want to hold on to. No judgment – if you have the space to store, go for it!

But remember that your attic is a part of your home, too, and if you neglect it simply because you rarely find yourself up there, the part of your house you do use could pay the price. Give your attic a run-through every few months to monitor for leaks, pest infestations, and insulation damage, and catch them before they get out of control. This way, they’ll be easier and cheaper to fix.  

  1. Trim your trees

The trees that add beauty and character to your yard can end up costing you big-time if branches or the tree itself falls on top of your house during a storm. Trimming your trees (or hiring someone to do so) once a year reduces your risk.

You are liable if a tree in your yard falls and damages a neighbor’s home or automobile. It’s a good idea to inspect trees for damage after a large storm or high winds. This will help to keep your insurance premiums low and avoid the hassle of filing a claim.

  1. Test your smoke and CO2 alarms

In addition to saving you the costs of fire damages, health care, and potential carbon monoxide poisoning, making sure you have working smoke and CO2 detectors can literally save your life. Most smoke and CO2 detectors have a “test” button. Give it a try once a month and make sure you replace the batteries as often as directed.

  1. Test your water heater pressure shut-off valve

The pressure relief valve on your hot water heater is a safety feature that keeps the unit working properly and reduces the risk of leaks or at worst, an explosion. Once a year, check that it’s doing its job.

  1. Drain your water heater

Once a year, you should also flush your water heater (or hire someone to do so) to let out all the sediment that builds up over time. This will both make your water heater work more effectively and lengthen the unit’s life.

10.Have your chimney cleaned

If you don’t have a fireplace, this is one you get to skip.

If you do and you use it with any frequency, then get someone out to clean your chimney flue once a year to avoid chimney fires.

11.Test your sump pump

If your home doesn’t have a basement, this is one you get to skip.

If it does, your sump pump has an important role to play to help you avoid damage from potential flooding. You don’t want to figure out your sump pump doesn’t work at the moment you need it, so test it out once a year to make sure you can depend on it in any circumstance.

12.Check the soil around your foundation

Foundation issues are among the most expensive a home can have, and they can cause you major pain if or when you wish to sell your home. One step you can take to prevent foundation damage is to make sure the soil around your house gradually slopes away from your house six inches down for about 10 feet. That way when it rains a lot, the water will move away from the foundation toward the rest of your yard.

It’s also important to check for any cracking in the foundation or sagging of your home. If you notice either of these things you should contact a foundation repair company quickly to keep the problem from getting worse. Your homeowners policy may not cover expansion or contraction of soil leading to foundation damage so catching the problem early can help you avoid a huge repair bill.

13.Caulk where needed

This is a general tip on a general to-do list, but an important one. Caulk is cheap and can help you keep moisture out of crevices you don’t want it in to avoid water damage and mold. It can help you weatherize your house to keep cold air out in the winter and keep it in during the summer. Go through your house, around your garage door, and look for any spots where the caulk could use an update, or a crevice could use some new caulking.

14.Check your washer and dryer

The washer and dryer often sit out of sight in a laundry room, making it easy to overlook issues. Make a point to check around the washer for possible leaks. And check your dryer for lint buildup, which can cause fires.

While your homeowners insurance policy will likely cover water damage from a malfunctioning washer, the damage must be sudden and accidental. But if your home suffers water damage due to a continuous leak, you may be on the hook for the repair bill without the help of your insurance company.

15.Clean refrigerator coils

Family Handyman predicts that 70% of refrigerator service calls can be avoided with this simple step. Cleaning your fridge coils twice a year will save you money on both repairs and energy costs.

This complete list of home repairs can cost you stress, inconvenience, and of course, money. A little bit of time and money in proactive home maintenance tasks can save you a lot of that trouble and keep your house in tip-top shape.

Source:  The Zebra

March Wind

Weather has a definite impact on your home.  March typically signifies the start of destructive spring weather patterns, such as hail, tornadoes, wind, and lightning according to HVAC Investigators.  Over $2 billion in damages have been paid out by insurers.

This March has seen significant increases in catastrophic weather activity.  

What can you do to protect your home from strong winds?

According to The Weather Channel here are some quick tips:

Be aware of potential threats.

Walk your perimeter looking for broken fences, loose branches or crumbling roof singles. Consider moving any trees that are close to your home.  

Keep your appliances grounded.  

Make sure outside furniture and appliances are tied down and secure.  Patio furniture, barbeques, sporting equipment, and even your garden shed. These objects can be anchored down by bolts to the ground with cables or chains.

Cover your door and windows.

Consider  installing steel or aluminum storm shutters.  This will protect your windows from shattering in case flying objects hit your glass, or from opening if they are hit by strong gusts of winds.

Secure your roof.

Strong winds can damage your shingles, making your home vulnerable to rain and leaks, but homes with metal roofing also face the danger of entire panels being torn away.  Make sure you secure any metal roofing parts to bind them down with screws and bolts.

Ensure your garage door is in good condition.

A home has four weak spots that are vulnerable to strong weather conditions: the roof, windows, doors, and garage.  Make sure that your garage door can withstand a windstorm.

Take these precautions and reduce the risk of damage from high winds and hail. 

Let us take a look at your homeowners coverage to make sure that you have the right coverage to ensure you have the protection you need against these perils.

 

 

Businesses Using Chatbots in 2019

2019 is predicted to see an increase in the number of businesses using chat bots. 

Chatbots are personalizing customer experiences.  Successful chatbots will work to understand using machine learning over time to learn and understand the nuances of the user’s requests and improve the first-contact resolution. The greater the ability to personalize responses will make the customer experience even greater.

Chatbots are now specialized. Users need to know exactly what the chatbot does and be confident that it will do these things well. 

If your business is considering using chatbots for communications with your prospects and customers, please call us to discuss the type of insurance coverage you will need to protect yourself and your business.

Daylight SavingsTime Arrives

Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time kicks in on Sunday.  You need to move your clocks ahead an hour.  There goes an hour of sleep.  But, you can feel safer that children will be leaving for school in daylight rather than in the dark.

Looking for a dependable car?

According to J.D. Power, the top rated overall vehicle dependability brands are:

10.  Kia

9.    Hyundai

8.    Audi

7.    BMW

6.    MINI

5.    Buick

4.    Chevrolet

3.    Toyota

2.    Porsche

1.    Lexus

The study measured the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles during the past 12 years by original owners of three-year-old model-year vehicles.  The 2019 study measures problems in model year 2016. Overall dependability for three-year-old vehicles improved 4% from last year.

So when looking for a new car, look to these brands; then give us a call to determine your insurance premiums.

Source: JD Power, Property/Casualty 360

Flood Insurance - Why You Need It!

No matter where you live, water causes severe damage.  With winter thaw, flooding is more than possible. However, flood insurance is not part of your standard homeowners insurance.   

Most homeowners insurance will  cover water damage from a burst pipe, but not heavy rain, rising rivers, or a natural disaster.

What do you do?  Buy Flood Insurance!

Here are a few important things to consider:

  • Find out if you are in a flood zone.
  • Mortgage and Banks may require you to get flood insurance, if you are in a flood zone.
  • Worried about flooding and not in a flood zone but near a high-risk area, you should buy flood insurance, which will be less costly than if you were in a flood zone.
  • More than 20% of all flood claims filed were by residents outside of those high-risk zones.

How much does it cost? The cost of a flood policy - $250,000 coverage on a house with a basement costs $386. 

To understand your flood risk, give us a call at the agency to discuss what is right for your home or business.

Source: Bankrate

Cold Weather Playing Havoc

Cold temperatures across the United States have caused consumers havoc both in their homes and in their cars.

Potholes 

Americans spend over $3 billion per year to repair pothole-related damage to their cars.

Extreme cold weather coupled with heavy traffic cause anything from blown tires, dented rims, damaged wheels, dislodged wheel weights, displaced struts, dislocated shock absorbers and damaged exhaust systems are all costly common automotive issues.

So how do you help protect your vehicle?  According to AAA:

–     Make sure your tires have enough tread and are properly inflated.  To check the tread depth, insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down.  The tread should cover part of Washington’s head.  If it doesn’t, time for new tire.

–     Keep your eye out for potholes and don’t get distracted.  If you need to swerve, make sure to check surrounding traffic to avoid causing a collision.

–     If you can’t avoid the pothole, reduce speed and insure you are not causing an accident with the vehicles behind you.

–     A puddle can disguise a deep pothole, drive carefully through them.

–     If after hitting a pothole, you knock your vehicle out of alignment, have your vehicle checked by a qualified technician.

Pipes

–     A simple way to help prevent outside pipes from freezing, let the cold-water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes.  

–     Keep your thermostat to set the same temperature during day and night.

–     To help pipes within the house from freezing (those that run through cabinets, or exterior walls) is to wrap them in pipe insulation.  

–     Keep your garage door closed.

–     If you plan to be away, set your temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

Keep warm during these winter months.  And, if you do experience a claim, we are here to assist you.

Valentine's Day - Buying Jewelry?

If you are considering buying jewelry for Valentine’s Day, here are five tips from Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press.  

Beware of discounts – do your research.  The median price of a piece of jewelry, excluding engagement rings and wedding bands, is $350.

  1. Know Your Loved One’s Taste – if your special someone likes small earrings, don't buy big hoops.  Be aware of their likes/dislikes.
  2. Do Research and Learn the Lingo – Great resource for checking out gemstones is Bluenile.com. This site defines key terms like what clarity means when talking about diamonds as well as compares prices from 150,000 independently graded diamonds.
  3. Take Precautions Against Fraud – Be cautious if you see discounts of more than 50%.  If buying diamonds, make sure your stone has an accompanying independent grading report from a respected lab, like Gemological Institute of America.  Also, check the return policy to see if you get either a store credit your money back.
  4. Consider Synthetic Diamonds.  Man-made diamonds are about 20% to 40%  less expensive.  Pure Grown Diamonds is the world’s largest distributor and has a directory on its website of stores by Zip Code that offer lab-grown diamonds.
  5. Be Creative – Not interested in spending a lot but still want good quality?  Consider estate sales.  Also, there is a rental jewelry subscription service called Rocksbox.com which allows a member to order three items per month based on the shoppers taste. Another way to reward your Valentine all year long.

Remember, once you have purchased your jewelry, contact the agency to either add it to your jewelry policy or to obtain a jewelry policy.  Make sure you get an appraisal so that it is easy for us to insure.

Happy Valentine’s Day!