Chelsea and I are at it again. We've bought an older home (again) and now have to put in the work to make it our own. When I was young, I was taught that the outside of the home is a reflection of the feelings of those living on the inside. Here are our seven simple homeowner tips to help you break in a new home and make it shine.
Before we get started, here’s a cool fact. My family has been using STIHL for more than 30 years. And even though STIHL has precision German engineering, most products sold in the U.S. are build at the U.S. manufacturing facility. I’ve even toured the factory.
NOTE: always consult the instruction manual to ensure you're wearing all of the proper protective gear.
A New Home and a New Direction
One of the best things about buying a home (even if you might be renting your first detached home) is that you have a blank canvas of sorts to work with. I mean, a blank canvas that already has its own facade. Most of our new homeowner tips are about home improvement inside of the home. However, the lawn and landscape are a major part of a home's character as well.
The grass condition, hedge shapes, and general bushiness of bushes all lend themselves to defining the character of a home. Much like a poorly or finely groomed beard, your home has a face and a good deal of it needs “trimming.”
Trimming that Bush
All joking aside, one of the easiest exterior homeowner tips is hiding in the bush or bushes around your home. Why? A lot of people are buying older homes nowadays, as the housing market is struggling to keep up with demand. These homes are commonly owned by people that aren't too concerned with the bushes and hedges.
Honestly, for as large as they are, they can be easy to overlook in terms of home care. This is where a good set of STIHL Hand Pruners comes in handy.
The best way to start is to look for a natural shape or line which might aid in creating space around the bush. In our case, the bush along our parking area was clearly overgrown, so we picked a line approximately one foot off the fence line and began trimming all the way down.
Our house also has a large round bush in front of it, so the best rule of thumb in that instance is to look at the window line and use that to create the needed circumference. I chose to give our window 12 inches of clearance and trimmed uniformly around the bush. This time, I took a bit extra off the house side since I knew Chelsea had plans to paint soon.
Lop those Limbs
Another simple homeowner tip is tree maintenance. This typically isn't difficult, as we aren't trying to change too much at this point. We simply want to ensure that it is kept tidy and safe. I ‘d removed a large branch from one of the trees on the side of the house as it was hanging dangerously over our parking area and blocking my truck from fitting in.
Through spring and summer, that tree naturally began to attempt to grow new branches. It's a great idea to stay ahead of this growth while it's small and easy! Lop off any low limbs so foot traffic around the side of the home doesn't become impeded. If you have slightly larger limbs (up to approximately 2-2.5 inches in diameter) a good quality set of STIHL Loppers is a great way to make quick work of them.
Trimming those Surly Whiskers
Just like a beard, a home winds up with “whiskers” that don't get trimmed with the mower. These are usually up against the house itself or around trees or rocks that the lawnmower can't reach, especially if you have a rock planter.
This particular homeowner tip is where I like to pull out my trusty, quiet, and proven FSA 90R Battery Powered Trimmer. I came to love this STIHL trimmer back when we lived in San Diego and a pregnant Chelsea or one of the little boys were often napping. It's perfect for getting home jobs done quickly and quietly. It has more than enough electric energy and cutting power to get this job done in a snap.
Admitting you Need Help
Some of the best homeowner tips for this job might not require a tool at all, and that's okay. A quick glance at the yard and you may find – much like I did for our new home – that the yard itself needs help beyond a machine or tool.
Take note of the region you live in and the sun exposure, as well as yearly temperature fluctuations that can impact soil. An easy start to a spotty or lingering lawn issues is adding simple nutrient supplements (such as a basic fertilizer), water, and maybe some seed. The best plan for adding seed is speaking with a local gardening store that tends to have the best reseeding mix suggestions. In our case, I opted for a drought resistant seed that does well in full sun exposure. All because I wasn't afraid to ask for advice!
Let's get things Straight
This is probably one of my favorite lawn grooming activities and homeowner tips. When you are taking care of your own lawn for the first time, it is SO EASY to overlook edging. Most people think grass only grows UP! Well, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't. Grass – depending on the variety – commonly grows outward when not restricted by other objects, grass, or plants. This means that where the edge of your lawn meets the sidewalk, your grass is trying to take a hike.
The solution to this is edging. Now, you may be able to achieve this with the aforementioned STIHL trimmers. Over time, though, the grass, watering, and foot traffic may force a layer of dirt, roots, and grass blades over the side like a thick coat lapel. For this home, I finally get to use a STIHL Edger! Specifically, the FC 91 gas powered edger.
Growing up, I made money mowing lawns and had to do this by hand. Only the folks who I perceived as the “pro lawn crews” would whip out these bad boys. Now, I'm a grown up and it's MY TURN. Of course, the STIHL edger makes quick work of my ambitious lawn's edge.
Blow your Cares Away
After all this trimming, clipping, lopping, and edging it's probably best if you clean up your mess. That is, if you want your neighbors and local dog walkers to like you. This is made easy once again with something like my STIHL BGA 100 blower. With 3 variable speeds and a “turbo boost” mode, cleanup is easier than a barber sweeping up after my dad's haircut.
Okay, so my dad's bald but you get the point.
I recommend that you oscillate the blower slightly as you blow the clippings into a central area for easy pick up. This helps keep the debris in control and prevents you from having to go back to make another pass. Then again, if you're like me and just love the blower, you might just want to do that anyway.
Final Homeowner Tip: Start a Compost
What to do with all that's left over? When I was little – maybe five to seven years old – I fell in love with the idea and functionality of a compost. It was pretty common in the northwest, where I grew up. The idea of creating your own nutrient-rich soil right inside your own garden is a great homeowner tip.
Composting serves as a fantastic science lesson for children. If you're currently in the process of learning how to homeschool, this might actually be covered under homeschool funding (depending on your state and charter programs). You can even throw most non-meat dinner scraps in to diversify the soil content and improve nutrients. Even better, this can all be used in your own garden later!
There are few things more satisfying as an adult than living in your own home. A great part of that is making the home reflect your personality and bringing out it's best potential. With that said, please always remember to wear long pants, gloves, eye, and ear protection when necessary while doing this type of work. It's always better to be surprised and safe than surprised and…well, not ready.
What's your favorite gardening or home care activity?