Donna Maicher
HomeMy ListingsView Area Listings•  Foreclosures•  Short SalesInside ToursMortgage InfoCommunity InfoSchool InfoAbout MeContactLoginHelpful LinksBlog
RE/MAX 440   Donna Maicher
101 Quakertown Ave.  Pennsburg, PA  18073
Office Phone: 215-679-9797    Phone: 215-679-9797  Fax: 267-354-6869  Cell: 267-249-6850
donnamaicher@comcast.net

My Blog

Tree Mulching Best Done in Fall

September 16, 2015 2:07 am

Tree owners often feel compelled to spray, prune or apply something to their trees and landscape plants on a regular basis. But, unless there is a specific reason, the best thing to do to keep your trees healthy is apply a layer of composted mulch.

“Fall is a great time to be out in the yard spreading shovels full of composted wood-chip mulch under your trees,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Trees with mulched root zones are usually larger, more vigorous, develop faster and have higher rates of survival than plants surrounded by turf grass or bare dirt. Mulches retain soil moisture and reduce erosion and soil compaction.”

Mulched trees also have fewer weeds, which reduces the need for the roots to compete for limited resources. The soil under the mulch also likely stays warmer longer into the winter and also warms faster in the spring, helping extend the growing season for plants. Organic mulches are a favorite among professional arborists. Other organic mulches include bark chips, ground bark, composted lawn clippings, leaves and straw. These mulches are high in cellulose and low in nitrogen, and should be free of weed seeds.

How Wide is Wide?
A good mulch bed should extend out at least three feet from a tree’s trunk in all directions, though extending out to the dripline is preferred. This is where the fine, absorbing tree roots extend out into the soil. Keep organic mulches several inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and diseases.

How Deep is Deep?
The mulch bed depth should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches. If there is grass in the area that needs to be mulched, put a five-page layer of newspaper over the grass, get it wet, then add mulch on top. This will help keep the grass from growing up through the mulch. For poor soils, use well-composted mulch to build up the nutrients. Soils that are healthy will do fine with a highly stable softwood bark (such as cypress bark), which doesn’t break down as easily.

The biggest no-no when mulching is to create a “mulch volcano” that is piled high around the base of the tree. This practice traps moisture around the tree trunk and root flare leading to decay and, eventually, structural failure. Avoid fine mulch – thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and prevent the penetration of water and air. Low oxygen levels (from packed-down mulch) creates a toxic “sour” mulch – which may give off pungent odors, and even worse, the compounds produced (methanol and acetic acid) can kill young plants.

While mulch does decompose, you do not want to accumulate excessive mulch year after year by adding fresh mulch every spring. If you want the look of fresh mulch, break up the old with a rake, and only add a layer of new on top if there is less than 4 inches in depth.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Why Wood Is Good for Custom Builds

September 15, 2015 2:01 am

Because wood construction consumes much less energy than concrete or steel, using wood when building a home can reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly, according to The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative (TheMostNaturalResource.com). "Wood construction is incredibly fast and effective, with the added benefit of producing a building that stores carbon rather than emitting it," says architect Michael Green.

As timber grows, it soaks up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and that carbon is stored in wood products. This creates a carbon sink that helps mitigate climate change. About half of the dry weight of wood is stored carbon. In contrast, 16 percent of global fossil fuel consumption goes into manufacturing steel, concrete and bricks.

Wood's strength-to-weight ratio is comparable to concrete and steel. Engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (glulam) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) make it possible to build taller wood structures. These mass timber construction materials are highly fire-resistant and cost-effective. Prefabricated CLT panels can also be installed quickly, speeding up construction time.

“As global demand for wood continues to increase with population, we need to be sourcing our timber from sustainably managed forests," says Thomas Maness, dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Source: The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

10 Storm Prep Tips to Keep Your Property Safe

September 15, 2015 2:01 am

When severe weather is imminent, homeowners should take every precaution to ensure their properties remain free of damage. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), there are several steps homeowners can take, including:

1. Secure any parts of a fence that appear weakened or loose.

2. Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.

3. When a storm is approaching, move lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, garden tools and other yard objects inside. Anchor heavier yard objects deep into the ground.

4. If you have shutters, closely monitor local weather conditions and make sure you have enough time to deploy them if high winds are predicted to hit your area.

5. Check doors, windows and walls for openings where water can get in. Use silicone caulk to seal any cracks, gaps or holes, especially around openings where cables or pipes enter the house.

6. Place all appliances that are on the ground floor, including stoves, washers and dryers, on masonry blocks or concrete.

7. Move furniture and electronic devices off the floor, particularly in basements and on the first floor level.

8. Roll up area rugs and get them off the floor to reduce the chance they will become wet and grow mold or mildew. This is particularly important if the property will be left unattended for an extended period of time, and if long-term power outages are a possibility.

9. Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh.

10. Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets could possibly be under water.

Source: IBHS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

5 Design Tricks to Revamp Your Home

September 15, 2015 2:01 am

(BPT) – Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to spend a fortune or go to design school to revamp your home. "It's all about simplicity," says Susan Yoder, interior design expert for builder Clayton Homes. "A little goes a long way when it comes to home décor and living spaces. Only a few simple changes can make a big difference and allow you to create a room you'll be itching to show off to friends and family."

To breathe new life into your space, Yoder recommends these tips.

1. Pops of Color. "Nothing livens up a room like a bright pop of color," Yoder says. If you have neutral-toned furniture, add lamps, curtains and accessories in bold hues. If you're up for a painting challenge, an accent wall is a great way to incorporate color into a space. Choose your favorite color from a throw pillow or wall art piece in the room to pull the look together.

2. Varying Textures. A room tends to get boring when it focuses on only one texture, so it's important to create a sense of balance. Try varying the fabric types on your sofa and curtains. Add in some metal or wooden accents to draw the eye around the room. You can even play with lighting to reflect off certain objects and create visual interest.

3. Antique Feature. Choose an antique or unique piece of décor to be the inspiration for the room. This could be a rug, lamp, chair or even a chandelier - anything that gets you energized and motivated. Get creative and run with the theme it creates. Or if your style is more modern, an antique object will stand out among your contemporary décor.

4. Symmetrical yet Functional. The furniture collection in a room should form a restful, symmetrical layout. It's all about balance. There should be between three and 10 feet between each seat. Additionally, instead of pushing each piece up against the wall to create more space, give your furniture a bit of breathing room a few inches from the wall. This makes the room appear open and airy.

5. Clutter-free Organization.
Getting rid of clutter is a grand challenge for most homeowners. When you decide to take on the mess, drawers and cabinets are your best friends. Take some time to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Store any leftover items that can cause clutter in an organized, out-of-sight area.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

The 3 P's of Car Care

September 14, 2015 1:58 am

Maintenance is crucial to your vehicle’s longevity. Whether you’re new to car ownership or a seasoned pro, stick to the three P’s of automotive care, says Rich White, executive director of the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms. Being car care aware and taking proactive steps in advance will help ensure that your vehicle is in proper working order so you will be better prepared if you encounter a problem while on the road,” says White.

The three P’s are:

1. Preventative
– Reduce the chance of unplanned, costly car trouble by following a vehicle service schedule and performing routine maintenance. Motorists can consult the Car Care Council for a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.

2. Proactive – If you find your vehicle needs repairs, be sure to address them in a timely manner to avoid more extensive work down the road. Before traveling longer distances, perform a pre-trip inspection before your journey begins so you have an opportunity to have any repairs made by a trusted technician.

3. Prepared – Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case an unexpected situation arises. The kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets. Be sure your cellphone is fully charged as well.

Source: Car Care Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Watch Your Back: Leaf and Snow Removal Tips

September 14, 2015 1:58 am

(Family Features) Come fall and winter, a bad back (or the fear of throwing out a perfectly good one) can be a hindrance when removing leaves or snow from your property. To keep yourself – and your yard – in peak form, the experts at John Deere recommend using outdoor equipment that is ergonomic, or less taxing on the muscles and joints.

When shopping for an ergonomic rake or shovel, look for models with a secure grip and a height that is comfortable – but bear in mind that the longer the handle, the more energy you’ll need when hefting a load of snow.

When it’s time to rake and bag leaves, consider mulching with your mower to alleviate strain on the back. Be sure to mulch leaves only when they are dry, as mulching wet or damp leaves can cause build up or clumping under the deck of your power equipment.

When it’s time to remove snow, use a riding mower that is compatible with a front blade attachment to push snow out of the way, or a snow blower that is more powerful than the standard single-stage, walk-behind throwers.

Additionally, there are myriad options available for lawn care services, many of which carry over into winter for snow removal. Keep in mind that you may pay a premium for an initial visit, but rates are generally lower when you commit to an ongoing maintenance plan.

Source: John Deere

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Poll: Americans Embracing the Smart Home

September 14, 2015 1:58 am

According to a recent report by The Harris Poll®, over three-quarters of Americans (78 percent) expect newly built homes to include smart home technology within the next five years - and 60 percent believe household devices that can connect to the Internet are good for homeowners, in part because they can save money, keep their family safe and protect their property from theft and vandalism.

Per the poll, the most popular devices currently owned are wireless speaker systems (17 percent) and smart/wireless home security and monitoring systems (9 percent).

For future purchases, Americans would consider the following devices, pending certain “tipping points” like price and potential “bugs in the technology”:

• Smart Thermostats (40 percent)
• Smart Lighting (37 percent)
• Wireless Speaker Systems (35 percent)
• Smart/Wireless Home Security and Monitoring Systems (35 percent)

Interestingly, many Americans have difficulty reconciling the umbrella term “smart home technology” with specific “smart” products, according to the poll. In fact, just 7 percent of Americans say they’ve adopted “smart home technology,” but nearly five times as many (34 percent) say they have at least one smart product in their home, suggesting a disconnect among retailers and consumers.

Still, over half of Americans (51 percent) say smart home technology will improve their quality of life within the next five years, and 43 percent say it will have a big impact on how they manage their home within the next five years.

Source: The Harris Poll®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Credit Scoring Lost on Majority of Americans

September 11, 2015 1:52 am

According to a recent report by Bankrate.com, approximately four in five Americans (77 percent) do not know that accounts with high outstanding balances can hurt their credit scores, even if they pay bills on time. Nearly the same percentage is unaware that closing an account lowers their credit scores.

“There’s a lot of confusion around credit scores,” says Jeanine Skowronski, Bankrate.com’s credit card analyst. “Three simple rules to follow are pay your bills on time, keep your balances low and build a diverse portfolio of long-term credit accounts.”

The most expensive misconception, Bankrate.com found, is the notion that Americans must carry a credit card balance in order to improve their credit score. Not so—the average credit card interest rate is 15 percent, so someone carrying a balance under the (false) impression that it will help his or her credit score could be throwing away hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

Additionally, 37 percent of Americans did not know that making a payment more than 30 days late can result in a negative account on their credit report, even if the bill is later paid in full.

Zeroing in on millennials, more than half do not know that having a short credit history can potentially delay major life milestones, such as buying a home.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

Fixed Mortgage Rates Unchanged

September 11, 2015 1:52 am

As a result of mixed economic signals, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) remains largely unchanged at 3.90 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year FRM stands at 3.10 percent.

“Following a shortened week, mortgage rates were virtually unchanged, inching up 1 basis point to 3.90 percent,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “The employment report released last Friday provided mixed signals, adding one more note of uncertainty prior to the Fed’s September meeting.”

According to the survey, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.91 percent with an average 0.5 point. The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.63 percent this week with an average 0.3 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

A Pre- and Post-Hurricane Checklist for Homeowners

September 11, 2015 1:52 am

With hurricane season underway, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross encourage homeowners to follow this pre- and post-storm checklist to weather any hurricane-related emergencies.

In advance of hurricane season:

• Build an emergency kit
• Make a family communications plan
• Know your surroundings and whether your property is flood-prone
• Identify levees and dams in your area
• Figure out at least two evacuation routes

To secure your property:

• Cover the windows in your home (and keep in mind that tape will not prevent a window from breaking)
• Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten roof to frame structure
• Trim trees and shrubs around your home to make them more wind resistant
• Clean rain gutters
• Reinforce garage doors (if any)
• Bring in outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything not tied down
• Secure your boat (if you have one)

Before a hurricane hits:


• Charge your phone and other portable electronic devices
• Fill bathtub(s) and other large containers with water
• Buy a 3-5 day supply of drinking water
• Buy non-perishable food
• Have battery-powered flashlights on-hand

During a hurricane:


• Listen to the radio or television for current information
• Turn off utilities, if instructed to do so; if not, set refrigerator thermostat to coldest setting and keep refrigerator door closed
• Turn off propane tanks
• Avoid using phone, unless an emergency (and be sure you’ve fully charged all electronic devices in the event of a power outage)

After a hurricane:


• Listen to the radio or television for current information
• Drive only if necessary
• Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges
• Stay off streets, but if you must go out, be aware of fallen objects and downed electrical wires
• Notify power company of any loose, dangling, or downed electrical wires
• Inspect the outside of your home for damage and loose power lines and gas leaks

Source: U.S. Federal Contractor Registration

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:
FacebookLinkedin
<br />
<object allowNetworking="all" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" id="" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=7,0,0,0" width="250" height="318" align="middle" data="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw">
<param name="movie" value="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw" />
<param name="flashvars" value="param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&memberId=thespringbox" />
<param name="quality" value="high" />
<param name="wmode" value="transparent" />
<param name="allowNetworking" value="all" />
<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" />
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
<param name="bgColor" value="0x000000" /><embed bgColor="0x000000" allowNetworking="all" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" src="http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=RSS Reader.sbw" flashvars="param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&memberId=thespringbox" quality="high" wmode="transparent" width="250" height="318" align="middle" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" /></object>
<div style="font:11px/12px arial;width:250px;margin-top:2px;"><a href="http://www.springwidgets.com/widgetize/23/?param=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2FRismedia&param_style_borderColor=000000&param_style_brandUrl=&width=250&height=318" target="_blank">Get this widget!</a></div>
<p>