Lay the Groundwork This Spring for a Beautiful Yard
What can I do to get my yard looking better after winter?
Fertilizing your lawn this time of year is always helpful. Starter fertilizer should be applied around April, when lilacs and forsythia start blooming, and should be completed prior to the end of their blooming period.
In areas that are mostly in the shade, you can lightly apply lime to help restore the pH balance to the soil.
Weed all flowerbeds to get ready for new growth. Consider adding retaining walls for a very attractive raised flowerbed.
A small patio with a fire pit is also a great way to make any outdoor space friendly.
–Jeff Hahn, owner, Cutting Edge Landscape: 957 Central Ave. E, Edgewater; 410-956-6540; www.cuttingedgelandscapingnursery.com
Professional Cleaners Work Harder Than You Want To
When it comes to cleaning, what do you do that we don’t?
You can’t sweep the facts under the rug. No matter how much you maintain a home, there is never enough time to get to it all — and especially those hard-to-reach places.
We walk through your home with you to ensure your pet peeves and heart’s desires get attention.
Basic cleanings mean different things to different people. Don’t let the word basic trick you. We dust top to bottom in all rooms — including those pesky hard to reach cobwebs — down to your baseboards.
We don’t just spray bleach or tea tree in the bathroom and call it a day. We take the time to scrub and sanitize from top to bottom, even hand-washing bathroom floors.
In kitchens, we also clean all surfaces. When you want deep cleaning, ask us to add on a full-cabinet front washing or to clean inside appliances.
Finally, we ensure all floors are clean of dust and debris, and we wash them each and every time.
No time to change linens? Leave them out for us, and you can fall into fresh sheets at bedtime.
Our staff pays close attention to the needs of your home while cleaning. If we find something that could use a little extra attention, we will suggest it.
We bring the right tools and products to your house to go deep beyond the surface, ensuring your cleanings last longer.
P.S. Can we get a one-time cleaning, or do we have to sign up for regular service?
There are no contracts here. If a client needs to make changes to the schedule with us, they can. Some clients may want a one-time clean with all the bells and whistles; others may want a good cleaning for bathrooms and floors only a few times a year.
If you are looking for a certain day of week or time of day, it’s best to get on a regular schedule so we can be consistent in meeting your needs.
–Lucia Tucker, owner Cleaning Maid Easy Inc.
5851 Deale-Churchton Rd., Deale;
Give Your Garden a Pop of Color to Welcome Spring
What can we do to bring our gardens back to life?
With it being early spring, not much is up yet. Add some pops of color with hardy violas, pansies and primroses for early spring color. A few hardy evergreens in bright yellows, like a gold mop cypress, make a nice all-year pop of color that blends nicely with bright spring colors. Consider adding a new coat of mulch to give your garden a bit of a spring lift.
It’s a great time to mix in Leafgro to add nutrients back to your soil before planting an area.
This is also a good time of year to add some summer bulbs to your garden, like oriental lilies and gladiolus.
–Heather Carr, owner, Willow Oak Flower & Herb Garden: 8109 Telegraph Rd., Severn; 410-551-2237; www.willowoakherbs.com
Time for Spring Veggies and Bare-Root Plants in the Garden
As spring arrives, what seeds and plants should people focus on getting in the ground first?
If you’re planting seeds, pick peas, onions, radishes, lettuce and potatoes — gold, white or purple, not sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be put in the ground at the end of May or first of June.
We may have a cold snap but, generally, after St. Patrick’s Day, it’s okay to get seeds in the ground.
For plants, anything bare-root can be put in the ground now.
–Betty Knapp, owner, Loch Less Farm:8233 Pushaw Station Rd., Owings; 410-257-7012; www.facebook.com/pages/Loch-LessFarm/152259851483090
The Better the Cleaning, the Longer the View
How can we keep our windows clean between your cleanings?
Once all the exhaust and pollution buildup has been removed and polish applied, water will bead up and roll away — much like after waxing your car. A once-a-year cleaning is the minimal amount needed. That will keep the rubber gaskets from deteriorating and help prevent the dreaded fogging between panes
–Charlie Olson, owner,
Malibu Window Cleaning:
How to Keep from Going Buggy
Tick-borne disease is a concern. When should we start trying to prevent their presence?
Ticks stay out year-round but are most active in temperatures above 50 degrees. The black-legged or deer tick nymphs hatch in April and then again in late summer, so staying proactive on tick-control measures is important. The increase in tick-borne illnesses aren’t limited to just Lyme disease, so everyone needs to be careful. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors; There are ways to protect yourself and prevent tick breeding grounds.
Follow these step to stay tick-bite-free:
Clear out: Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gather. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic areas. Separate paths or play areas with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas. Experts also recommend rubber mulch under playground sets.
Clean: Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges and mowing tall grasses. Keeping your yard clean means more than just a spring and fall cleanup. Before you mow, take a walk around your house and yard to determine what needs to be fixed, cut or thrown away.
Choose the right plants: If you have deer in your area, you likely have ticks. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer. Experts recommend bellflower, corydalis and big root geraniums, but check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
Check hiding places: Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places. Check them frequently. Rake, and keep yard trash and plants at least 12 inches away from the fences, walls and foundations.
Care for family pets: Pets can suffer from Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest-control products, be sure to follow directions carefully. If you personally wouldn’t spend time in your yard due to ticks, then don’t send your pets out there. Be sure to check your dogs each time they are in the yard so ticks don’t make their way into the house.
Consider professional treatment: Mosquito Squad’s seasonal barrier treatment is 85 to 90 percent effective in reducing the mosquitoes and ticks in your yard for 21 days. We also offer additional protection against deer ticks with tick tubes placed in April and August that focus on reducing the deer tick at the first nymph stage.
We also offer an all-natural mosquito repellent spray that is approximately 70 percent effective in reducing mosquitoes for 14 days.
The products we use are all tested and approved and registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Our business is licensed for Public Health and General Pest Control with the State of Maryland, and all of our technicians are thoroughly trained in mosquito and tick control and registered with the State of Maryland.
–Kendra Burnett, owner, Mosquito Squad of Annapolis:
7 Must Do’s to Sell Your Home
What can I do to help my home sell quickly and for the highest price?
Create curb appeal by providing a fresh look to existing landscaping.
Clean and declutter like you would detail your car.
Create a neutral palate. Paint all worn interior and exterior surfaces — especially the front door and entry. Remove wallpaper.
Repair all defects, both visible and latent defects.
Update kitchens and baths.
Improve or replace worn-out or outdated flooring.
Have your home professionally staged.
–David Wright, licensed broker, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, The Wright Team: 4 Church Circle, Annapolis; 410-353-1040; [email protected]
Propane May Be Your Best Bet for Heating & Cooking
Can switching from electric to propane save money? How?
Using electricity to produce heat is the most expensive method as well as the most energy-consuming.
A propane water heater will save you money due to its energy efficiency compared to electric water heaters.
Choosing a propane water heater instead of an electric water heater will usually cost you more during installation, but propane-fueled water heaters are also a more cost-effective option because they can last twice as long as electric water heaters.
Propane water heaters also offer a virtually endless supply of hot water because they heat your water twice as fast as electric.
The longer it takes for an electric water heater to heat your water tank, the higher your energy bills and the more frequent your cold showers.
A propane-fired, tankless hot water heater only heats the water on demand as you use it, opposed to keeping 30 or 40 gallons of water heated 24 hours a day.
Propane is also much cleaner and requires minimal maintenance when compared to fuel-oil-fired systems.
Because propane is more efficient and cheaper than electric, it is also one of the best ways to heat a pool.
For cooking, propane is the best choice indoors and out. Surveys continually prove that consumers prefer to cook with gas because it provides more precise temperature control and heat delivery than electricity. Ninety-seven percent of professional chefs prefer cooking with gas.
Gas will respond instantly, while electric elements will not. Propane-fueled cooktops offer instant heat and absolute temperature control, allowing users to adjust from a boil to a simmer in seconds.
Propane ovens and cooktops cover a broad spectrum, from low-cost economy models to deluxe units that combine every possible cooking convenience and energy-saving feature. The wide variety of ranges, ovens, and cooktops available today can give homebuyers and contractors a choice of unique and functional kitchen designs. Cooking with propane, on average, cost less than half of cooking with electricity.
Unlike electrical appliances, many propane cooking appliances are not affected by power outages. Propane appliances are available with the latest technology so whatever is new in appliances is available with propane. This can include convection ovens, sealed burners for easy cleaning, griddles and grill tops and even deep fryers.
For convenience, your outside grill can be hooked up to your gas line, meaning no more refilling that tank or running out of gas in the middle of your cookout.
–John Gott, president, The Gott Company: Prince Frederick; 410-535-0484
New Appliances Save You Money
As we replace appliances, how can we find out which new ones will give us money back?
If you are looking for efficient appliances, be sure to choose ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances. Appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR certification help you save energy and money.
If you want to save even more, look for an ENERGY STAR Most Efficient appliance, which brings additional savings and delivers cutting-edge energy efficiency with the latest technological innovations.
For available appliance rebates, go to: www.energystar.gov/products/most_efficient and www.smeco.coop/save-energy-and-money.
SMECO can also help you save money. We will pick up and recycle your old, working — cooling — fridge or freezer at no charge, and you will get a $50 rebate.
If you have an old, working room air-conditioner or dehumidifier, we can pick it up for recycling at the same time and give you a $25 bonus. Eligibility and pickup scheduling: www.smeco.coop/save-energy-and-money/recycle-refrigerators.
–Jennifer Raley, Energy/Tech Programs Demand Side Management Manager, SMECO; 888-440-3311; www.smeco.coop
Think of Your Deck as a Design Element as Well as a Retreat
How can we refresh a deck this spring?
You can start by cleaning your deck, removing debris with a broom or leaf blower. Be sure to clean out anything that has fallen between the deck boards. If you have composite or capped polymer decking, follow the cleaning instructions for your type of product.
You can also choose to replace your deck with engineered woods. They won’t splinter, crack or warp, and you will never have to stain or seal them.
Color choices continue to grow with these composite and PVC deck options. Choose from colors in a wide range of grays, browns and reds along with several choices of variegated colors and grain patterns.
Creating unique two-tone designs with picture framing and breaker boards adds style and dimension to decks. We are also seeing the mixing and matching of deck board colors as well as alternating board widths.
Other trends include horizontal railings, resulting in a sleek and modern look. The wrong choice of railing can make a deck feel closed off, especially in a small space. To keep yours feeling open and inviting, choose a design and color that won’t overpower the deck, such as black aluminum or cable-style railings.
Mixing and matching materials and colors of posts, balusters and handrails is popular as well. Choose from vinyl, composite, aluminum or steel for your posts and handrail and glass and cable rail as options for your rail infills.
For decks lower to the ground, built-in planters or benches in place of railings eliminate the need for extra furniture and will open up the layout.
Adding lighting can create a unique, warm ambiance in your outdoor space. Hang bistro lights or opt for lighting solutions that are integrated into the railings and stair risers.
Refresh your outdoor furniture and décor. Multifunctional chairs double as tables, and benches double as storage. A small outdoor rug can add color without cramping your style.
–Sarah Ditto, marketing manager, Fence and Deck Connection: 1544 Whiteball Rd., Annapolis; 8057 Veterans Hwy., Millersville; 410-757-5511; www.fenceanddeckconnection.com
Our Auction Will Clear Your House
When de-cluttering for spring, what guidelines can help us decide what to consign versus donate?
We take consignments for things that we feel might have a reasonable resale value — $12 or more. Bring items in or bring a picture on your phone, and we’ll help you figure out if it might be something to consign.
Too much just goes into landfills these days. Donate anything with some life left in it, including antiques, household items, prints and paintings, ephemera, sports equipment, collectibles, ceramics, tools, stamps, baby items, jewelry, glass, appliances, coins, homeschool gear, furniture, rugs, books, currency and decorative items.
We will come to your home and help you sort. We also offer a pickup service with moving help for big items and packing smaller items into boxes if need be.
All items for consignment are sorted into lots by an expert with 40-plus years of experience. If he decides an item is not likely to sell, it will be held for pickup or donated to a charity.
Items headed to auction are lotted, photographed, described and uploaded into a weekly online auction. You can also contribute descriptions or historic information about items you have consigned.
Payments are processed, auction commission (35 percent of the selling price or $2.50, whichever is greater) deducted and a check is mailed to you.
–Dawn Bunting, owner, Bunting Online Auctions:
10745 Town Center Blvd, Dunkirk; 301-298-9300; www.buntingonline.auction
Extend Your Garden at Anne Arundel County Farmers Market
At this of year, what can we find in Farmers Markets to enrich our diet with local foods and start our gardens?
At each market you can find a variety of veggies that our farmers have produced over the winter in greenhouses. Expect to find greens and lettuce, carrots, potatoes and much more.
We have a large selection of meats such as beef, pork, chicken and lamb as well as milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs. Families seeking lamb for Easter or brisket or chicken for Passover will find it here, raised locally, healthfully and humanely.
Farmers are also beginning to sell the plants they’ve been raising over the winter. They love to answer questions about their plants, and they are the best ones to ask when it’s safe to plant each one in your garden.
Our bakers also offer a large selection of goodies.
–Deana Tice, manager, Anne Arundel County Farmers Market: 275 Harry S. Truman Pkwy., Annapolis; 410-349-0317; Facebook Anne Arundel Co. Farmers Market
Is Out-of-the-Tap Water Good Enough?
What do we get with Hague water that we don’t with our well or community water?
Access to clean, safe water is not something to take for granted. There are thousands of potential contaminants threatening the quality of your well or municipal water, and the infrastructure may not always keep up.
Well water in Anne Arundel County may have heavy iron, iron bacteria, radium or arsenic. A review of the 2017 municipal water reports for Anne Arundel County showed the presence of radium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, fluoride and lead. Local health organizations have estimated that 25 to 30 percent of wells will fail bacteria tests at any given time.
Heavy rains and shifts in temperature may affect your water quality and potentially increase failure rates of bacteria tests.
We recommend a whole-house water-treatment appliance, like the Hague WaterMax, which combines four stages of water filtration. It removes sediment and other debris, removes chlorine and chlorine byproducts, removes hardness and heavy metals like lead and radium and has bacteriostat to prevent bacteria growth.
Adding reverse osmosis to the water-treatment process removes 99 percent of contaminants from the water. It’s the ultimate protection for what goes into your body.
Working with a water-quality expert is essential to providing just the right solution to filter out impurities and deal with issues related to bad water. One product does not fit all when it comes to water quality solutions.
The Hague WaterMax provides a superior level of pure water and is proven to reduce water usage, save energy and increase the life of appliances like water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines.
–Brian Edwards, president, Hague Quality Water of Maryland: 814 East College Parkway, Annapolis; 410-757-2992; www.HagueWaterofMD.com
Keep Your A/C Unit Cooling All Summer Long
How do we prep our air-conditioning units for summer — and keep them in top shape?
Get your air-conditioning unit tuned up before summer heat arrives.
Change your disposable filters every month. A dirty filter slows down your airflow and makes your air-conditioner run hotter. This wastes energy and costs you money. Dirt and dust from your dirty filter can also cause air-conditioning system failures, causing unnecessary and expensive repairs. Many emergency service calls are due to clogged filters.
According to Energy Star, air-conditioners and heat pumps usually work well enough for 10 years or more. But a 10-year-old system is inefficient compared to recent models, as savings of 20 to 40 percent can be seen in today’s models.
–Don Risher, Belair Engineering: 301-249-0300; www.belairengineering.com
What Helps a House Sell?
Where should I spend my money when I’m preparing my home for sale?
Kitchens and bathrooms are the top priorities when renovating. Also, replace carpets and refinish hardwood floors. Power-wash house and decks. Stain decks if needed. Keep interior clean and uncluttered. Turn on all lights and open blinds when your home is scheduled to be shown.
Outside, keep trees pruned, lawn neatly cut and beds weed-free and freshly mulched.
–Mike Dunn and Ray Mudd, agents, Schwartz Realty Inc., 5801 Deale-Churchton Rd., Deale; 410-867-9700; 301-261-9700; www.schwartzrealty.com
Act Now to Swim by Fourth of July
Is it still possible to enjoy a new pool this summer?
Just barely! On average, assuming everything goes smoothly, your timing from first contact to first swim is 12 working weeks.
–Catalina Pool Builders: 836 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park; 410-647-7665; www.catalinapoolbuilders.com
Get the Most Out of Your Carpet
How can we prolong our carpet’s life?
Original carpet installation with a power stretcher will last the life of the carpet. I have work today because so much residential carpet is kicked in rather than power-stretched to save time and money — in the short run.
Once your carpet is laid, use these tips to keep it in good shape
1. Vacuum regularly with the beater bar engaged. Pull against the grain of the carpet and pull diagonally across seams.
2. Develop good foot habits: Shoes off is good.
3. Control your pets: One dog is equal to three children on both carpet and hardwood.
4. Move furniture around to change footpaths.
5. Hire experts to do steam or hot water extraction every 12 to 18 months, as required by mill warranties.
–Jim Boekestein, owner, Carpet Stretching and Repair by Jim: 231-632-6115; [email protected]
Inspect Trees After Winter for Damage
How do you create a landscape that’s both beautiful and safe?
Having a certified arborist perform your work ensures that it is completed to industry standards. The safety of your family, home and property is our priority.
Each spring, contact a certified arborist to walk your property and discuss tree care mitigation options and inspect for any potential hazards, free of charge.
–Steven Graham, owner, Independent Tree Care:
Decorating Trends Natural — with Exceptions
What color and wall treatments are trending this spring?
Warmer neutrals still dominate, with off-whites and off-creams replacing cool greys and whites. Bold colors are being used mostly in accessories — pillows, draperies and artwork — but some clients are making statements in powder rooms and dining rooms.
Accent walls are not being used as much. Instead, a great way to use a different color is on ceilings or bold color on the backs of bookshelves or kitchen cabinets.
Wallpaper has made a huge comeback. People come in every day looking for wallpaper for their powder rooms. We also see wallpaper being done in dining rooms, or on one wall or above chair rails, as well as laundry and mud rooms.
Grass cloth continues to be popular in natural papers, with faux styles looking more authentic. People are using textured wallpaper on boats and even to refinish furniture or on steps.
Whimsical prints and updated damasks and toiles are appearing in updated colors and styles.
If you’re thinking of selling your home or listing it for rent, stick to neutrals instead of plain white. Greiges are dominating the neutral trend.
Keep main living areas neutral while using some colors in the bedrooms. A blue-grey, for example, is calming and appealing.
–Cindy Morris, Interior Designer, Maryland Paint and Decorating: 209 Chinquapin Round Rd., Annapolis; 410-280-2225; www.mdpaint.com
Clean Windows Improve Your View
What do you do differently than what we can do ourselves?
We wash all windows inside and out. Our by-hand approach ensures you won’t see those persistent streaks and cloudiness as the light angle changes. We move and replace curtains, furniture and any other home items that need to be moved for us to access the windows. We’re able to reach those hard-to-reach windows. We use an eco-friendly cleaning solution.
The length of time between cleanings can vary significantly by the environment around your home. Busy streets near the home can mean quick buildup of soot. Depending on the trees and vegetation in your immediate area, each season can bring a host of particulates such as pollen.
Our typical arrangements vary from one to three washings per year. We sometimes do a second, smaller service in the year to touch up windows that are more prominent or show buildup more quickly. We often offer discounts for multiple washings within a year.
–Zeb Ramsey, owner, Dr. Glass Window Washing: 240-462-4142
We Make Your Kitchen or Bath Redo Almost Easy
Step by step, what should we expect during a kitchen or bath remodel?
Whether you have been referred to us by a friend or family member or found us on Google with our five-star rating, we begin the process with some simple questions: budget, phone, e-mail and address so our design team can get in touch with you to start your project.
We want every kitchen and bathroom we design to look purpose-built. So our design team comes to your home to measure your space. We note your personal taste, ask important design and function questions, review your budget and adjust it to fit your project if necessary.
Once all of that is complete, we will establish the general scope of work, total budget and timeframe for your project.
A site visit will be scheduled to take measurements and determine design parameters.
Design development then begins. Layout is finalized and finished and hardware options are made. Appliances, plumbing fixtures, flooring and lighting are selected. Detailed floor plans and elevations are presented.
Next, you approve final designs and product selection and the project moves into the installation phase.
–Duane Dwyer, owner Annapolis Kitchen and Bath, 105C Annapolis St., Annapolis; 410-626-8888; www.annapoliskitchenandbath.com
Luxury Vinyl Plank Is Worth Considering
What is a good flooring choice when taking into consideration price, longevity and appeal?
People are gravitating to luxury vinyl plank flooring. Families seem to want longevity over color, touch or feel.
Luxury vinyl plank flooring is waterproof and looks like wood. It has a nice density and is easy to maintain and install, saving you money. It can go over existing flooring, so labor is reduced — again, an option to cut costs.
There are many color and pattern options from gray wood grain to barn wood, as well as typical wood colors like oak. There are also planks that feature multi-color palettes.
–Bob Pumphrey, outside sales manager, Choice Floor Center: 1995 E Chaneyville Rd., Owings; 410-914-7792; www.choicefloorcenter.com