It’s winter – Here comes the mold

As a living organism, mold requires food and water to maintain life. Add warmth to the mix, and it thrives, growing outdoors as well as indoors.

With winter comes the need for heat and, often, the intrusion of moisture into our homes – the ideal conditions for mold growth.

Let’s take a look at ways to avoid a moldy home and what to do if you find an infestation.

Mold isn’t just ugly

Although various types of mold are present in outdoor air and soil, it’s the mold in our homes that makes us sick.

Common health symptoms caused by a mold infestation are similar to those one exhibits with the flue and allergies:

  • Headache
  • Asthma and other respiratory symptoms
  • Fatigue

Scientists have learned that mold in a home may cause asthma in adults and children who previously didn’t suffer from it.

The effects of black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum, also called “toxic mold”) may be even more harmful if you are asthmatic or otherwise sensitive to mold

Prevent mold in the home

Keeping excess moisture under control is the name of the game in mold prevention in the home. Before winter arrives, conduct a home inspection:

  • Gutters and downspouts – Ensure they drain away from the home’s foundation.
  • Siding – Look for cracks that may allow moisture intrusion.
  • Washing machine, dishwasher—Check that there are no leaks.
  • Under the sinks – Again, check for signs of leaks and fix any you find.
  • Check the ceilings and walls for water stains.
  • Check the basement for signs of water intrusion.
  • Does condensation form more heavily on certain windows? 

After you’ve remedied the obvious sources of moisture in the home, take some additional preventive measures.

  • Use the fan in the bathroom during every shower and ensure the rest of the family develops the habit as well.
  • Consider installing additional insulation in the home. “Well-insulated walls can prevent condensation and mold, as well as cut down on your heating and cooling bills,” according to the mold experts at Servpro.
  • They also suggest that you consider purchasing a dehumidifier for the basement and that you keep the humidity level in the home below 40 percent.
  • Finally, “cover the soil in the crawl space with waterproof polyethylene plastic, also called a vapor barrier,” they suggest, adding that if the space is vented, keep the vents closed in the summer and open in the winter.

How to detect mold

One of the most common symptoms of a mold infestation is a musty odor, akin to that of old books, according to the pros at ProClean. You might also find spotting on fabrics, “… allergy or asthma flare-ups and a persistent cough or cold symptoms.

Follow your nose to find the mold. Check anywhere in the home that has been exposed to water leaks, such as near the water heater.

How to remove mold in the home

When you locate the source of the mold, it’s time to decide if you can safely kill it yourself or if you need to hire a professional.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend bringing in a pro if the infestation covers more than 10 square feet.

If you decide to take the DIY route, you’ll need the following:

  • Rubber boots, an N-95 face mask, goggles and gloves
  • Household bleach solution (1 cup in 1 gallon of water)
  • Bucket
  • Sponge, mop and, possibly, a stiff-bristled scrub brush

Keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Never mix bleach and ammonia or products that may contain ammonia – the combination produces a toxic gas.
  • Ensure that windows and doors are open to ventilate the bleach fumes.
  • Use the scrub brush for mold growing on cement or outside walls.
  • When finished, remove your clothing and immediately launder in hot water.

Don’t attempt to clean upholstered items or any others that won’t dry quickly. Throw them away if they have any signs of mold. The same goes for carpet (including the padding), cautions the editors at

Company coming? 4 must-do easy home improvements to get done now

The countdown to the late-fall through the new year festivities is on. If airline ticket prices remain as high as they are currently, traveling to gramma’s house will be a challenge.

In fact, according to a recent NerdWallet survey, 37% of Americans are choosing to drive instead of fly during the holidays. With gas prices so high, however, that, too, can be challenging.

Where family and friends can save money is by staying with friends and family instead of a hotel and, according to the aforementioned survey, 36% of them plan on doing just that.

If your home will be host to friends and family this holiday season, we suggest you get busy on preparing with the following tips.

1. Are the grandparents coming?

While the majority of grandparents in the U.S. are still relatively young and mobile, if your guest list includes an elderly relative who doesn’t get around very well, start your preparation by ensuring there are no accidents in your home.

  • Consider adding motion-activated nightlights to light the path to the bathroom.
  • Install better lighting in areas of the home that are currently a bit dim.
  • If your floors are hard, such as hardwood, laminate, tile or vinyl, consider purchasing non-skid throw rugs. If you currently use rugs, purchase non-skid backing material for them. You can purchase them online at and
  • Add a non-slip mat in the bathtub.
  • Give up the downstairs bedroom for Gramma so she won’t have to deal with the stairs. In the bathroom, “… clear out your or your family’s toothbrushes and other bathroom items and relocate them,” suggests the pros at
  • Place extra blankets on the guest bed and drape one on a comfy chair in the living area to be used while watching TV and chatting with the family.

2. Make the home warm and cozy

When was the last time you changed the HVAC system’s filters? Not only will the system work harder with dirty filters but this added work raises your heating bills.

In addition, “If a filter isn’t working properly, dust and allergens can circulate throughout your home and cause allergies and respiratory illnesses,” cautions the reviews team at HVAC specialists recommend that filters should be changed once a month, especially during the heating season.

Another way to ensure the home remains warm and cozy is to fill any gaps or cracks around the doors and windows. You may want to consider replacing worn caulk instead of filling what is already there.

3. Transform the guest room into an oasis of comfort

When thinking of readying the guest bedroom, think of a swanky five-star resort. Check out these photos for inspiration. A lot of this can be done even on a tight budget, using items you have on hand.

Start with the bed, adorning it with crisp linens and two blankets—one light and one heavy.

If you depend solely on an overhead fixture for light, consider adding more, such as a reading lamp next to the bed or wall sconce fixtures on either side of the bed.

Your guests will rave about your hospitality when they want for nothing in the guest quarters. And, again, fulfilling this won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Head to the department store and stock up on travel sizes of the following products:

  • A notepad and pen
  • A small flashlight (for power outages)
  • Band-Aids
  • Disposable razors
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair spray
  • If kids will be sharing the room, stock some coloring books, crayons and small but fun toys and games.
  • Pain medications, such as aspirin and acetaminophen
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shower cap
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste

Write a note to be left in the room that tells your guests how to access the Wi-FI, disable/arm the security system and any other particulars they need to know about your home.

4. The most important thing to ready the home for holiday guests

Cleaning. Yeah, not very many of us like to do it. Cleaning for guests should be the deep kind of cleaning, especially in the guest bedroom and areas in which the family congregates.

If you need inspiration on how to get your guest room ready for the holidays, you’ll find plenty online. Pinterest has lots of brilliant ideas as does HGTV and Elle Décor .

Uh-oh – not the foundation! What to look for, who to call and what you’ll pay

“The support upon which something rests,” is how Merriam Webster Dictionary defines ‘foundation.’ Think about that for a minute. Your home rests on its foundation, which, when functioning properly, provides structural stability, safety and value to the home.

If it’s not in peak condition, you may end up paying a fortune to repair it and/or the damage to the home that has occurred because of it.

So, how do you know if there might be a problem with the foundation of your home? Read on and we’ll share with you what we learned from the experts.

Cracks in the foundation

Not all cracks indicate a foundation problem. The following types of cracks may be signs of trouble:

  • A crack that is one-quarter of an inch or more
  • Cracks that resemble stair steps located between cement blocks
  • Cracks that run horizontally
  • A crack that runs diagonally at a 30 to 75-degree angle. Although it may be thin, it “… will likely be wider at one end than the other,” according to the experts at

Windows and doors may indicate a foundation problem

Check your windows and doors for any cracks that may be above them. Check the upper corners of these areas for cracks that start there and extend upward to the ceiling. While these cracks may just indicate settling, it they measure more than one-quarter of an inch wide, they might indicate problems with the foundation.

Sticking windows or door is often caused by humidity. A shifting foundation, however, may be the culprit.

If the problem occurs in only one door or window there is likely no cause for concern. If, on the other hand, you’ve found other signs of a foundation problem, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.

What are the walls saying?

Warped, bowing and bending basement walls are signs of dangerous structural issues. “Everything else in the home is resting- directly or indirectly- on top of your basement walls.  If one of them weakens, it compromises the stability of your entire structure,” according to the pros at

Who to call for help with foundation problems

Foundation repair or even the diagnosis of a problem isn’t a DIY project. While a structural engineer can certainly help with the problem, you might also look into interviewing foundation repair contractors.

“… look for one who is certified, has glowing reviews, and offers a great warranty,” cautions D.P. Taylor at

Ask the repair person if he or she is certified by the National Foundation Repair Association and “… the International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES), a nonprofit organization,” according to Taylor.

In fact, the pros at Foundation Repair Network caution consumers to not “… do business with a contractor that does not have their foundation repair methods evaluated by ICC-ES.” This ensures that the building materials used “…meet code compliance.”

To round up contractors to interview, ask your colleagues, neighbors, family and friends who they would recommend. Check and in your area for reviews and consult the Better Business Bureau to learn of any complaints against the contractors and/or engineers. Ensure that whomever you hire is licensed and insured and, ask for references. Then, finally, check those references.

How much does foundation repair cost?

“The cost of foundation repair ultimately depends on the type of foundation used, the size of the home, soil stability, and more,” according to Nick P. Cellucci at (formerly Angi’s List).

The site estimates a national average cost of $4,913, and a range of between $2,154 to $7,737. They offer a calculator to find the cost of foundation repair in many areas across the country. Just enter your ZIP code at

Katie Flannery and Evelyn Auer at state that “Foundation repair cost ranges from $2,010 to $7,717, with the national average at $4,714.”

You may also want to visit the Foundation Repair Network’s website for their ballpark estimate of costs.

Whatever you do, if you suspect a problem, don’t put off hiring a pro to inspect the foundation.


Financial aspects to consider before deciding to rent out your house

Sometimes it makes financial sense to hang on to your old home when you buy another. Of course, you’ll want to talk it over first with your financial advisor, but if he or she crunches the numbers and they come up in your favor, you may consider renting out the home.

In fact, renting it out to someone else may be the perfect way to keep ownership while the home gains value. And, as you’ve no doubt read in the media, rents are at record highs.

Here are a few financial aspect to think about before making the leap to becoming a landlord.

Can I afford it?

After speaking with your financial advisor, it’s time to visit a lender. A loan officer can give you a definitive answer on how much you can afford to spend on your next home.

Although it’s not likely in the current housing market, take into account that there may be periods of time when the rental sits vacant. Consider as well that you may end up with tenants who either don’t pay on time or just quit paying.

At that point you’ll have two mortgage payments on your hands. Can you afford that?

Again, run the figures by your financial advisor before making a decision.

Look into the costs of renting out the home

The easiest course of action for the first-time landlord is to hire a property manager to take care of the business end of the rental. This may be the most expensive aspect of renting out the home.

Property manager fees vary widely and often depend on what you want them to do. “As a baseline, expect to pay a typical residential property management firm between 8 – 12% of the monthly rental value of the property, plus expenses,” claim the pros at

Then, there may be an increase in your homeowner insurance, which will, in turn, raise your mortgage payment.

“… renting out the home changes the owner’s status from primary occupant to investor,” warns Margarette Burnette at

“As a result, it costs more money to insure the home with a special landlord insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the premium is about 25 percent more than with typical homeowners insurance,” she concludes.

Maintaining the home for tenants may be a bit more expensive than it was when you lived in the home. While we often overlook things in our own homes, tenants expect and typically have a right to certain repairs.

Landlords receive from their tenants, on average, six repair-related calls  a year, according to the experts at

“… a lot of problems that need to be addressed are the same 10 repairs, over and over again,” according to Brandon Turner, real estate investor and podcaster. He goes on to list, at, the most common repairs that landlords are called on to make:

  1. Major appliance breakdown
  2. Water leaks
  3. Faucets dripping
  4. Lack of hot water
  5. Insects and rodents
  6. Inoperable garbage disposal
  7. Leaky, clogged or running toilet
  8. Furnace in need of repair
  9. Inoperable smoke detectors
  10. HVAC problems
  11. Electrical problems
  12. Drywall repair

Finally, consider the legal fees you will incur as a landlord. These may run the gamut, including fees for help with constructing rental applications and leases, deal with evictions and other aspects of owning a rental. All of these costs can add up quickly.

For the financially sound, renting out their home when they purchase another can be a brilliant financial strategy. Pursue professional legal and financial advice to ensure that you don’t lose money in the end.

3 critters that invade homes in fall and winter

Ants on the porch or insects in the garden are annoying but tolerable summer staples. With cooling weather, however, many pests go on a hunt for a nice, warm place to hunker down over the fall and winter.

Unfortunately, our homes beckon these critters. There are ways, however, to discourage them from taking up residence.

1. Roaches

“Cockroaches can’t migrate during the colder months, so they need to find a warm hiding spot to survive,” according to Jack Andersen at In your garden, they will hibernate under leaf piles, rocks and other areas.

The problem for these outdoor roaches is that they are unable to regulate their internal temperature. Many perish during periods when the air temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

Obviously, the warmth emanating from our homes acts as a beacon, drawing roaches inside.

How do they get in? Andersen offers up the following possibilities:

  • Cracks in walls
  • Vents
  • Chimney
  • Pipes and drains

He recommends keeping the home clear of moisture, such as from leaks, since it’s “… one of the top attractants of cockroaches.” They’ll also be attracted by crumbs, food spills and grease on the stovetop, food in the pantry that isn’t securely closed and even dirty dishes left in the sink overnight.

Discourage these pests from taking up residence in the home by cleaning up any debris behind your appliances, such as the refrigerator and stove. Smaller appliances, such as the coffee maker, microwave oven and toaster may harbor crumbs and, thus, cockroaches. Clean the areas behind and beneath these appliances.

Finally, seal any cracks in the walls, around plumbing pipes and baseboards.

2. Mice

Mice are the rodents that you’ll most likely find in your home during fall and winter. Ridding your home of an infestation is important because they do so much damage. They’ll gnaw through paperwork, wires and even clothing.

Their saliva, urine and droppings can cause asthma attacks in sensitive individuals and children are their most likely bite victims.

In their mission to escape cold temperatures, mice can squeeze into incredibly small areas to gain access to your home. “Mice can fit through a crack or hole one-fourth of an inch or larger – or about the width of a pencil,” according to the pros at

They also offer tips on how to dissuade these critters from making themselves at home:

  • Store stacks of firewood well away from the home and up off the ground.
  • Leaf piles are attractive to mice, so discard those that are near the home’s foundation.
  • Remember the “one-fourth of an inch” access warning and seal all holes and cracks of that size or larger in your home. “Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through and enter,” warn the Terminix pest control experts.
  • Weather strip the bottom of doors, especially the door from the garage into the home.
  • As with roaches, keep the home free from food crumbs and other debris.
  • If you see a mouse in your home, call a pest control company immediately. Don’t give it time to breed or cause destruction.

3. Spiders

In fall, spiders begin the hunt for a mate. That, in turn, can work up quite the appetite.

“To discourage them from settling in your house, remove webs promptly, and turn off exterior lights at night. Lights attract insects, which in turn attract spiders searching for food,” suggests Andréana Lefton at

Another solution to keeping these critters out of the home is to “Mind the Gaps and Seal the Cracks,” according to Lefton. The fewer insects in the home, the fewer spiders you’ll encounter.

Dreaming of a gourmet kitchen?

Ask any architect to define a gourmet kitchen and you’ll likely get a definition that goes somewhat like this:

A gourmet kitchen is “… a state-of-the-art culinary setup that’s equipped with a large range of special features, appliances, and accessories that make cooking gourmet, exotic, and specialty foods from scratch in your own kitchen a reality.” (

Homebuilders, on the other hand, think of a gourmet kitchen as a “… casual version of a high-end kitchen, designed for a serious cook who wants to prepare quality meals for the family and impress dinner guests with elaborate meals, but who does not need all the professional-level equipment that’s a must for a chef’s kitchen.”

Whichever way you look at it, if a gourmet kitchen is the stuff of dreams for you, read on.

Things to consider before you commit

The first thing you’ll want to figure out is how much you can afford to budget for the project. This is a longer process than it may seem, especially once you start getting quotes from contractors.

It’s shocking how much we underestimate what our dreams will cost.

Keep in mind that if you opt for a low-priced remodel, look at your current overall kitchen design. It’s not worth adding a couple of high-priced items to a low-priced remodeling job, as that only makes the rest of the kitchen look cheap.

Here are a few suggested considerations, offered up by the pros at

  • Think about which appliances you use most frequently and which you prefer.
  • Are you a solo cook or is it a couple’s affair? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to consider leaving room for both of you.
  • Traffic flow should also be considered if you entertain folks in the kitchen while cooking. Consider a kitchen island with seating.
  • What types of special equipment do you use in the kitchen? For instance, some professional immersion blenders are built like jackhammers and will require a place to store in the kitchen.
  • How much room will you need for a pantry? This depends, of course, on the type of food that you cook.
  • Decide on the flow of the room. You’ll need to think about how you cook, how you move from one space to another and which of the spaces needs to be adjacent to the sink, stove, etc.
  • Finally, you’ll need to find out if the project will mess with your home’s value. There is such a thing as “over-improving” for the neighborhood and that’s money you will never recoup.

We’re happy to work with you on coming up with a ball-park figure of what your home will be worth after the work is finished and whether or not the project worth it as far as home value is concerned.

Will you actually use the features you have your eye on?

It’s oh-so-easy to be flipping through a home-related magazine and fall deeply, madly in love with the photos. While some features look appealing, however, you need to consider if they will work for you.

Take a wine chiller, for instance. If you don’t drink a lot of wine, or your guests don’t, it is rather useless and a space hog.

“Before you begin your kitchen renovation, seriously review how you use your current kitchen and set goals for your remodel,” suggests the editors at Take a look at what doesn’t work for you in your current kitchen and what would be a suitable replacement.

Then, ruminate over whether or not you’ll truly use the features you are craving.

Hot Trends for Gourmet Kitchens

Although they’ve become a staple in a gourmet kitchen, double ovens remain trending. How many times have you wished you could cook more than two dishes at a time?

Yes, the Wolf range is still one you’ll most likely find in an American gourmet kitchen. But it isn’t the only top-of-the-line range. Viking and Miele professional-style ranges gain fans every year and 2022 has been no exception.

“Dual-fuel ranges are popular with serious cooks – gas for high heat and electric burner(s) for tasks requiring lower heat,” according to the pros at

How to Avoid Breaking the Bank

While many people want custom cabinets and features, some can’t afford them. A lower-priced option is to consider semi-custom cabinets, which do offer most of the same features. To cut the cost even further, take a look at stock cabinet options as well. They offer more options than ever before.

About half of the budget of the average kitchen remodel will go to the cabinets. With that in mind, it’s important to get cabinets that work for you and that will keep you happy, since it’s unlikely you’ll replace them a second time.

You may also want to ensure you’re getting cabinets that comply with industry performance and quality standards. The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) tests cabinets under rigorous conditions and certifies those that pass with a blue and white seal that can be found on the inside of the sink base cabinet.

Also, keep in mind that not all gourmet kitchen designs have to involve a complete kitchen remodel. Depending on the features you want, some updates can be done without the use of a kitchen contractor.



Big ideas for a small bathroom “remodel” on a dime

Large-bathroom envy. It’s common among homeowners in small homes with cramped bathrooms and most feel that they are stuck with what they have.

The truth is, there are plenty of remodeling/redecorating ideas to make a small bathroom feel and look larger than it is and they don’t require a single additional foot of space.

Follow these tips and start living large with a bathroom floor plan that might otherwise seem small.

Trick the eyes

High ceilings make rooms look larger and a few tricks can make yours soar.

Look up. See the spot where the walls meet the ceiling? Consider attaching some wood molding, tile or even a wallpaper boarder in those spots. Ensure that the product you choose is simple and thin.

“Wide, contrasting, and ornate molding will make a room with short ceilings appear smaller. Thin, color-matched, and simple molding will blend the walls into the ceiling in a smooth transition and make a room look bigger,” suggest the pros at

They also suggest that the molding be painted the same color as the ceiling.

Here’s another tip: Two mirrors placed opposite of one another will trick the eyes into seeing the bathroom as more palatial than it is. Or, you might want to consider placing a large mirror along one of the longest walls in the bathroom to add to the illusion.

“Decorating with mirrors is a must for making a small bathroom look bigger,” suggests Sophie Warren-Smith at


Soft color schemes are ideal for giving the illusion of more space in a small room. Cool colors reflect more light than warmer colors and should be used not only on the walls, but the trim and doors as well.

The editors at suggest sticking with designer-proven colors, such as:

  • White
  • Crème
  • Pastel blue
  • Gray

Then, lighten up the floor to make the bathroom appear more open and spacious. If you can’t afford to replace your flooring right now, consider using a light-colored rug to get the same effect.

Less is more in some cases

Go easy on the window treatments. In a small bathroom the general rule of thumb let in as much natural light as possible.

Consider ditching the window coverings altogether. “… natural light can make even the smallest bathroom appear larger,” suggests Paige Bennett at “For added privacy without sacrificing light, install frosted glass windows,” she concludes.

If you have the budget, the installation of a solar tube or small skylight will allow even more light into the room.

Ditch the clutter

Even a little bit of clutter in a small space can make the room appear smaller.

Use your cupboard space wisely by storing all that clutter within in bins and baskets. Keep all countertops clear of anything that isn’t decorative.

Plumbing considerations

Oversized plumbing fixtures can make the room look cluttered and cramped as well. Consider ditching the bulky vanity for a pedestal sink. If you choose this option, however, you’ll lose the aforementioned storage option.

Swab out a rarely-used tub for a sleek, glass-enclosed shower.

A small bathroom doesn’t have to be cramped and dreary. You can make it cozy and intimate, with minimal effort and (very often) a minimal investment in time and cost.

How to get rid of fungus gnats in the home

According to the experts at Garden Media Group, the U.S. gained 18.3 million new gardeners during the pandemic.

Not all of these green-thumbers are playing in the dirt outside. In fact, houseplant popularity surged 18% while we were all snuggled down at home because of Covid, according to statistics published online at

One of the biggest challenges for the indoor gardener is the pest predicament. From “How did they get in my home?” to “How do I kill them,” garden groups on Facebook are full of tormented houseplant growers.

The most frustrating pest is the fungus gnat (Bradysia spp). A small winged pest, you’ll find them dead in droves near your potted plants, near the kitchen sink and flying into your face as you cross a room.

Lucky you, because we have a tried-and-true remedy to get rid of these nasty little bombardiers for good.

What you need to know about fungus gnats

“Fungus gnats are small flies that infest soil, potting mix, other container media, and other sources of organic decomposition,” according to scientists with the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program

They are especially fond of peat-based soil. The adult lays her eggs in the soil. When they hatch, the larvae gorge on any organic matter in the soil, “but also chew roots and can be a problem,” warns the experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many gardeners rely on yellow sticky traps to trap as many adults as possible. These, however, do nothing to rid the house of fungus gnat larvae, which reside in the soil.

Forget those DIY recipes you’ll find online

There are lots of these recipes online. While people swear that theirs is the very best, most of them have been debunked via scientific research.

Universities have studied using a layer of sand on the top of the soil to discourage the gnats from laying eggs in the soil.

It didn’t work, although it’s one of the most popular suggestions from amateur gardeners. The research in fact found that when sand dries, it creates crevices, through which the female gnat can gain access to the soil.

Hydrogen peroxide, bottom watering the plant and a mixture of apple cider vinegar and several drops of liquid dish detergent in a bowl next to the plant are likewise pure myth.

So, how do you get rid of those creepy hordes of fungus gnats?

The one we’ve found works the best, without resorting to the use of toxic chemicals, is Mosquito Bits, a product usually used to kill mosquitos.

Mosquito Bits contain Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), “… a biological or a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils,” that is non-toxic according to the EPA.

The various Bt strains contain spores that produce toxins that specifically target and only affect the larvae of specific pests. For instance, Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) targets caterpillars.

It’s important that you ensure you’re purchasing the proper Bt strain (in this case, israelensis).

Mosquito Bits are available online at, and, among other retailers.

Since gardeners love to try their own methods, the two we’ve heard have met with the best results are to:

  • Sprinkle the Mosquito Bits onto the top of the soil and water the plant.
  • Follow the package instructions which suggests that you mix the bits with water, allow them to sit for a period of time and then water the plant with the solution.

You may need to repeat the application in a week or so to ensure that you get all the larvae.

Follow ALL precautions on the label and use only as instructed.

Garden flowers that thrive in summer sun

If you have a garden patch of soil that gets six or more hours of sun per day, consider yourself very fortunate; you have your pick of a vast array of flowers that will thrive in your summer garden.

As an added bonus, most sun-loving flowers are also easy-care and somewhat drought tolerant. From tropical to woodland flowers, the full-sun gardener will have no problem finding color for her garden.

Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.)

This plant lives for sunshine. The coreopsis is, after all, related to the sunflower. The yellow and red flowers look a bit more like daisies than sunflowers, attract butterflies, and grow on stalks that can reach 4 feet in height.

Coreopsis loves warm weather and is generally drought-tolerant. It is hardy to USDA zones 3 to 9.

Lavender (Lavandula spp)

Growing lavender, either in the garden or in pots on the patio, is like living next door to a perfumery. Lavender boasts a highly fragrant flower, and the more alkaline the soil, the stronger the aroma will get.

Lavender thrives in full, warm sun, isn’t particular about the soil and, once established, it is drought-tolerant. You can grow lavender in USDA zones 5a to 9b.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

When you plant black-eyed Susan you will also get the bees, butterflies and birds who are highly attracted to this plant. The yellow, daisy-like flower has a dark, almost black center.

The black-eyed Susan needs full sun, will grow to 36 inches in height and blooms profusely in mid-summer to early fall. Hardy to USDA zones 5a to 10b.

Canna lily (Canna spp.)

If you long for a more tropical-looking vibe for your garden, you can’t go wrong with a canna lily or two.

With banana-like leaves and an abundance of tropical colored flowers from which to choose, the canna is a true showoff. And, by the way, despite its name, it is not a true lily.

In regions with cold, icy winters, canna rhizomes  are typically planted in the garden after the last frost date. Gardeners in warm regions often leave them in the soil over the winter.

Canna lilies thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11.

Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

The term “marigold” covers a diverse array of plant sizes and shapes. Plant height can range from 6 inches to 3 feet and flowers can resemble pom-poms, anemones or daisies.

Marigolds grow well in USDA planting zones 2 – 11.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

No list of sun-loving flowers would be complete without mentioning the sunflower. It’s name says it all, right?

Native to North America, the sunflower’s ideal climate is arid with temperatures between 70 and 78 degrees. Yes, you can grow them in the heat of summer, but they won’t be at their best unless given lots of water and protection from burning sun during the hottest part of the day.

Most sunflower varieties are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

While all of these flowers are tolerant of the sun, if you live in the desert southwest or other areas that experience extreme heat in the summer, they may need shade during the hottest part of the day and extra moisture in the soil.

New homeowner? Common home repairs and what they cost

There’s an old saying among boat owners: “A boat is nothing more than a hole in the water into which you throw money.”

The same can be said for some homes, especially older homes that haven’t been updated.

Regardless of how old a home is, it will require some sort of repair during the time you own it. In fact, a Hippo survey found that 77% of new homeowners will experience some sort of “… unexpected issue …” that needs repair during the first year of ownership.

Some repairs will be minor and, perhaps, DIY-able. Others are of the “OMG, I’m going to be sick” variety.

Today we’ll take a look at the less-cardiac-inducing and most common home repairs and how much you can expect to pay for them.

Common home repairs and how much they’ll set you back

We’ve combed the various home repair sites to come up with an average cost for some of the most common repairs.

Remember, we are currently experiencing inflation, supply chain issues and more, so these prices may increase by the time you need to make any of the repairs.

But, at least you’ll have a ballpark figure to work with when it comes to setting up your home repair fund.

Electrical problems

Electrical problems top the list of most common repairs needed after a home purchase. The most common problem seems to be insufficient Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed in and around the home.

“A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products. The National Electrical Code currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors,” according to the experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Unless you are very familiar with electrical work, you’ll need to hire a professional electrician. Plan on spending between $7 and $25 for the outlet itself.

Then, you’re looking at between “. . . $125 to $250 per outlet depending on if you’re replacing an existing or adding a new location,” claims Lauren Lloyd at

Water heater repair or replacement

Consider yourself lucky if your home inspector finds the water heater problem so that you can negotiate with the seller to make the repair.

Otherwise, you are looking at paying nearly $600 for repair. This is the national average cost, according to “The typical range for repairs is between $220 and $958,” they claim.

If you need a new water heater you’ll pay between $600 to $1,800.

Plumbing problems

Leaky, dripping faucets and pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems encountered by the new homeowner. Thankfully, they are also among the cheapest to remedy.

If you feel that your DIY skills aren’t up to the task, however, call a plumber.

“The average cost [nationwide] for labor and parts to repair a dripping faucet is $200 to $330, with most repairs costing $270,” according to research performed by the pros at

Leaking pipes can be a bit pricey to fix, especially if the plumber needs to find the pipe that’s leaking.

According to, sleuthing may tack on $100 to the average cost of $150 to $350 to repair the pipe and another $250 to $750 to repair the drywall after the repair.

How will you pay for these repairs?

“Money expert” Clark Howard suggests that you create a Fix-It Fund to help save for unexpected home repair expenses. He urges homeowners to put “. . . the equivalent of two monthly mortgage payments aside in a maintenance and repair fund for your home.”

With the prices of most everything skyrocketing, this is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. Although Howard suggests that you save this money over the course of a year, right now you may want to be more flexible with the deadline.

Just start saving, whatever you can, every month in a dedicated account and don’t touch it for anything but home repairs.

To learn more about how to start your Fix-It Fund, visit