Marianne Avila - Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty



Posted by Marianne Avila on 1/6/2019

No matter where you live, smart planning means landscaping for your climate. While magazines, websites and home and garden television shows display verdant English gardens dripping with wisteria and spritely fountains, responsible landscaping means ecologically sustainable plants and watering systems is the way to go.

If you’re in a newly built home, designing a low-maintenance yard from scratch is more straightforward than removing an existing water-guzzling lawn. In more arid climates, consider xeriscaping—also called desert-scaping or dry-scaping—lower water use protects natural resources and native wildlife, while seamlessly flowing with the natural environment. Even in moister climes, it's wise to utilize plants that grow naturally without excessive watering. Choosing native plants with the assistance of a local garden center can start you on your way.

Plan your site use

Consider how you’ll use the space before tearing up the existing landscaping. Are the flat areas better for play spaces or for entertaining? Is there a slope or terraced area? Does water flow downhill from another yard? How does the sun, shade, wind, or other weather patterns move through the yard? Determine the best use and how weather patterns affect the area to reduce the amount of effort you’ll need to spend maintaining your landscaping.

Consider your needs:

  • Hire a professional to test your soil to see if you need to add special fertilizers.
  • Review the drainage and correct elevation issues so that water flows away from your home. A flooded basement is avoidable with proper preparation.
  • If you're new to homeownership and landscaping, think about hiring a professional to get advice or to complete the project.
  • Where possible, utilize drip irrigation systems rather than sprinklers. These reduce water waste and soil erosion. Set timers on your irrigation system to avoid overwatering and waste.
  • Try to preserve any naturally existing trees, especially native ones, but replace high-maintenance trees when necessary.
  • Choose shade-tolerant plants for areas shaded by trees or buildings.
  • Install ground cover plants, or even lava rock, gravel, or river stones to reduce water consumption and run-off.

Make space functional

For play areas, use environmentally-friendly grasses, or replace turf with pea gravel, mulch, sand or specially design playground materials made from repurposed rubber tires and other recycled products. Entertainment spaces allow for artistic use of paver stones with gravel between for drainage, raised beds that double as sitting areas and decorative pathways through your landscaping.

Simplify maintenance

Whatever your landscaping needs, careful planning to reduce maintenance requirements gives you more time to enjoy your yard. Cover any bare soil with water-permeable fabric weed barriers and layer gravel or mulch over the fabric. Advanced planning means less weeding later. Reach out to a landscape professional or garden shop for information on ordinances and specifics on safe herbicides that protect your environment while simplifying your life.




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Posted by Marianne Avila on 10/5/2014

Homemade soft scrub cleaner is one of the quickest and easiest cleaners to make. It is so easy you won't be spending lots of money of expensive store bought cleaners anymore. Here is an easy recipe for scrubbing cleaner: Ingredients: 3/4 cup baking soda 1/4 cup borax dishwashing liquid 1. Combine the baking soda and borax. 2. Mix in enough dishwashing liquid to make a smooth paste. 3. If you prefer a pleasant smell, add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice to the paste or a few drops of essential oil.  





Posted by Marianne Avila on 5/11/2014

Do you have a mildew buildup in your home? Or are you looking to prevent mildew? You can combat mildew buildup with ingredients you have around your home. Many of the ingredients in store-bought mildew cleaners contain hazardous solvents and petroleum based chemicals, which may contaminate ground water and present a problem to waste water treatment facilities. Here is a recipe to remove mildew:   Ingredients: 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent 1 quart chlorine bleach 2 quarts water 1. Combine all the ingredients in a pail. 2. Wearing rubber gloves, wash off the mildew. So go ahead and whip up a batch of homemade mildew cleaner. It will cost you only pennies and keep your family safer too.





Posted by Marianne Avila on 9/22/2013

Did you know that indoor air pollution is actually worse than outdoor air pollution? Indoor pollution can in fact be 2 to 10 times worse depending on the materials in your home. Many of the materials in your home omit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). According to the EPA, VOC's are in the air that you breathe and can have long term health effects, including liver, kidney and central nervous system damage and cancer. Here is a list of some of the indoor air pollutants that you may want to reduce or remove in order to have a healthier home. Cleaning Supplies The things that clean your home may be making you sick. In fact, bleach is one of the biggest offenders. In order to have a truly clean home, remove all of these chemicals and start replacing them with natural ones. Check the labels of everything. Many sheets that are made for your dryer have formaldehyde in them. Some of the most dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if ingested, on the throat and esophagus. Air Fresheners Air fresheners may smell sweet but their effect can be anything but. Some air fresheners can send chemicals into the air that contain VOCs. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology looked at plug-in fresheners and found more than 20 VOCs' and more than one-third were considered toxic or hazardous. VOCs can increase the risk of asthma in kids. At high enough levels, they can also irritate the eyes and lungs, trigger dizziness and headaches, and even lead to memory loss. Furniture Believe it or not the place where you sit or sleep could be harming your health. Furniture is such a big part of our life, we eat on it, sleep and sit on it. Furniture also can emit VOCs. Furniture is often made with flame retardants, finishes, adhesives and foam cushions that give off harmful chemicals. Paint You often hear about the dangers of lead paint. You should also be worried about the brand new fresh paint you just put on the walls. Paint, paint strippers, varnish removers and floor stains all emit VOC's into the air. These chemicals don't go away once the paint has dried or once it stops smelling. The harmful chemicals can last for as long as two years. New Flooring That new carpet smell is not good for you. As pretty as it may look new carpet, wood floors or even linoleum flooring give off VOCs. Purchase flooring produced from renewable materials such as linseed oil, rosins, wood flour and jute. Look for wood flooring that is FSC Certified (it came from a Forest Stewardship Council Certified Forest which helps protect old growth forests from being clear cut). For more information read about Sources of Indoor Air Pollution on the EPA site.





Posted by Marianne Avila on 8/11/2013

When you think of lemons you may think of lemonade or squeezing it on your favorite fish. Lemons are more than just something to add to a favroite recipe. Lemons  have lot of uses in your home. Here are some household hints for uses for lemons: Use a cloth dipped in some lemon juice to clean discolored utensils. Bring china back to its original shine with one part lemon juice and two parts salt. Scour the china gently with the mixture. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and salad oil to remove scratches on furniture. Rub the mixture on the scratches with a soft cloth. To make furniture polish, mix one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil. The juice from half of a lemon and salt paste will have your white marble shining in no time. You can also tickle the ivories of your piano with the mix to keep them squeaky clean. Remove dried paint from glass, by applying hot lemon juice with a soft cloth. Leave until nearly dry, and then wipe off. Shine and remove spots from kitchen and bathroom faucets by rubbing them with lemon peel. Use a soft cloth to shine and remove spots. Have a lemon do double duty by cleaning your aluminum pots and freshening your house. Slice some lemons, cover with water, and let simmer in a pot for about an hour. Get your grimy white socks white again by boiling them in water with a slice of lemon. Please share some of your favorite lemon uses.







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