If your fall fantasies involve sitting in your own yard, sipping a homemade pumpkin spice latte, and watching as the plants in your yard go from summer greens to autumnal shades of red and orange, then it’s time to start gardening. Here, we’re sharing a number of trees and shrubs that will give your yard a good dose of fall color come autumn.
Maples, particularly Japanese maples, are the first plants many gardeners think of when it comes to spectacular fall color. The hue depends on variety; Velvet Viking™, for example, goes from being purple in summer to vibrant red in autumn. Other maples may turn shades of yellow, orange, and purple. Blueberries are often overlooked for their ornamental appeal, but many turn stunning shades of red and purple come fall. This makes them great plants for double-duty use. Meanwhile viburnums offer amazing fall color in addition to berries that attract birds. Sparkler® is an easy-care version of the North American native that turns a rich purple-red at the season’s end. Oakleaf hydrangeas, like Snow Queen, are another amazing North American native shrub that works well in partially shaded spots and are known for delivering purple-bronze foliage in fall. It is one of the relatively few shade plants for reliable fall color.
Blues, Orange, Greens, and Yellows
Fothergilla, or witch hazel, is a native shrub with blue-green leaves in summer and pumpkin orange leaves in fall. If you’re looking for another bright-hued plant, linderas, or spicebush, grows mainly as a shrub or small tree. A common or native species, Lindera benzoin, has brilliant yellow to orange fall color. The Asian spicebush, Lindera salicifolia, has bright orange fall color and the foliage stays on it longer throughout the winter. For year-long color, plant arborvitae—it offers a show in all seasons! Its new growth emerges a pleasing yellow shade before fading to green. Then, when temperatures drop in autumn, the foliage goes a glowing shade of golden orange that’s unlike anything else in the landscape.
When to Plant Them
Happily, you can plant your trees and shrubs almost anytime from spring to fall in most areas and still enjoy the changeover of color in the fall, according to Justin Hancock, Monrovia horticultural craftsman. “Spring planting gives you the advantage of bigger variety at the store; autumn lets you see the fall color for yourself before you bring your plant home.” Just beware, if your plants are stressed, struggling, or unhappy with where they’re growing, they are unlikely to produce as lively of a color palette come autumn.
If your foliage isn’t turning the colors you had hoped, your soil may be to blame, says Adrienne R. Roethling, director of curation and mission delivery at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden. She says that the ideal soil PH should be 6.2-6.5. If your PH is fine but you’re still having an issue, drought may be the problem. “If soils are dry, especially in summer and fall, some plants will just drop their leaves prematurely,” she explains.
Do you remember when you were young and had to check under your bed for monsters before you could go to sleep? I sure do! Because of my hyperactive imagination and the poor decision to watch one too many cheesy 80s horror movies, I was absolutely terrified of monsters when I was a kid. Every night I would thoroughly inspect all of the best hiding places in my room before I reluctantly switched off the light and frantically dashed for my bed, fully expecting to be ambushed by a mob of gremlins as soon as everything was dark. I certainly didn’t want any mischievous little critters to snack on one of my exposed limbs as I slept, so I wrapped myself in a cocoon of blankets as an extra precaution.
Now that I am an adult who is fairly confident that there are no monsters under my bed, I have a more important question to ask: What’s lurking below your mobile home? The answer probably isn’t monsters, but here are three things that you may find:
Mice, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, insects, and other critters may invade the space below your mobile home and cause messes, loud noises, bothersome odors, and other damages. Keeping your trash and recycle bins tightly closed and making a point to keep the underside of your home clean of trash and debris are good strategies for keeping otherwise curious animals away. It also helps to keep bird feeders a good distance from your home, as they attract pesky squirrels and raccoons. According to SFGate, sprinkling chili or habanero flakes in the dirt around your home is an effective way to repel many animals. But if you do end up finding an animal under your home, don’t try to remove it yourself. Instead, calling your local animal control service−they can help you find a safe solution.
If there is an abundance of clay in the soil around your mobile home or if your yard is not graded well, any water that collects under your home may not be able to drain properly. Rainfall and even plumbing leaks can lead to excess moisture, and if you don’t act quickly to fix this problem, your home could become musty and moldy. My Mobile Home Makeover suggests addressing the issue of pooling rainwater by stapling plastic sheeting to the bottom frames of skirting so that any water that collects will be absorbed beneath the plastic and will not damage the bottom of your home. You can also install gutters to prevent rainwater from pooling underneath or around your home.
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A nice evening by the glow and heat of a fire can be one of the most enjoyable parts of camping. Whether you’re gathering with friends, making s’mores, or just basking in the warmth, there are many reasons campfires are a long-standing tradition. That being said, creating a fire comes with a lot of responsibility. In the United States, people start nearly nine out of ten wildfires. 1 So the next time you get ready to light that match, keep these safety tips in mind.
Check fire regulations.
Make sure you know the rules of the campground or area where you’re planning the fire. There may be a temporary ban when the risk of wildfires is higher.
Pick a safe spot.
Use an existing fire circle or pit when available. If you’re in a remote area, dig a pit in an open space and circle it with rocks. Keep at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, or any other items and debris. Also, stay away from overhanging branches, power lines, or other hazards that could catch on fire.
Building the campfires.
Start your fire with dry grass, leaves, or needles, and then add sticks less than one inch around. Once the fire gets going, add larger pieces of wood. Many people stack these teepee style or crisscross. Make sure you have a source of water and a shovel nearby in case you need to control the fire.
It can be easy to get distracted and walk away, but it’s important someone always has an eye on the fire. Even a small breeze can spread fire quickly. Take extra care if there are children or pets nearby. Teach kids about the danger of fire and demonstrate how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothes catch on fire.
It can be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
It’s finally time to clean your oven. Yay.
Look, we understand the inherent lack of fun in such a laborious activity, but to clean an oven means a cleaner household with fewer harmful fumes infiltrating your kitchen and food. With little more than baking soda and vinegar, you can give your oven the kind of makeover that’ll eviscerate grease, dirt, and burned-on odor. Here’s how it’s done.
How to Clean an Oven
Don a pair of rubber gloves before starting.
Choose the best cleaning agent. Whether you have baking soda and vinegar on hand or want to spring for the professional-grade stuff, the first step in oven maintenance is preparation.
Remove any debris. We’re talking chunks of food, chipped-off pizza crust, lone pepperonis, and generally anything that can be removed by hand. Clear all that stuff out and toss it in the trash.
Take out your oven racks. For those who didn’t know you could actually remove oven racks, surprise! For a deep, deep clean, you can take out your oven racks and stick them in a bathtub or large sink. Soak your racks in dishwasher detergent and boiling water. Let them sit for about two hours. Scrub with a stiff brush before returning to the oven. In lieu of a full bathtub cleanse, you can sprinkle baking soda on your oven racks and then spritz with white vinegar. Scrub with a good, stiff brush.
Make a paste. Spread a thick paste of 2 cups baking soda and 3/4 cup water on the inside of your oven. Allow the paste to sit for six to eight hours before scrubbing it clean. If you’re using a commercial cleaner, spray it all over the oven from a distance of 9-12 inches (22-30 centimeters), close the oven door and leave it for two hours. Then wipe clean with paper towels or a wet cloth.
Don’t forget the oven doors. Spray the outside of the oven doors with some white vinegar or commercial cleaner to make them shine. On the inside you can clean them with that baking soda and water paste. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning.
Or try a self-cleaning oven. Most ovens with a self-clean feature require only a couple of hours for a good-as-new look that’ll save your food from taking on any nasty odor. Plus, the clean-up will be minimal. Follow the directions in your oven’s manual for how to use your oven’s self-clean feature, should it have one.
It goes by many names — yard sale, garage sale, rummage sale, estate sale — and its purposes are many. Looking to rid your house of all that junk you’ve got in the attic? Sell it outside. Got an open weekend you’d like to fill? Set a couch, a blender, and some booties on your lawn and watch the cars line up.
Just want a little extra cash? Yard it up.
“Yard sale” is a siren call for bargain hunters, antique seekers, and lovers of all things kitsch, and there are people who wait all year for the warmer weather that turns neighborhoods into giant, cardboard-signed clearance sales. Whether you’re looking to score some bucks, fill some time or clear the clutter (or all of the above), you may find a yard sale is a perfect way to spend a Saturday at home — as long as you do it right.
It may seem simple, and it pretty much is. But as with most things worth doing, a yard sale does require some knowledge and effort to be a success. Here, what you need to know, do and plan for in order to pull off a great event, including some of the little extras that can make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Let’s begin with the basics because a brush-up never hurts …
Yard Sale Basics
If you’ve never organized your own yard sale before, don’t worry: It’s not brain surgery. It is, however, something you’ll want to prepare for and put some thought into.
Address each of these basics, and you should be well on your way to a successful sale:
Plan ahead — Just decided you’re going to have a yard sale? Great! Now give yourself at least a month to pull it together. In addition to gathering up and assessing your discards, possibly recruiting help, and preparing and placing signs around the neighborhood, you also need to find out whether your city requires a permit and whether your homeowners’ association or other neighborhood organization has rules about yard sales (it’s likely they at least have ideas about where you can and can’t put your signs).
Get help — You probably don’t want to do this all alone, since your attention will be spread pretty thin during busy sale periods. Ask a couple of friends, neighbors, or family members to help you out with set-up, running the “register,” or clean-up — or better yet, to add their own wares to the sale! Multi-family or neighborhood-wide sales draw more buyers.
Advertise — Some yard-sale shoppers have a sixth sense about these things, but most of your potential buyers will need you to actually tell them you’re having a sale. You can pay for an ad in the newspaper (which is really only cost-efficient if you’re having a multi-family sale, so you can all split the cost), but there are lots of ways to advertise for free. Craigslist and yard-sale-specific Web sites, neighborhood newsletters, grocery-store bulletin boards, and handmade signs around your area can all help spread the word.
Make it look good — If you’re going to the trouble of attempting to sell your stuff, make it look appealing so it actually sells! Wipe down appliances, wash, iron, and hang clothing, and lay everything out nice and neat on clean tables and shelves, not in piles.
Direct — Make it as easy as possible for people to find your house on the day of the sale. In addition to putting your address in all of your ads, you might want to put up arrow signs starting at the main road on the morning your sale starts, so nobody gets turned around and gives up.
Be safe — Remember, these are mostly strangers coming over to browse your wares. Do not let people in your house to try on clothes or use the bathroom, and keep your doors locked. Don’t take personal checks from strangers, and rather than a cashbox anybody could grab, keep earnings on your person in a fanny-pack-type device or safely in your pocket. Take periodic trips inside to deposit the cash.
Price everything! — It will definitely take you more time, but put price tags on every item rather than just waiting for someone to ask, and avoid the “all blue tags are $1” system, which mostly just annoys people. It’s much easier for the shopper if each item has a clearly stated price in plain sight. You’ll sell more this way.
So, now that the basics are out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff: What do you want for that TV that hasn’t worked since the ’90s?
Yard Sale Pricing Tips
You’ve probably been to a yard sale where you pick up an item, look at the price, and laugh — They want 20 bucks for this?
You want to avoid this reaction. Remember, you might have fond memories of watching “Growing Pains” on that old TV, but your potential buyers do not. If your overall goal is to get the best price you possibly can for what you’re selling, take it to eBay or Craigslist — you could probably find a collector. If your overall goal is to get rid of it (and how nice if you make some money in the process), take it to the yard.
The general guideline for pricing yard-sale goods is about one-third of the retail price. But that doesn’t always apply. For instance, the pack of Mount Rushmore playing cards you shelled out $6 for at the souvenir store is worth, oh, about 10 cents out in your yard.
Try to look at all of your stuff objectively — what would you want to pay for this one someone else’s lawn? People go to a yard sale to find amazing deals — they need to feel like they’re paying less than what it’s worth.
So figure out the lowest price you feel comfortable with, and then, if you plan to let people bargain, take it up a bit for some wiggle room.
Some other pricing tips:
Bundle: While you might have trouble selling a box of bobby pins for a quarter, you could probably sell “10 hair accessories for a buck!” without much effort. Offer a bundled price for sets of flatware or matching furniture, too.
Use easy increments: Price everything ending in 25 cents or 50 cents so you don’t necessarily need a calculator to tally purchases. It’s a time saver.
Tag thoughtfully: Don’t write prices directly on merchandise, and large items should have (physically) large price tags. It’s annoying to have to search for the cost.
Hopefully, you’ll sell absolutely everything and come away with enough dough to make the entire experience worthwhile. But even if you don’t get rid of it all, you can still have lots of fun, especially if you make it more than just a sale
In the last few years, a surprisingly conventional material has swept the sustainable building industry: wood. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction, a building method in which wood is layered to create a strong and durable frame, is now competing with traditional concrete and steel foundations. This method, which has become increasingly popular in Europe, is now making headway in the United States. According to the Globe News Wire, the industry is projected to grow by 12 percent between 2021 and 2027.
Construction companies, architects, and environmental advocates alike are embracing CLT because it’s more sustainable than traditional materials, durable, lightweight, and suitable for prefabricated construction projects. But this building method also poses new risk-management challenges for owners, builders, and insurance providers. In this article, we’re examining the challenges of CLT across multiple insurance lines—and sharing suggestions for contractors to help mitigate potential risk.
Challenge 1: protecting the project during construction
In terms of builders’ risk coverage, CLT has some benefits. Because it can be built off-site and transported, the method can result in shortened building cycles, which means contractors may save money on insurance costs. However, builders will need coverage in the event of fire or water damage. CLT is made entirely of wood and—even though the material has been proven to burn slowly in fire tests—it is at a higher risk of fire damage than more traditional materials. On top of that, staining and charring of the wood from water and fire damage can cause aesthetic issues, and project owners might require builders to replace the panels even if the building is still structurally sound.
How to mitigate risk: contractors should ensure that CLT is pre-treated with a fire retardant before building. It’s also crucial that all members of the building team understand transport, storage, and staging best practices to limit exposure to the elements.
Challenge 2: evaluating environmental risks
When it comes to environmental risks, CLT has a leg up over traditional building materials. Although CLT is bonded with glue, most manufacturers use formaldehyde-free adhesives to improve air quality and reduce off-gassing. However, when building with CLT, construction companies should take notice of potential water damage and subsequent mold exposure risks. The 2021 International Building Code allows for CLT buildings up to 18 stories—but these taller buildings are exposed to the elements for more extended periods during construction, increasing the risk of water damage and mold growth. If property owners discover mold, contractors may be liable for any damages or associated health risks.
How to mitigate risk: builders should treat CLT with water repellents, particularly on the end-grain where the wood is more porous. During construction, using tent structures that cover exposed materials can also reduce the risk of water damage that can lead to mold growth.
Because CLT is a newer material for many builders, design-build contractors should take special care to ensure their designs are structurally sound and materials meet quality standards. Both designers and builders should reference and comply with the applicable International Building Codes and stay up to date on evolving research. For example, as this study highlights, the shape and number of layers of CLT can influence the risk of delamination, in which the adhesive holding boards together fails and can put a structure at risk.
As an example of delamination, work came to a halt on a $79-million building under construction at Oregon State University after two layers of CLT floor panel came unglued and fell. While the incident did not cause any injuries, it did result in a several-month-long investigation, extensive rework to replace the damaged panels, and a delayed opening.
By staying informed on CLT performance capabilities, designers and builders are better able to build safely and on schedule and help mitigate the risk of damage, work delays, and related builders’ risk and liability claims.
How to mitigate risk: designers and builders should ensure that building codes align with the use of cross-laminated timber. Using building information modeling (BIM) during the planning process can also help ensure that all stakeholders—including owners, designers, engineers, and architects—are on the same page during the project.
Challenge 4: avoiding construction defect claims related to sourcing, transport, and installation
Do these maintenance tasks now and reap the rewards later
By Paul HopePublished October 15, 2016, | Updated September 22, 2021
Early fall is the right time to get your yard and house in order because come winter, small problems can turn into expensive nightmares.
Consumer Reports’ money-saving checklist covers everything from fallen leaves to your furnace. And many of these fall chores cost little more than time and effort. “A little bit of preventive maintenance now will help you avoid big hassles in the future,” says John Galeotafiore, who oversees CR’s testing of outdoor power equipment and other home gear.
Outdoor Fall Chores With Immediate Payoff
Once the winter freeze-thaw cycle kicks in, a tiny leak in your roof can turn into a crevasse—and a $10,000-plus repair job. Clogged gutters and dribbling spigots can also do a lot of damage, so take advantage of the cooler weather to do home and yard repairs and spruce-ups.
Get Some Leaf Relief
Fallen leaves can kill grass when they’re matted down by snow. Leaf piles can also attract rodents. But using leaf bags means work, and waste if they go into a landfill.
What to do: Make use of your lawn mower’s mulching mode. Ground-up leaves nourish the soil, which saves you money down the line. You might need to make a few passes to slice the leaves small enough to decay.
What you save: Along with saving the cost of leaf bags (Americans spend millions of dollars a year on bags alone), you sidestep the back-breaking stooping and bending of raking and bagging. When it’s time to replace your mower, use our ratings to find a model that’s the right fit for your yard.
Check the Roof
Leaks can eventually damage the wood sheathing and rafters below your shingles, leading to thousands of dollars in repairs.
What to do: Use binoculars to spot cracked, curled, or missing shingles safely from the ground. Consider having a roofing pro check flashing around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys for leaks, and the rubber boots near vents for cracks that can let moisture seep in.
What you save: At roughly $3 per square foot installed, new sheathing would total $6,900 for a 2,300-square-foot house if you had to replace all of it. Figure on an additional $7,000 to $10,000 to install new shingles, plus added costs if the roof rafters need replacing. Worst case, and you need a new roof? See CR’s top-rated shingles across the three categories we test, below.
Gutters stuffed with leaves, pine needles, and other debris can let the water spill over the side, pool around your home’s foundation, and seep inside. Water that freezes in gutters can force snow and ice into roof shingles, causing damage and leaks.
What to do: Consider a gutter-guard system to keep debris out. Make sure that gutter drains extend 5 feet from the house and that soil slopes away from the foundation 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more.
What you save: It costs about $300 per year for a pro to clean gutters in the fall and spring. That might be worth it rather than risking a fall off a ladder if you do the job yourself.
Feeling fatigued during what seems like a never-ending pandemic? Join the club. Whether you feel like you’re languishing or just lacking the energy to head back to the office this fall, you may be one of many Americans who can’t quite shake pandemic-related malaise.
“We’re at home and we’re stressed and the impact of that is to develop a sort of mental and emotional lethargy,” says Margaret Wehrenberg, a clinical psychologist in Saint Charles, Missouri, and author of Pandemic Anxiety: Fear, Stress, and Loss in Traumatic Times.
And yes, your pandemic habits can also play a role — especially if things like regular exercise or healthy eating went out the window sometime during the lockdown. “A lot of people who thought it was going to be a six- or 12-week thing let their diet go,” says Kathryn A. Boling, M.D., a primary care physician at Mercy Medical Center’s Mercy Personal Physicians in Lutherville, Maryland. And instead of, say, going to work and hustling through a commute, “we just walk from the bedroom to the living room and sit in a chair most of the day, except for when we get up to snack.” A year of such habits has likely contributed to the general lassitude. But if you’re over 50 and worried that feeling worn out may just be your new normal, know this: Being tired is not a typical aspect of aging. At least it shouldn’t be when you’re in your 50s, 60s, or 70s. “It does not have to be part of aging until you get pretty advanced,” Boling says. “If you’re 90, you’re more likely to run out of gas.”
When ‘tired’ means depressed
Of course, fatigue can also result from many underlying physical and mental health issues, such as depression. Low energy and tiredness are indeed key features of this common mood disorder.
“One of the ways to tell if you’re fatigued from depression, or not, is asking yourself if you feel motivated,” Boling says. “If the fatigue is more like, ‘I don’t care. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to get up,’ or are you really wanting to do things, but you just feel physically tired?” If it’s “de-motivated” fatigue or you’re feeling a sense of hopelessness along with the fatigue, she says, then you may be depressed.
“Traditionally we say depression is when people have what’s called anhedonia, where the things that they used to do that gave them pleasure no longer give them pleasure,” adds George Abraham, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians. If that’s the case, it’s wise to see a doctor and weigh the options for treatment.
What else it could be — including, yes, your thyroid
Fatigue also frequently occurs with thyroid disorders, anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency (particularly in vegetarians), obstructive sleep apnea, and as a result of hormonal imbalances, such as low testosterone in men, Abraham says. What’s more, tiredness can linger for several weeks after any viral illness, including influenza, colds, and COVID-19 itself.
When should you worry? “A good rule of thumb is the persistence of symptoms,” Abraham says. If you’re still having issues after a month or so, your doctor will want to examine you and run some tests.
Exhaustion accompanied by shortness of breath, sudden bruising, or sudden coughing can signal a more urgent concern, such as heart disease or cancer, says Suzanne E. Salamon, M.D., a geriatrician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. For example, “If someone is coughing excessively, then I would want to be sure it’s not pneumonia, or if they were a past smoker to make sure that there’s no evidence of cancer,” she says.
“Many times women don’t have the same symptoms for heart attacks as men have,” adds Boling. “They don’t necessarily have acute chest pain. Sometimes they only have overwhelming fatigue.” In cases like these, seek immediate help.
Pandemic Fatigue fixes to start today
The obvious solutions: Stay away from processed foods, eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and get some exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Sleep issues can of course similarly sap daytime energy, whether they’re pandemic-related or from shifting hormones, particularly in women going through menopause. Unfortunately, Boling says, people don’t often do what they need to prepare for a restful night, such as turning off electronic devices, covering up light sources, and keeping TVs out of the bedroom.
It’s worth trying these strategies and establishing a regular sleep routine, including time to wind down without stimulation before bed. FYI: A Northwestern University study found that “pink” noise (available on many sound machines and sleep apps) increased deep sleep in older adults.
If none of these work, give melatonin a try, Salamon advises. “I generally suggest starting with 1 milligram and taking it about an hour before bedtime to see if that helps,” she says. Patients can gradually increase the dose if they need to until they find their sweet spot.