Ball Homes

Favorite Kitchens
There's a lot to love in today's new home kitchens.  Here are some of our favorites!  Click the pic to see more about the…

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Backyards

The Best & Worst Times to...

Ever have chores that you keep pushing off because you think there has to be a better time to do it? We all have things we need to do that we keep pushing off. Here are the best and worst times to do all kinds of things around your home.

...Clean your gutters.
Best: Early spring and late fall after all the leaves have fallen. Cleaning out your gutters twice a year prevents build-up of debris which weighs down your gutters.
Worst: Early fall before the leave are done falling. It'll undo everything you just accomplished! Also avoid this chore when the ground is wet and slick. That makes it very dangerous to be on a ladder!

...Get your chimney inspected.

Best: Spring when the chimney business is slow. Since the companies are so slow during this time, they might offer some discounts. This timing will also allow you plenty of time to make any repairs before the cold returns.
Worst: Don't do this during the fall!

...Paint your house's exterior.
Best: On a dry day when the temperatures should be between 50 and 95 degrees and shouldn't drop down below freezing at night. Early summer is usually the best.
Worst: When it's about to rain, humid, or chilly. Avoid super windy days too. It makes being on a ladder a little scary!

...Buy a major appliance.

Best: September and October. These months are just before the new model releases, and the stores get eager to make room in their inventory meaning discounts for you. Also look for sales during the weekends before or after holidays.
Worst: November, December, and January. These months are right when all the new models come out, and you'll be paying full price.

...Grocery shop.
Best: For the biggest savings, hit the store the same day the ad comes out. To avoid crowds, shop Monday or Tuesday between 10am and 3 pm if you can.
Worst: Weekends are going to draw the most people and have the biggest crowds. After 6 on weeknights will be busy too when everyone's trying to rush in after work.

...Clean your oven.
Best: When you don't need to be in your kitchen for a while. The oven's self-clean cycle can take three or more hours. Make sure to do it on a day when you can have your windows open, so you can air out those funky fumes.
Worst: Before bed or when you're not home. Oven grime could get smoky or even catch on fire.

...Plant a tree.
Best: Once the ground has thawed in the spring and before your tree has sprouted all its leaves. Or early fall.
Worst: Midsummer is the worst time to plant a tree. The heat and process of transplanting can stress the tree causing it to have less energy to settle its roots into its new home.

...Reseed your lawn.
Best: Fall if you live in a cool climate and spring or summer if you live somewhere warm. Grasses grown in cooler climates need cool soil and adequate rainfall to establish their roots. In warmer areas, grasses prefer temperatures in the 70s or higher to get started.
Worst: Midsummer for cool climates because heat poses a challenge for these grasses to grow. For warmer climates, the worst time to plant is in the early fall because the grass won't have enough time to establish roots before the temperatures drop.

...Plant bulbs.
Best: Six weeks before your area's first frost date for spring-blooming plants. For summer bloomers, plant them late in spring when the chance for frost is over.
Worst: Early in the spring when cold, wet soil can cause bulbs to rot.

Let's all get started on these chores and knock out that "honey-do" list!

Color In Full Bloom

Now that we've figured out how to add some color to our kitchens, let's figure out how to make those colors pop in our yards! Creating and maintaining a beautiful yard amps up your curb appeal and the overall value of your home. Don't credit yourself with having a green thumb? Don't worry. It doesn't have to be as hard as you think. Let's look at a few tips and tricks to making your yard more colorful, look bigger, and less buggy!

1. Fill a basket with your tools.

How annoying is it to get all set up in an area of your yard and realize that you forgot something? You then have to trek all the way back to the garage or shed and dig around in all kinds of stuff just to find your trowel. Keep all of your tools in a cute, little basket. With all of your tools in a handy basket, you'll not only have everything you need, you'll also look super chic carrying it around your yard!

2. Keep garden tools sharp.

It is so frustrating to be working in your yard and have tools that aren't standing up to the job. By keeping your tools sharp and in working order, you're more likely to be able to slice through those tough roots and break up hard soil. You can keep your tools in tip top shape by purchasing a mill file at your nearby hardware store.

3. Make a small yard look larger.

Admit it. We all want a bigger yard but don't want all the maintenance that comes along with it. Good news though! There are things you can do to a small yard that make it visually look larger. By planting rows of plants that are all at different heights, you create some depth in your yard. Notice in the picture how their fence is a little taller than their tallest plants, which are a little taller than their bushes, which are a little taller than the flowers. All these varying heights create more dimension in your yard, so it seems bigger!

4. Plant a variety of plants.

By planting a wide variety of plants, you have a greater chance of having an appealing yard year round. Different plants and flowers have different blooming seasons. How great would it be to have a yard that constantly has something blooming in it? Sounds pretty dreamy!

5. Choose plants that offer multiple blooms per season.

Plants that offer multiple blooming periods per season is like getting more bang for your buck. With more blooms in your yard, it will look a lot more expensive to keep up than it actually is.

6. Mix some greenery.

Add some interest to your backyard! By mixing some greenery, you make your yard really something to look at. It'll make people stop, look, and be green with envy!

7. Make red mulch work for you.

If you have trees in your backyard that make it hard to grow stuff underneath them, just add some red mulch! The mulch will help make your yard look more finished compared to having patches of bare dirt under the trees. It was also add a nice contrast of color against all the green!

8. Be the one with the greener grass.

Grass not as green as you'd like it to be? Check the levels of iron and magnesium in your soil. These nutrients are what give your lawn its rich, green color.

9. Don't try to save time by cutting grass too short.

A lot of people think that if they cut their grass really short, then that saves them time in the long run because they won't have to cut it again as quickly. Wrong! They say that your grass should not be shorter than two inches. Cutting your grass too short is another reason why your grass may not be as green and luscious as it should be.

10. Check to see if your seeds are still usable.

It's so disheartening to plan a whole handful of seeds in early spring just to wait and wait and have nothing come up. Avoid that whole scenario by checking first to make sure that your seeds are still usable. Older seeds are not always still able to produce a plant. Check your seeds by doing the paper towel trick. Click here for more information.

11. Strengthen your seedlings.

Make those little suckers strong! Add a little fertilizer to the water when watering your seedlings. The fertilizer will help make them stronger and more successful during their transplant.

12. Don't transplant on a sunny day.

Transplanting your seedlings in the glare of the sun can dry them out faster than you can get them back in some soil. Moisture is key. Wait for a cloudy day or transplant at dusk. Another helpful tip would be to wait to transplant until right after it has rained. That way the soil has plenty of moisture to offer the seedlings!

13. Give plants a good soaking.

Plants are much healthier when you give them a good soaking once a week rather than giving them a little bit of water multiple times a week. When you only water your plants with a little bit of water, there isn't enough water that makes its way down to the roots. The leaves and soil soak up the water before the roots can get to it. If you give it a healthy soaking of water, the roots can soak up as much water as they need and are good until next week.

14. Repel ants & mosquitos.

Plants such as spearmint, peppermint, and pennyroyal repel ants. Plant these in a border around your yard. Also, mosquitos can't stand the smell of marigolds. Marigolds will add a beautiful pop of color to your yard AND repel mosquitos!? Put this flower at the top of your list now!

What are you waiting for now? Go out there are turn your yard into the yard of your dreams!