Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley - CENTURY 21 Cobb Real Estate

Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 12/24/2017

There are few things more frustrating than finding out that the plants you’ve been tending to all summer have been overrun with insects and aren’t producing any fruit. Perhaps even worse is when you find a trail leading into your pantry where your food has been compromised by a tiny army of ants.

Keeping the pests out of your home and garden is a difficult task made even harder if you want to do it without using harsh chemicals and pesticides. However, there are ways you can effectively keep your food safe. In this article, we’ll show you how.

Protecting your garden from pests

The most important tool you have at your disposal when it comes to protecting your lawn, flowers, and garden from pests is your own vigilance.

In the garden, take note of the condition of your plants’ leaves. Look on the underside of them for small, yellow or brown dots. These are often insect eggs that will soon hatch and result in your plants being devoured before they can produce crops.

As a last-ditch effort to keep the bugs away, you can try spraying your plants with a homemade insecticidal soap spray. These sprays are usually 95% water and then a small amount of  pure castile soap or vinegar. Be sure not to use too much or this can harm your plants or soil.

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or in the country, there are likely to be some furry creatures who see your garden as a food source. One way to keep many away is by framing the garden with a simple metal wire fence.

If it’s flowers you’re worried about, try planting them in mulch and keeping the leaves dry when possible. This will avoid excess moisture which can cause plant-killing diseases. Using a watering can rather than a hose will help you target the base of the plant and keep the leaves dry.

Keeping the bugs outside

Regardless out whether your home is old or new, you’ll likely someday find yourself with an insect problem. Some are lured in by warmth in the cold seasons, others are seeking a food source.

Let’s begin on the exterior of your home. Check for cracks in your foundation and along doors and windows and seal these cracks up. Next, if there’s a space under your door, install an aluminum door threshold if there is a gap between your door and the floor. While you’re there, make sure the weather stripping on your door is in good condition.

Next, make sure all of the screens in your doors, windows, and other ventilation areas are in good condition. Even the tiniest tear can be enough to let in flies and other insects. 

The final step in keeping the bugs out of your home is to remove what’s luring them there in the first place. Store your food in airtight storage containers within your cabinets. Not only will this keep bugs away, but it can also make organizing food easier, especially things you might not use often, like flour or a large bag of sugar.

Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 1/5/2014

It seems everyone has an opinion on the best way to wash hardwood floors. Some say soap and water, others polish, or wax. It can all be very confusing. These tips will help you have your hardwoods happily gleaming in no time. In order to know how to clean your floors you will first need to determine the finish. In other words, you will need to know how your wood floor is sealed. It is the finish, not the wood type that determines how you clean and care for the floor. Surface-sealed floors: If your hardwoods are newer they are most likely sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic. These floors are the easiest to clean. All they need is a sweep, a quick mop and just like that you are done! Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors: Another type of common hardwood floor is a penetrating seal or oil finish. These soak into the wood grain and harden. This type of floor can be difficult to maintain, these floors must be be protected with liquid or paste wax. Lacquered, varnished, shellacked and untreated floors: Another fussy floor to deal with, these floors need to be protected with liquid or paste wax. They are not as resistant to moisture, spills and wear and tear. If you don't know what kind of finish you have rub your finger across the floor. If no smudge appears, the floor is surface sealed. If you do create a smudge, the floor has been treated with a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish or lacquer, and then waxed.

Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 5/20/2012

White distilled vinegar is effective for killing most mold, bacteria and germs due to it's high level of acidity. Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid that is made from the fermentation of sugars and starches. White vinegar has so many different uses in the home; it is considered the “miracle cleaner”. It is pocketbook friendly, all natural, safe for pets and nontoxic. Why would you use anything else? It is a good idea to purchase two empty spray bottles, keep one full with pure white vinegar and the other with half water and half vinegar. This just makes it easier to dispense and have on hand at all times. A person can work wonders cleaning their home naturally just armed with vinegar and water. There are so many different uses for white vinegar in your home. Here are just a few ideas. Vinegar mixed with water is an excellent cleaner for all kitchen surfaces like counter tops, refrigerators and stove tops. To shine chrome fixtures simply make a paste of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white vinegar. To clean wooden cutting boards simply just wipe with vinegar. Clean refrigerator shelves with a solution of ½ white vinegar and water. Did you know that soaking fruit and vegetables in 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water can remove up to 98% bacteria? Soak fruit and vegetables for at least 10 minutes then rinse to get best results. Vinegar is also useful in the laundry. To decrease lint in laundry add ½ cup straight white vinegar to rinse cycle. To make your bright’s brighter add ½ cup vinegar to the rinse cycle. If you have pets white vinegar is a good solution to have in house. If your dog has the mishap of getting sprayed by a skunk, use dilution of vinegar and water, rub dog’s fur then rinse with warm water. Repeat a couple times. To keep dogs from scratching their ears rub them with a cloth diluted with vinegar and water. Vinegar is so versatile in the home. You do not have to worry about the vinegar smell remaining after you use it because the smell dissipates after it dries. So, for people who believe in living green and healthy, white vinegar is a must have in the pantry closet.

Posted by Kriss Stevens & Scott Manley on 3/18/2012

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.