Celebrating Earth Day at Home

This year’s Earth Day will certainly look different than in years past. With no large gatherings, marches or events, most of us find ourselves celebrating from home. Fortunately, when it comes to reducing your footprint or assessing the eco-friendliness of your lifestyle, your living space is a great place to start. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day from home.

 

Outside the house:

The combination of spring weather and current shelter and stay-at-home orders have created a gardening renaissance. With April being gardening month and the amount of time we find ourselves spending at home these days, now is the perfect time to start (or get back to) your garden.

 

  • Kick up your composting efforts or build out a composting area in your garden.
  • Get started with a nature DIY project, like a garden shed or planter boxes.
  • Make your garden your own escape. This is more important now than ever, for your health and the health of your household.

 

Around the house:

 

  • Perform a plastic audit of your home.
    • Take count of the plastic items used in your kitchen and bathroom and rethink their necessity.
  • Get in the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room.
    • Little by little this can add up and is an easy green practice for Earth Day and beyond.
  • Turn off the faucet when you aren’t using it.
  • Unplug your appliances after using them.
    • They still use energy even when they aren’t turned on.
  • Turning off phones, tablets, and computers at night will save energy.
  • Use cold water to wash your laundry.
    • This sidesteps any of the energy your machine uses to heat water—which is a large percentage of their energy output.
  • Add plants.
    • This has a myriad of benefits for both your health and your wallet.
    • Plants are known to reduce stress and regulate temperature, which saves on the energy required to heat and cool your house.

 

By doing these little things around the house you can maximize your Earth Day impact and get an idea of how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle as time goes on.

 

Educate:

Earth Day carries educational significance as well. Learning more about our planet and how we can do our part in its health moving forward is an important aspect of the holiday.

 

  • Though you may not be able to attend a lecture in person, there are a bevy of virtual options to participate in Earth Day learning and planetary education. Discuss with your family what actions you can take to make a difference in your household.
  • Add a nature documentary or series to your watchlist.
  • Travel from home with virtual tours of national parks and natural wonders.
  • Try some new cookbooks. For Earth Day-centric food ideas, look for cookbooks with plant-based recipes.

 

Homeowners everywhere have established an evolved relationship with their homes in recent weeks. Spending time thinking about the footprint of your household and how it allows you to make eco-friendly choices is a worthy investment for Earth Day and beyond.

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5 Small Things You Can Do to Improve Your Home Office

 

Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us now find ourselves working from home. While it’s hard to complain about the commute, working from home can be an adjustment. For example, you may find yourself doing tasks around the house and suddenly you’ve missed several important emails. If you feel like you need some help being more productive while working from home, here are five tips to improve your workflow.

 

Add Light

The best kind of light is natural light. Try setting up your workspace by a window. If that’s not possible, add a desk lamp or floor lamp to brighten your space. Not only will it help with visibility; it brightens your mood, which helps you to be more productive.

 

Declutter

Remove distracting clutter. Take everything off your desk that you don’t need. Store it elsewhere or use shelves on your wall to display it.

If you find yourself cleaning throughout the day, set aside time specifically for these tasks. If you’re still waking up at the same time you did when working at the office—which studies show is a great strategy when working from home—using your would-be commute time to tidy up helps avoid those periodic distractions.

 

Bring the Outdoors In

Bringing plants into your home is beneficial for productivity and health alike. Greenery is a natural mood booster and gives life to a room. Plants naturally purify the air, helping you breathe easy as you make your way through the workday. Try arranging both hanging and potted plants to improve the mood around your workspace.

 

Change Your Chair 

A chair that’s too tall, too short, or not comfortable is a fast track to back and shoulder problems that inhibit your workday and linger afterwards. Being in a stationary position for hours at a time requires the right kind of support to stay productive. Features to look for in a quality office chair include proper lumbar support, sturdy wheels, and an adjustable base that allows your shoulders to relax and your feet to rest flat on the floor.

 

Add Decor

It’s important to keep your home office professional and dedicated to your work. However, adding personal touches to the space will help you feel at ease. Position your work computer and phone front and center with any related work tools close by and handy. Adding pictures of loved ones, artwork, and inspirational quotes will help inspire you to generate ideas while working productively.

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Spatially Limited Gardening: The Indoors is the New Outdoors

DecorativeFlower2

It is the official start to the gardening season! For those who have large outdoor spaces, it is the perfect time of year to make a trip to the home and garden store, work in your gardens,  and plant new growth. For those who live in smaller city quarters and whose outdoor space comfortably holds little more than a potted plant, we are forced to be more creative with our green space.

Decorative plants and nurturing vegetation is something that makes my house a home, even if small city living quarters has forced us to learn to take the outdoors- in and work with what space we have. Indoor plants, flowers, and gardens are a pleasing alternative when you do not have the space or the desire to be outdoors. Adding some green to your home can be decorative, fragrant, and even edible.  Planting and nurturing your growth is a fun do-it-yourself project that can be a whole household activity.

Where to start

How will you grow and what supplies will you need? First decide on your method of growing.

Traditional Potted Plants are a great starting point for the non-gardening types. Potting plants is relatively simple, cost efficient, and spatially low maintenance. Check out these ideas for potting and planting in small spaces.

Vertical Gardens break away from the customary terracotta pot. They are both modern and space saving. In a vertical garden you are able to grow a variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. They can be practical and decorative inside or out. Learn more about creating your own vertical garden here.

Hydroponic Systems are a soil-free gardening solution that can involve little to no pesticide use. Green Tree’s Hydroponics reports that the growth rate of a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than that of a soil plant. Here’s what it takes to build your own, however you can also purchase hydroponic systems online.

Terrariums are “making a comeback” according to the New York TimesTerrariums can be uniquely ornamental and perfect for tight spaces that need a hint of green. Check out some samples and get design ideas here.

What growing methods have worked well for you?

What to grow?

That are good to eat …

Herbs: growing edible items can be very rewarding. Herbs are my go-to item to grow inside because they are low maintenance and take up little space. I prefer to pot basil, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, and oregano.

Grasses, like wheat grass, are becoming popular to grow indoors and decorate your home with.

Fruits and vegetables tend to take up more space and are more demanding. However tomatoes, peppers, radishes, leaf lettuce, potatoes, and carrots are a few fruits/vegetables that will grow well indoors.

That are good to look at …

 

Several flowers and house plants will flourish and bloom indoors. I enjoy the fragrance of Gardenia and the appeal of a Boston Fern in a hanging basket. However, using a plant encyclopedia will help you find which plant is right for you and your home.

What do you prefer to grow?

Making it look good?

The great part about bringing your garden inside is that it lets you use vegetation as a decoration. Whether you prefer to arrange flowersstring kokedama, or paint a fun plant pot, your vegetation and the way you display it can have an impact to your overall décor. How do you decorate with your vegetation?

Brittany Lockwood works in Marketing at Windermere Real Estate. She is the in-house expert on weatherizing, yard-sales, and interior design.

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Keep Herbs Alive and Well in Winter With These 5 Tactics

Temperatures may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean we have to bid farewell to our herb gardens. Cold-hardy herbs, such as chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme, can often survive cold-winter temperatures while continuing to produce flavorful foliage, as long as they are provided with some protection or grown indoors. Even herbs like rosemary that are more cold-sensitive can survive winter using additional methods of protection. Let’s explore different ways we can prolong the herb harvest and enjoy the fresh taste of our favorite herbs throughout the cold of winter.

 

Herbs 1Bachman’s Landscape Design – Tom Haugo, original photo on Houzz

 

Herbs 2Home & Garden Design, Atlanta – Danna Cain, ASLA, original photo on Houzz

A glass cloche protects plants in the center of this raised bed in Atlanta.

 

1. Protect herbs from the cold by placing them in a cold frame or cloche. Covering herbs helps trap the heat that rises from the soil, elevating the temperature inside by several degrees. This can extend the growing season in both fall and spring.

Cold frames are topped with glass panes that slope downward and are situated so they face south. This ensures that the most sunlight will reach the plants inside, creating an environment that is several degrees warmer than outside.

Cloches are a smaller and more portable way to protect plants from the cold. Traditional ones are bell-shaped and made from glass. They can be expensive, but you can make your own by cutting off the bottom of a 1-gallon plastic milk jug or other large plastic container. Place each one over individual herb plants and nestle the bottom inch or two of the cloche into the soil to anchor it.

 

Herbs 3The Room Illuminated, original photo on Houzz

 

2. Add a thick layer of coarse mulch over herbs. Many herbs can grow through the winter under the insulation provided from straw, shredded bark or other coarse mulch. In areas that experience moderate-winter cold, USDA Zone 6 and warmer, herbs will continue to produce some new growth despite some winter cold. Simply pull back the mulch and cut the herbs you need, then cover them back up. While they won’t produce as much new growth as they do in the warm season, you should be able to obtain a small harvest. Don’t worry if a layer of snow falls, as it will provide additional insulation for the herbs below. Once spring arrives, you can turn the mulch into the soil.

 

3. Pot up herbs and move them into a frost-free greenhouse or sun porch. If you’re growing herbs in the ground, you can transfer them to pots and move them to a protected spot. Select the herbs you want to keep growing over winter, such as chives, oregano, sage and thyme. Cut them back to 1 inch tall and, using a sharp shovel, divide them at their base, making sure to include the roots so each one will fit into the container. Use well-draining planting mix in the containers and plant each herb in a separate pot. They will grow back and you’ll be able to harvest their flavorful leaves until you transplant them back into the garden once spring arrives.

 

Related: Move Herbs to a Sunroom for Full Sun

 

Herbs 4J M Interiors, original photo on Houzz

 

4. Grow herbs in front of a sunny window. Herbs can be grown from seed or cuttings and make a great addition to a sunny kitchen window that gets at least six hours of sunlight. If using artificial lighting, 14 hours is usually sufficient. The temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 and 21.1 degrees Celsius, for best results. You can transplant herbs from the garden or begin from scratch by sowing seed.

The rewards of growing herbs indoors throughout the winter are great when the fresh flavor of summer is within arm’s reach. Chives, oregano, parsley and thyme are just a few of the easiest herbs to grow on a sunny windowsill. Use a well-draining planting mix in your container. Water deeply when the top inch of soil is almost completely dry.

 

Herbs 5Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting, original photo on Houzz

 

5. Extend the life of fresh herbs by putting them in water. Herbs such as basil and mint grow quickly when placed in a container of water for a few weeks. Other herbs that work well in water are sage, oregano and thyme. When placed in water, they begin to produce roots and will grow new leaves. This is a useful way to prolong the harvest, whether you bring in cuttings from the garden or buy fresh herbs at the grocery store.

The process is easy. Simply cut the ends of each stem and put them in a small jar or cup filled with water. Be sure to remove any lower leaves so they won’t be submerged in the water. Place on a sunny windowsill.

The leaves produced indoors will be thinner and slightly less flavorful than those grown outdoors but will still add welcome flavor to your favorite dishes. Refill the water as needed and enjoy the prolonged harvest for several weeks to come.

By Noelle Johnson, Houzz

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