Georgia Turf Tips for the Fall

After a summer of mowing, watering, edging, and weeding, it’s pretty frustrating when your lawn looks thin and worn out. Heat, foot traffic, and drought really take their toll on grass. The good news is that it’s easy to make your lawn thick and lush by reseeding.

The Scotts Miracle Grow Company offers some great advise on how to keep your lawn looking lush and green. If you put down a layer of seed over your lawn in the spring or fall, all the thin areas start growing grass, and your lawn starts to look terrific again.

Over time, grass does get old and needs to be replaced. Worn-out lawns invite weeds. Reseeding is a fast, inexpensive way to help bring your lawn back to its lush, green, healthy self without tearing everything out and starting over. It’s also a great way to introduce a new type of grass. If you live in the south, you may want to reseed your bermuda grass lawn with perennial rye grass for a green winter lawn.

What seed you choose depends on where you live and what problem is making your lawn thin in the first place. For instance, if your lawn is shady, choose a shade-tolerant seed. If kids play in your yard, choose a variety that can stand up to foot traffic. For best results, look for a grass seed that’s 99.99% weed-free. The people at your neighborhood garden center can help you choose the seed that’s right for your lawn.

The best time to seed your lawn is in the fall. The soil is still warm but the air is cooler. There are fewer weeds for new grass to compete against. Since your trees are starting to shed their leaves, there’s plenty of sunlight. Also, diseases that attack seedlings are less active. If you can’t seed in the fall, your next best time is the spring.

It’s a good idea to rake in a thin layer of enriched soil over your lawn. Don’t put so much down that you kill your grass; less than a quarter of an inch is plenty.To get seedlings the essential nutrients they need for fast growth, spread a fertilizer, like Scotts® Starter® Fertilizer. Gently rake the seed and fertilizer into the soil. Keep the soil moist for 7-14 days or until the seedlings are 2 inches tall.

For more information, visit Scotts’ The Questions People Ask Most About Grass Seed for expert answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about planting grass seed.

 

Voting by Mail in Cobb County

After Wednesday night’s presidential debates, the race is on to November 6th. No matter which candidate you choose, make sure your vote gets cast. With absentee voting in Georgia now open to anyone who wishes to vote before the scheduled Election Day, it’s even easier to make sure your voice gets heard this November. Did you know anyone can vote absentee by mail, without giving any reason? This way you don’t have to worry about long lines or getting off of work or doing it during your lunch hour. Be sure to check with your county’s board of elections and registration, but if you live in Cobb County, here’s some helpful information on absentee voting by mail.

    1. The first step is to apply for an absentee ballot. To download the application, visit http://elections.cobbcountyga.gov/VoteByMailApp.php or click here.
    2. Fill out the application completely. Be sure you fill out all appropriate fields and sign the application.
    3. Send in the application:
      • FAX to (770) 528-2458 or (770) 528-2519
      • MAIL to Cobb Elections, P.O. Box 649, Marietta, GA 30061-0649
      • DELIVER in PERSON to Cobb Elections, 736 Whitlock Ave., Suite 400, Marietta, GA 30064
      • SCAN and EMAIL to Info@CobbElections.org
    4. Your application will be reviewed and an absentee ballot will be mailed to your address.
    5. The voter must sign or make a mark on the application (first black arrow) , unless:
    6. A relative may apply on behalf of a voter who is out of town or disabled (second black arrow).
    7. When you have voted the ballot, it may either be delivered in person or mailed to:

Cobb Board of Elections Main Office
P.O.Box 649
Marietta GA 30061-0649
(In person: 736 Whitlock Ave., Suite 400)

For more information on voting in person, satellite or advance voting, and voting for overseas and military personnel, visit the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration at http://elections.cobbcountyga.gov/AbsenteeVoting.php.

 

Are Home Owners Taking on Too Large of a Mortgage?

How much income should home owners devote to paying for their housing? The benchmark typically has been 30 percent. But in many places, home owners are devoting much more than that to pay for housing costs.

The problem is particularly evident in California, where millions of home owners are paying large shares of their income for housing. In fact, the number has doubled in the last 10 years, according to the Census Bureau. About 4.6 million California households—including home owners and renters—are paying 35 percent or more of their income housing. That number has increased by 1.7 million in the last 10 years. About 2.7 million California households are paying at least half their income for housing.

The “30 percent [benchmark] doesn’t seem to click with reality in Orange County,” Glenn Hayes, president of Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County, told The Orange County Register. “Historically, we used to try to do 28 or 30 percent, but you couldn’t buy in Orange County for that.”

However, the trend of home owners devoting larger sums of their income to housing may pose troubles, analysts say, because home owners then aren’t able to save for retirement or savings.

“When you’re paying 50 percent of your income for housing, you’re primed and ready to fall,” Ginna Green of the Center for Responsible Lending told The Orange County Register. “You are one illness, you are one car emergency, you are two overtime shifts away from a default.”

Fannie Mae has been increasing its guidelines over the years on the income share it will allow home owners to devote to mortgages when it purchases loans. Now, they’ll permit home owners with good credit to take on as much as 45 percent—possibly even up to 50 percent—of their income on housing. Prior to 2008, Fannie Mae said borrowers should pay no more than 36 percent of their income for housing.

 

Source: “High Housing Payments the New ‘American Nightmare,’” The Orange County Register (July 26, 2012). Article URL:
http://realtormag.realtor.org/node/12018?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DailyRealEstateNews+%28Daily+Real+Estate+News%29

Are Millenials a Generation of Renters?

         A new study says single family homes in the United States are now decreasing. For the first time since World War II, when suburbs experienced a boom and single family homes became the norm, the United States is experiencing increased levels of urbanization.  It is expected that by 2021, over one-fourth of the residential stock of the United States will be in multi-unit (apartments, condominiums, etc) residential buildings.

Not only is the number of single family homes in the United States decreasing, so is their size. Between 1970 and 2010, single family home size increased on average by about 40 percent. The new study suggests that’s all changing rather rapidly. By 2021, the total area of single-family homes in the United States will have shrunk by nearly 4 billion square feet, contracting at a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.2 percent, according to a new report using U.S. Census data.

Although the obvious answer to why single family McMansions are no longer the bread and butter of builders is the economy, it might be something more than that. A story appearing in the September issue of The Atlantic takes one of the deepest dives into something that probably gives many lenders pause — young adults, the next generation of homeowners, may be renting for a while. The homeownership rate among those younger than 35 fell by 12% from 2006 to 2011. And going forward, as more prefer denser locales in downtown areas, buying houses and cars may not become quite the priority it once was.

The obvious answer to why younger adults aren’t buying cars and houses would seem to be, again, the economy. The article suggests it may actually be a shift in social values brought about by mobile technology as much as the economy. As we all look forward to economic recovery and an improved housing market, the question is what such a shift means for the economy in the future. As the article points out:

 

Half of a typical family’s spending today goes to transportation and housing, according to the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the height of the housing bubble, residential construction and related activities accounted for more than a quarter of the economy in metro areas like Las Vegas and Orlando. Nation­wide, new-car and new-truck purchases hovered near historic highs. But Millennials have turned against both cars and houses in dramatic and historic fashion. Just as car sales have plummeted among their age cohort, the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half what it was just 10 years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study.
 
Needless to say, the Great Recession is responsible for some of the decline. But it’s highly possible that a perfect storm of economic and demographic factors—from high gas prices, to re-­urbanization, to stagnating wages, to new technologies enabling a different kind of consumption—has fundamentally changed the game for Millennials. The largest generation in American history might never spend as lavishly as its parents did—nor on the same things. Since the end of World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the world’s largest economy and propelled our most impressive recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both.
 

          The article suggests Millennials are more inclined toward a “sharing economy”. Mobile technology means everything from friendships to jobs can be maintained from a distance and this shift in social values translates to young adults favoring access over ownership. For example, young adults are no longer buying up fancy new cars the way previous generations have. Rather, companies like Zipcar, that allow members to essentially rent a car on demand for short trips, are gaining popularity across the country. With that in mind, the article poses interesting questions like:

 

What if Millennials’ aversion to car-buying isn’t a temporary side effect of the recession, but part of a permanent generational shift in tastes and spending habits? It’s a question that applies not only to cars, but to several other traditional categories of big spending—most notably, housing. And its answer has large implications for the future shape of the economy—and for the speed of recovery.
 
Millennials, of course, are sharing more than transportation: they’re also sharing living quarters, albeit begrudgingly, and with less gee-whiz technology involved. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, between 2006 and 2011, the homeownership rate among adults younger than 35 fell by 12 percent, and nearly 2 million more of them—the equivalent of Houston’s population—were living with their parents, as a result of the recession. The ownership society has been overrun by renters and squatters.
 
Nine out of 10 Millennials say they eventually want a place they own, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey. But this generation’s path to home­ownership is fraught with obstacles: low pay, low savings, tighter lending standards from banks. Student debt—some $1 trillion in total—stalks many potential buyers as they seek a mortgage (or a car loan). At a minimum, homeownership rates are highly unlikely to soon return to the peaks they hit during the housing bubble.
 
Still, in the next decade, a group of people the size of California’s population—­most of them Millennials—will likely come together to form new households. The question is: Where, and in what manner?
 
In some respects, Millennials’ residential aspirations appear to be changing just as significantly as their driving habits—indeed, the two may be related. The old cul-de-sacs of Revolutionary Road and Desperate Housewives have fallen out of favor with Generation Y. Rising instead are both city centers and what some developers call “urban light”—denser suburbs that revolve around a walkable town center. “People are very eager to create a life that blends the best features of the American suburb—schools still being the primary, although not the only, draw—and urbanity,” says Adam Ducker, a managing director at the real-estate consultancy RCLCO. These are places like Culver City, California, and Evanston, Illinois, where residents can stroll among shops and restaurants or hop on public transportation. Such small cities and town centers lend themselves to tighter, smaller housing developments, whether apartments in the middle of town, or small houses a five-minute drive away. An RCLCO survey from 2007 found that 43 percent of Gen‑Yers would prefer to live in a close-in suburb, where both the houses and the need for a car are smaller.
 
Wholly apart from their urban sensibility, townhouses and other small houses are more affordable, all else equal, and developers know that to attract Millennials, they need to cater to tattered bank accounts. “The types of properties young people are buying now are different from what [that age group] bought five years ago,” said Shannon Williams King, the vice chair of strategic planning at the National Association of Realtors. “They are within walking distance of shopping centers. These buyers want bike shares and Zipcar. They like feeling connected.” In short, the future of the house might look a lot like the future of the car: smaller, cheaper, built for a new economy.
 
If the Millennials are not quite a post-­driving and post-owning generation, they’ll almost certainly be a less-­driving and less-­owning generation. That could mean some tough adjustments for the economy over the next several years. In recent decades, the housing industry has usually led us out of recession. When the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in the midst of the sharp recession of the early 1980s, for instance, a construction boom helped fuel the “Reagan Recovery.” With the housing market moribund, the Federal Reserve has lost a key means of influencing the economy with lower interest rates. The service-led recovery we’ve gotten instead is not nearly as robust.
 
Smaller houses built in dense, mixed-use neighborhoods generally take longer to build than McMansions on green-field sites. And of course, because they require fewer fixtures and furnishings, their construction spurs less economic activity.
 
What’s more, both construction and automaking are solidly blue-­collar sectors. They employ millions of middle-class workers, who could be hurt by a transition away from home construction and auto manufacturing. The tech companies that sell personal electronics and provide high-speed Internet connections don’t need as many workers. And the jobs they do create—domestically at least—skew heavily toward the top of the socioeconomic ladder.
 
Yet in the long run, there’s good cause for optimism as well. Nobody is suggesting that the American consumer has bought her last house or car—only that houses and cars may lose some of the outsize importance they’ve had to the economy for the past 10 or 20 years or more. “There are a lot of countries, Germany for example, where homeownership rates are a lot lower than ours, and they have healthy incomes,” said Robert Lerman, an Urban Institute fellow in labor and social policy. Simple arithmetic says that if Americans spend less money on cars and houses, they’ll have more money left over to spend or save—and not all of that will go to electronic gadgets.
 
Education is the “obvious outlet for the money Millennials can spend,” Perry Wong, the director of research at the Milken Institute, told us, noting that if young people invest less in physical things like houses, they’ll have more to invest in themselves. “In the past, housing was the main vehicle for investment, but education is also a vehicle.” In an ideas economy, up-to-date knowledge could be a more nimble and valuable asset than a house.
 
What’s more, the shift away from traditional suburbs toward denser, urban-light living could have major economic-growth implications on its own. Economic research shows that doubling a community’s population density tends to increase productivity by anywhere between 6 percent and 28 percent. Economists have found that more than half of the variation in output per worker across U.S. states can be explained by density. Our wealth, after all, is determined not only by our own skills and talents, but by our ability to access the ideas of those around us; there’s a lot to be gained by increasing the odds that smart people might bump against each other. Ultimately, if the Millennial generation pushes our society toward more sharing and closer living, it may do more than simply change America’s consumption culture; it may put America on firmer economic footing for decades to come.

 

To read the full article, visit: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/the-cheapest-generation/309060/2/?single_page=true

 

Tending Your Fall Garden: October Week by Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some great Georgia Gardening tips and advice from Walter Reeves, the most respected garden guru in the Southeast. They’re even broken down into weekly activities.

FIRST WEEK:
Fall fescue planting season officially begins! Watering restrictions are still in force in many places so make SURE you have good soil-seed contact. Aerate before seeding, roll afterwards, water when you can.

Last chance to apply a weed preventer to bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass lawns to thwart winter weeds like chickweed and annual bluegrass. You can still get 75% control at this point in the season.

If you want your poinsettia to turn color by Christmas, now’s the time to begin giving it 14 hours of darkness and 10 hours of bright light each day.

Trim back by one fourth any woody plants you’ve kept outdoors during the summer, to help them fit inside your home for the winter.

Fertilize newly planted fescue with a high-phosphorus starter fertilizer.

SECOND WEEK:
The pansy planting season begins now! Plant “six-pack” pansies eight inches apart, larger plants can be spaced ten inches apart. Cut brown flower stems of purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, daylily and hosta back to ground level.

Move patio plants into shade for two weeks before bringing them inside. This will help prevent leaf drop.

Drench newly-planted pansies with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at the rate shown on the label. This will push them off to a fast start.

Apply a weed preventer to beds of already-planted cool-season flowers to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

THIRD WEEK:
Clean fallen fruit from the ground under pear and apple trees. Remove from the tree any fruit that you don’t intend to harvest.

Plant spring flowering bulbs, like tulip, daffodil and hyacinth. Old, crowded beds can be loosened and the bulbs divided and replanted now.

Finish dividing daylily clumps, iris rhizomes and peony roots. Plant them into a well-dug bed immediately.

Raise your mower height one-half inch and enjoy a last mowing of your Bermuda, centipede or zoysia lawn. You can now put your lawnmower to rest for the winter.

Remove faded rose blooms. Clip wayward stems back so the plant has a compact form, ready for winter wind and ice.

FOURTH WEEK:
As chrysanthemum and aster flowers fade, cut the plants back to six inches tall.

Rake out and replace all of the mulch and dead leaves under roses, red tip photinia and crabapples. You’ll prevent diseases on next year’s leaves.

Review your pesticide storage procedures. Are they all labeled? In a locked cabinet? In a place where they won’t freeze this winter?

Root cuttings of geranium, impatiens, begonia and other “outside” plants to bring indoors for the winter.

Fertilize pansies again with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Switch to a product that contains nitrate nitrogen (Osmocote, Pansy Booster, etc) when you feed in two weeks.

For more great advice and helpful links, visit http://www.walterreeves.com/seasonal-gardening-calendar/october/.