Repairing Your Lawn this Summer: Brown Spots and Dog Damage

Wondering if those brown spots in your lawn are from your dog or something else? Scotts offers some great tips on how to keep your lawn green and healthy. For instance, fertilizing your lawn properly and not overwatering can actually help keep your grass drought tolerant as we head into the hot summer months. You can check out all their tips here, but here’s some useful info how to identify and treat your lawn to stop those ugly brown spots…

 

Brown Patch

Brown patch is a lawn fungus that forms brown, circular patterns. It usually appears in warm, humid weather. Its circles can be several feet wide.

When It’s Hot and Humid, Keep an Eye Out for Brown Circles in the Lawn

If you have large, brown circles on your lawn, you could be looking at brown patch fungus. Brown patch shows up when the weather turns hot and sticky. Its circular patterns are sometimes several feet wide. While any lawn can suffer from brown patch, lawns with St. Augustinegrass are particularly vulnerable. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can follow to control this lawn disease.

Restrict Your Watering

Brown patch thrives in humidity and damp conditions. You want to water your lawn only once a week to control the amount of moisture on the lawn. Watering once a week keeps your lawn healthy, while allowing it to dry out. Brown patch hates all things dry.

Treat Your Lawn with a Fungus Control

Brown patch responds to anti-fungal treatments. Apply a lawn fungus control product every other week. You’ll need to make at least 3 applications.

 

Dog Damage

Our dogs appreciate our lawns as much as we do, though for different reasons. While we mostly love our lawns for their looks, our canine pals enjoy them as a place to run, play, roll on their backs, and do their business. Here are a few simple tips that will help you keep your grass looking good and your dog safe and happy.

Prevent and Repair Dog Damage

Salts in your dog’s urine cause those familiar brown spots ringed by dark green, fast-growing grass. Mowing high will help lessen the effect, as will flushing affected areas with water as soon as possible. Badly damaged spots will need to be repaired, however, by reseeding or patching with sod.  A more permanent and effective solution is to create a mulched area at the back of your yard and train your dog to go there.

Feed Your Lawn at Recommended Amounts

Feed your lawn on a regular schedule (4 times a year is best for most grasses) for thick, strong turf that will stand up to heavy use. Over-applying won’t help the lawn. Be sure to follow the directions and spreader settings listed on the package when applying fertilizer and other lawn products.

Wait as Directed

After applying any lawn product, keep your dog off the lawn according to the label directions. Areas treated with fertilizer can be entered immediately after application, although we recommend watering the lawn and waiting until it dries before anyone walks on it. That helps activate the fertilizer and prevents it from being tracked into the house. Check the package for directions when applying any weed or insect control; most recommend keeping pets off the lawn after application for a certain period. And remember, all lawn products should be stored properly, where kids and pets can’t get into them.

Don’t Panic if Your Dog Eats Grass

You shouldn’t be surprised if your dog sometimes eats grass and vomits. Most do that occasionally as a way to treat an upset stomach, and it would take more than a few mouthfuls of grass clippings to cause harm.

 

15 Ways to Stay Cool & Save

With summers trending hotter and budgets getting tighter, it’s tough to stay cool. Here’s some great tips from Better Homes and Gardens on how to reduce your summer energy bills without breaking the bank.

1) Replace Your Windows  According to the EPA, Energy Star-qualified windows can save the typical household $125-$450 per year in energy costs when replacing single-pane windows and $25-$110 per year when replacing double-pane clear-glass windows.

What makes a window energy-efficient?

— Improved frame materials such as wood composites, vinyl, and fiberglass reduce heat transfer and improve insulation.
— Low-E glass with special coatings reflects infrared light, keeping out summer heat.
— Gases between the panes, such as argon or krypton, insulate better than regular air.
— Multiple panes of glass with air or gas in between insulate better than a single pane.
— Warm-edge spacers keep a window’s panes the correct distance apart to reduce heat flow and prevent condensation.

2) Delay Heat-Producing Activities  To save energy and keep your kitchen cool at dinnertime, use your grill and microwave instead of the cooktop and oven as much as possible. Plan your schedule so you can run the dryer, dishwasher, and oven in the early morning or evening rather than in the heat of the day. Air-conditioning lowers humidity as it cools the air, so you shouldn’t need to run a separate dehumidifier if you have air-conditioning.

3) Maximize Efficiency  Let your heating and cooling system do the thinking for you. When set and used properly, a programmable thermostat can save about $100 in energy costs each year. You should also protect your investment. Schedule annual preseason maintenance checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure your system is operating efficiently. Check the air filter monthly and replace it as needed. Finally, use a caulk gun to seal leaks around windows, doors, and ducts that cause drafts and make your heating and cooling system work overtime.

4) Turn Up Your Thermostat  The recommended temperature setting for comfort and energy savings in an air-conditioned room is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Resist the urge to drop the temperature for a quick cool, which taxes your cooling unit.

5) Put Windows to Work  Close your house tightly during the heat of the day. Don’t just close windows; lock them to create an airtight seal that eliminates cool-air leaks. If outdoor temperatures are cool at night, cross-ventilate rooms by opening windows. Close them again in the morning to seal in the cool air. Also, close curtains or lower shades during the day.

6) Take Advantage of Shade  Reduce the load on your air-conditioner by shading east-, south-, and west-facing windows. Outside, extend roof eaves or add a trellis or awning to shade windows. Add tinted window film to lessen the effects of radiant heat and UV light while maintaining views.

7) Insulate Your Attic  If an attic inspection reveals insulation scattered halfheartedly among the floor trusses, head to your local home improvement center to get more. If you use your attic for storage, don’t remove all those boxes; simply insulate between the joints. In terms of reduced energy costs, the payback time for a few hundred dollar’s worth of insulation can typically be measured in months, not years.

8) Move the Air  It’s basic, but it’s true: If you keep the air in your house moving with a ceiling, box, or window fans, you’ll feel cooler. Place window fans in your north-facing windows to draw in the cooler air. Place others in your south-facing windows to push out the hot interior air. Box fans keep the air moving horizontally; ceiling fans should be set so they blow air down during the summer months.

9) Plant Trees with a Purpose  Planting trees on the south and west sides of your house will pay off when they’re full-grown. A mature oak or maple can block the sun’s most intense rays from heating your home. And during the winter, leafless branches let sunshine through to brighten the interior — and your spirits.

10) Reduce Ambient Heat Culprits  Your cooling apparatus will work less — and use less energy — if you cut back on interior elements generating heat. Ninety-five percent of the energy an incandescent light bulb uses goes to heating the bulb; install compact fluorescent bulbs instead. Shutting down unused electronics also reduces heat (and your electricity costs). Use your dryer in the early morning or late evening, or use a clothesline instead.

11) Wrap Your House  Are you working on a large-scale addition or a project that requires removal or relocation of exterior walls? A high-quality house wrap, applied to the outside of exterior walls prior to siding installation, will keep your home cool and reduce your energy bills.

12) Install a Whole-House Fan  It uses a fraction of the electricity of a full-blown air-conditioning system. It’s best suited for areas with hot summer days coupled with cool nights, such as the Pacific Northwest. All night, the fan pulls in outside air to cool the house. Many whole-house fans can be programmed to shut off during the warmest hours of the day.

13) Shop Smart  Room air-conditioners are notorious energy hogs. To minimize the cost, choose an Energy Star-rated window unit properly sized for the room you wish to cool. Energy Star-qualified room air-conditioners use at least 10 percent less energy than conventional models.

14) Get Swamped  Swamp coolers are popular in the Southwest because they add a comfortable level of humidity to dry air, are relatively inexpensive, use a quarter as much electricity as a standard unit, and they are easy to maintain. On the inside, water-soaked pads frame the unit. A fan blows hot outside air through the wet pads, cooling the air by about 20 degrees Fahrenheit as the water molecules evaporate. The cooled air is then blown into the house through a vent.

15) Go Geothermal  Planning to stay in your house for 10 or more years? Install a geothermal system. It harnesses the earth’s natural thermal energy via buried pipes filled with a liquid similar to antifreeze. During the summer, it pulls out warm air and dissipates it through the pipes. During the winter, it works in reverse, bringing the earth’s warmth to your house. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal systems save homeowners 20-50 percent in cooling costs and 30-70 percent in heating costs compared with conventional systems.

Tax Benefits of Home Ownership Are Almost Too Good to Be True: Uncle Sam helps you in three ways when you own your home

They say there are only two things you can count on in this world: death and taxes. But when it comes to owning a home, it appears there may be a third. And that is the favorable treatment of home ownership by the Internal Revenue Service.

1. The purchase

When buying your own home, most of the expenses are not tax deductible. But there is one exception that is worth finding.

The IRS says you can deduct interest in the year that it is paid, and that is usually part of each monthly loan payment. In addition, if the day you purchase is on any day other than the first of the month, you will likely pay a charge for “daily interest” between the day of closing and the end of the month. Look on line 901 of your HUD settlement statement.

Much more importantly, the IRS says that, in most cases, loan discount points and origination fees are tax deductible to the buyer, regardless of who pays them. Look at lines 801 and 802 of your settlement statement and see if you hit the jackpot. This is a particularly unusual deduction because you get the benefit even if the seller paid your closing costs. And because origination fees of 1% and more are common, this can amount to a lot of cash.

2. Mortgage interest

In general, you can deduct interest charged on a loan used to acquire or improve your principal residence in the year that it is paid. In the early years of a loan, most of your monthly payment is interest, so this can really add up. If you are in a 28% federal tax bracket, this can have the effect of lowering your borrowing costs by almost a third, depending on which state you live in. This is truly nothing more than a subsidy to home owners, and it’s a very popular deduction.

In addition, you can always deduct interest on an additional $100,000 of mortgage debt, which can be used for any purpose. This is called the “Home Equity Loan” exception, and it allows you to tap into your home equity for any purpose. This gives home owners the ability to do what is called “debt-shifting.” For example, if you live in an apartment and have a credit card balance of $10,000 at 18% interest, none of that interest would be deductible. But if you bought a house, obtained a home equity loan for $10,000 and paid off the credit card, then ALL of the interest expense becomes automatically deductible. Furthermore, the rate on the home equity loan is likely to be around prime plus one or two, usually much lower than credit card rates. This same technique works with any and all personal debt, from car loans to consolidation loans – with only one hitch. In every home equity loan, you have pledged your house as collateral for the loan. If you fail to pay the payments as agreed, you could lose your house to foreclosure. So be careful in using this technique.

3. The sale

This is the best. In fact, I can hardly believe this myself. Here’s how it works:

If you have owned and occupied your principal residence for at least two of the past five years, you can earn up to $500,000 on the sale of that house and pay no federal income tax whatsoever. That’s assuming you are married – singles get up to $250,000 tax free. And here comes the kicker:

You can do this as often as every two years for the rest of your life.

This is as good an excuse for getting married as I have ever heard. Buy a fixer-upper in an up and coming neighborhood, work on it nights and weekends for two years, then sell it at a nice profit and pocket the cash, totally free of federal taxes. And most states recognize the federal exclusion, so you put the cash away totally tax free. You don’t have to re-invest, you don’t have to be age 55, and you can do this every two years forever. No, I’m not kidding.

The one restriction is that you MUST own and occupy the house as your principal residence, so don’t try this on a rental property by pretending you live there when you don’t. And there are some unclear rules about how you can take a partial exclusion if you live there less than two years, but we don’t really know what they mean yet, so I recommend you stay there two years.

Many of these benefits came into being with the 1997 tax law, but lots of folks are just finding out about them now, so buy and sell to your heart’s content. Just don’t plan on staying forever!

 

Article URL: http://www.realtor.com/basics/buy/closepossess/taxbenefits.asp

Fresh Takes on Garage Storage

Ever notice how messy your garage can get once the weather starts to warm up? Suddenly the kids are out of school and it seems there are basketballs, bicycles, or skate boards every where! Not to mention the tailgating, camping, or beach supplies! Where’s your car supposed to fit? Can’t find that new drill you received for Father’s Day? Maybe it’s hiding with those new gardening tools and flower pots from Mother’s Day. It’s overwhelming sometimes!  Better Homes and Gardens magazine has some great tips for getting your garage in top storage shape now (as in before it’s time to drag out all the Christmas decorations, too). Organize your tools, outdoor gear, and whatever else makes its way into your garage with these smart solutions.

Must-Know Tips for Navigating the Housing Market

“Studies on homeownership prove that it enhances our lives in many ways, and among them is how we plant deeper stakes within the communities we call home,” notes John L. Heithaus, CMO of MRIS. “Since navigating the housing market has become more complex than ever, any potential homebuyer, whether a first-time buyer or not, can benefit from solid professional advice in their pursuit of homeownership.”

To that end, MRIS has compiled the following list of “must read” tips from among its 45,000+ network of real estate professionals, reinforcing some of the best practices for ensuring that potential homebuyers are home-ready.

• Understand and update your FICO credit score. This single number plays a major role in determining the interest rate on your mortgage, so it’s vital to know what your FICO score is, address any discrepancies and take corrective action to improve your score if it’s below par. As of May 2012, 664 was listed as the national average, and the median was listed as 723. According to Heithaus, individuals with scores of at least 700 tend to get the best rates on a mortgage. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union—are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once per year.

• Know what you can afford. Up to 12 months in advance of your desired home purchase, establish a relationship with a trusted mortgage lender who can help you identify your monthly payment goals, target purchase price and the types of loans you are qualified for based on your current financial situation.

• Boost your savings. After you have determined your monthly payment goals and target purchase price, make sure you have the cash on hand for when you are ready to buy. We suggest saving enough money for six months of mortgage payments, as well as a minimum of 3.5 percent of the purchase price to cover the down payment and closing costs. First-time and repeat homebuyers should also establish reserves for less visible expenses, such as closing costs, moving costs, home repairs, renovations and planned upgrades when saving for a home.

• Avoid making major purchases. When preparing to buy a home, it’s important to stay away from big-ticket items, such as purchasing a car, in order to keep your cash reserves high and show the lender that you’ll be able to service the mortgage debt more easily.

• Understand the micro-local real estate market. Homebuyers can save themselves money by watching the seasonal trends in their targeted area(s) and being financially prepared to make an offer when the time is right.

• Consult a real estate professional. Long before you are ready to buy, seek out and interview up to three real estate professionals who can prepare you to face the market by addressing questions, setting realistic expectations and providing valuable insight and expertise to the complex process of home purchasing.

The tips above were provided with support by MRIS customers Teresa Tolson, Teri Deane, Colleen Minahan and Debbie McKeen. For more information, visit www.MRIS.com.

 

Article from RISMedia. URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2012-07-11/must-know-tips-for-navigating-the-housing-market-2/

Survey Shows Americans Are Increasingly Confident about Homeownership

Brookfield Real Estate and Relocation Affiliates Inc., owner of the Prudential Real Estate franchise network, recently released the quarterly Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey showing that Americans’ confidence in homeownership and real estate continues climbing from the first quarter and a year earlier.

Signs of growing confidence are widespread, according to the national survey. For instance:

• 69 percent believe that real estate is a good investment despite the market volatility of the past few years, up 6 percentage points from the first-quarter 2012 survey and 17 percentage points from first quarter 2011.

• 72 percent expressed confidence that the real estate market and property values will improve during the next two years, including a 6-point jump among those “very confident” or “confident” vs. the first quarter 2012, and a 14-point gain in this subset over first quarter 2011.

• Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents have a favorable perception of the U.S. housing market, up from 60 percent in first quarter 2012 and 52 percent in first quarter 2011).

“The American Dream is clearly on the mend,” says Earl Lee, president, Prudential Real Estate. “Americans are feeling better about homeownership and the ongoing recovery taking place in residential real estate. Many are increasingly optimistic about their personal circumstances and, with housing affordability near all-time highs, they want to act on the opportunity.”

Factors driving homeownership

Homeownership remains the central component to the American Dream, as 78 percent of respondents said owning a home was still “very important” – the same percentage reported in the first-quarter 2012 study. A full 98 percent said homeownership was at least somewhat important.

In addition, with interest rates at historically low levels, 96 percent of respondents at least “somewhat agree” that now is a great time to buy a home – the same percentage reported in the first-quarter 2012 study.

More than the financial reasons to buy a home, respondents placed higher priority on the emotional reasons for homeownership. “Control over living space,” “more space for family,” “safer neighborhood” and “good place to raise a family” rated higher than “a good investment,” “financial security” and “tax benefits.”

“Normalcy is returning to the U.S. real estate market and more people are buying homes for traditional reasons – to raise a family, feel secure and build a future,” says Lee. “Every last emotion is rolled up into owning a home – it’s where life happens – so it’s no surprise that the emotional side outweighs financial reasons for owning a home among respondents.”

Caution remains

The survey also shows that consumers remain cautious about the real estate market and process, as a full 30 percent “strongly agree” that the housing crisis reminds them to be more careful about buying or selling a home; up two percentage points from the first-quarter 2012 survey. In addition:

• Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents indicated that financing or getting a mortgage is more challenging than it was before the market crisis, which is up from 58% in the first-quarter 2012 survey.

• Among those considering a real estate transaction, 39 percent expressed concern they won’t be able to sell their current home, up 11 points from the first-quarter 2012 survey and 10 points from first quarter 2011.

• Given the dynamics and challenges of today’s real estate market, nearly three out of four (74 percent) respondents think it is more important than ever to work with a good real estate agent for the best success in buying or selling a home (up from 71 percent in first-quarter 2012 and 67 percent in first quarter 2011).

“Real estate markets are improving around the country and consumers face many choices,” concludes Lee. “Consumers should seek out a real estate professional who can help them make the best choices to suit their needs.”

For more information, please visit www.PetersenPartners.com.

 

From RSIMedia: http://rismedia.com/2012-07-11/survey-shows-americans-are-increasingly-confident-about-homeownership/

Creating Curb Appeal on a Budget

The arrival of summer has many homeowners outside planting, preparing the patio for cookouts, and taking evening strolls through the neighborhood. Often, this extended outdoor time brings on a desire to improve a home’s curb appeal.But home improvement projects can be expensive, and many homeowners are still wary about spending money on renovations, despite the improving real estate market. So what’s the best way to spruce up the appearance of your house without breaking the bank?

There are many budget-friendly exterior changes that will make a big difference in curb appeal. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders, whether it’s applied to the entire house or just on the front door. If your house is painted a neutral color like white or cream, be adventurous and try an energizing red or soothing aqua on your front door; the pop of color will add appealing interest.

While a landscaping overhaul can be very expensive, window boxes or planters are an easy and cost-effective way to add natural beauty to your home’s facade. Learn how to build a container garden that will provide extra dimension and color to a front porch or patio.

Take a look at your house from the street. Do your windows look bare? Try adding shutters, but make sure they are appropriately sized. Buying shutters that are smaller than the windows they flank is an all-too-common mistake homeowners make, which leads to the windows looking disproportionately small.

And if you have a garage, don’t overlook the importance of a good-looking garage door. A garage door can account for up to 30 percent of a home’s exterior that is seen from the street, so having an attractive one is vital to good curb appeal. But, like shutters to a window, a garage door should be appropriately matched to its house’s architectural style. Not sure which door fits your home the best? Try out the handy Door Designer tool at www.amarr.com, which lets you choose from six different home styles and then matches an appropriate garage door based on that style.

Of all these budget-friendly improvement projects, a new garage door will give you the best return on your investment and provide the most value for your home. Over the last few years, surveys conducted by the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report indicate that installing new garage doors has been the project moving up the most in the rankings.

Most people, to some degree, factor in resale when making their home improvement decisions. Both structural and decorative curb appeal is important when it comes time to sell a home, bringing in a larger number of prospective buyers and making it more likely that they will make the purchase.

According to principals at Smykal Renovations, a contracting firm in suburban Chicago, curb appeal projects “may not have the ‘wow’ factor of a major kitchen remodel, but [they] pay off more in the end.”

So don’t let budget constraints keep you from improving the appearance of your home’s exterior. There are many low-cost changes that can be made that have a big impact on how your home looks. Whether you’re making these changes to enjoy for yourself, or to make your home more marketable, the summer is a great time to get outside and focus on curb appeal.

Article Reprinted from: The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Sentinel Journal Online. http://www.jsonline.com/sponsoredarticles/home-improvement/creating-curb-appeal-on-a-budget8049450303-154078155.html

 

How Would I Know If Interest Rates Are Expected to Go Up or Down?

Wondering what to make of “historically low” interest rates? Here’s some helpful information and advise from Academy Mortgage

Everyone these days keeps talking about how now is the right time to buy because housing prices and interest rates are low. But, maybe you’re not ready quite yet to buy a new home, and you want to know how long you can wait before interest rates will rise again. Here are a few quick indicators that will let you know how interest rates may change:

 

Interest rates go UP:

When the economy is growing or is expected to grow, stocks will likely become the more favored investment.

When investors buy more stocks, they purchase fewer Mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which drives the price down.

When the price of the MBS is lower, the yield increases.

Since mortgage rates are based on the yield of the 30 Year MBS, you would expect rates to increase in this environment.

 

Interest rates go DOWN:

When the economy appears to be slowing or is doing poorly, investors typically move their money out of the stock market and into the safety of the MBS.

This drives the price of these investments higher, which results in a lower yield.

Since mortgage rates are based on the yield of the 30 Year MBS, you would expect rates to decrease in this environment.

Since these market variables and expectations change multiple times as economic reports are released throughout the course of a week, it is not uncommon to see mortgage rates change several times a day.

Understanding how rates move is not necessarily as important as having a loan officer that is equipped with the technology and professional services to track and stay alerted at the precise moment rates make a move for the better or worse.

What to Do in This Year: Rent or Buy a Home?

Today is a tempting time to buy a home with interest rates and prices at their lowest levels in years. Deciding whether to buy or rent can
be complicated, and potential homebuyers have a lot to consider this summer. As part of National Homeownership Month, the American Bankers Association came up with these key questions to help shoppers make wise financial choices when considering buying a home.

1. How much can you afford to put down? Can you afford the monthly payment? A mortgage down payment of 5 to 20 percent of the selling price is typical, but can vary depending on the situation. The size of the down payment will impact the monthly cost. Assess your financial health, determine how large of a down payment you can afford and
consider if you can then afford the monthly cost.

2. What other debt do you have?Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations and ensure you are able to make all the payments. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus other credit obligations fewer than 35 to 40 percent of your monthly
income. If you can’t keep payments below that, you may be better off renting for a while or searching for a more affordable home.

3. What is my credit score? Can I qualify for a good interest rate? A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness, which qualifies you for better interest rates on a mortgage. Maxing out your credit lines and paying bills late will lower your credit score, and the impact
of a credit score on interest rates can be significant. For instance, a borrower with a score of 760 could pay nearly 2 percentage points less in interest than someone with a score of 620. That equates to over $3,000 less in mortgage payments each year. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay buying a home and take steps to raise your score.

4. How much will taxes, monthly maintenance or other fees cost? Owning a home means you will have to pay real estate taxes and other costs like insurance and maintenance. However, owning a home can bring tax savings at the end of the year. Remember to factor in
these costs and incentives. Renters have neither these costs, nor tax advantages.

5. How many years will I stay here? Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your house where renters do not. Yet, renters have greater flexibility to move as they don’t have to worry about finding
new tenants.

 

Article reprinted from RISMedia. URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2012-06-21/what-to-do-in-this-year-rent-or-buya-home/

3 Unexpected Ways Landscaping Brings Value

It’s common knowledge good landscaping and curb appeal can add to your home’s resale value and can even bring a quicker sale. A nice yard is simply inviting to buyers. But there are other real benefits to landscaping we often overlook. Here are three ways your landscape brings value to your home’s worth, the environment, and your own well-being.

1. Cutting Heating and Cooling Bills

• Shading your air-conditioning unit can increase its effectiveness by 10%.

• Carefully selected and placed trees around your home can lower cooling costs as much as 25%.
• Planting ground covers, shrubs and lawns reduces the heat reflected from the ground and onto walls and windows for a cooler indoors and more energy savings.                                                                                                                                  • Planting shade trees that lose their leaves in the winter instead of evergreens can also help warm your home in the cloudy, cooler months by allowing in more sun.

2. Naturally Cleaning and Reducing Energy

Water and maintenance used to keep plants healthy doesn’t go down the drain. Widespread tree planting and climate-appropriate landscaping offer substantial environmental benefits.
• Trees and plants control erosion, protect water supplies, provide food, create habitat for wildlife, and clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. An average tree absorbs 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. That equals 11,000 miles of car emissions.
• Grass serves as a natural filter to reduce pollution by purifying the water passing through its root zone. Certain grasses, such as fescue, only grow to a certain height and are water thrifty. By using these species, you can eliminate the fuel, water, and time consumption associated with lawn mowing, watering, and trimming.

4. A Veggie Garden Helps Your Wallet and Your Health

• The amount spent on growing a veggie garden brings back 7 to 10 times the initial investment. Home grown veggies are often more tasty and certainly less expensive than store bought organics. Plus, studies have found that gardeners eat a wider variety of vegetables rich in antioxidants that help fight diseases like cancer.
• Gardening burns an average of 300 calories per hour, while heavy yard work can burn more than 600 calories per hour! Gardening is an ideal form of exercise because it combines three important types of physical activity: strength, endurance and flexibility. Spending time outdoors also reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and relieves muscle tension.