The Huge Risk Home Buyers Take When They Waive Inspections

If you’re buying a home in a competitive market and your offers keep getting beat out, you may be tempted to resort to desperate measures. In addition to offering more than the asking price or a quick closing, some buyers agree to waive inspections.

This is never a good idea. The home may look OK to the naked eye, but it’s what’s beyond the surface, or items that you can’t identify as problematic, that cause the biggest issues.

For example, the typical buyer won’t be able to spot asbestos, nor will they see evidence of termite infestation or a leak inside the HVAC system.

No matter how badly you want the property or how emotionally attached you are to it, you don’t want to buy a home without having it thoroughly inspected. Just imagine six months down the road, when you’ve closed on the sale and moved into your new home. You will kick yourself when you go to turn the heat on and realize it doesn’t work – and the fix is $20,000.

When you’re in the thick of a bidding war or in your seventh month of searching for homes, you might not be able to see or think clearly. Don’t get caught up in the hoopla. Waiving an inspection can cost you a fortune. Here are some alternative solutions to satisfy your need to inspect, while remaining competitive.

Pre-sale inspection

If you love the home, inspect before you make an offer or sign a contract. Worst case scenario, you spend a few hundred dollars delving deeply into a home you don’t purchase. Better to be safe than sorry.

If you do inspect the home and it passes muster, then you can waive your inspection contingency because you’ve inspected already.

The seller’s inspection

Often, the seller will have the property inspected before listing. They do this so that they can either iron out any issues in advance of listing, or so buyers know upfront exactly what they’re getting.  It protects the sellers from future negotiations, and allows them to price the property correctly from the start.

The only issue is that the inspector is liable only to the person who paid for and ordered the inspection. That is the seller. If that inspector missed something, you don’t have any recourse.

Move quickly

Often there is a small window of time between when offers are due, and a deal starts to go forward. Sellers don’t want to lose momentum, particularly when there are multiple offers.

If the market moves fast and you need to get your offer in so quickly that there isn’t time to inspect, pre-schedule an inspection for a day or two out. If you work with a good local agent, they will have relationships with an inspector who will do that.

Writing a one- or two-day inspection contingency into your offer gives the seller comfort that they won’t lose momentum if you walk away. You get peace of mind in the meantime.

Don’t get caught up in the drama of a bidding war. If you’re getting frustrated, keep in mind the larger picture. You’re purchasing the biggest asset of your life. Markets change, and you don’t want to find yourself in a home you can’t afford or, much worse, can’t sell because of structural or engineering issues you missed by waiving inspections.

Related:

  • 5 Facts Home Buyers and Sellers Should Know About Credits
  • Contingencies: A Home Buyer’s BFF
  • 3 Strategic Moves for Competitive Home Buyers

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published July 3, 2017.

Getting and Staying Organized Through the Summer

Sometime about now in mid-summer we begin asking ourselves, “Why do things seem to be out of control? I planned on organizing my photos, painting that cute dresser I picked up at the yard sale last fall, and waking up without an alarm clock on Fridays. None of it has happened!”

This scenario is all too common – and yet there is good news. It’s never too late to get and stay organized for the remainder of the summer.

People tend to get busy with outdoor activities and become distracted by vacations, plus household schedules and routines tend to be different than during the school year. The most common areas that seem to spiral out of control are:

  • Summer clutter
  • Project procrastination
  • Sleep routines

Here are my tips for getting and staying organized through the summer.

Summer clutter

We’re conditioned to create traditions and rituals. We buy new outdoor furniture and decorations for our backyard barbecue, and bring friends and family together for camping trips chock full of new-fangled gadgets and equipment. We have family reunions and summer vacations.

We’re used to buying, creating, and preparing for events – yet we don’t really have a method or system to deal with the aftermath.

It may be time to say goodbye to the stuff we buy “on the fly,” like walkie talkies for playful banter on road trips, floaties for the swimming pool,  collapsible picnic tables for the beach, croquet sets for the backyard, and rain ponchos for the fast-moving and sudden rainstorm.

shutterstock_282079589

I recommend two steps for handling summer clutter:

  1. Collect all the summer clutter. Empty the souvenir bags, toiletry kits, suitcases, and backpacks. Get it all in one place.
  1. Evaluate it. I do this by using a value-based point system. Rate each item on a scale of 0 to 5. Zero means you have no real use for it in the future and don’t like it at all. Five means you really love the item and can use it, or it brings you great joy to keep it.

Project procrastination

Often we feel more disorganized or confused about our perceived “free time” during the summer months. This can happen because we spend the first half of the year postponing projects until summer vacation.

Each year we stack the projects-in-waiting for summer, and each year we seem to forget that we would really rather enjoy some time off in nature, traveling, or getting together with friends.

If you want to reduce the pressure for yourself, release yourself from too many good intentions, like repainting the powder room; reading the stack of books you’ve collected; and that wishful photo-organizing project.

Instead, pick just one project and focus on it. By making one project the priority, you can do little bits of it from time to time. So, instead of putting off the project and feeling badly that it isn’t getting done, break your priority project down into doing one small step per day.

Sample summer project

Want to paint that dresser? Allow yourself 13 “moments” to complete the project and never miss a bit of summer fun. Use this project breakdown to make any project fit in around your unpredictable summer schedule.

Painting a dresser purchased at a yard sale

  • Take a “before” picture: 30 seconds
  • Make a list of supplies needed: 5 minutes
  • Buy paint and supplies: 1 hour
  • Stage the area where you plan to paint: 15 minutes
  • Pull the drawers out of the dresser: 3 minutes
  • Remove the knobs from the drawers: 10 minutes
  • Sand the dresser and drawers: 35 minutes
  • Wipe down the dresser and drawers: 10 minutes
  • Paint just a drawer or two (repeat): 30 minutes
  • Paint the frame of the dresser: 1 hour
  • Re-attach knobs: 20 minutes
  • Move dresser to preferred location: 20 minutes
  • Take picture and post for friends to see: 3 minutes

Sleep routines

Most of us realize instinctively that sleep is important.

“You know that babies and children need sleep to grow,” says Val Sgro, a professional organizer and author. “You know that an injured body heals itself faster with good sleep. You know that if you don’t get enough sleep, you become sluggish and cranky, and you have trouble thinking straight. That old saying, ‘I’ll sleep on it,’ comes from the realization that the solution to a problem often seems to reveal itself after a good night’s sleep.

“Contrary to common belief, your brain does not rest when you sleep,” she continues. “It is often more active than when you’re awake. It’s busy – busy making sure it stays organized.”

shutterstock_423608377

And therein lies the key to getting and staying organized in the summer months. Though our sleep routines will likely be off kilter, it’s worth asking the question, “How will I be able to get seven or eight hours of sleep tonight? How will I fit it in?”

Maybe you need to grab a mid-day nap or put yourself (not just the kids) to bed an hour earlier. Getting more sleep will help you make better decisions when you pack (and thus have fewer items to “buy on the fly” while traveling).

More sleep means being more alert driving on road trips; consuming less sugar or caffeine for a mid-day boost; and showing up with an overall better outlook for the day. And in the middle of summer travel or hosting guests who are visiting for a week, that couldn’t be a more welcome benefit.

All photos from Shutterstock.

Related:

  • 7 Must-Have Home Organization Tools
  • 10 Tips for Organizing an Irresistible Yard Sale
  • 5 Steps to Better Basement, Attic and Garage Storage

Originally published July 28, 2016.

Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation

You don’t need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper staycation. Look no further than your own home for a staycay dreams are made of.

Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn’t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.

Here’s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.

Tackle chores in advance

Sure, a hotel stay comes with amenities like maid and room service, but you can have a work-free staycay with a bit of planning.

Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics, like washing linens, dusting, and vacuuming.

For an added level of sparkle, schedule some time to clean your windows. That way when you’re staring out to your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycay resort spa), your windows will be as spic-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
Photo from Zillow listing.

Don’t ruin your staycay by thinking about household tasks you should be doing. Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycay, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.

Maximize your comfort

Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra comfort elements to make your home feel like a luxury B&B?

  • Adjust your lighting. Look for soft, ambient lighting options to help create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas, and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.
  • Add new rugs. Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.
  • Buy new bedding. For maximum luxury, invest in new bedding. Not only will it feel like you’re truly on a vacay somewhere else, but new sheets are an added perk after your staycation comes to a close.

Create designated spaces

Think about what kind of environment will best help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa, or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook. Just think Zen.

If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles, and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wishlist for too long.

spa-like bathtub
Photo from Offset.

Don’t forget the kiddos: Create a designated craft or board game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy during your staycay.

Look outside for added comfort ideas, too. Whether you add a hammock, porch swing, or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycay lounging with the great outdoors.

If your family members are big fans of the outdoors, set up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycay, or try out a DIY firepit and enjoy fireside chats and s’mores.

Manage meals ahead of time

Just like with tidying up your home and amplifying relaxation spaces, you’ll want to plan your meals ahead of time for a quality staycation.

Don’t waste precious relaxation time during your actual week off figuring out menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you’ll have delivered from favorite eateries, and knock out grocery shopping before your staycay begins. Bonus tip: When you do go on that grocery store run, pick up a few special snacks and treats for everyone.

If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your staycation time to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for – or bring in a local chef for a family cooking lesson.

Plan ahead to make it count

With a few well-planned tasks on your pre-staycation to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycay sanctuary. Map out what you want your staycation to be like and delegate tasks. Soon you’ll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation – without ever having to leave your home.

Top photo from Shutterstock.

Related:

  • 9 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Families
  • Set Up Your Patio for the Best Summer Ever
  • Throw an Outdoor Dinner Party With a Beachy Vibe

Originally published July 5, 2016.

The post Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

The Hidden Costs of Moving: 11 Extra Fees to Watch For

Besides shipping your household items, most moving companies offer additional services for an extra charge. But it’s not always a matter of choice. Often, the circumstances of your move will necessitate a specific service, such as carrying your belongings upstairs if you move to a building without an elevator.

Each moving company specifies the extra services it offers and sets the rates. While shopping around for movers, see which companies offer additional services that meet your needs and budget. When you receive a moving estimate, make sure it includes all the requested services, and double-check the conditions and charges before making any decisions.

Packing and unpacking

Packing is not only the most time-consuming task in the relocation process but also one of the most crucial aspects of the moving preparations. If you don’t wrap and pack your cherished possessions properly, you risk damaging them during transit.

If you can’t dedicate enough time, or if you just don’t have proper packing and padding materials, find a moving company that will pack for you. The movers will complete the task quickly and efficiently, and they’ll be liable for any damage.

For delicate pieces of art or other valuable and oddly shaped possessions, consider investing in crating – a packing service that places your items in custom-built wooden crates or cardboard boxes cut apart and form-fitted around each piece for better protection.

Unpacking services are available upon request at an additional fee, usually calculated on an hourly basis. If you want the moving company to collect the packing materials and dispose of them, you will pay a disposal fee as well.

Furniture disassembly and reassembly

Your movers can dismantle your larger furniture, but you’ll have to pay for the service. However, if you aren’t sure how to properly disassemble a valuable piece, don’t risk ruining it while trying to separate the detachable parts. Your movers will have the required equipment and knowledge to do it without damaging anything.

Once you reach your final destination, the movers can reassemble the furniture. You’ll have to pay for the service, of course, but it will allow you to jump in and start unpacking.

Handling special items

Movers are not responsible for disconnecting or connecting electrical appliances. If you want them to take your devices to their rightful places and set them up, you’ll have to pay an extra appliance servicing fee.

And many movers charge an extra fee if they need to handle extremely heavy and bulky items that require special packing and treatment, such as pianos, hot tubs, safes and pool tables.

Long carry

If the movers must park more than 50 to 75 feet from your new home’s entrance, the movers are not required to take the shipment inside unless you pay an extra fee. They will just unload the truck and leave, and you’ll have to find a way to move it all inside.

If you want the moving crew to perform this service for you, you’ll have to pay an additional long-carry fee, which is based on the distance the movers need to carry your shipment from the moving truck to the residence.

To avoid this extra fee, reserve a parking space directly in front of your new property for the delivery’s duration.

Climbing stairs

Many movers assess an additional flight charge for taking your household items up the stairs. The cost is calculated either per step or per flight of stairs.

An elevator will partially solve the problem, but movers usually charge an extra fee if they have to wait for it. So, if possible, reserve an elevator in the building for the time when your belongings will be unloaded from the truck and moved to your new place.

Lowering or hoisting (rigging)

If your furniture doesn’t fit through the doors or along narrow staircases and hallways, your movers may set up a rope-and-pulley system to take it through a window. This service comes at an additional price, and it’s only offered if the moving company has the specific equipment and skills required to perform it safely.

Exclusive use of the moving vehicle

Your household items may be loaded on the same truck with a couple of other shipments transported along the same route – especially when you’re moving across the country. Consolidating shipments helps moving companies deliver goods more efficiently and keep your final moving costs down.

However, you may have to wait longer to receive your items, and there will be no guaranteed delivery day. If you don’t want your household goods to be consolidated with other shipments, you may need to pay for the exclusive use of the moving truck.

Shuttle services

If a larger moving truck cannot access your property due to its size, the movers may use smaller vehicles to transport your items – but you’ll be charged extra for the service.

Split pickup and delivery

If your items must be picked up from several different locations, or if you need some of your belongings delivered at your final destination and others someplace else (such as a storage unit or temporary housing), you’ll have to pay an additional fee for split pickup or delivery services.

Waiting time and re-delivery

If you can’t meet the moving truck at your new property on the agreed date, the movers may charge a fee for waiting, or they may store your belongings at your expense.

Storage and warehouse handling

Storage-in-transit may be required if unexpected problems arise. The moving company will charge an extra fee, and the longer your belongings stay in storage, the more you will have to pay.

Remember that any specialty services provided by third-party companies are not included in the standard relocation services, so they’ll incur additional charges.

Additional services and their rates vary from one company to the next. Research all your options carefully, and make sure all the services you request and the charges your movers require are explicitly set in the mover’s paperwork.

All photos from Offset.

Related:

  • Picking a Moving Company: How Do Your Choices Stack Up?
  • How Much Does It Cost to Move?
  • 3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published June 12, 2015.

The post The Hidden Costs of Moving: 11 Extra Fees to Watch For appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

Picking a Moving Company: How Do Your Choices Stack Up?

By Manuella Irwin

Selecting a moving company can be overwhelming. You probably have a few friends with recommendations, and there are plenty of movers’ ads online and offline – but which company’s the best fit?

The process of choosing a mover varies slightly, depending on what kind of move you’re planning, but a few key factors are constant.

Licensed means safe

The first and most important point to investigate is the company’s legal status. Movers may claim to be licensed and insured, but unless you can confirm that, don’t take it at face value.

In-state moves

Many states have rules and regulations to monitor household goods carriers at a local level. Usually the authorities responsible for overseeing intrastate movers are the state Department of Transportation or the Public Utilities Commission. Contact the relevant authority.

Out-of-state moves

Check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that grants permits to all moving companies engaged in the interstate transportation of household goods.

The FMCSA regularly executes safety, economic and legal compliance audits to protect consumers, and the data is available as a public record. The agency’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System allows you to check whether a mover is licensed and insured, as well as their inspection results.

Overseas moves

Ensure that the ocean transportation intermediary involved in the moving process is certified by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the federal agency responsible for regulating U.S. international ocean transportation to protect U.S. consumers. Don’t even consider moving to another country without researching whether your chosen company has been approved by the FMC.

Reputation research

Once you verify a mover’s legal status, size up its reputation. Moving businesses spend a lot of money on advertising, so don’t be an easy catch – remember that ads are skillfully designed to attract you and sometimes mislead you.

Recommendations from other people who have experienced the difficulties of moving can be valuable and trustworthy. When you comb through reviews of movers, pay attention to comments about movers’ attitudes throughout the entire moving process.

Before dismissing a moving company just because someone had a bad opinion of it, note how the company tackled the problem. The customer who left the negative feedback might have been too picky. However, if there are too many bad opinions about the company, then you should steer clear of it.

When gathering information on movers, see if they’re members of moving associations or if they have other special accreditations. Involvement in moving industry groups implies that the company has adopted an innovative approach to business and keeps up with what’s happening in the industry.

A strong presence in social networks is also a good indicator that the company keeps its lines of communication open.

Added-value services

By now you should have a list of licensed and trustworthy movers. So far, so good – but don’t stop there.

Explore how crafty movers can be when it comes to disassembling furniture and electronics, packing items of extremely high value, providing custom crates to ensure safe transportation for works of art, or using a rigging system and a lift to hoist items through a window.

Can the company provide professional cleaning service after the move is over? Does it have its own storage facility? Find out what other additional services are available – and at what price.

Red flags

If the company has no physical address, scratch it off the list. Ditto if the company doesn’t provide a written estimate after a home survey.

Other red flags include asking for a large deposit in advance, giving an unrealistically low or outrageously high estimate, not providing you with the FMCSA booklet “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” or asking you to sign blank or incomplete documents.

Bottom line: The more you research your movers, the better equipped you’ll be to make a good choice.

Top image from Offset.

Related:

  • How Much Does It Cost to Move?
  • Your Essential Moving Checklist
  • Looking for a New Apartment? Here’s What You Need to Know

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published March 23, 2015.

The post Picking a Moving Company: How Do Your Choices Stack Up? appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

This Tiny Home Is Ready for Outer Space – House of the Week

Ground control to Major Tom: Here’s a home unlike any other we’ve seen.

A lifelong architect went intergalactic to find inspiration for one of his latest designs: a tiny home shaped like a lunar lander.

Nestled on the banks of the Columbia River in central Washington, the roughly 250-square-foot home is hexagon-shaped, perched roughly 9 feet above the ground on three massive steel beams.

Inside, earthlings are greeted by an open floor plan. A breakfast nook has a porthole-shaped window overlooking the river and the hillside; a kitchen with stainless steel appliances provides space to cook up a feast for an astronaut.

A large geodesic dome skylight showers the room with sunlight.

Just off the bathroom, a deep-blue sink and cerulean-colored mirror have a Mid-Century Modern feel (appropriate, considering humans first walked on the moon in 1969).

The bedroom sits down a small ladder and can comfortably sleep two people. 

Upstairs, there’s enough room for a small outdoor deck where you can gaze at area wildlife, including eagles and lynxes.

If the space reminds you of the tiny, well-intentioned living quarters of a boat, it’s no coincidence. The lunar lander’s owner and designer, Kurt Hughes, is a boat designer by trade.

He translated his three decades of boat building to home building – in fact, the wooden table in the dining nook is recycled from the Hughes’ first sailboat.

Beam us up, Scotty.

Photos by Zillow’s Marcus Ricci.

Related:

  • Here’s the Wackiest Tiny Home You’ve Ever Seen
  • This Hobbit House Will Have You Dreaming of Middle-Earth
  • You’ll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home – House of the Week

The post This Tiny Home Is Ready for Outer Space – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

Sleek Prefab Meets Rustic Red Barn – House of the Week

At first glance, the home at 5 S Ellsworth Rd in Sharon, CT, looks a little like an industrial shipping container. But inspired by barns and sheds, the architect designed a surprisingly warm, friendly space that’s flooded with natural light.

Thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, the 2,100-square-foot home also shows off beautiful views of the 8-acre property.

Constructed in 2005, the main living space of the home feels part Don Draper and part Joanna Gaines, mixing Mid-Century Modern style – clean lines, stark white paint, open floor plan and period furniture – with a rustic fireplace, wide-plank flooring and marine-grade plywood walls.

Gallery and top featured image by Ren Nickson.

The kitchen is ultramodern and bright, with new stainless steel appliances and plenty of prep space, including a center island. Both the interior and exterior are bold and original, so it’s no wonder it caught the attention of Dwell magazine.

The property also has a 600-square-foot guest apartment, located above the garage directly across from the main house. It includes a sleeping alcove, kitchen, bathroom, living room, laundry, fireplace and  balcony.

The home is currently listed for $650,000 by William Pitt Julia B Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

Related:

  • Sleep Under the Stars in a Bubble Home – House of the Week
  • Haylofts to Hardwoods: How One Family Salvaged a Historic Barn By Hand
  • Putting a Modern Home on the Map in the Wilds of Wyoming

The post Sleek Prefab Meets Rustic Red Barn – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

Sleep Under the Stars in a Bubble Home – House of the Week

Why live on the bubble when you can experience life inside it?

It’s an appropriate question to ponder while gazing at the forest from inside this unusual dome home in upstate New York.

Made to maximize views while maintaining partial privacy, this geodesic bubble tent is equal parts glamping destination and fishbowl. It’s the perfect place to observe nature without fully immersing yourself in it.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

Tucked away on a farm in Woodbridge, NY, the dome is surrounded by a thicket of trees and sits just feet away from a greenhouse, a vegetable garden and a pond.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

Ample windows offer views of the natural environment, and screened-in panels allow airflow but deter mosquitoes in the summertime.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

Still looking to bask in nature? Two outdoor showers and a clawfoot tub allow you to scrub and soak near the sugar maples.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

An open-air kitchen and grill offer up the chance to dine alfresco.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

The home is currently available as a short-term rental in the Catskill Mountains, roughly 95 miles from the heart of Manhattan.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

Bonus: Guests can interact with animals on the property (hello, goats!) and enjoy a recording studio, hiking trails or a weekly yoga class.

Copyright 2018 Leon Cato Photography.

Top featured image by George Apostolidis (portfolio, Instagram). 

Related:

  • 10 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure
  • Explore a Tiny, Tropical Treehouse in Hawaii
  • A Dome Built By Hand – House of the Week

The post Sleep Under the Stars in a Bubble Home – House of the Week appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Landscaping

Whether you’re dealing with California droughts, Midwest heat waves or Deep South downpours, summer can be a tricky time to garden. Here’s what you need to know before leaving air-conditioned comforts for a steamy backyard jungle.

DON’T: Plant cool-season vegetables

Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to attempt veggies like peas, lettuce, carrots and radishes in summer. They will quickly bolt in the heat, meaning they’ll devote their energy to blooming and producing seeds, making the edible parts bitter.

DO: Plant hot-season vegetables

Take advantage of summer’s sunshine by planting these heat-loving edibles:

  • Okra
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chili peppers
  • Cowpeas
  • Yardlong beans
  • Eggplant

Drought-tolerant okra produces prolific pods all summer long, and sweet potatoes make an excellent temporary ground cover, shading out weeds until the arrival of cold weather and harvest time.

DON’T: Water unless necessary

It’s tempting to set the sprinklers on a timer, kick up your feet and consider it handled. But you don’t want to run sprinklers in a rainstorm, so water plants only when they’re newly planted or wilting and/or dropping leaves.

DO: Use drought-tolerant plants

Drought-tolerant plants are all the rage, and not just because they conserve water. Grow drought-tolerant plants because they’re low-maintenance and because you’re an average person with – you know – a life.

That said, drought-tolerant does not mean you can plant it and forget it. Keep the soil moist until the plant takes off on its own.

DON’T: Turn your back on the garden

Because in summer, things can change in a heartbeat. Plants can succumb to pests, drought, wet soil or rot in a matter of days. Pay attention to weather forecasts, and watch for struggling plants.

Use those pruners on any bullies that seem to be taking over less vigorous plants. When in doubt, rip it out.

DO: Water deeply

Water like you really mean it, with a deep soak so that the water penetrates the soil without running off or evaporating in the summer heat. Watering deeply will also encourage deeper root growth, which helps plants (especially shrubs and trees) stay healthier and more drought-tolerant in the long run.

Water in the root zone with a garden nozzle, a soaker hose, or just a hose and a full stream of water.

DON’T: Scalp your lawn

If you plan on turning your summer lawn into a putting green and you mow your lawn close, you’ll be sorely disappointed by the results. (Unless you’re willing to settle for a putting brown, that is.) Shortcuts mean less drought-tolerance, patchier growth, more weeds and shallow roots. When in doubt, cut high.

DO: Fertilize warm-season grasses

Give your lawn a pick-me-up to cope with the summer heat. Your local garden center should have a good selection of fertilizers to suit your region and/or lawn type. Fertilize according to label instructions, using a broadcast spreader, handheld spreader or drop spreader for even coverage. Generally speaking, don’t feed on a hot day with temps above 90 degrees.

DON’T: Water in the afternoon

While it’s a myth that water droplets can magnify sunlight and burn the plants, watering in the hottest part of the day is still useless. Water quickly evaporates in summer, and many plants will go semi-dormant. Water in the early morning so the plants’ roots have a chance to absorb moisture.

DON’T: Let weeds go to seed

Procrastinate all you want, but pull those weeds before they have a chance to bloom and go to seed, spreading their progeny all over your garden. Don’t settle for hand-pulling everything either. Use a hoe or cultivator for new weeds in loose soil, or a heavy-duty weeding tool, like a hori-hori knife, hook or mattock for tough, established weeds.

DO: Plant tropical bulbs

Much of your garden will slow down in the heat of summer, but tropical bulbs such as caladiums, elephant ears, cannas and gingers will only grow faster. Create a lush and jungly understory beneath shady trees by planting en masse, or use sparsely for architectural interest in container combos and flower beds.

Photos from Shutterstock and Offset.

Related:

  • Can Houseplants Really Clean the Air?
  • Landscaping a New Construction Home
  • Good to Grow: Creating a Custom Gardening Workspace

Originally published June 16, 2016.

The post Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Landscaping appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.

10 Light, Bright and Beautiful Rentals

Everyone has a different list of must-haves for their new apartment: hardwood floors, an updated kitchen, or maybe a short walk to the train. One thing most renters can agree on is having ample natural light throughout.

Whether you live in a busy city center, out near the mountains, or in the middle of the plains, a room with a view and some natural light can make any space look spectacular.

Check out these 10 light, bright and beautiful rentals to inspire your next apartment search.

Natural sunlight with big city views

Take in the expansive city skyline and soak up some sun (at least in the summer months) in this Loop neighborhood apartment in Chicago.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Chicago rentals.

Plenty of light in a winter haven apartment

Minnesota may not be exactly known for its sunshine, but you’ll feel like it’s spring all year-round in this Minneapolis apartment’s sun-soaked living space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Minneapolis rentals.

Sunshine and cityscapes right outside your bedroom

The views and the natural light don’t get much better than this Atlanta apartment bedroom, where you can see the city skyline right from your bed.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Atlanta rentals.

Streaming sunlight in the mile-high city

This Denver apartment living room has great views of the city and is flooded with sunlight (for nearly 300 days per year in Denver!).

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Denver rentals.

Light, tranquil mountain views

This Orem, Utah apartment living room offers up an abundance of natural light as well as stunning views of the nearby mountains.  

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Orem rentals.

Light-filled kitchen right on the water

You’ll be more than inspired to create chef-worthy dishes in this light-filled Seattle apartment kitchen, which just happens to have spectacular views of Puget Sound.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Seattle rentals.

Bask in sunshine in the Big Easy

Louisiana weather can change on a dime, but you can easily soak up the sunshine when it appears in this downtown New Orleans apartment bedroom.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more New Orleans rentals.

Oceanside sunlight views

This Pacific-side living room in Santa Barbara has streaming sunlight as well as gorgeous views of the ocean.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Santa Barbara rentals.

A living room flooded with light

Golden sunlight fills this Kansas City apartment living room, providing a tranquil escape from the bustling downtown.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Kansas City rentals.

Surging sunlight in the living area

You can almost forget the freezing Pennsylvania temps when you see the sunlight bursting into this Philadelphia apartment living area.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more Philadelphia rentals.

Related:

  • Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental
  • Looking for a New Apartment? Here’s What You Need to Know
  • 6 Ways to Score a Lease in a Competitive Rental Market

 

The post 10 Light, Bright and Beautiful Rentals appeared first on Zillow Porchlight.